31 October 2009

The buds have it

As a homeschooling mom, one of the subjects I dislike teaching is PHONICS. I hate phonics. Unfortunately, so does my son.

This year I've leaned more heavily into the Charlotte Mason realm (living books, few texts and even fewer tests) and tried to apply it to my classical approach. This seems to have worked well, except in phonics where there isn't really a good way to do this other than by brute force.

I knew one day I would regret not being in the military because I can't do the heavy lifting. Phonics in our house gets contentious every few days. My son gets put on black out and loses privileges, then the rest of us suffer because of the restrictions we have placed on him impact us. I haven't found a solution to this.

However, last night as we were carving pumpkins a moment that will live in infamy occurred. Actually, it's a moment that I will remember for a lifetime.

My son and hubby wanted an anatomy book because they wanted to carve a skeleton-looking face on the pumpkin. I dug out a colorful anatomy book I had and off my son went to design a face. After hubby drew the pattern on the pumpkin, my son and daughter were sitting on the floor with my son showing his sister some of the pictures and telling her about them.

Then they got to the tongue. My husband and I were only half-paying attention to them when we heard, "These are the taste buds. This one is sour, this one is salty, this one is salty and so is this one. This one is sour." How did he know which ones were salty and which ones were sour?

He read the headings on the picture.

Aside from the arm-twisting moments when we have him read to us, this is the first time he's read something for pleasure (that I know of.) I don't think he even knew he was doing it. He didn't even have to sound out the words the way kids do when they are first learning to read...he just confidently read it and shared it with his sister.

I think that gave me a second wind to tackle phonics again on Monday. The relief of potty training pales in comparison to a kid who is finally taking off with his reading.

30 October 2009

Halloween Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

It can't be Friday already. Tomorrow is Halloween. As a kid, the day couldn't come soon enough, but as a parent it's like we just did this awhile ago. Didn't we?

Happy Halloween!! Remember daylight savings, to pray for reparations, and pray for the Poor Souls. Also, Father Z reminds us that you can obtain several indulgences next week, especially in this Year for Priests. Pray for our priests, both living and dead.

Category: It's better in Latin

I don't know how to phrase this so ArchAngel's Advocate won't get it right away, but let's just hope he's busy doing the Monster Mash and doesn't notice. Here goes. This man is well-known in various fields of study. In philosophy, he's known by his given name, while in mathematics he's known by his Latin name. (I hope that's obtuse enough.)

Bonus points if you know his famous quote, ala Latin. (We just learned it in Linney's Latin!)

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

When the rubber meets the road

Subtitled: Our tax dollars at work

About a week ago, my daughter came home from school with a note in her backpack that her bus pick-up time was going to be three minutes earlier. The following school day, a note came home that said her pick-up time would be three minutes later (back to square one). Today (Friday) the bus dropped her off and the driver and bus aide informed me that my daughter would be on a different bus with a different driver and aide starting on Monday, but that they didn't know any other information, like what time for pick-up and delivery.

Moments after my daughter arrived home, her teacher called with updated details. Monday morning my daughter will be on a different bus with different driver and different aide, but the pick-up time will be the same.

To think of all that is going on behind the scenes to orchestrate a bus schedule is mind-bloggling. No wonder the cost per student (in tax payer dollars) is so high when something completely removed from what is taught in the classroom monopolizes and wastes so much time, energy, resources and dollars!

Stepping down off my soap box now to go get a piece of candy.

29 October 2009

Hockey moms go to Heaven

Yes, we skip Purgatory altogether.

I'm not even a real hockey mom, not yet anyway. I just take my son skating since he's been on the ice a total of three times. But, in that time I have had the personal and vivid revelation that all activities and functions related to a mom taking her son to hockey are directly credited to any time due in Purgatory.

This morning I had to roll both kids out of bed (since my daughter needs to tag along), get them dressed while they were in a groggy, sleepy stupor, and pull most of my son's hockey gear on him, before we raced out the door during rush hour headed toward the hockey arena, which is half an hour away.

