Monday, October 03, 2005

And now the time has come....

I began blogging back in October 2003 to keep track of conversations I was having with my friend, Jeff. The blog evolved, not always the way I expected. Regardless, it has outlived its usefulness to me. I thank my 50 or so regular readers. Your comments were often very much fun. I apologize to anyone I have ever offended by my words here. I will have a new baby in the house before this week is through. Much is needful between now and then. God bless you all. Again, thank you for for reading and commenting and making this such an interesting experience. I'm turning off the computer now.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pork Loin

I made the pork loin this evening. Considering that it was stuffed with apricots, onions, and prunes, I was sure it would be marvelously sweet and sour. I was wrong. It was very bland. Eating raw wheat flour by the spoonful would have been more exciting. I still have about 6 lbs left. I'll stick it in the fridge and do something with it for breakfast on Saturday morning. Maybe bread it with cornmeal and egg, and fry up little pork loin cutletts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Papers written for School

Thre is nothing there yet, but I will be posting my papers at this site. I've done a test with two different browsers. The footnotes work if you are using Mozilla or Explorer, but they look a lot better with Mozilla. When viewd with Explorer you see a lot of the underlying code. Its distracting.

There will be a link to the "papers" site on the sidebar of this blog.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The little boy and I are making chocolate chip cookies for the maintenace staff today. Unfortunately, I have lost my (my wife will say it is hers) Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies book. So I am cruising around on line finding cookie recipies. I came across this helpful page in my searches. There is also this, for people who believe what they read in chain emails. And this is the recipe we are using, with a couple of modifications.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Epistle of St. James

I am just about finished with my 1st assignement, the summary of the NT. I'm going to do a test post of one book and see how it looks. This is an easy one because it has no graphics.

The Epistle of St. James the Brother of the Lord

This Epistle was written by St. James, son of St. Joseph the Betrothed, first Bishop of Jerusalem sometime between A.D. 45 and A.D. 50[1]. Many people, especially Protestants pose this letter in opposition to, or as a balance to St. Paul’s teaching on faith. However, as we have seen, St. Paul in every one of his letters teaches that the Christian must behave in a certain way, and that the deeds of men can prevent them from entering the Kingdom of God[2]. According to Fr. Thomas Hopko, St. James’ purpose in writing this letter is to “correct the false opinion that because Christians are freed from the ritual works of the Mosaic law through faith in Christ, they need not do any good works whatsoever and are not subject to any law at all.[3] But St. James was not alone in trying to correct this problem: St Peter warned against misconstruing St. Paul’s teaching[4], and St. Paul himself responded very dramatically[5] to the misinterpretation of his teaching. In a verse that should make people relying on faith alone[6] shudder, St. James writes: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (2:14-24) The two, faith and works must exist together in the Christian. And the first work that faith should cause to come out of a Christian is care for the poor (1:27-2:9)[7]. But this letter is not just a message of works. It is a message of faith and works, as is the whole Bible. We are told to pray. Is that work of prayer worth anything apart from faith? Certainly not. For St. James does not say that unbelieving prayer is effectual, rather he writes “and the prayer of faith shall save the sick” (5:15)[8]. Control of the tongue is also shown to be of tremendous importance. In fact, St. James writes that the religion of someone who cannot control his tongue is a false religion (1:26).

[1] Scofield, C.I. (Editor), The New Scofield Reference Bible (Introduction to The Epistle to James), page 1327, Oxford University Press, New York, U.S.A., 1967

[2] “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”, St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

[3] Hopko, Thomas,

[4] “And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”, St. Peter, 2 Peter 3:15-16

[5] “And not [rather], (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”, St. Paul, Romans 3:8

[6] This is in contradition to Martin Luther’s famous mistranslation of Romans 3:28 into which he introduced the word ‘alone’ - “You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word ‘alone’ is not in the text of Paul. If your Papist makes such an unnecessary row about the word ‘alone,’ say right out to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,’ and say: ‘Papists and asses are one and the same thing.’ I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin or the Greek text, it was not necessary for the Papists to teach me that." Cited in Stoddard, John, Rebuilding a Lost Faith, pages 136-137, TAN Books, Rockford, Illinois, U.S.A.

