world history series

I recently found a series on YouTube recently called “Crash Course: World History”. Each clip runs about 15-20 minutes, and will tackle one topic of world history. In addition to the Western history that most of us learned in school, this series discusses Eastern history as well. I had no idea that the history classes I had in high school skipped so much!

If you like history at all, you should check this series out.

spinach and cheese omelet

I normally eat a one egg omelet breakfast during the week. I crack the egg into the pan, pop the yolk and then throw a slice of cheese on top. It’s yummy. On Saturday, however, I usually eat a two egger, and throw some spinach (or arugula) into it for some variety. They’re dead simple to make, but here’s a recipe anyway!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs (I like the brown ones, but use whatever you like)
  • 1 big handful of spinach
  • grated parmesan cheese (or any hard Italian cheese)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • salt, pepper, cumin, Sriracha

Get a nice non-stick pan, throw the butter in and melt it. Once it’s all liquid and foamy, throw the spinach in. While the spinach is cooking, I beat the eggs. I usually put in about a tablespoon of water, some salt, pepper and cumin with the eggs before beating them. I use a fork and try to get a decent amount air in the mix. Make sure the whites and the yolks are completely combined. The omelet won’t come out as nicely otherwise.

When the spinach starts to wilt, I add the eggs and make sure that they get all around the pan. When the eggs start to thicken, I add a bunch of yummy cheese. Once the eggs are mostly hard (e.g., cooked through), I fold the omelet. After I let it brown a little more, I flip it onto the plate, throw some Sriracha on top and chow down!

Sorry—no pictures for this one. I forgot, and I’m out of eggs.

St. Methodius

June 14

Methodius I was a Patriarch of Constantinople. Before he became the patriarch, he spent years fighting the second outbreak of the iconoclast persecution in the Eastern Church. Niκephoros, the patriarch of Constantinople, was banished and replaced with an iconoclastic patriarch. Methodius, a monk, was sent by the deposed patriarch to Rome to report the matter. After several years in Rome, and a change in the eastern emperor (Leo V was murdered and replaced by Michael II), Methodius returned with a letter from the pope that attempted to persuade the eastern emperor to change his ways and restore Niκephoros. That didn’t work out so well. Methodius was scourged and imprisoned. After 7 years, Methodius was let out of prison, and he defended the icons even more strongly than before.

When the emperor Michael died, his son Theophilus re-invigorated the persecution. Methodius, after going toe-to-toe with the emperor was again scourged and imprisoned. He managed to escape after a day this time, and continued to work on the emperor.

After Theophilus, the Iconoclast persecution was brought to an end. Theodora, Theophilus’s wife and the regent for Michael III, restored images and freed the prisoners. The current patriarch of Constantinople was an unrepentant iconoclast setup by the government. He was deposed and Methodius was made patriarch. He restored the icons to the Hagia Sophia (yeah, that Hagia Sophia, the one that was a Catholic or Orthodox church from 562 to 1453) in a solemn procession and deposed many iconoclast bishops throughout his patriarchate. The restoration, or “Feast of Orthodoxy” is still celebrated in Byzantine Churches today.

Methodius is a Catholic and an Orthodox saint. He is named in the Roman Martyrology on June 14.

St. Anthony of Padua

Memorial; June 13

The patron saint of lost things devoted his entire life to losing himself in God’s will.

After switching from the Canons Regular of St. Augustine to the Orders of Friars Minor, St. Anthony wanted to go to Africa and spread the faith, but he soon found that God’s plan was different. On the way to Morocco, Anthony became ill and due to poor weather was forced to stay in Sicily to regain his health. After moving around a bit, he stayed in the town of Forli. While he was attending an ordination, those present discovered that no speaker had been appointed. St. Anthony was called to speak. Those in attendance were not expecting much, but the Holy Spirit inspired St. Anthony to give an excellent speech.