Once at the rink, I had to somehow finish getting the suitcase-worth of equipment affixed to my son. Lacing up skates is definitely an "offer it up" occasion.

Ditto for sitting around in a cold rink for 90 minutes.

I'm certain there must be a lost book of the bible that mentions saintly hockey moms.

Oh, this applies to dads too, especially the super saintly ones who try to help my little guy. I think they get 2-for-1 Purgatory credits.

Did I tell you that doing papier mache at home for art also counts toward time off in Purgatory? Truth be told, I'd rather lace up skates.

[Artwork: "Moose". Moose has to dry for a few days before it will be painted]

26 October 2009

What's a girl to do?

I attended a meeting of the local lay (or third order as they used to be called) Carmelites a few weeks ago. For years, I have felt drawn to this way of life, but in looking to my parents as examples since they were both lay Carmelites, the meeting was not what I expected.

For me, Carmelite spirituality is personal, contemplative, solitary. I'm not saying the people at the meeting weren't all these things, but my parents didn't attend meetings, didn't have these social gatherings, didn't participate in any group activities. So, proceeding from what I was familiar with in my parents' examples, this was all new territory and not something I was looking for. I'm a homeschooling mom with kids I run all over town, the last thing I need right now is to add activities to my already hectic schedule and I don't need the socialization. Socialization was not what I was looking for; I was looking for a group that would help structure my prayer life without all the fluff. No offense intended.

As an aside, in the past few months I have met numerous folks who are what I consider an odd blend of things, expressive and contemplative, especially given my parents as the reference point, with my father who said his daily office along with a daily rosary, attended daily Mass, and prayed for hours and hours every afternoon. Lay Carmelites, from my experience, didn't engage so heavily in the world, things were more internal, such as my father spending a large amount of time saying prayers of petition for others -- if anyone was suffering from any ailment, they called my father. So, encountering people I would describe as "Charismatic Carmelites" is simply jarring.

One of the things I have been gradually learning (the hard way) this past year is not to judge. I'm honestly not trying to judge this strange breed of cat, but I don't get how you mix all the "prayers of quiet" and "prayers of recollection" with such outward expressions as praying in tongues or other things traditionally considered "Charismatic" in nature, like laying on of hands. I'm used to each having it's own arena, not a blending of the two seemingly diametric spiritual paths.

But, that's off on a tangent.

What was really on my mind was the Catch-22 beginners are in when they attempt to progress in the spiritual life. Paraphrasing St. Teresa, P. Marie-Eugene, OCD, in his, "I Want to See God," says:

"It is natural enough that the devil should use his great power and take advantage of the relative weakness of beginners in prayer, to stop them in their journey towards God by causing in them, as far as he is able, as much dryness and distractions as he can. That he thus intervenes -- often successfully -- in the prayer of beginners seems certain; and, although using on them much more benign procedures than on Saint Teresa, these are probably much more effective.

The action of these natural and prenatural causes enters into the plan of God who uses everything for the good of those whom He loves. Supernatural light and grace, fruits of the Passion and death of Christ, cannot penetrate deeply within a soul unless it shares in that redemptive suffering and death. Such sufferings give it light on its own self and establish it in humility..." (p. 244)

If you want to grow in the spiritual life, you have to suffer and carry part of the Cross, plus have the devil attempt to thwart you at every turn. The Pearl of Great Price scenario. You can't stay where you are, you cannot stagnate because you know better and will be lost if you drag your feet, but moving forward means you're going to be assaulted and suffer. Pere Marie-Eugene further says,

"Our inquiry will not bear on the voluntary causes of distractions and of dryness, such, for instance, as negligence in putting them out of mind during prayer or even complacence in entertaining them; notable neglect of spiritual reading and of the preparation necessary to secure for prayer its sustenance; dissipation of life and habitual lack of mortification of the senses. For these, it is easy indeed to state the remedy. Not to apply it, would be to condemn oneself to culpable failure." (p. 239)

It's almost like damned if you do, damned it you don't. Well, definitely damned if you don't, but not a whole lot of fun if you do. Akin to what St. Teresa talks about in the early mansions when she doesn't understand why souls would want to stagnate in the outermost mansions where they are prey to the vipers and beasts, but then few souls have the grit to make it much further than the third or fourth mansions because of the sufferings, trials and mortifications they will endure.