[7] “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 21:41-46

[8] This passage is the first of the seven Epistle readings for the sacrament of Holy Unction: Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” James 5:13-16

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Finished the Paulines

I just finished Hebrews, the last of the Pauline Epistles for school. (Yes, I know Origen, Tertullian, Luther, and Harnack say Paul didn't write Hebrews, but they were heretics, weren't they?) I'm going to bed. No church tonight so I could do homework. Also, put the baby's crib together. Tired. Have to get up at 7 (Yikes! Only 6 hours from now!) to make it to Hours at 9:30.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Shocking Idea

Tonight I finished my work (for school) on the Patoral Epistles and the Epistle to Philemon. Here is an exceprt from what I wrote. I don't know what to think of it.

"It is also interesting to see that both St. Mark and St. Luke were in Asia (v.24) with St. Philemon when this letter was written. It is only speculation, but could these have been the friends St. Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:15 and 4:16; the friends who abandoned him at his trial? It is clear that these two letters were written about the same time. Both 2 Timothy and Philemon seem to have been written when St. Paul was old (Phil. v. 9) and approaching his execution date. (2 Timothy 4:6)."

I had never given much thought to Philemon. Now I think it might be one of te saddest things ever written.

Friday, September 23, 2005

3rd Day of Christmas

In my family we have a tradition of hosting a party on December 27 (In the Orthodox Church aka the 3rd Day of Christmas aka Feast of St. Stephen). Today, the little boy and I began talking about what we are going to do at the party. (These kinds of things require much advance planning.) In our looking around for interesting little things we came across this episode of a Public Radio show called Pulse of the Planet.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tu ne cede malis

Giving versus stealing. Without bragging (because you probably gave more than I), I gave to help the people suffering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. But now the Congress and the President are taking money from me to give to the people of the Gulf Coast. (I'm not even going to get into "no-bid" contracts.) And that stinks. I feel like they are polutting my good freely-given money with money extracted from me (and probably my children) at bayonet point.
Giving versus stealing. I gave and now I am being plundered. Thieves and bloodsuckers. For the sake of their poll numbers my treasury is raided. For the sake of their compassion we are sold into bonded servitude.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Name Change

For a girl we are still settled on Lucy (of Syracuse) Ignatius (of Antioch). But if a boy it looks like Basil (of Moscow) Wenceslas (of the Christmas Carol). But, of course, we do in reality have 8 days from the birth of the child to decide. So, all of this could change again.

I love the Reagans

I came across this on Serge's Blog:

The 1980s
Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbechev walking through that Russian Orthodox cathedral. It was like something from "Dynasty"!

Raisa: These icons are merely an expression of our culture-- they are not religious.

Nancy: Really? Hmm. There's Jesus, and the Virgin Mary... I don't really see how one could argue that they have no religious meaning, but if you say so...

Raisa: I do say so. I was professor of blah blah blah at Karl Marx University and--

Nancy: (giving her the hand) Yeah, yeah, yeah...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Trying to Get Ahead.

I think my regular readers know I and my wife manage rental housing. We don't own it, we just manage it for absentee landlords. A couple of months ago we had a chance to buy into the building I manage but decided it wasn't wise.

Now we have another opportunity to buy into another building, this is one the many buildings my wife manages. It is very attractive (financially, I mean) and we want to do it. Getting the money together is difficult. Your prayers are appreciated.


We have a new Greek cookbook. Sunday night we made lamb in port wine and fig sauce for my parents. Last night we made mousaka. Today for lunch I made lamb soup (from Sunday's bone) for the little boy's lunch.

A few days ago a friend asked me why I shop at Whole Foods. "What do you get there that you dont get at Safeway?" I explained that I don't think I can in good concience eat industrially-farmed meat and that the animal flesh sold at Whole Foods comes from beasts that were treated with respect. I also told him they have the best cheese department of any grocery store I have patronized.

Case in point: A few weeks ago I needed to buy some queso blanco for fish tacos. I went to Albertson's, your average enormous supermarket. No one in the store knew what queso even was, except for one old mexican man in the meat department. (Queso is a Mexican cheese.) Yesterday, I needed to buy khefalotiri for the mousaka. I talked to the woman at the cheese counter at the Whole Foods in Cupertino. (I go to the one in Cupertino more than the one in Campbell because an old girlfriend is one of the managers at the Campbell store.) I said, "Do you have khefalotiri"
She said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I stopped carrying it because so few people were buying it."
I said, "That's too bad. Is there another cheese I can use to get the same result?"
"What are you going to do with it?", she asked.
"Mousaka", I replied.
"There is something we can do" she beamed.
She came around to my side of the counter and searched through all of the cheeses and came up with a little white ball of cheese (I for got the name).
She said, "Hold on to this. It is the unaged version of khefalotiri", and I did.
Then she found another cheese, an aged sheep milk pecorino.
She said, "In mousaka you can use these two cheeses as a substitute for khefalotiri - it all melts together. Just use equal amounts of each."
Amazed, I said, "Where did you come by this knowledge? You did not learn this on the job".
She blushed and said proudly, "I went to culinary school".

