Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My #CNMC15 Experience

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Catholic New Media Conference Celebration took place in Atlanta. This was my second CNMC, having attended my first in 2013 in Boston. Admittedly, I didn’t socialize or network much at my first CNMC, opting instead to hang out with the Catholic Weekend folks and missing most of the breakout sessions. This time, I vowed I was going to be a bit more social and interact more with others, as well as attend all the sessions.

Socializing does not come easy for me. I am very much an introvert, and I have to force myself to interact with others. What made it easier for me as far as the CNMC is concerned is that I’ve interacted with most of those I saw on social media, so meeting these people for me was like saying hello to old friends I haven’t seen for a while. It was a nice feeling.

My attendance at this year’s CNMC almost didn’t happen. Most of my family lives in San Diego, California. My nephew, Richie, graduated high school on June 2, and my other nephew, Jacob, was promoted from middle school to high school on June 3. Richie, who plays the trumpet with the San Diego Youth Symphony Orchestra, was going to play a concert with the SDYS the evening of June 6. And the CNMC was scheduled to begin early in the morning of June 7 on the other side of the country in Atlanta, Georgia. I was texting with Fr. Darryl Millette in late December about this, and wouldn’t you know it: he managed to find an overnight (“red-eye”) flight that would leave San Diego late enough for me to be able to attend Richie’s recital and get me to Atlanta early enough to be at the opening events of the 2015 CNMC. Without knowing what the agenda was, I went ahead and booked my airtickets that would include an extended layover in Atlanta. And I was glad I did that!

After rushing from Copley Symphony Hall to the car parked in a lot a 10 minute walk away, and despite a long cargo train holding up traffic on the way to the airport, I managed to make it to the gate shortly before my flight started boarding. A little over three hours after the plane took off, the wheels touched down in Atlanta more than 20 minutes early, which gave me 2.5 hours of time before the start of the CNMC. It was great seeing Marika; we had breakfast at the airport before we headed over to the Georgia International Convention Center.

Despite feeling like I was hit by a Mack truck, thanks to lack of sleep, it was great to see friends I had met at the previous CNMC, as well as to meet new friends I knew through social media but hadn’t met in person until then. And thanks to social media interactions, it didn’t feel like I was meeting a group of strangers. It felt like I was seeing old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time. I’m not sure how to describe the feeling; it was a similar kind of feeling I had when I met people in person for the first time in Boston but who I known and considered good/close friends for years through social media.

The talks were all very good, and I include in that very good group Fr. Cory’s excellent homily that he delivered at the Mass that morning. (He also used Eucharistic Prayer I, which is not heard very often at Masses in my area, so the Liturgy geek in me was silently cheering.) On a whim, I had set up a Tagboard the previous Friday with the hashtag #CNMC15, thinking that there would be a lot of people live-tweeting the talks and other social events, just like at the Boston CNMC. So I spent a lot of time live-tweeting all the talks. (By the way, if you want to hear all the talks, head over to the SQPN Store to order the CNMC 2015 Virtual Ticket. It’s a great deal at only US$49.00.) I was taking pictures and networking during the Mastermind Masterclasses (and Mac Barron had recorded his hilarious Catholic Mom video during this time), and doing my usual behind-the-scenes work during the live recording of Catholic Weekend with the full panel and special guest, Fr. Dave Dwyer of Busted Halo. And, of course, despite his not being able to be physically with us, Fr. Roderick recorded a most inspiring video keynote talk that included photo and video retrospectives of the last ten years of Catholic New Media. I’m sure that the information taken from these talks, as well as the inspiration and information exchanged during the Mastermind Masterclasses will bear fruit in the way of new collaborations, new projects, new blogs, new podcasts, new books… the possibilities are endless! (We’ve already heard some of that, thanks to Allison Gingras’ show, A Seeking Heart, when she spoke with Tiffany Walsh, JonMarc Grodi, and Maria Johnson as they summed up their CNMC experiences. Also: Pat Gohn’s Pick of the Week from Catholic Weekend episode 275 mentioned some podcasts that were inspired by past CNMCs, and I also add Daniel Smrokowski’s Special Chronicles podcast and Joanne Mercier’s Monday Morning Catholic to that list.)

Despite my very long day (and not having had much sleep since waking up at 8:30 am PDT the day before), I still felt like I had a lot of energy as I chatted with James and Ryan before meeting up with 14 other people (including Allison, Jennifer, Seth, Stephanie, Dee, Lisa and her family, and the very charming Sarah P., amongst others) for dinner at the airport. There were several people I hadn’t met before amongst that large group of people, but by the time we finished dinner, it felt like we were all good friends who were feeling sad that we were all going to leave each other, in a couple of cases, later that evening, and in most cases, the next morning or afternoon.