I think I liked reading the Narnia tales better.

As Archbishop John Ireland would say, "Ever press forward."

24 October 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy Zwei

Bending to overwhelming demand, here's another one.

Category: Hollywood

This Oscar-winning actress, who had a Methodist father and Catholic mother, was baptised in both faiths. Raised as a devout Catholic, she eventually abandoned her faith, divorced her first two husbands, married a third time and became a ardent follower of Christian Science. She appeared in numerous films, starring in 52 of them.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

23 October 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

It rained and snowed and rained some more today. Brrr. It's winter here in the hinterland. This should be a softball for all the frozen folks out there.

Category: Org chart

This diocese, headquartered in Washington D.C. and serving almost 1.5 million Catholics, has no physical boundaries or location.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

It's a mad, mad World's Fair

What I remember from last night's World's Fair; I thought it was just me.

Similarly, I also used to like John Cusack until his politics went.off.the.deep.end.

And Richard Gere.

It was a great evening, with very nice presentations and good food. The kids presented countries from nearly every continent (North America was not represented). One mom suggested that next time we pick a state and bring our favorite fast food. I second that.

Our country was Switzerland. I made Swiss Kugel, which was just OK. Trader Joe's made the nut torte I brought for dessert. There's only so many hours in the day.

19 October 2009

Catholic quarantine

It's a good thing I flipped through the parish bulletin yesterday. Seems the Diocese of Superior has a plan for the upcoming plague. Better to be prepared than to react to a situation when you often times have your course of action dictated to you.

But still.

It takes me back to the Swine Flu scare that occurred in my childhood. The pandemic that never happened. Our entire school received the Swine Flu shot, except my brother and me.

As I quickly read through the bulletin, I noticed a small statement paraphrasing the bishop's plan, stating that communion on the tongue was to cease and desist. Blessings of my children were to stop (the priests/deacons at St. Agnes always bless you without touching you, but the priest in this parish likes to place his hand on the kids' heads). No drinking from the Chalice (which is fine by me because I never do this anyway.)

It just seems like the devil is in the details. Back in the days when I was influenced by a rad trad friend, I might've even entertained the thought that this was a conspiracy, since the pandemic fears are striking at the heart of our Faith and our expression of it.

I'd still prefer to receive Communion on the tongue. I'm old enough to remember when this was the only way things were done. Just like the next person, I don't want to get sick and I certainly don't want my family to get sick, but is Communion in the hand really part of the answer to stopping the Swine Flu? Why not just have Our Lord hermetically sealed in plastic, much like they do with fortune cookies?

Further, why the Sign of Peace is only addressed in Level B is kind of odd since you're allowed to spread all your pandemic germs with people before you go to Communion, where you are now required to receive Our Lord in your hand...your potentially plague-infested hand.

And, holding hands during the Lord's prayer, well it shouldn't require a plague to get rid of that.

However, just like my father chastised me when I attended a Byzantine Catholic parish but didn't want to observe all the Holy Days of Obligation and Feasts that they did because, well, I was a Roman Catholic just moonlighting in their congregation, my wise father told me if I was going to attend that parish, I needed to tow the line. If you're a Roman Catholic who's ever tried to fit into a Byzantine parish, you know how difficult it is.

Even though I just "visit" a parish in the Diocese of Superior when we are at our cabin, I remembered my father's admonishment and quickly decided I needed to be obedient to the Bishop's wishes even though I hadn't received Communion in the hand since I was a child.

And so it went. Awkward and self-conscious, but grateful that the pandemic hadn't reached Level D, when the sacraments might be suspended, I received Communion in the hand.