This is why I love Whole Foods Market and own a tiny little bit of the company.

A Traditionalist Roman Catholic Altar Boy In Singapore

Raphael offered us a link to this blog where the imagined golden age of the Eastern Liturgy was discussed by a Jesuit priest. That is where I found the link to the blog of a ultra-traditionalist RC Altar boy. He had this funny thing to say about the liturgical problems of the Latins:

In illo tempore, the Three Roman Traddies came unto a parish church, and began to offer worship to the Most High. And behold, several instrumentalists brought in drums, electric guitars and stereo speakers of wood, two cubits in length, and a cubit in breadth, and a cubit and half in height.

On a completely different note, seeing all these blogs with their cool design features has inspired blog-envy. I wish I had more free time.

Oh, today was our first rain of the rainy season (officially it goes from Oct 15 to Mar 15). Every thing smells very good. And there is even thunder, a very rare thing in the San Francisco Bay area. It makes me very happy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sayings of the Fathers

I think I read somewhere that the venerable Seraphim Rose said we should keep a notebook to record sayings of the Fathers of the Church and other saints. I think that a hundred years from now when someone looks at my notebook and sees this they will wonder if I was a crackhead:

"such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing." - St. Augustine in De Civitate Dei (14.24)

I'm NOT making this up.

Republicans: The New Socialists

The largest number I have seen for the number of houses destroyed in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina is 200,000. Let's assume that an additional 100,000 houses were destroyed in areas outside of New Orleans. That's 300,000 houses.

Now let's look at what the President said he wants to spend on hurricane recovery. He said he wants to spend $200 billion. That is $666,000 per house. Someone, anyone, tell me what is he thinking? I sure don't understand what he is talking about. Where is this money going to go? Are we going to build mansions in place of all of these houses?

Who does George Bush think he is? FDR?

I do not know my party anymore.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

School and Recovery from Katrina

Sorry for the dearth of posts. I've been super busy with reading and writing for school. My first assignement (summary of each book in the New Testament) is about 1/3 complete. I just finished Philippians. Johana Manly's "Bible and Holy Fathers for Orthodox" is proving to be indispensible.

About Katrina Recovery. I have heard that the president wants to spend billions of dollars of federal money on rebuilding the gulf region. I think this is a mistake. Landowners still have their land. Let them mortgage it and rebuild. Or let them sell to others. But don't force me, a Californian to rebuild New Orleans. ( I don't hate Louisiana. One of my fave singers is from there. And so is the other one.) And how is the federal government going to decide what gets rebuilt? What gets demolished? Is a bureaucrat with no interest in what happens in Slidell 10 years from now going to be put in charge of rebuilding Slidell? How will a state relief worker know better than a property owner what a piece of property needs? Sure rebuild the port, ports, bridges, canals, levies, roads... public works are pretty much what governments do. But rebuilding private property? No way. Private is private. Public is public. May the two never mix.

And where are these billions of dollars going to come from? Will taxes be raised? Just stick a tube in me and syphon off a little blood. It would hurt less. Will bonds be issued? Please, someone look at that word: Bond. As in Bondage. As in slavery. Chain around the neck and work your fingers to the bone to pay off debt. But not just for us, no that isn't nearly good enough. We can sell 30 year bonds to enslave our children. Yeah. That's what we should do.

If the president is serious about spending federal money on Katrina relief, before one bond is sold or one tax raised, I want to see the Congress reduce pay for all federal employees by 10%.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau the 2004 U.S. government civilian payroll for March 2004 was $12,844,765,857.

Multipied by 12 months that comes to $154,137,190,284.

10% of $154 billion is $15.4 billion. I bet we could do some pretty good levy building for that much money.

Oh, I can hear someone now: "But we have to rebuild the oil refineries!"

No we don't. The people who buy gasoline can rebuild the oil refineries. That is the way markets work. All the government needs to do is get out of the way and let the market operate.
Oh, I can here somone now: "But we need to rebuild the public housing in a way that spreads the poor people out among the rich so we don't have concentrations of poverty." Don't make me puke. I lived across the street from public housing. I saw what goes on there. I've talked to the cops who dread patroling public housing. Here is an idea: Don't rebuild public housing but abolish zoning laws and let landowners build on their land. That whole supply and demand curve will make sure we have the right amount of housing at the right price.