I’ve heard of the “post-CNMC blues” phenomenon, but I hadn’t experienced it until I went to Boston in 2013 and now Atlanta in 2015. It really is a thing: I really miss those I’ve met! I hope to meet you all again sometime in the future, whether it be at another CNMC or elsewhere.

In the meantime, I’ll continue my BTS thing with Catholic Weekend for as long as they’ll have me, and I’ll hopefully start blogging a little bit more regularly on this blog.

P.S.: I figured out how to put a Google Photos slideshow on this blog, but unfortunately, it requires Flash, so it will probably not be visible on mobile devices. But for what it's worth, it's there. I didn't take many pictures, and I may decide to add a few more pictures borrowed from friends in the future.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What the Water Challenge Did for Me

This is a quick sketch of a water drop I made.
On a whim, I participated in a 21-day water challenge that was organized by Cindy Rainne. The reason why I decided to do it: I knew I wasn’t drinking enough water, and my friend, Eric, was strongly encouraging me to try to increase my water intake. Scanning through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed my friend, Rachel, started a water challenge in which she would try to drink a certain amount of water that she set as her daily goal and take a selfie with her water bottle when she reached the goal. I thought it was a good idea: use social media as a way to keep yourself accountable to ensure you reached your daily goals. The usual rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily, which totals 64 oz. or 1.89 L. I also heard another rule of thumb that says one should take half one’s body weight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you would drink 75 oz. of water daily. So I set my goal to be between 3 – 3.5 L daily. (My water bottles speak metric and measuring in liters would be so much easier for me than having to deal with ounces.)

So I started drinking water and posting the results on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #WaterChallenge. (I later added the hashtag #RainneWaterChallenge since there were many other water challenges going on at the time.) When I first started posting pictures, I received messages and phone calls from some of my friends, who expressed concern about my water intake. They warned me that it was possible to suffer consequences from excessive water intake. This is true, but considering that my goal doesn’t come close to half my body weight in ounces, I figured if I spaced out my water intake, it would not be a problem for me. I would not try to take 3 L of water in one sitting. I don’t think that’s even physically possible… at least, not for me. (There was the well-publicized case of the woman who passed away thanks to a radio promotion where one would drink a heap of water in order to win a Nintendo Wii, but that seems to be an extreme case.)

It was difficult for me to drink all that water. At first, I found myself going to the bathroom more often than was comfortable. (All that water has to go somewhere, right?) Also, we had a few uncomfortably hot days in Durham, NC, so I was sweating a heap the hotter the temperatures got. I eventually became used to drinking that much water. Having a nice countertop water cooler in the office helped remind me that I needed to take water. I also tried the strategy of drinking 0.5 L of water before I ate my meals.

The effects that I noticed straight away: I was eating much less than I would have done. During the month of May, the Filipino community in central North Carolina gets together for Fatima prayers and food and feasting afterward. The water-starved me would eat a heap until I could eat no more; it’s not often I get the chance to have the Filipino fiesta foods, and the desserts… oh, the desserts! But drinking 0.5 L or more of water before eating helped cut down on the amount of food I took. I didn’t feel the need to go back for seconds, and even though there were nice temptations like Brazo de Mercedes, sapin-sapin, leche flan, kutsinta, pitsi-pitsi, palitao, ube cake, and mocha cake, etc., I managed to control the amount of sweets I took. I never had much of a sweet tooth to begin with, and the increased water intake helped contribute to less sweet intake.

I used to take a lot of flavoured sparkling water. Since starting this water challenge, I started drinking more still water, and now I drink more still water than I do sparkling water.

Another couple of positive effects: I used to cough a lot, and it’s not because I caught a cold or have allergies. I noticed that whenever I was very thirsty, I would cough. The thirstier I was, the more I’d cough. It also affected my singing as well: it didn’t come as easily as it did to me in the past, and my voice felt more "rough." Increasing my water intake eliminated the coughing, and singing is coming more easily to me with my voice sounding more smooth, less cracking, now that I’m keeping myself better hydrated.

Now that the weather has become unbearably hot, I’m finding that I need to keep up the water intake; otherwise, I would feel hot and uncomfortable. Taking in the water helps me feel a little cooler. Sure, I might be sweating a lot because of the hot weather, but at least the water loss isn’t so bad since I’m replacing whatever I’ve lost by taking more water.

Even though the 21-day water challenge is over, I’m still managing to take at least 3 L of water a day. It has become a habit for me that if I’m behind on my water intake, I’m feeling it a bit more keenly, and that reminds me that I need to drink more. I have my two water bottles with me at all times, and they’re always filled with water. Even when I was travelling, I was still able to keep up the water intake. Take empty water bottles through security and then find some water filling stations once you reach the gates. It’s a great way to ensure you’re keeping up your water intake, and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of water in the airport shops.