After this, St. Francis himself instructed him to teach theology to his brother friars. Later in life, he was a forceful speaker against heretics. He performed many miracles and converted many of them. He was so successful that he was called the “Hammer of the Heretics” (Malleus hereticorum). Some of the miracles he performed while alive include bi-location, rendering poisoned food safe to eat and preserving people from the rain on numerous occasions.

There are many other interesting stories and facts about St. Anthony at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

meal plans

One of my major stumbling blocks in losing weight is that I go out to eat—a lot. I’ve found that when I make a meal plan for the week, I tend to not eat out as much. This is good for two reasons: eating out is not cheap—it is very possible to have homemade meals cheaper than anything from McDonald’s—and it’s not particularly healthy.

I don’t usually plan breakfast—my breakfast is too light to have a real plan. For a few months, I ate Nature Valley crunchy granola bars for breakfast. One packages has two bars and 180 calories. Lately, I’ve been eating one-egg mini-omelets with cheese. These add up to about 140 calories (70 calories from each component).

For lunch this week, I’ve planned salads. Salads are quick and easy to make, and they are very easy to change so that I don’t get bored. I have a salad recipe book that I purchased1  for ideas when I’m not feeling particularly creative. This week, I am eating a simple green tuna salad. The ingredients are: a handful of spinach; a handful of arugula; half a small onion, sliced; one can of tuna, drained and rinsed a few times; and some parmesan cheese on top. I make the dressing myself too: 3 parts grapeseed oil (I ran out of Extra Virgin Olive Oil…) to one part white wine vinegar, with a dash of salt and some herbes de provence to kick it up a notch. It’s a very tasty salad, and fills me up very well. Not bad for about 400 calories!

Supper is always the tricky meal. I have the most trouble eating my planned suppers. This week I plan to make a simple chicken stir fry, but I have already managed to not eat it once. The trouble I tend to run into is that I am not home many nights of the week. I won’t be home again until Thursday night, so we’ll see if I actually manage to get to my chicken stir-fry this week.

By keeping my meal plans simple and repeating the items throughout the week, I can buy ingredients once a week and everything averages out to rather low cost. A carton of eggs and a bag of cheese cost maybe $5 together if you buy the good eggs. That’s less than a buck a meal, because the eggs will cover two weeks. A couple of bags of salad greens, a bag of cheese (I’m lazy and grating cheese is a pain.), some onions and 5 cans of tuna cost around $15-$20, which is $3-$4 per meal. Not quite as cheap, but healthy and filling. My chicken stir fry is really cheap. The chicken was $6 for a 3lb bag plus about $3 for veggies. That’s around $2 per meal when you add in the rice and spice costs. Awesome.

footnotes

1. Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons. This is a very nice recipe book. Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has quite a few very nice cook books—I’ve purchased three. Some recipes are duplicated between books, but overall they are all simple and delicious. I try to buy from my local Catholic book store, but they didn’t stock this particular book.

St. Barnabas

Memorial; June 11

St. Barnabas was a very early member of the Church. Born a Levite on Cyprus, he spent much time in Jerusalem. According to most accounts, he converted during the Pentecost and is mentioned in Acts for selling his property and giving the proceeds to the church (Acts 4:34-37).

Barnabas introduced Paul to the Apostles, who were wary and slow to believe his conversion. Much of Barnabas’s ministry after this involves Paul. He convinced Paul to start his journeys in Antioch, and accompanied on many of his voyages. His desire to bring St. Mark (the Gospel writer) along with them on one of the journeys caused a temporary rift with Paul. Barnabas was present at the Council of Jerusalem, and sided with Paul on the circumcision debate.

After his journeys, not much is written about Barnabas. He was one of the most highly esteemed men of the Church outside of the 12 Apostles. Many writings are attributed to him: Tertullian attributes the Letter to the Hebrews, Photius claims Barnabas, not Luke, wrote Acts of the Apostles and many attribute the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but these claims are doubted.