For other regions around the country I have this advice: Turn all public housing into condominiums and let the residents decide if they want to live there or sell. Even make them exempt from property tax for a couple of years. Make them part of the ownership society. Turn them into capitalists. If they have moxie they will do well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The funeral was interesting. On the way to Madera last night I went over the Sad Story with the little boy again. I wanted to make sure he had the concept of being made out of dust. It came in handy today when he saw Grandma Marian's coffin (grey steel) and looked inside her crypt in the masaleum wall. I think it kind of freaked out my wife that he lifted the red velvet curtain and looked inside the crypt. I thought it was interesting, too. I had assumed that we would see lots of coffins, but no. Each crypt is its own little concrete compartment. On the "floor" of the crypt were 4 wooded rods to act like wheels when the coffin was inserted. I have only ever seen burials in the ground so this was very interesting to me.

"What happens to Grandma Marian?"
"She turns back into dust, like Adam."
He looks inside the crypt. Looks at me.
I continued, "But when Jesus comes back he will put the dust back together for the Last Judgement."

A little later...

"Will I turn into dust?"
"Probably, unless Jesus comes back first."

I feel sorry for parents who do not know this and have to make up stuff, or tell their kids something they do not really know is true.

After the funeral at the Masuleum there was a memorial service at the Lutheran church in Kerman, of which Marian had been a member her whole life. On the bullitin board was a report from a meeting the ELCA had in Orlando, I guess the proposition that homosexuals be ordained lost by a razor thin vote but there was some kind of compromise on blessing homosexual unions. Also on the bullitin board was a letter from the local Lutheran bishop trying to comfort both sides of the debate. It made me glad to be Orthodox. What a horrible messy fight the Lutherans seem to be having. All we fight about is inconsequential stuff like autocephaly. I'm glad morals and doctrine settled issues.

I tried to follow the service but it was hard. The little boy is difficult to manage in a pew-constrained setting. The prist seemed like a nice guy but it seemed to me that the service was kind of made up recently and he wasn't comfortable doing it. He was much better at the masoleum earlier in the day. There he just read the Bible. (that passage from Job is one of my faves.) but at the memorial service it was kind of like he was a cross between the solemn man he was at the mausoleum and an MC for a hokey talent show.

Someone read a poem..

high heels
apple pie
hard worker
always happy..."

Someone sang a song, the words to which were unintelligable.

He preached on the 23rd Psalm. I don't like the 23rd Psalm for funerals. I think the Job passage is better. But that's just me.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Friend: Suffering under the muslim yoke.

My friend, Maria is suffering. Her whole village is suffering. How? Read it for yourself here.

Le Weekend

I'm still trying to recover from my lack of sleep last week. I don't think I can do that to myself again. I'm not 20 anymore. Back then I could go days and days with only a few hours sleep per night. But I'm middle aged now (I hope). So, no more of that.

Saturday night we went to church at Holy Trinity in San Francisco Saturday night. There seemed to be a class of highschool girls visitg with their teacher. That was interesting. I guess being a tourist destination goes with being the first Orthodox parish in the USA. My wife felt a need to go to confession before she gets any closer to the due date. We haven't talked about it but she seems very worried about what might happen.

Sunday morning we went to church at St. Stephen's in Campbell. We had been thinking about changing to that parish, but it is so big! And they already have outgrown their new building. They will have to move pretty soon. So, it looks like we are still going to be making the trek up to S.F. every week. Not that there aren't some really great things about St. Stephen's. We both like how it seems that everyone in the parish does stuff together. I think that must be a benefit of everyone in the parish living in the same area. At HTC people drive in from as far away as Moraga, Berkely, Pacifica, San Mateo, San Carlos, Fairfax, and San Jose. Visiting a fellow parishoner's house could easily involve a 90 minute drive! But I was chismated at HTC. My wife was Baptised and Chrismated at HTC. The Little Boy was Baptized and Chrismated at HTC. The first time any of us tasted the Body and Blood of Jesus was at HTC. Add to that the familiar Icons and Relics. Where I stand in HTC is very close to the Relics and Icons of St. Eliabeth the New Martyr and several of the American Saints. At any time I can just lean over and whisper to them, kiss them. We wouldn't have that at St. Stephen's. So, we are going to stay at HTC. But I think we are going to contact Fr. Patrick at St. Stephen's about getting involved in one of their small groups.