With awesome filling stations like this, it pays to take your empty water bottles through security! Picture taken at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I’d like to thank Cindy for organizing the challenge and to Eric and Rachel for the inspiration and the encouragement. Oh, and I won a contest for being the most consistent poster. Increasing water intake does, indeed, yield great rewards. :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag

Today, September 8, is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also known as the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply The Virgin Mary's Birthday, it is a special feast day for Catholics, celebrating the birth of the Mother of Christ. September 8 marks nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8). It is an important feast because it prepares the way for the birth of Jesus Christ.

My way of honouring Mama Mary's birthday is by sharing some of my favourite Marian hymns in this blogpost.

First of all: since we've started up Compline again this academic year, it's only fitting that I begin this post by sharing some musical settings of the appropriate Marian antiphon of the season: Salve Regina. Those who have participated in the Fatima devotions locally in the Triangle (North Carolina) area know the simple chant that concludes the community's Rosary prayers:

Here is the version we chant every Sunday evening in Compline from Trinity until Advent:

Here are a few of my favourite settings of the Ave Maria. First, this setting of Ave Maria by Josquin des Prez. It starts off Ave Maria, gratia plena dominus tecum, virgo serena (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, serene virgin). I particularly like the ending, which is a Josquin's plea to the Virgin Mary: O mater Dei, memento mei. Amen. (O Mother of God, remember me. Amen.)

Here is one by Jacob Arcadelt. It also inspired Franz Liszt to compose a piece for the organ (Ave Maria d'Arcadelt).

Another favourite is by Tomás Luis de Victoria.

When I first heard this setting by Franz Biebl, I was in love. It is essentially a sung Angelus prayer.

Finally, this is Robert Parsons' setting of the Ave Maria. It was one of the most challenging pieces I've had the pleasure of learning, and out of necessity, I've had to learn three parts (soprano, alto 1 and alto 2), but the time spent learning it was very well worth it. This is a gorgeous piece!

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #5: Filial Trust

Here is the latest Catholic Photo Challenge that can be found at the Everything Esteban blog.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23)."

For this photo challenge, capture a scene or event that expresses joy in a carefree moment. A scene when you, or someone else, is living in the moment, not fettered by worries or needing to be in total control.

Joy in a carefree moment. Admittedly, the only thing that pops into my mind is children at play. So here is a picture that I took whilst I was on vacation with my family in Hawaii back in September, 2012.

Jacob and Ella playing in the sand, September 2012.

Their little "castle" had it all: lots of sand and water that could almost serve as a moat. These two really love playing at the beach, and I hope this picture captured that.

Thanks for reading. Please make sure to see the other entries on this topic by clicking here.

Pax et bonum!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #4: Sign of Fidelity

I will admit: when I first saw the latest Catholic Photo Challenge on Everything Esteban on July 1, I immediately had a thought as to what I should post. Lazy me kept procrastinating and putting it off, and here we are at July 15. I guess I'm not exhibiting fidelity if I dragged my feet like this for 15 days... but I'll admit I had quite a lot to do this month, so that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. :)

I had two pictures in mind for this one. Here's the first one.

For the past couple of months, I've been more involved with the local Filipino community's Fatima prayer group. There is a Fatima statue and a Sto. Niño (Infant Jesus of Prague) statue that travels from house to house. During the year, a host family keeps the statues for a week, and then they move on. During the month of May, the statue goes from house to house daily. There is a set of prayers, including the Rosary, a Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and with the exception of the month of May, a Litany to the Infant Jesus. There are other prayers that are prayed by everyone present.

The organizers, the Castillo family of Durham, often remind us that the community that prays together stays together. And I've noticed just how close-knit the members of the Filipino community here are. There are the faithful few who go to every one of these gatherings, including daily during the month of May. And their faith is quite strong.

Here's my second picture.

These items were gifted to me by Fr. Julian Jagudilla, OFM. He used to be one of the parochial vicars at St. Francis of Assisi church in Raleigh, and he's now in New York City. He had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and upon his return, told me he had some "pasalubong" for me, and immediately handed me these items. (Not pictured is a San Damiano cross, which was something I had wanted for a long time.) Many prayers have been said with these Rosary beads, and I keep them in my backpack. So they're always with me wherever I go.

So this is my entry for the first half of July. As they say, better late than never, right? :)

Thanks for reading. Please make sure to see the other entries on this topic by clicking here.

Pax et bonum!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Come to Life

Artist’s rendition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley from the hypable.com site.
I just made a new blogpost on another site on which I make occasional contributions, SQPN's Secrets of Harry Potter. There has been a lot of excitement about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley theme park opening up at Universal Studios Orlando on July 8, 2014. Fr. Roderick messaged me a couple of days ago to let me know about a great collection of images and videos of this new park, and in the post I made over at the Secrets of Harry Potter, I give a list of links to what is essentially a sneak preview of this new park. They all point to the work of Dave Parfitt over at Adventures by Daddy.

