Fr Kapaun’s Remains Identified

Seventy years after he died as a prisoner of war in the Korean conflict, the remains of a heroic priest, Fr. Emil Kapaun, have been found! Fr. Kapaun was born and raised right here in Kansas and is now being considered for canonization as a saint.

According to the Manhattan Mercury, Father Kapaun was a Kansas-born priest who served the US Army as a chaplain in WWII and the Korean war:

Father Kapaun was born in 1916 in Pilsen, a small farming community in Marion County. He was ordained into the priesthood in 1940 at what is now Newman University. A mural honoring Kapaun adorns the school’s chapel.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2013 for his actions at the Battle of Unsan on Nov. 1-2, 1950.

Father Kapaun was named a “Servant of God” by the Vatican as an initial step in the cause for sainthood. Read more about Fr. Kapaun on the Wichita Diocese website.

Fr. Emil Kapaun

National Outdoor Learning Initiative

I’m very glad to see some educators are moving their classrooms outside. We did this with my classes last fall and we enjoyed some very pleasant days outside right up to the Thanksgiving break. I plan to do the same again next fall. And now that it is warming up, we’ll do it this spring as well with weather that cooperates.

On Building Wealth

I have been dropping in from time to time in my colleague, Professor Kathy B’s Finance class. Her class has created a miniature mutual fund, for fun, with every student choosing a stock to “purchase” and follow throughout the semester. She encouraged me to pick a stock as well, so sort of at random, I chose Lowes, Inc. because it is a local store and many of our students work there. One student in the class is a former Lowes employee and thought I was foolish to pick that one, so I get ribbed every time it goes down and I gloat whenever it goes up.

I have also been listening to The Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz during my morning commute. It was the top podcast on Apple iTunes for a while, now it is at #5. Yesterday, something I heard that resonated with me. The verse is from Deuteronomy 8:17-18 and it goes like this:

Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…

I think it is a very good perspective to keep in mind when it comes to building wealth. Many years ago, when our first child was small and we were expecting our second child to come very soon, my wife received word that the company where she had worked for 30+ years was filing for bankruptcy and she was going to be out of a job. At the time, we had really over-extended ourselves with consumer credit and an expensive, brand-new Chevy Avalanche truck. We had been living a life we really couldn’t afford, and things were looking bleak. Our immediate reaction was that we too would soon also be bankrupt because who would want to hire a (very) expectant mother for a mid-to-high-level supervisory position like the one she was leaving?

Late one evening, I was driving home from visiting my mother-in-law and my wife was still staying with her for a while before the baby came. I happened upon a talk-radio show with this fellow dispensing financial advice that was based upon Christian, biblical principles. What kind of show is this? I wondered. It turns out, it was Dave Ramsey, who was not so widely known then as he is these days. In fact, at the time I couldn’t find a station around my home tha carried his show, so I became a regular listener to his program by his podcast downloads.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Over the years, we have (mostly) followed his sound advice and we now find our financial situation to be much improved over those bleak days. When I look at how much our retirement savings have grown and I see that retirement isn’t all that far into the future anymore, I often wonder how this ever happened to us. We were so lost back then, and though we are still far from perfect when it comes to financial wisdom, we have come far along the path.

So what happened to pull us out of that deep hole? Well, for one thing, capitalism happened. Dave Ramsey calls it the snowball. Success builds upon success. Setting goals and following a wise plan really works. When you start saving to an investment portfolio, over time, the money you save itself makes money. Then that money makes money, along with the original money. Over and over, the snowball grows and grows.

Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich” called this The Law of Increasing Returns. Whether it is the farmer planting a seed that over time will return seeds a hundred-fold, or the regular saver who builds up a nest-egg of investments that begin to pay off, in a way it feels a little bit like magic. It feels almost like the universe is required to respect your hard work and diligence and pay you back for your efforts.

But as the verse from Deuteronomy says, it isn’t my own hand’s power and might, it was something greater than myself. I just followed a plan in accord with how the world works. But believers recognize that it is God’s handiwork behind the powerful growth that takes place. It doesn’t happen by itself—we have to contribute something ourselves. We have to act with wisdom and be patient. And it can easily get out of kilter if we start thinking that we caused it all by ourselves or if we start thinking our life revolves all around the creation and retention of wealth.

Typically, I don’t even check our portfolio that often. It is only more frequently on my mind right now because I drop in on a finance class every now and again. Sometimes I will take a peek at things when I hear the news that the market has really increased, but I don’t really obsess about it on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I will go months and months at a time without even thinking about what is going on with investments. I have more important things to occupy my heart and mind. Maybe as I age, I will become more concerned about it. But right now, I’m just following the plan that we’ve made and sticking to sound principles that work. It seems to be working out so far.

Nebraska Poet Ted Kooser

I was watching this interview with singer/songwriter John Prine, which is wonderful in itself and I recommend watching it. But the host of the Prine interview was also so familiar. Who is that guy? I wondered. Then at the end of the interview, John Prine says, “Thank You, Ted Kooser.” Of course, I know who Ted Kooser is.