Other news: My wife is in the running for a job at Stanford: More money, fewer hours per day, better benefits. They have a very long hiring process so she won't know anything for 3 or four months. (which is excellent for s since the baby could come at any minute.) But from a source inside the University we know she is the top candidate. She is pretty excited.

In sad news, after a long fight with cancer Athanasia's grandmother died at the age of 89. It is sad to see her go. She was a link to part of the California past I knew very little about. I never knew about the SunMaid Raisin Wars until she told me about her brother being burned out, about other farmers poisoning vinyards, etc. (You can read more about the agricultural co-ops here.) She is gone now. And her eyewitness memories of part of California's agricultural history is gone with her. We are going to the funeral in Madera on Wednesday. I'm not sure my wife is able to ride in the car that long. Just going to San Francisco on Saturday night was painful for her.

Sunday afternoon, the Little Boy and I went to my brother's house. It is actually a small mansion in the foothills of the Diablo range. From his house you can see most of San Jose and the small cities to San Jose's north and west spread out on the valley floor. Pretty good for a house painter!!! As we were walking through the house the little boy said: "Daddy, why does this house have so many bathrooms?"

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gun Ban in New Orleans: I bet homeowners feel safer already

The NOPD is seizing the guns of law-abiding citizens. I guess the rationale is that since the police did such a good job protecting property owners from looters and women from rapists the people don't need guns anymore. Part of me hopes some cops get killed trying to take away guns. Too bad it can't be the stupid politico who signed off on this.

Another reason to fear suburbs

In 1970 oil extraction in the U.S.A. peaked and began to decline. Do you remember the crisis it caused in the U.S. economy? It seems that right now Saudi Arabia has peaked. I say this because for months the Saudis have been saying they would increase production to stabilze the price of a barrel of oil, but the price of oil keeps increasing while Saudi production remains about constant. If Saudi production has peaked it is very likely that world production has peaked.

What does this have to do with suburbs? Well, suburbs have been built on the farm land that used to surround our cities. Those farms are gone, never to come back. This means that with less oil cities will have to import food from farther away with more expensive fuel.

An economic Hell is waiting for us and our children.

All Work and No Play

Here is what my days are now.
Daylight hours: work and taking care of the little boy.
Night time hours: (I didn't get to bed until 4:30 this morning.): Schoolwork.

What I am doing is working on my biblical studies assignements while I am doing huge amounts of reading for the Church History courses. I'll start writing the essays for church history once I finish the reading, at this rate it will be sometime around Hallowe'en. When I start writing those essays I'll also I'll start doing the reading for Dogmatic Theology.

So far I've finished the Four Gospels and Acts. I have not yet figured out how I am going to post my work on this blog. It is complicated by the graphics (Icons, mostly) and footnotes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Up All Night

The courses I am taking from Joensuu are a bit more intense than I was expecting. there are about 70 books on the reading list. And the amount of work is amazing. For instnace, I've been up all night working on the first assignement: 1 paragraph sumaries of each of the books of the New Testament. All I finished tonight was my paragraph on the Gospel of Matthew and my endnotes are almost a page long. I think that once I get the Gospels finished I will email those paragraphs to the instructor and make sure I am doing what he wants. I'd hate to do the whole NT and then find out that all the hours of plowing through the Bible and the Fathers was in vain.

Well to bed now. I have to wake up in 3 hours.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Names Picked

We finally settled on three saints for our baby while we were in the hospital tonight. (I'll explain why we were in the hospital a little later.)

If it is a boy: Basil Ignatius
If a girl: Lucy Ignatius

Why St. Basil? We read his story and fell in love with him. Same for St. Lucy. Why St. Ignatius? Because his seven letters lead us to Orthodoxy.

So, as for why we were at the hospital. Because eariler today, about 4 p.m. my wife was at the diabetes clinic (She has gestational diabetes) and they saw something or dididn't see something (I'm still not sure which) and were worried. They sent her to the hospital. They monitored her and the baby for a long time. She is having contractions. The baby seems to be not as active as the doctors would like. Anyway, they sent her home after a few hours. She has to go back in three days for more monitoring. And they are making her count kicks. If there is a one hour period with fewer than four kicks she is to go straight to the hospital.

Having babies is amazing. I remeber something that happened a long time ago, when I was a protestant and going to a very large singles group at PBCC we were working our way through a book of the new testament and we came to the verse that says women are saved by having babies. The teacher couldn't explain it. He said something like "nobody really understands what that means." Isn't that sad? Watching a woman carry and give birth one can see God's grace all over her. But, if you believe that works are nothing, well, you have to say "nobody really understands what that means."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Medal Candidate

The standards for awarding the Congressional Gold Medal have been falling over the last few decades. I think that there is a young man from New Orleans who did a good thing and deserves the medal. In fact, I thinkby awarding him the medal, Congress could signal that they are going to return to the years of high standards for awarding the medal.