Click here to read the post and check out the links.

And yes, this makes me really want to go back and check out the new HP-themed park... but when the crowds die down. I admit that the last time I went to explore WWoHP—Hogsmeade, I didn't enjoy it because of the huge crowds. For me, the only highlight was seeing Tom Felton up close twice whilst I was there. And the butterbeer. Mmm, butterbeer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge #3: Good Shepherd

I will admit: I had wanted to give Steve's second photo challenge on Isaiah 9:1 a go; however, I had a difficult time trying to think of something that would fit that theme of light and darkness.

On the other hand, when I saw the third photo challenge, I knew immediately who my subject would be!

First of all, the challenge:

For Catholic Photo Challenge #3 (June 15-30) – show us an image that represents a "Good Shepherd" to you. Be sure to tell us why!

This person is probably very well known to you if you have followed Catholic media for a while. I've known of him since at least 2008 (many of you knew him longer). We even worked together on a little podcast about a literary figure made famous in a book series and films that enjoyed world-wide popularity, and I also helped him proofread his book that was released last year. I feel like I've known him forever despite having only met him in person last year October.

Fr. Roderick and me at the CNMC in Boston, October 2010. Photo by Fr. Darryl Millette.

Yes, the person I'm talking about is Fr. Roderick Vonhögen. I appreciate that he uses technology to reach out to people well beyond his parish(es) in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. His interests are varied and diverse, and he loves sharing it with others through his podcasts and other media. He also has a knack for inserting catechesis ("The Peculiar Bunch") without being overtly preachy. Even though most of our interactions have been "virtual", I know he's also very pastoral, and it was nice experiencing that in person at a Mass that he concelebrated (and delivered the homily) as well as at an Evening Prayer that he led at the conclusion of the CNMC in Boston.

It's very easy to relate to him, and IMHO, he definitely has the qualities of being a "Good Shepherd" to all of us bleating sheep.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catholic Photo Challenge: Seeing God in the Works of Creation

My friend, Steve Nelson, had been participating in the 'Weekly Photo Challenge' over at dailypost.wordpress.com. On Catholic Weekend, Steve had talked about creating a similar photo challenge based on Catholic themes, and the Catholic Photo Challenge was born.

It's pretty simple: on the 1st and 15th of each month, a new theme that is based on some aspect of the Catholic faith will be posted. You choose a picture that you've taken (could be recent or one from the past) that you think fits the theme, and you explain why. When you share it on social media, use the hashtag #catholicphoto.

So with that out of the way: the first challenge (15 May – 31 May) is on the theme 'Seeing God in the Works of Creation'.

Here is my entry.

Waiting for the sun to rise at Haleakalā ('House of the Sun'), Maui.

On a cold, late September morning, my family woke up super-early to go see a sunrise at Haleakalā in Maui. It was an amazing experience. If you go, make sure you dress warmly because the low temperatures will dip to around 40 °F (5 °C). At a little under 10,000 feet (3,048 metres) above sea level, we were above the clouds, and I took a heap of pictures using the ProHDR app on my old iPhone 3GS.

This picture was taken 10 minutes before the official sunrise. I was amazed at all the colours that my simple cell phone camera captured. Below the orange line are the clouds. From where I was standing, it almost looked like an ocean, albeit a billowy, pillowy one. (Part of the reason why I took so many pictures was because I was trying, but failing, to capture those amazing clouds.) Admittedly, I was very disappointed that I wasn't capturing the clouds to my liking; however, when I looked at the blues and purples and grays in the picture, as well as the variation in terrain as we were looking into the crater of the volcano, I couldn't help but think of how majestic this was and that God had a hand in creating all this beauty around us.

Ten minutes later, the sun rose, and I remember hearing something like a horn blowing. I was a little far from this, but someone was also reciting some sort of a poem that goes like this:

E ala e Ka la i kahikina
I ka moana
Ka moana hohonu
Pi’i ka lewa
Ka lewa nu’u
I kahikina
Aia ka la.
E ala e!

The sun in the east
From the ocean
The ocean deep
Climbing (to) the heaven
The heaven highest
In the east
There is the sun

We stayed a little longer, and then we eventually made our way down the mountain and waving at the bicyclists as we passed by.

(Note: Yes, I waited until the very last minute to post this. I promise that I won't wait so long for the next one, which should be posted tomorrow, 1 June.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where has Lyn been?

My poor, neglected blog! I see my last post was made in early March. I have a couple of blogposts I intend to write, and I hope to be able to make time to do that over this Memorial Day weekend.

Hello, everybody! I will admit that after I had applied a new template to this blog, thinking it would encourage me to blog more, it had the opposite effect: I blogged even less. I still write the occasional blogpost for Webshoo as well as the weekly blogpost for SQPN's Catholic Weekend, but as far as my own blogs here on Blogger and my even more neglected blog at LiveJournal... well, let's just say I found other things to do besides commit my thoughts to computer.

