Contagious Christmas Spirit

This weekend we took a quick road trip to North Platte.  As we often do, we stopped in Grand Island for dinner.  This time we stopped at Bosselman’s Truck Stop.  As we sat down I noticed the man in the next booth.

He must have been hungry, because there were three plates on his table, and he was dining alone.Our waitress, Shayla, was quite busy, taking care of a large section by herself, and seemed a little frazzled.  After taking our drink order, she hustled off and the gentleman got up to leave.  He said to me, “I’ve got to run, but would you tell the waitress ‘Merry Christmas’ for me?”  I said, “sure,” and he left.  He also left a $50 bill on top of his ticket.  It had to be at least a $30 tip, maybe even more.

When Shayla returned, we shared the Christmas greeting with her and her eyes welled up with tears as she shared, “I’ve got kids, this will really help with Christmas,” then she hustled off to help another table.
Inspired by the kindness of a stranger we left a $20 tip for Shayla.  Wish I could have left a $50 bill there as well, but I didn’t have that much cash on hand.

God bless the quiet generosity in our world.

Categories: Stewardship, Travel | Leave a comment

Lobster Pound

One of the neat things we did while in Maine was to visit a lobster pound, and have dinner there.

(shown at right my wife and I enjoy our lobsters at Thurston’s)

A lobster pound is an imPOUNDment of seawater near a harbor when lobsters are held until they are sold on the wholesale or retail markets. They came about as an after-thought – some of the pounds started to cook a lobster for customers on the side, and the idea took off. For those of us in the Midwest, it’s not terribly unlike the former stockyards for cattle or swine.

Mount Desert Island is the home to Thurston’s Lobster Pound, where we ate dinner the first night in Maine. Located on Bass Harbor, this charming locale features an authentic Maine experience.

Customers select their own lobster, right from large holding tanks at the order window. Your lobster is weighed, placed in a mesh sack and cooked while you wait. Your order is announced by yelling your name and then the fun begins. When we were there lobster was $11.75 for a chick, or $12 per pound if you wanted something bigger. For an extra $5 you get corn on the cob, coleslaw, a roll and blueberry cake, for the true Down East experience.

I opted for a nice two-pounder, and savored it until the last bite. Not only was it the finest lobster I’ve ever eaten, it was enjoyed overlooking Bass Harbor and the lobster boats anchored therein.

The furnishings are simple at Thurston’s – plastic patio furniture, paper napkins, (you’ll need plenty of them) crackers and a pick. But for anyone traveling to Maine, eating at a true lobster pound is an absolute necessity.

I added the word true, because lots of regular restaurants call themselves a “lobster pound,” but unless they are in the business of buying lobster from the lobstermen, and holding them until the market price is right, they’re not a real lobster pound.

  • And it’s serious money, folks – lobster prices are dictated by market demand, and get extra high near the holidays. Even the movement of $1 per lobster adds up when you’re impounding thousands and thousands of them. Of course, the lobster pound takes some risk as well, and must feed and care for the lobsters until they are ready to sell.

In any regard, I’m delighted to give a perfect “10” to Thurston’s Lobster Pound. I’d go back in a heartbeat, and encourage anyone visiting the area to take advantage of this wonderful experience!

Categories: Cuisine, Travel | 1 Comment


Most of my friends know that I enjoy gourmet cooking, and that my wife and I love to travel. In fact, my wife was a travel agent when we were first married, which facilitated lots of wonderful trips that we would not have been able to take otherwise.

What’s the best way to combine these two hobbies of mine? Through lobster, of course! And where do lobsters come from? Well, besides God, I mean. The finest lobster comes from Maine. As such, we have planned (for a long time now) and finally made good on a trip to the land of lobsters, Maine, USA.

One of the driving forces behind the vacation was to search out, find, and consume as much lobster as possible. I’m proud to say that I averaged at least one lobster per day, and on a good day put away two of these exquisitely delicious crustaceans.

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you for the next several entries some highlights from our trip and interesting tidbits learned while on it.

Lobster Fun Facts:

  • Most lobsters are sold as “chicks” – about 1 ¼ lbs in weight – seven years old.
  • American (Maine) Lobsters have claws of different sizes – the larger of the two is the crusher claw and the smaller is the shredder claw.
  • Lobsters can be green, brown, orange, or even blue – they all turn red when cooked, however.
  • Only one-tenth of one percent of lobsters will live beyond their larval period. This is why is it crucial to return to the sea female lobsters carrying eggs, or any that have recently done so (marked by notching a vee into a section of their tail).
  • Although they typically crawl lobsters can sprint backwards very quickly (15 feet per second) by curling and uncurling their tail.

Praise to you, Lord God, King of the Universe – you create all things, including these delightful and fascinating creatures known as lobsters. Thank you, Lord, for these and all your gifts you pour upon us.

Categories: Cuisine, Educational, Travel | Leave a comment

Pope’s Church

Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome – who also goes by the title “Pope.”

(this is the facade of San Giovanni in Laterano)

Most people [incorrectly] assume that St. Peter’s Basilica is the Cathedral of Rome, but it isn’t, and never has been, by the way.

The Cathedral of the Pope is St. John Lateran, which is located in south-central Rome. Vatican City (which is an entirely different country altogether) is located northwest of Rome. The pope lives in Vatican City, but there are several properties throughout the city of Rome that belong to the Vatican, including the Lateran Palace – which is where the popes used to live a long time ago.

(this is a photo of the doors that you enter the basilica through – yes they really are THAT big!)

The church of a bishop is the church where the cathedra (chair) is located. In fact, when we speak about papal infallibility, we sometimes use the term “from the chair,” meaning that when the Pope speaks infallibly he does it from the “chair of Peter,” that is, as the universal pastor of the entire Church.

In every diocese in the world the cathedral is simply the church that contains the bishop’s chair – a sign of his authority and of his apostolic succession represented by the chair. Just as the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, every bishop is the successor of the Apostles.

And the Chair of the Pope is located here at St. John’s shown here. (sorry about the fuzziness of this photo)

All of these photographs are from a pilgrimage I made to Italy in March of this year. A group of seven of us from Omaha joined about twenty others on a tour that included Venice, Florence and Rome. Our smaller group took several side trips to Assisi, Siena, and San Gimignano. We were in Rome ten days before JPII passed away (in fact, we did not get to attend an audience with him, because he was still in the hospital).

So the universal Church celebrates the dedication of the universal cathedral on this day. If you ever get a chance to see this beautiful church, be sure and include a tour of the baptistery (a separate building) where the pope would baptize new Catholics on the Easter Vigil.

(In this photo notice the Easter Candle next to the font, and the sculpture of a deer drinking from a stream “like a deer that longs for running water, so my soul longs for you, O God” – Psalm 42:1)

Categories: Catechetics, Papal, Travel | 2 Comments

Weltjugendtad Koln 2005!

Today marks the beginning of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Today pilgrims will begin to arrive for a week-long festival of activities.

If you sound out phonetically the German word Koln, you will notice that it sounds just like the English word “Cologne.” My lovely wife (of German ancestry) pointed this out to me. Indeed it’s true, sometimes I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer!

In any regard, there is TONS of great info about World Youth Day at Amy Welborn’s site, give it a look here.

Expect a bonus entry later today regarding the other important event commemorated today.

Categories: Linguistics, Papal, Travel | Leave a comment

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