Let's write to Congress and get him decorated. I think he deserves A Congressional Gold Medal. If not that medal, he should be given the Medal of Freedom. At the least he should receive the Presidential Citizens Medal.

So call your congressman today. Phone#: 202-224-3121

And call the President, too. Phone #: 202-456-1414

Let's give honor to whom honor is due.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

An Observation Regarding Sin

Sin is a major reson I became Orthodox. I was tired of it ruling my life. I had been a Christian (protestant) all my life but was ruled by sin. I didn't know that when I first encountered Holy Orthodoxy, though. I thought I was free in Christ. That I couldn't really sin, that sin had been destroyed by Jesus on the cross and that if it seemed like I was sinning I wasn't because, you know, I was free in Christ and the whole category of sin didn't apply to me anymore. Really. That is what I believed. (It is a heresy called Antinomianism. A lot of Calvinists fall into it.)

It was only after I became a catechumen and started talking with the priest at Synaxsis of the Theotokos that I understood that I really could be free of sin, not just forensically justified. (My friend Matt had told me this, too but he was a Catholic, so what did he know?) If it was the Orthodox dogmas of apostolic succession that set the hook in my jaw it was teaching regarding Theosis that reeled me in. It was the craving to be sinless the compelled me to be Orthodox.

I expected that at the moment I was Chrismated I would not have any desire to sin. I thought that from that moment leading a sinless life would be as easy as a cake walk. I persisted in my fantasy of instant relief even though the priest warned me against thinking this, that in fact, the opposite would happen. The priest was right. The walk became much more difficult.

But something interesting has happened. I'm not sure if I can explain it but I will try. Gradually, some of the sins I used to comit, things I had lived with my whole life seemed to have less power over me. The desire to do them seems to be much less that it was. I am still tempted from outside, but internally I do not respond the same way.

Have you ever seen a wire vibrating next to another wire? It is not long before the wire that was not vibrating begins to vibrate with the same frequency as the first wire. There is someting in people (or me at least) like that second wire, it responds to, alligns with, catches the vibe of what is going on around it. It is that respnsive vibration to sin that seems to have gradually changed.

As I look back I see a continuum that I am going through.

Right after my Chrismation, and after the illusion of instant sanctification had been shattered I seemed to be in a fear stage. I earnestly prayed "...lead me not into temptation..." several times a day. I was almost terrified of temptation because I knew I would fall. From there I kind of moved in to an annoyance stage. I resented the the things that tempted me. I began to think of them as enemies, as persons who hated me. And then I wen't into kind of a boredom stage. The old temptations would come by and I would kind of yawn and say, "ho-hum. You again?"

I don't mean that I am at this third stage in regard to all temptation and sin. With some I am still in the fear stage. With others I am in the annoyance stage. In others I am I the ho-hum stage.

And it seems that the Holy Mysteries keep changing me in a way I didn't expect. The more often I go to confession, the more often I commune, the more clearly I see my sins and recognize that they are alien to who I am becoming. I am discovering sins that I didn't even know were sins. It is kind of like getting dressed in the dark. I thought I was putting on black sock to go with my charcoal pants, but was really putting on brown socks. But until I was in a room with enough light I couldn't tell they were the wrong color. Every time I go to confession or communion I have a little more light shined on me and I see things I didn't see before.

"Do not be surprised that you fall every day, do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honor your patience. While a wound is still fresh and warm, it is easy to heal; but old, neglected and festering ones are hard to cure, and require for their care much treatment, cutting, plastering and cauterization. Many from long neglect become incurable, but with God all things are possible."
--St. John Climacus

"Thank you but if I have one I'll have a hundred and just won't stop"
--Johnny Cash

And yes, I keep falling. Even, rarely, with some of the sins in stage three. But those seem to be sins that St. John Climacus calls "old, neglected, festering ones". They were part of me for so long that I seem so quick to accept them back. I remember seeing Johnny Cash back in 95 or 96. He was offered a bottle of whisky by someone in the front row. He said, "Thank you but if I have one I'll have a hundred and just won't stop." That's the way it is with these "old neglected, festering ones" it is like that. One sip leads to swimming in the bottle.

But here is someting interesting.... I have seen an angel get between me and a sin. A few days of resisting, praying, struggling and then just as I am about to give in an angel steps in and the stumbling block is gone.