So today, right after the recording and livestream of the latest episode of Catholic Weekend was completed, I decided, on a whim, to apply a different template to my blog. I figured KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) would be a great place to start. So I applied a very plain simple template (the one you're seeing now). I will work on updating links, cutting out old links and putting in new ones. I see a lot of old links on the right-hand sidebar that will need to be trimmed.

That will happen gradually. In the meantime, here's one blogpost. I hope to be able to come up with more in the days to come. Thanks for reading! xxx

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lenten Sacrifices

Colourful Mardi Gras beads hang on a fence in a Durham, NC neighbourhood. Photo taken by Lyn Francisco using the ProHDR app on an iPhone 4

With today being Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday, naturally one’s mind starts turning towards Lent, which begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. Many people start talking about what they’ll be giving up for Lent as a kind of personal sacrifice. I’ll admit to you that I don’t recall having had such a tradition growing up. I do remember abstaining from meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I also remember abstaining from meat and eating less during Holy Week. We spent more time praying during Lent. I recall praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross with my mom and brother. I also remember the Rice Bowl tradition: spare change goes into the Rice Bowl, and whatever is accumulated there during Lent would be donated to help feed the hungry.

I’ve heard many of my friends say they’ll give up things like playing video games, Candy Crush, Facebook, and the usual chocolates, soft drinks, potato chips, etc. For me, since it really hasn’t been a part of my tradition, instead of giving something up, I’m planning to add something. It will be a variation on the Rice Bowl theme. Whenever I have a meal outside, whether or not I buy my own meal or if a friend buys the meal, I’ll put the amount of the meal into the bowl. Whatever is in the bowl by the Triduum (Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Vigil) will be donated to Catholic Relief Services through their Rice Bowl program. Of course, I’ll also abstain from meat on Fridays. Considering the activities I have in church on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I’m not sure I’ll fast (we can’t have the organist fainting on the bench during the service!) but if I do, I’ll be sure to time my meal such that I’ll ensure I’ll have the energy to do the jobs I have to do on those days.

The other day, I downloaded CRS’ Rice Bowl App. (By the way, it’s available on iTunes and Google Play.) I’ll definitely be using this app during Lent.

What Lenten practices are you planning to do this year? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Friday, February 28, 2014

In an Orgelbüchlein mood...

I'll have to admit: today was the first time in a while I cracked open my copy of the Orgelbüchlein. There some lovely pieces in there that have been a part of my repertoire for years. It was nice to dust off O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (BWV 622; Oh Man, bewail your great sins) and even nicer to know it won't take me as long to get it back in my hands and feet. It's one of my favourite pieces to play during Lent. One of my friends quipped that it was essentially Jesus Christ's entire life in one song. I certainly can't argue with that! The first time I had heard this piece, it was love at first listen. It has a gorgeous melody line, and it just falls in the hands and feet so comfortably. I'm planning to play this as a prelude for either Lent I or Lent II.

The first piece I learned how to play out of the Orgelbüchlein was Christ lag in Todesbanden (BWV 625; Christ lay in the bonds of death). I'm so glad my organ teacher had insisted I learned how to play this piece! It's my go-to piece as either a postlude for Easter Vigil or prelude for Easter Sunday. On the rare occasion I'm asked to play a funeral, I'll also play this piece as a postlude.

One piece I've always wanted to learn how to play was O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (BWV 618; Oh innocent Lamb of God). I spent some time earlier this evening playing through it. I think I can do this! With some practice, I'm hoping to be able to play this piece as a prelude for Lent V or Palm Sunday.

There are so many treasures in J.S. Bach's 'Little Organ Book'. Hopefully, one of these days, I'll be able to get more of these pieces into my repertoire. I don't really play all that many of them. Other pieces I've learnt include Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 610; Jesus, my joy), In dir ist Freude (BWV 615; In you is joy), and Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (BWV 639; I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ).

I'll close this post with a YouTube video of organist Wolfgang Zerer playing O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig. At least hearing this, I have hope that I'm not too far from having this playable in time!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haiyan / Yolanda Aftermath: What You Can Do to Help

Photo shared from: Power to Unite (Facebook)
Please excuse my silence on this blog... as most of you probably know, a very strong super-typhoon hit the Central Visayas in the Philippines in the early morning hours of November 8, 2013. It left behind much damage and loss of life.

For those of you wondering: my family is okay, thanks for asking. I also had a few friends who were in the affected areas; I've heard from all of them, and they're okay as well.