Further reading:
The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02300a.htm
Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnabas

fun things to watch, to read and to hear

There is a slight problem with writing every day’s memorial, feast or solemnity—not every day has one! Instead, here are a few of the things that I keep up with on a (mostly) regular basis.

National Catholic Register (website) – this website is a great daily read. They publish a couple of interesting articles every day, in addition to hosting about a dozen blogs. They also have a twice-daily blog roundup. You have to be careful that this doesn’t take your whole day.

XKCD (website) – this is a nerdy web comic published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a fun combination of current events, math, physics, engineering and computer nerds. Sometimes I disagree with the author’s viewpoints, but I’ve never seen one that’s not safe for work.

Crash Course World History (youtube) – this is a YouTube video series published weekly. I haven’t watched all of them, but the first dozen or so are very well done and seem to do a good job of seeing the whole picture.A 15 minute video can’t teach everything about a topic in history, but these do a good job getting the important facts out. They also have a biology course, but I haven’t watched any of those.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know (website, podcast) – this is a semi-regular podcast made by some seminarians and seminarians who are now priests in the Denver Diocese. They are awesome and cover all sorts of interesting Catholic topics. I’ve probably spent way too much time listening to these guys in the last couple of weeks.

St. Norbert

Note: I promise that I’ll eventually get back to my series about Love, but there is much work for me to do before I continue. For now, I am trying to simply update the site more frequently. I’m hoping to improve my writing skills and simply get in the habit of writing things that are meant to be read. I spend so much time at work writing computer code and technical documentation that I fell this is necessary.

Also, you should go see For Greater Glory. It’s about the Mexican Revolution, and I’m told that it is very powerful. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but hope to soon.

Optional Memorial; June 6

St. Norbert was a bishop to Germany a few hundred years after St. Boniface. St. Norbert was especially devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. I could regurgitate his life story here, but the Catholic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia have already done a pretty good job of that.

What strikes me about St. Norbert is his complete devotion to God, as shown through what he said at his ordination:

O Priest! You are not yourself because you are God’s. You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing. What then are you? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you: “He save others, himself he cannot save!”

St. Boniface

Memorial; June 5

The German Church was in desperate need of reform in the early to mid 700s, and Pope Gregory II thought that St. Boniface was just the man for the job. Boniface, an English Benedictine Monk, gave up his election as abbot and went on a missionary journey to German lands in 719. What he found were pagans and poorly formed Christians. (Remember that at this time, the Catholic Church was the only Christian church.)

Soon after this first journey, Boniface started the hard work of reform. His primary aims were to increase the clergy’s loyalty to their bishop and to the pope and to open many houses of prayer. He was very successful in both of these tasks, and was responsible for getting the Benedictine nuns into the education business.

St. Boniface is also known for chopping down a tree—but not just any tree. He chopped down Donar’s sacred oak tree on Mount Gudenburg. As the people waited for their gods to strike him dead, he kept chopping until the trash crashed down and split into four parts. Legend has it that Boniface used the wood from the tree to build a chapel.

For his efforts and work at reform, Boniface was massacred with 53 companions as he was preparing them for confirmation.

life update

In December, my Knights of Columbus council elected me Grand Knight. Since then, life has been a little crazier than usual.

I still plan to finish the “Love” article series, but haven’t had a chance to get the rest of it out. While browsing my local Catholic book store, I found Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) and want to read that before continuing with that series.

My weight loss plan is not gone, and I have not gone up. I just haven’t dropped as much as I’d have liked. I’m at 229.8lbs as of today. By the end of May I plan to drop to 225lbs or lower–the final goal being between 190lbs and 200lbs. It seems that it is getting harder to drop weight as I get lighter and lighter. My workout has also changed a few times–I’m due for a workout update soon.

I have also retried my gardening attempts this year–last year was not a good year to try it out. Something about setting a record for most days over 100 in recorded history.

I have several other interesting articles planned; hopefully, I will be able to get those written (or at least started) this summer!