But if I do not struggle, well, Satan is at the door ready to come in, isn't he?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Take a Little Trip

Usually, I listen to KQED-FM all the time. But the last three times I've hopped behind the wheel and turned on the radio the little boy has said "Daddy! No Radio! I like music."

(We have been listening to School House Rock lately and he says rock and roll is now his favorite music. A couple of weeks ago it was "Church music", before that it was jazz. It seems that his musical tastes are still evolving.)

So I changed the station to find music. I don't normally listen to music on the radio so I don't know what any of the station formats are. I just hit "scan" and stop on the first station that is in English and playing music that has melody, rhyme and meter. (thus, no rap.) Each time the first song I found that met that descripton was "Lowrider" by War. I mean this happened to me three times!!!! In less than a week!!!!

But that is not all. It gets weirder. Each time I was going about 20 mph in a 35 zone, it was dark outside, AND I was in an official "No Cruising Zone"!!!!!

Of course, this can only mean one thing: God is using the radio to talk to me and, obvioulsy, He is saying He wants me to get in touch with my inner-vato.

I'm serious. I might not have a stone lowriding '63 Impala, but I can certainly chop the springs in my PT Cruiser, repaint it a candy green that fades to ultra-violet as you go higher, get a Virgin of Guadalupe painted on the back, stencil a "Mi Vida Loca" on the front, airbrush a Mexican flag on the roof, tint the windows, get chrome, a lot of chrome, maybe even some hydraulics! All I'll need then are some cool shades and Tres Flores for my hair. (According to my middle son, it is the hair care product of choice for all the homies in the know.) There'll be one seriously chillin oso in the westside.

Of course, I'll have to practice cooly saying such things as "Hey ese, check out that vato over there looking all cholo." Anyone can drive a car, but you really have to practice inflection and accent. You don't want all the other vatos to laugh when you say stuff like that.


All my friends know the low rider
The low rider is a little higher
Low rider drives a little slower
Low rider is a real goer
Low rider knows every street yeah!
Low rider is the one to meet yeah!
Low rider don't use no gas now
Low rider don't drive to fast
Take a little trip
Take a little trip
Take a little trip and see
Take a little trip
Take a little trip
Take a little trip with me

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Daily Digest

Two new tenants moved in. One tenant is supposed to be out by midnight but still has an apartment full of furniture. Contractors working in three units. Tenants in two apartments hate each other and complain about each other to me. One tenant can't be made happy. One thinks I am wonderful. 4 lease renewals. My wife is soooooo tired. My son was neglected a little bit today.
Alcohol units: 0
Tobacco units: 0
Caffine units: 6

When did we stop shooting looters?

Tragedy begets shame.

New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were fired at by criminals on the street.

Anarchy is absolute evil. It is Satan's favorite political system for it is completely selfish and only produces suffering.

Shoot looters and establish order. Then rescue people. Then rebuild.

The vast majority of Americans can swim and survive on body fat for a few days. But not if bands of armed criminals are roaming the around unchecked.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mercy and Comfort

Skippered by a UCSF grad, the USNS Mercy has left San Francisco. She has been anchored off of Hunters Point for the past few weeks, going through a refurbishment after helping out after the tsunami in SE Asia/Indonesia. (I pointed her out to the little boy as we drove by on Hwy 101 but he didn't understand why I was so excited.) Here she is sailing under the Bay Bridge on her way to help our countrymen in New Orleans. Her sister, the USNS Comfort has left Baltimore bound for the same destination. Godspeed our ships.

The Scourge of the Single Family Detatched House

There is a nice young (22-ish) man and his wife who live in my building. He told me that he and his wife are looking for a house because "an apartment is no place to raise a family". I wanted to puke.

Would we be having this big to-do over oil prices if most of us lived in high-rise apatments built in cities that employ mixed-use zoning?

Ever wonder why San Jose (pop. 894, 943) has a less-than-world-class symphony that can't even get its website working (Capital of Silicon Valley? Ha!) but San Francisco (pop. 776,733) has a multiple Grammy winning (10 of them from 1988 to present, including one for best Rock Instrumental Performance!) orchestra?

The reason there is no world class symphony, no opera worth attending, no major league baseball team, no theater district, no interesting architecture, and only 4 good restaurants in San Jose is this: Like a woman slowly deforming, stunting, and killing her baby by taking ever increasing doses of thalidomide, in the 1870's the government of San Jose began making a series of decisions that promoted the construction of wide streets, long blocks, single-use zoning, and single-family detached houses. The sprawl intensified in the 1950's and continued un checked through 1970. Since then it has coninued, but with some limits.