One of my friends, Fr. Edione Febrero, a priest in the Diocese of San Jose de Antique in the Philippines, asked me to send this message:

Antique was also hit by Yolanda. Less casualties here because we were more prepared than Leyte. The government really evacuated people in high risk areas to safer grounds. But Typhoon Yolanda destroyed almost 90% of houses along the shorelines either partially or totally, especially in the towns of Barbaza and Tibiao where the eye of the typhoon was.
The northern part of Antique was hit the hardest. Relief operations are going on but the more serious problem is the REHABILITATION. To rebuild or repair damaged houses will take a long time. Right now I am working on a possible procurement of temporary shelters--tents which they can use to cover rooftops. It roughly costs US$10.00 (less than 400 pesos - 4x4 meters), temporary but practical solution to temporarily shelter them in case rains come. Another typhoon is forecasted to come 3 days from now. It might hit southern Panay where Antique is. PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD.

I noticed that storm, since it crossed over the Philippine Area of Responsibility, now has a name: Zoraida. (I'm not sure what the international name for that storm is.) The Diocese of San Juan de Antique has an account that they use for their Social Action Center: RCBC SAN JOSE ANTIQUE SAVINGS ACCOUNT OF THE SOCIAL ACTION CENTER:#1459332002

If you can help, please consider doing so, either donating to the above-named Diocese or to any other charity that is doing relief work in the Philippines.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Philippines Independence Day!

If you go to http://www.google.com.ph/, you will see an animated GIF file honouring Philippines Independence Day. Because of the time difference, it is already the morning of June 12, 2013 over there as I write this. (Manila is 12 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States.)

Hopefully if you click on the link above, you'll see the animated GIF. Failing that, I hope it will turn up below.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Using the Fitbit Ultra to Get Into Shape

One of the best purchases I've made in recent days is that of the Fitbit Ultra, pictured above. I got it during the "Black Friday" sales at Amazon.com last November. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Admittedly, I did little more than to just wear it daily to get a baseline of my normal activities and to track my sleep. It pretty much told me I was quite sedentary, and my sleep was continually interrupted, plus I did not get enough sleep every night.

My recent appearance on SQPN's Catholic Weekend convinced me I had to do something more than just sit around all day, eating bonbons. I made a post on Webshoo about my recent physical activity, using tools like the Fitbit and apps like RunKeeper Pro to keep me accountable and to motivate me to exercise more.

Click here to read the story. And feel free to comment here or over on Webshoo.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lyn's Mini-Bucket List

Before I delve into practice-land, I decided to take a page from Maria Johnson's playbook and come up with a little mini-bucket list of my own. This, of course, is subject to change.
  • Meet some SQPN community members in person, especially Fr. Roderick Vonhögen, Inge Loots, and Mike and Denyse Kuypers. I know there are others I haven't named; I'd love to meet them in person as well! (I've already met Deb Schaben, Jeff Nielsen, and Jenny Townsend. :) )
  • I would love to return to Rome someday. I spent one wonderful week there with Sherrye Glaser and Martin Kaczocha following a conference we had attended in Naples in June 2004.
  • I would love to visit some of the most beautiful (and historic!) organs in Europe. Too many for me to mention here.
  • Making a return visit (or several!) to the Philippines would be lovely, too. I still have many relatives who live there, not to mention other friends and schoolmates who had returned to the Philippines after having studied here in the US or other countries.
  • I know this is entirely up to me, but there are some pieces I would love to be able to play on the organ fluently. Most of them are pieces by Bach and Buxtehude...
  • I would also like to regain speaking fluency in Tagalog. I can still understand it. This is another thing that is entirely up to me.
  • Of course, the companion item on the bucket list is: learn other languages. I envy those who can switch from one language to another quite effortlessly. That includes my friends here who are conversant in Cebuano (or their other native dialect), Tagalog (most of my friends learned that after they left the Philippines!), Spanish, and English...
  • Go back to Hawaii and explore the other islands I haven't yet seen. I spent a week on Oahu as the guest of a friend at whose wedding I played the piano. I also spent a week on Maui with family last September. I really really love it there; it feels like home to me. :)
  • Travel to Australia and New Zealand. I often wonder how Ross Landles is doing. He was an exchange student to San Diego who my family hosted during my senior year in high school. He's a year older than me and is from Launceston, Tasmania. I hope he's well. I also have friends in Australia and New Zealand I'd love to visit with.
  • I'll echo Maria's tenth item on her bucket list: go on the Camino pilgrimage. It would be nice to do it with friends; I'm not sure I'd be up to doing it on my own.

Well, enough dreaming for now. I have work to do to prepare during this Holy Week. Many blessings to you and yours! x

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conclave Excitement and SQPN's Lenten Giving Campaign

(Photo courtesy of Fr. Roderick Vonhögen. If you click on it, it will take you to Catholic Insider Episode CIV009: Extra Omnes.)

If you've been following the events going on in the Vatican, you'll know that the Conclave had started earlier today. My friend, Fr. Roderick Vonhögen, has been there since Sunday evening, doing what he does best: bringing us the information, the news, the environment, the ambience through audio podcasts and short videos that he shot and edited himself. Of course, he's also fulfilling his duties for Dutch TV whilst there.