Level “A”
At this point, events suggest the increased risk for a pandemic, prompting the need to review plans and preparations for such an emergency and increase our level of caution.
• Parishes are to have bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer available for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. For example, these may be placed in the front pews (or other discreet but convenient place) and should then be used by these ministers both on their way to the sanctuary before communion and then again after ministering communion.
• All sick individuals, including clergy, are to stay home. Signs are posted on church, and parish/school doors instructing those with fever or other flu-like symptoms not to enter.
• Faith formation programs should be aware that camps, retreats, and other large youth gatherings may need to be postponed or cancelled, depending on local conditions. Youth ministers and catechists should keep up to date with the latest advice from public health authorities concerning such gatherings.
• Increase frequency of sanitizing door handles and other commonly touched solid surfaces.
• The vessels containing the bread and wine are to remain covered until placed on the altar.
• If a parish uses a large vessel at the entrance(s) of the church from which individual parishioners move hosts to the paten/ciborium, such a practice needs to stop at this point.
• Communion from the Cup is suspended. Only the priest and deacon if present are to commune from the Chalice—and then from opposite sides of the rim.
• In distributing communion, the Host shall be placed in the communicant’s hand without the minister touching the communicant.
• Communion on the tongue is discontinued.
• The practice of touching a non-communicant for a blessing is also to be discontinued.

Level “B”
In addition to the steps found in level “A”, the following steps (and modifications) are now to be added if necessary:
• Set up hand-washing stations in all buildings: tissues, trash receptacles, hand sanitizer, including instructions (signage).
• Sharing of the Sign of Peace by handshake or hug is suspended; rather, a simple bow/nod to one another will be used.
• Holding hands during Lord’s Prayer or any other part of the Mass is suspended.
• Ministers (incl. clergy and ministers of hospitality) are asked not to shake hands when they greet parishioners.
• Priests, deacons, readers, and servers—since they will be touching items in common—are to sanitize their hands before and after Mass, and during Mass if their hands become contaminated.
• On Good Friday, the Cross will be venerated by bow or genuflection, not by touch or kissing.
• In those places where it is the practice to venerate icons with a touch or kiss, that practice, too will be replaced with a bow.
• As far as pastoral visits to the sick are concerned, ministers should practice meticulous hand washing and—if the parishioner has symptoms of the flu virus—consideration should be given to wearing masks and gloves.
• Holy water fonts/stoops are emptied and refilled after each liturgical celebration and at least once daily.

Level “C”
In addition to the steps found in levels “A” and “B”, the following steps (and modifications) are now added if necessary:
• Staff or volunteers are to clean door handles and other hard surfaces (such as pews, water fountains, desks, tables, countertops washrooms) with a disinfectant. They should wear masks, gloves, and goggles when doing so and when emptying trash receptacles.
• Disinfecting should be done in parishes and chapels after each Liturgy (at least daily).
• Empty all baptismal and holy water fonts, including those that allow for full immersion; parishes should have pre-filled bottles of holy water available.
• Large group meetings should be postponed if at all possible. If not, participants should be seated with at least a 3’ distance between individuals.
• Home prayer booklets and other resources will be made available in case large group gatherings are suspended by Public Health authorities.
• The person preparing wine and hosts for Mass is also to wear a mask and non-latex gloves.
• Collection baskets are not to be passed person-to-person. It is preferred that a collection basket or locked poor box be placed at the entrance(s) of the church; alternatively, baskets with handles may be used (in which case ushers are to wear gloves and immediately wash their hands after the collection).
• Because the influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for some time, the money collected is to be quarantined for 3 days before being counted. Those removing money from the collection baskets or boxes are to wear gloves and wash their hands afterwards.
• The collection is not carried in procession as part of the preparation of the gifts and altar.
• Due to their ability to transfer infection from hand-to-hand, common missalettes and song books should not be used.
• Worship aids, if used, should be printed for each occasion and then destroyed. Reprint permission pertaining to applicable copyright laws is to be followed.
• To the extent possible, the assembly will be seated in alternating rows, thereby increasing distance between individuals. In addition, it may become necessary to limit the number of individuals present for any one Mass.
• Non-essential gatherings—such as Children’s Liturgy of the Word and post-Mass social gatherings/refreshments—are to be cancelled.
• Turn off water fountains or mark them as not to be used. Bottled water should be available in case of necessity.

