Mass of Joy (just not too much) and Peace

In Fall 2016, my church in Cleveland (Our Lady of Victories) began using a new mass setting in addition to the previous two in regular “rotation”. The reason was pretty simple – the two we have include one that is great for stark services and simpler seasons (Missa Simplex) and one that is great for big formal celebrations (the much maligned at times, Mass of Creation). While both are nice settings, we were missing an element of liveliness and energy that the Mass so richly deserves. So along with the music director, the cantors began ‘trying out’ new settings privately, and we eventually settled on Mass of Joy and Peace.

Joy and Peace is a very upbeat setting, which (in my opinion) is much more fun to sing than either of the two others. Apparently others agree as well, giving rise to some very interesting arrangements online. My favorite being a contemporary arrangement by Daniel Houze. Moved into a rock beat, this version certainly hits the criteria for the concept of a “joyful noise”. The comments on YouTube, however, are less than positive. Several commenters lament the fact that it’s “too Protestant” or “liturgical abuse”. I find this quite ironic since the word “joy” is right in the title – apparently anything that sounds too joyful isn’t “Catholic” enough. Overall this makes me a bit frustrated as a young Catholic active in music ministry as a cantor. Apparently there is a very fine line somewhere that we are expected to hit – not too dirge-y and not too happy, or else our faith and reverence are called into question. Coupled with a widespread problem of participation in mass (In the past 20 years, I’ve only seen a handful of congregations that I would classify as “conscious, active, and full participation” as advised by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal), and you start to see the problem.

So what is the solution? Finding the middle line but broadening it with wide acceptance. If you don’t like the ‘energy’ of your mass setting, you can still participate, just not as loudly. If you feel sad during the mass rather than happy, speak up (and sing up). And if you find a church that has the right mix of traditional hymns with present-day worship, support it. In my case at OLV, I feel that many are supportive of the idea of energetic praise, we just need some of the ‘old guard’ to join in seeing the mass not as a simple ‘ticket punch’ (e.g., if I die this week, God knows I was here this Sunday, so I’m good) but as an expression of…. well… joy and peace!

The Political Obsession

Recently a friend posted an article to Facebook about a colossally stupid thing two individuals did. The story wasn’t important, although it was interesting within it’s context. What I found really interesting was the first comment, which read “I bet they voted for Trump!”. Given our political climate in the United States over the past several years, it got me thinking: What causes people to become politically obsessed to the point that literally everything revolves around politics?

politics photo Continue reading “The Political Obsession”

Jerry Lewis, Under the Sea, and Idolatry

Last night at Delta Writer’s Group, I proposed a ‘speed writing’ challenge based upon 3 very random lists of prompt material that came off the top of my head. The lists were “People”, “Locations”, and “Conflict”. When I rolled the wheel, I got “Jerry Lewis”, “Under the Sea”, and “Idolatry”. Five minutes later, this appeared. Who says you can’t make a story out of the most random of things

Sebastian the crab dressed in his Sunday best
To worship the comedian revered above the rest

“Hey Mon, tis Lew day”
he screamed with delight

“We gonna follow tru day”
His psychosis bordering on fright

The chorus began its calypso serenade
As his likeness was erected and upright it stayed
In view of the crows, the mania, the glee
All praised the Lewis, under the sea

Registering a Car in the State of Mississippi

There are things in life that one just knows or assumes. Then there are things that are hidden, obscured, confusing, or that no good source on the Internet exists for. This is one of the latter.

So in case you don’t know…

  • If you buy a car from a dealer in the state of Mississippi, and you live in Mississippi, all you need to take to the tax assessor is your yellow bill of sale copy. Bring a check to pay the crazy taxes, and you’ll walk out with your license plate.
  • If you buy a car from a dealer OUTSIDE MISSISSIPPI, and you live in Mississippi, you need to wait up to 7-9 working days for that dealer to send the information to the tax assessor. You only have 7 working days (9 if out of home county) before crazy penalties apply.

If you live somewhere else, hopefully someone else wrote up this information for you somewhere.

Source: Personal experience, 2/22/2017

Frustration: Thinking that the dealer had to send information that they, do not in fact, need to send!

Much Ado About Inbox Zero

I’ve always been an Inbox Zero kind of guy before Inbox Zero was even a thing. From the time I got my first email address in 1995 to today, I’ve felt that the inbox should be empty nearly 100% of the time (I’ll outline my own exceptions below). Recently I told a friend that my inbox was empty and he was astonished, envious, and perhaps a little annoyed. It got me thinking about the practice, and about the relative merits or consequences of such a rigorous approach.

My inbox as I started typing this post up.
My inbox as I started typing this post up.

Inbox Zero has been widely discussed among productivity mavens and life hackers for the last few years, with many staunchly defending it’s usefulness, and others claiming it is a colossal waste of time and energy. Opinions on email seem to be in no short supply – some argue that push is the way to go, others take the opposite approach and pontificate that checking only once or twice per day will up your productivity to the stars.

If it isn’t blindingly obvious by now, the discussion boils down to what works best for the individual. For some, Inbox Zero will be the way to inner zen. For others, the inbox count is just a number, not one to be worried about or praised. In my experience over 20 years, I’ve found that I’m happiest when my inbox is nearly empty, so I keep up with that. If you’re experiencing email overload, you might find Inbox Zero satisfying as well (as soon as you dig out of your current overload!). For what it’s worth, I’ve tried ditching Inbox Zero and experience quite a bit of anxiety over it (which kinda scares me) – I’d like to be ‘cool’ with having stuff in there, but I suppose old habits die hard.

One final note – I mentioned that I do allow email to sit there in some circumstances. What are those?