For Fr. Roderick, his being in Rome right now brings him full circle: his podcast career was launched in 2005, thanks to the growing popularity of the audio recordings he released in the wake of Bl. John Paul II's death and the 2005 Conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Then as now, you can hear the enthusiasm in Fr. Roderick's voice and the excitement he and those around him are feeling as we all wait together for the conclave's chimney to spew the white smoke that would lead to the Habemus Papam announcement that a new pope had been selected.

Within the past couple of days, Fr. Roderick has released five episodes of the Catholic Insider, one audio teaser on SoundCloud, and at least 5 pairs of videos (one each in English and in Dutch) on his YouTube channel. He has also posted videos and photos on both his own Facebook page, as well as the Facebook page for SQPN. So you can see he's been very busy.

What makes it possible for him to bring us this content (and facilitating sharing on the social networks via his producer, Inge Loots) is the support from listeners and viewers just like you and me. Fr. Roderick and Inge are part of a Catholic New Media organisation called the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN). SQPN is currently in the midst of its Lenten Giving Campaign, and the goal is to raise at least $50,000 by the end of Lent. The end of Lent is just around the corner. If you are enjoying the audio and video content that Fr. Roderick has been releasing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., then please consider becoming a friend of SQPN. Any amount, big or small, will help bring SQPN closer to its goal. It will also help Fr. Roderick bring more content like that he's already delivered to you.

I'll end this post with Fr. Roderick's words in which he ended Episode CIV010 of the Catholic Insider earlier today, as well as a YouTube video of his Lenten Giving Campaign appeal that he recorded last month during his earlier visit to Rome.

Father Roderick said, "Support us, support SQPN, support our network during our Lenten Giving Campaign. We can only continue to do this kind of stuff if you help us, if you can provide us with the financial foundation for our work. We do this with you, we do it for you. If you enjoy it, we hope that you want to support us as well. Thank you so much!"

Again, please do consider giving. Click here to donate. Thank you!

(For the record, I am one of the podcasters on SQPN's roster, having co-hosted the Secrets of Harry Potter podcast. I still keep up with SHP's blog whenever interesting Potter-related news pops up from time to time.)

Monday, March 4, 2013

What's Up with Lyn?

Oh, hello there! Remember me? I will admit that I really haven't done much blogging lately. (What I really have to do is consider updating the look of my blog. Kind of tired looking, isn't it?)

Right... what I've been up to lately. If you've been following Fr. Roderick Vonhögen's show, The Break, you'll know that he's been working on writing a book that he hopes will be released in the Fall of 2013. His deadline for submission was March 1. I had volunteered to beta-read his manuscript and mentioned that in addition to my adminning for The Petulant Poetess, I also had extensive writing experience from my days as a neurochemistry researcher, having written a Ph.D. thesis, several first-author papers, and a couple of book chapters. Oh, believe me, research is not the only thing you do in that field. If you can't write well, forget about being able to compete successfully for grant funding!

But I digress. Back to Fr. Roderick's book. Thanks to the unexpected announcement of the now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's intention to abdicate his position at the end of February, his writing schedule was thrown off as well as our revision schedule. I was hoping to have had a chance to both alpha- and beta-read his manuscript. Fr. Roderick had allocated two weeks for that to happen. However, thanks to the demands of his "other" job with Dutch TV and radio, he wasn't able to get a manuscript to me until almost the last minute. We essentially had two-and-a-half days for me to proofread the whole thing and for him to go through whatever corrections or comments I might have and revise accordingly. To be honest, for what would be a ca. 160-page book, that really wasn't enough time to do what I would consider to be a thorough job. So I essentially had to "move heaven and earth" to get the whole thing proofread. I would have wanted to do much more than check for SPaG (his writing tended more towards UK grammar usage, and his publisher is American, so I had to essentially "American-pick" his work in addition to taming his commas and his sentence fragments), but oh well. By the way, English is something like his third or fourth language (Dutch is his mother tongue) but for someone for whom English is not his native language, his writing is amazingly good and, frankly speaking, much better than a lot of Americans whose native language is English.

Complicating the entire thing was the fact he had to go to Rome for three days to cover Benedict XVI's last hours as pope for Dutch TV. So I took it upon myself to get the whole thing read and commented before he returned to the Netherlands. I figured if I were able to do that, it would give him a chance to incorporate any comments or changes in his manuscript before he submits.

Complication #2: the time difference. There is a 6-hour time difference between me in the East Coast of the United States and Fr. Roderick in the Netherlands. As far as his deadline is concerned, that works to his advantage, but for me... not so much! So I worked through the night to ensure that he would have something to look at if he had any down time in Rome (to be honest, it didn't sound like it). There was even one very early morning (for me) when I received an IM from him, expressing surprise that I was still awake. I think it may have been around 4.30 am my time (10.30 am his).