Level “D”
In addition to the steps found in levels “A”, “B”, and “C”, the following steps are now added if necessary:
• If Public Health authorities mandate that all large-group gatherings be suspended, parishes will comply and stop offering the Mass and other sacraments to groups. If such were to occur, the Bishop dispenses from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass.
• If public celebration of the sacraments is suspended, signs to that effect will be posted at entrances to the church and parish offices.

16 October 2009

Visual WKJ

Here's one that I found just odd and interesting all in one.

Category: Final Resting Places

The above picture shows the final resting place of this Catholic convert.

That's all I'm telling you! Guess away.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

I hadn't planned to keep going into the Fall with Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy, but because things have been so busy since school started, I don't post much. If I didn't do WKJ, there might not be much new on my blog at all.

In mommy news, my son lost his first tooth. It had been loose for two weeks, so every day he walked around with his hand cupped under his chin because if the tooth were to fall out, he wanted to be absolutely certain he would catch it. Turns out he woke up one morning after this had been going on for awhile and just pulled the tooth out. I see my son is taking after me with a strong showing in the virtue of patience.

And, more on my son. His behavior kept him from going to Cub Scouts, had him on blackout and also kept him from going to hockey. My MIL thinks I'm terrible, but now that she isn't staying here any more, the TV is on infrequently and the kids aren't snacking constantly. Hoping next week brings him some clarity on his behavior. Or as my father, the swearing saint would say, "This shit needs to come into focus." Always a nice visual.

We will miss the St. Agnes Fall Festival because we have to run to the cabin to drain the water heater and get the place closed up. Not normally a problem at this time of year, but with the cold and snow we've had, we're lucky the pipes haven't frozen already! (As of Wednesday, the pipes were OK, at least according to my FIL).

Category: Anathema

This heretical group was comprised of Perfects and Believers who held dualistic beliefs and embraced a form of reincarnation. Like the scarlet letter, they were required to wear a yellow cross on their clothes.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

13 October 2009

Holy Water

The Church has instituted the sacramentals, those rites or objects on which a particular blessing bestows a special virtue for preservation against the influence of the devil. Among the sacramentals, St. Teresa favored the use of holy water:

From long experience, I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and to prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation. In fact, it is quite usual for me to be conscious of a refreshment which I cannot possibly describe, resembling an inward joy which comforts my whole soul. This is not fancy, or something which has happened to me only once; it has happened again and again and I have observed it most attentively [Life, xxxi, Peers, I, 205].

...The Church, in the different prayers for the blessing of water, asks insistently that power be given to this water "to put to flight all power of the enemy, to expel this enemy with all the rebel angels, to drive it away, to destroy the influences of the evil spirit and to cast out the venomous serpent.

"I often reflect on the great importance of everything ordained by the Church," comments St. Teresa, "and it makes me very happy to find that those words of the Church are so powerful that they impart their power to the water and make it so very different from water which has not been blessed."

Source: I Want To See God, A Practical Synthesis of Carmelite Sprituality, by Pere Marie-Eugene, OCD, pps. 115-117.

11 October 2009

Just in time for Christmas

After a few hours of gemuchlichkeit at a local Oktoberfest, we stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home.

In the children's section -- not the teen section -- the children's section, next to kits on bead projects, children's cookbooks, and stuffed animals, was this little gem.

Pondering whether it would be confession-worthy if these things mistakenly ended up under one of the store's cushy lounge chairs or accidentally got dropped in the garbage or one of the kids spilled a vendi mocha on them.

Here's what the BN site has to say about this set:

“A primer for beginning enthusiasts. The text is accompanied by soft, flowing illustrations and detailed pictures of the most popular Tarot cards...This guide will be ideal for providing a solid base for exploration.”—School Library Journal. “One of the best parts of this is its crisp, bright artwork. The cards’ familiar look will make potential Tarot readers more comfortable...An attractive choice.”—Booklist.