Years ago, I read a book by Ted Kooser about writing poetry. I even tried doing it for a while, but I didn’t keep it up. But this morning I wondered where is Ted Kooser now? In searching for the answer to that question, I found his homepage with this short documentary video about Kooser and his life and work.

Ted Kooser says a great deal about the creative process in this piece. Every day, he gets up at 4:30 am each day and works until seven. A part that really struck me is his statement,

Once or twice a month I come up with something that was worth my time—the rest of the time, I’m failing.

I was drawn to the video because I often give my students the assignment of making a mini-documentary about someone interesting. How can you introduce someone to the world through video? Do it like the video Passing Through from Straw Hat Visuals on Vimeo.

Em Dash Shortcut

Wow, I learned something really cool and easy to do today. To create an “em dash” using a Mac computer, simply click Option+Shift+Minus (the – key) and boom, you have the ever-cool em dash character! It looks like this: —

Windows users can also use the em dash character, but it is a bit more complicated. Access the emoji keyboard by clicking the Windows key + the period key and select the em dash character. You can also use the alt code combination Alt + 0151, but this only works if you have a number pad keyboard.

You can use the em dash in a sentence instead of a comma, a colon, or even parentheses. I’ll have to keep this in mind because I have an affinity for writing parenthetical thoughts. Em dashes can enhance readability.

You should not use an em dash when a hyphen is required, such as in hyphenated word combinations. To do so would make you a two-bit, no-account, good-for-nothing ninny-muggins.

Read the full skinny on when to use the em dash at The Punctuation

Split Long Audio into Shorter MP3 Files

I made some MP3 audio recordings of vinyl LP records so I can listen to them in my car. The only problem is, these recordings contain the entire side of an LP, I would like to skip to specific songs when playing them back on my car’s stereo. To do this, I needed to split the long audio file into individual song MP3 files. A quick Google search showed me how to do this in Adobe Audition.

This got the job done for me in a short amount of time, but I had to first select the song waveforms in Audacity and create a range marker for each song.

  1. Open the tab under Window-> Markers.
  2. Use the selection tool to select a song in Audition.
  3. Click the “add cue marker” icon—it looks like an elongated home plate (or use the “M” shortcut key).
  4. Name the marker (recommended option).
  5. Repeat for each song.
  6. Click the “

This is not a huge job because you can typically spot the silence between each song visually. It only took a few minutes to create the range markers for an album with 12 songs in it. The nice part about doing it this way is that you can name each range marker and use that name as the resulting MP3 file names in the export.

There is a similar process used in Audacity that I have used before as well, but I had never done this in Audition before.



Naval Gunfire Support: Battleship at Kuwait

We were a couple of miles off the coast of Kuwait, operating in a “box” about ten miles long by half a mile wide. Several days before, two naval ships, the USS Tripoli and the USS Princeton had struck mines in these waters. Our operations area had been swept and declared clear of mines, but we were still moving at a fairly slow speed and in tight quarters. It takes most of that available half mile just to turn a battleship around.

We had been conducting naval gunfire support (shore bombardment) for some time with the sixteens striking various targets inland, such as tanks, munitions dumps, etc. The men and equipment you see in the photo were responsible for aiming and firing the sixteen-inch guns from this compartment, the forward main battery plotting room. Suddenly the captain’s frantic voice blared out of the 1MC, “missile inbound, all hands brace for shock!” So we stopped what we were doing and everyone thought, “oh no, we might die.” Then we bent our knees, stood on the balls of our feet, and braced ourselves against whatever solid thing we could find while we waited to see what would happen.

I thought about our friends who were topside in the fire control directors. Not long before, I had been assigned to one of the directors and knew that if we were struck, those men who were assigned outside of the safety of the armored belt that protected engines and fire control equipment would be in the most danger. Those men later reported that they could see the missile streaking towards us across the sky.

There were two Silkworm missiles fired at us that evening; the first one fell harmlessly into the ocean completely missing us and the second heading right at us was shot down by the HMS Gloucester in what turned out to be the first successful missile to missile combat engagement in naval history. The only actual damage we received was some friendly fire from another escort ship (I will have to look up what ship that was)  but there were no injuries.

The friendly fire incident was also historic. It might have been the first time a military autonomous robot fired at and struck a friendly unit in combat. The neighboring ship (USS Jarrett?) had put the Phalanx CIWS into “full auto” mode, meaning it would detect and engage all threats without human intervention. When the USS Missouri saw the missile heading its way, the electronic warfare men activated anti-missile countermeasures. One of these, our SRBOC chaff launcher, fired a canister of chaff that was meant to distract the missile away from us, but it inadvertently also got the attention of the full-auto CIWS on the other ship. The CIWS automatically opened fire with its 2,000 round per minute depleted uranium Gatling gun and hit the Missouri a few times by accident.

In the end, we survived unscathed and were thankful to be alive.