  • Emails that serve a reminder function but aren’t important enough to get a real To Do item in my to do manager. So the student who says “I’ll be a bit late for class in 3 hours” may stick around until they arrive in class – the email then gets archived.
  • Emails that I don’t want to respond to right now! Yes, even though productivity mongers will tell you that you should respond as quickly as you can and not procrastinate, there are times I just don’t want to deal with that email yet.
  • Emails that I’m planning to show someone later on my mobile device – because once it’s in the black pit of the Archive folder, it can be hard to find it again.

This brings up the last bit of my email peculiarity: I archive everything, and never sort it. Gmail search (for my private email) and Exchange search (for my work email) tend to do things pretty well. I also backup my mailboxes every 6 months or so.

You Found Me! (Your Weird Professor)

Each year I try to write something on my blog right before school starts up again. This past week has been pretty crazy as I juggle multiple roles while making sure everything is set for Monday when I step back into the classroom for the first time since the end of April. And tomorrow I get to take on a fun new role – the guy helping to drive the Peoplemover during Move-in Day. It’s been busy, but I still found some time to put together this post. This year I’ve decided to write it to the students who will eventually find it over the next few weeks – those intrepid individuals who think “Wonder what’s on my professor’s blog” or find a link to this on social media. So allow me to introduce myself, using photos!

This is me, in my official Delta State faculty photo. It was taken in August 2014, and since then I haven't lost any more hair. So I'd say that's a success.
This is me, in my official Delta State faculty photo. It was taken in August 2014, and since then I haven’t lost any more hair. So I’d say that’s a success.
This was the first college classroom I ever taught in, Schrank Hall North 452. I was hired in Fall 2001 to teach A+ Certification, an entry level computer technician course at The University of Akron, and in February 2002, I taught my first solo class in this room.
This was the first college classroom I ever taught in, Schrank Hall North 452. I was hired in Fall 2001 to teach A+ Certification, an entry level computer technician course at The University of Akron, and in February 2002, I taught my first solo class in this room.
I've always been a bit of a computer geek. This is a picture of the last 'regular' cell phone I owned in 2002. Been on a smartphone ever since (Yes, smartphones existed before the iPhone!)
I’ve always been a bit of a computer geek. This is a picture of the last ‘regular’ cell phone I owned in 2002. Been on a smartphone ever since (Yes, smartphones existed before the iPhone!)
I finished my Bachelors degree in Psychology in 2004, my masters degree in 2007, and (pictured here) my doctorate in 2009. Here I am with my dad (on the left), and my mom on the right. The guy in the middle with me was my advisor in graduate school, Dr. Jasper. Advisors can become family - I still see mine regularly at conferences, and we catch up every other month or so via email.
I finished my Bachelors degree in Psychology in 2004, my masters degree in 2007, and (pictured here) my doctorate in 2009. Here I am with my dad (on the left), and my mom on the right. The guy in the middle with me was my advisor in graduate school, Dr. Jasper. Advisors can become family – I still see mine regularly at conferences, and we catch up every other month or so via email.
As I said earlier, I've been at Delta State since 2014, and have gotten to do some really fun things in that time. Last spring we took a group of Psychology students down to New Orleans for the Southeastern Psychological Association meeting (SEPA). Pictured here are the students, along with a few other DSU faculty (Drs Zengaro, Beals, and Zengaro).
As I said earlier, I’ve been at Delta State since 2014, and have gotten to do some really fun things in that time. Last spring we took a group of Psychology students down to New Orleans for the Southeastern Psychological Association meeting (SEPA). Pictured here are the students, along with a few other DSU faculty (Drs Zengaro, Beals, and Zengaro).
I still get some time away from work though - here is a picture of my wife, Karey, and I from our trip this summer to Pensacola Beach (We were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary). If you happen to visit the Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research department, you might meet Karey - she's the senior secretary there!
I still get some time away from work though – here is a picture of my wife, Karey, and I from our trip this summer to Pensacola Beach (We were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary). If you happen to visit the Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research department, you might meet Karey – she’s the senior secretary there!
This fall is shaping up to be awesome - in addition to being a professor in the psychology department, I'm also the coordinator of the First Year Seminar program and the Okra Scholars program. This means you'll probably find me in many random places around campus, but I'm always happy to answer any question I can regardless of where you physically find me.
This fall is shaping up to be awesome – in addition to being a professor in the psychology department, I’m also the coordinator of the First Year Seminar program and the Okra Scholars program. This means you’ll probably find me in many random places around campus, but I’m always happy to answer any question I can regardless of where you physically find me.

So there is a quick photo summary of your crazy professor. I’ve been teaching for a long time, but I’m still learning every day.  If you happen to read this, come up to me and tell me! Its not weird to “stalk” your professor (here or on social media) – we’re all human and we like to learn about other humans. That’s why I went into teaching and psychology in the first place! Have an awesome school year everyone!

Spanking is Wrong for These Three Reasons

As a psychologist, I often am asked questions related to children, child rearing, and development (Despite not being a developmental psychologist!). As a generalist in teaching psychology, I do my best to give researched and nuanced answers. One comment I often get from students and parents alike is that they disagree with most experts on spanking. They believe it’s an effective form of punishment and (in some cases) have told me that they will not change their mind. I figured today I’d take some time to explain the reasons why spanking is wrong, giving you a chance to think about them and debate.
Continue reading “Spanking is Wrong for These Three Reasons”

Seasonality

In August 1986 I started school. I was 2 1/2 years old, and I think my mother figured it was time for me to get out of the house and see the world, or at least the preschool at Thoreau Park Elementary School. In a few short months, that will have been 30 years ago. And while those first 3 years of pre-school (my mother really wanted me out of the house…) may have consisted only of half-days, they did run the entire length of the school year. This means that, as of Spring 2016, I’ve completed 30 school years, as either a student or a teacher.

Continue reading “Seasonality”