Full instructions on how to use tarot cards. Includes ideas for birthdays, parties, storytelling, keeping a journal and designing your own tarot cards.

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-A primer for beginning enthusiasts. The text is accompanied by soft, flowing illustrations and detailed pictures of the most popular Tarot cards, the Rider-Waite deck. Beginning with a brief history, the author moves into a step-by-step guide for using the cards. From there, readers are given a picture and description of what each one means in both upright and reserved form. The text finishes with sample spreads and tips for designing one's own deck. The book guides girls through the Major and Minor Arcana (the two sections of the deck) in simple language, and explains what the Tarot will and will not answer. While touting this device as a way to connect to intuition and bring clarity to a situation, the text retains a neutral, if somewhat New Age tone. Olmstead makes it clear that the Tarot should blend into one's daily life, "not be a controlling force." This guide will be ideal for providing a solid base for exploration, but practitioners of the art may be disappointed by the lack of in-depth information.-Elaine Baran Black, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Being a parent these days really requires vigilance. The malls are full of suggestive ads/displays, you can't watch most of what's on television, and you can't even browse in the children's section of a bookstore without having to look over your kids' shoulders! And, it's interesting that school librarians are reviewing this and recommending it. Personally, I don't know enough about Tarot to have even mustered a review. Interesting how versed the librarian is on the topic.

10 October 2009

Snowy Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Yes, we have snow!! Bad news is we didn't turn the heat on at the cabin AND we haven't drained the water from the water heater and pipes. Bad combination. May have to run up there and close the place up. Brrrrr. At least the boat got brought in and stored in the garage a few weekends ago, and the dock and boat lift are out of the water. (We could've turned the heat on, but there isn't enough propane in the tank to last very long...OY! Always something!)

Have a blessed weekend!!!

Category: Conquerors and invaders

Known as the "Devil's Horsemen," these conquerers who had half the known world in their control during the 13th century, surprisingly set an example of religious tolerance not known in the medieval world.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

06 October 2009

My little dragon slayer

Braving the rain and mud, we courageously made our way to the Renaissance Fest last Friday. Despite the constant drizzle and cold temps, we managed to have a good time. My son especially loved "balloon fencing." We walked, ate, petted animals, learned about knights, watched some jousting, rode on a war horse, and ate some more.

01 October 2009

No good deed

I was a good citizen, one of only 5% of the population in the city that voted in the recent primary. Dutifully, I walked over to my polling place with my kids and voted. I hate politics. It's a dirty business. But, I sure don't want my freedoms taken away, so I slogged over and voted.

A few days ago I got a SUMMONS, what an ominous and officious word, for JURY DUTY.

It seems like a bunch of people I know have gotten jury duty lately. It's an epidemic.

It's my duty to be part of the process, yada yada, I get that, but why NOW. I didn't have kids until I was in my late thirties, but the system doesn't pick me until I start homeschooling my kids. What if I was still nursing? That would really be difficult since they only let you request to postpone your duty for nine months. A lot of moms nurse for much longer than that...I wonder if you could get a doctor's note to get out of it then?

You can't bring a cell phone or any electronic device. How in the world can a mother of little ones be expected to sit in a room from 8am-4:30pm and not have a cell phone in case of emergency? Oh yeah, there's a contact number folks can call in case of emergency. Let's just say, in case of emergency I want my freakin' phone on me, not risking things to a disinterested civil servant to pass along a message. Good grief.

Another rub is that it seems folks can vote if they are citizens but don't speak English (some who aren't even citizens may vote, but we'll leave that to the ACORN folks to sort out), however, if you can't communicate in ENGLISH you can get out of jury duty. HUH? You can't read the ballot well enough to vote, but that isn't a problem, but it gets you out of jury duty?

And, they pay you a whole $10 a day to sit there in silence.

Did you ever feel like the Israelites after they asked for a king?