Sleep was lacking, but I managed to finish proofreading his manuscript before he landed in Amsterdam. This enabled him to get his edits done much sooner than he expected, and I received a message from him around 1.45 pm my time on March 1 informing me he had sent the manuscript to his publisher. The smile on my face when I received that email was so huge, and nothing would be able to wipe it away for the rest of the day... except for a little bug I somehow picked up, which eventually landed me in an outpatient clinic last Sunday. But I digress.

What is his book about, you ask me? In Fr. Roderick's words, "It's a book about all my adventures in new media. It talks about geeks, Hobbits, and Jedi." This is not surprising if you know Fr. Roderick well and if you're a long-time listener to his podcasts.

You want to know a working title, don't you? Uh, sorry, but I value my life too much to divulge that information to you. But if you want to follow Fr. Roderick's journey towards being a published author, feel free to subscribe to his "Secret Diary." To do that, you'd have to go to his blog on FatherRoderick.com and sign up to get his updates.

If you're curious about his writing style, I'd say as I read through the manuscript, I can see it evolving. One thing I can tell you is that you can really hear his voice as you read his writing. His writing is very engaging, and his personality shows through very clearly, as does his keen sense of humour. I had completely lost track of time as I was reading, which tells me that his book, when completed, has the potential to be one of those page-turners that you won't be able to put down until you've read the very last word... and then you're going to want to pick it up and read it from the very beginning once again!

Life goes on. I'm hoping to have some quality time with the organ this week, especially since I'm trying to get back a pair of Bach pieces back in the fingers as well as learn a new Buxtehude piece that I hope to play for Lent V. This, of course, doesn't include all the practicing I'd need to do for Holy Week and Easter.

So now, I'd say you're all caught up with me. I do spend quite a bit of time on Facebook and Twitter, so you might be able to catch up with me there.

Pax et bonum!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Organ-ic Chemist on Catholic Weekend 157!

Well, well, well. Guess who was on Catholic Weekend this morning? Yes, yours truly! I was brought on to talk about Filipinos' devotion to the Sto. Niño de Cebu (also known as Infant Jesus of Prague). Yes, it's a week late, but better late than never, right?

I was on the show with Jeff Nielsen, who hosted it, Billy Newton, Angela Sealana, and Sarah Vabulas. The audio should be posted and uploaded soon (usually sometime on Sunday). In the meantime, you can have a look at the Google+ Hangout below.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saying goodbye all too soon

Yesterday, my friend Cindy told me about the untimely passing of a mutual friend of ours, David Hockenberger. He died suddenly last Friday, doing what he loved (bicycling). He was only 55 years old.

David, Cindy, and I were part of the Music Ministry at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Durham. David and I were in the bell choir, and I had also sung in the choir when Richard Townley was the organist/choir director.

I had moved on to another music program in the area, and David eventually moved away from the Triangle area. I didn't see him again until last February at Holy Comforter in Burlington. My friend, Colin, was ordained a Transitional Deacon, and David was singing in the choir. He had recognised me and approached me after the service. We chatted for a little bit. It was great catching up with him.

Last Saturday, my friend Laurie, who is the organist/choirmaster at Holy Comforter, posted a note asking our prayers for one of her choir members, David H. It didn't register to me that I knew who that was until I talked to Cindy yesterday evening. And then it hit me—this was someone I knew, someone whose company I had enjoyed, someone who was a devoted father to his two children and husband to his wife of 30+ years, and this someone is no longer with us. His funeral was earlier this afternoon, and according to friends who went, it was a good celebration of his life.

Please pray for the family David leaves behind: his wife, Beverly, and his children, Evan and Kaitlyn. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Here is a link to David's obituary. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in David's name to Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Maui Vacation

Taken on our way to Hana. From left to right: Hermie, Richie, Josie, Ella, me, and Jacob.

Aloha Mabuhay from Kihei, Maui, in the beautiful state of Hawaii! We've been enjoying ourselves, having visited the Maui Tropical Plantation, the Iao Valley State Park (and seeing the very prominent Iao Needle), and shopping (and shave ice!) at the Kihei Kalama Village on Monday, and taking the road to Hana and then taking the (very winding and in some places unpaved) road that goes around the periphery of the eastern and southern parts of the island on Tuesday. I think we'll be visiting a beach or two today and then watching the sunrise from the Haleakala Crater on Thursday. We'll also be enjoying a luau during our trip here.

If you're Facebook friends with my sister-in-law, Grace, and my mother, Josie, you can see some of our pictures. I'll post mine eventually to my Facebook page (and place a link here) but that may not happen until I return to the mainland.

I really like Maui. Such a pretty place, and in our drive yesterday, we were able to see the vast contrasts in the terrain (and the weather patterns!) here.

More later! Mahalo!