Just look at these numbers. San Francisco's population, though smaller than San Jose's is squished into 49 square miles. That is a density of more than 15,800 people per square mile. San Jose's larger population is spread over 177 square miles. That is a density of about 5,000 people per square mile. 5,000 people per square mile is not enough people for there to be a civic life.

Even the wingnuts at Harvard agree with me on this: Low population density in a city inhibits cultural development. And the San Jose Business Journal does more than agree with me on the cultural aspects, they imply that there is a moral argument ( at least, a a moral argument that is different from the esthetic argument.) against low density development; That single family detatched house make homeless people, in addition to making cities less liveable.

And therefore, I conclude (no I'm not going to quote Cato) that as long as one working man struggles to find nightly shelter, it is immoral for city governments to zone for single-family detached houses, or even require houses to have garages for cars when men have no bedrooms.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The little boy and I went shopping. We had to buy the ingredients for Texas Caviar, oven-roasted country-style ribs (Bone-in, of course.), and home-made apple sauce. The store we were shopping at was out of Tabasco Sauce so we stopped at the liquor store on the way home. (Liquor stores always have tobasco sauce.)

Next to the door of the store was a dirty crazy guy. He was muttering something to himself. When we came out of the store he asked for money. I gave him a quarter.

The little boy asked, "Why did you give that man money?"

I answered, "He might be an angel."

The little boy wrinkeld his eyeborws and said, "Where are his wings?"

I Am Mario!!!

My youngest (for the time being, at least) son's Godfather had this really cool quiz on his blog. I had to put it on mine. As you can see, I am Mario. Did you read the article about him in the New Yorker a couple of years ago? I think it was before they put him on the food network, when he was actually working in restaurants. If you get a chance, look up the article. It is very entertaining.

Mario Batali
Which Food Network chef are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ride the White Wave!

The little boy and I went body surfing at Natural Bridges Beach this afternoon. Much fun. Unfortunately, my neck problem makes me a little bit of a weaker swimmer than I was last summer so I missed a lot of great waves. Nevertheless, it was fun.

Naturual bridges is one of those cool beaches that has big red signs that say "Dangerous Surf" and "Keep Out of the Water". All it means is that 1/5 of the waves are big enough to hurl you against the rocks, and 1/100 of the waves are truly monsterous (25-30 feet, trough to peak). As long you keep your eyes open there is no danger, just good salty fun.

The little boy mostly stayed up on the dry sand. He doesn't like the waves messing up the piles of sand he makes. But he got in with me and we went under a couple of big waves together. He liked everything but the salt.

At one point I wound up being the life-guard for a couple of 10 year old girls who had all the equipment, tons of entusiasm, lots of courage, but none of the knowledge. More than once I had to tell them to move to shallower water, or dive deep and hold on to the sand while a big one passed overhead.

They have picnic tables and campfire pits. I think I'm going to make Athanasia go with me and the little boy on Friday. Spend the whole day.

In other news, my course material arrived from Finnaland today. Much happiness.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wow! what a day!

I was lazy and didn't get out of bed until late. (8:30 a.m.) So the little boy and I went to St. Stephen's in Campbell. Cyndi had to work so she didn't go.

While I'm standing in the church, just after the epislte reading my cell phone went off. I said "Shit!" as I attemptede to get it to stop sounding. People stared. I don't know if it was the phone or what I said that got their attention.

I should have taken the call. It was my wife, but I didn't know it because I didn't look to see who was calling. I was just trying to make it be quiet. Athanasia was sick. But I didn't know she was sick until a long time later. After liturgy, the little boy and I went to Home Depot. I bought him some nails, and they gave him some scrap wood. The idea is that we would come home and he would have fun driving nails through the wood.

When we got home something seemed wrong. Then I heard my wife moan. She was laying on the bed in horrible pain and unable to move. Called doctor. Found out what to do. Everything is alright now. But it was scarry for a little while. It was horrible to see her in that much pain.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Duty Honor Country

I sent an email to a writer at Slate today. He critiques advertisements. I think he totally missed the boat in his review of the Army's new ad campaign

Here is my letter:

Dear Mr. Stevenson,

I used to be in the advertising industry. One of the reasons I left was because of the tendency of the people I worked with to make little of the things I thought important (e.g. family, service, virtue, discipline) and to make much of things I thought of as dangerous (e.g. mindless sef-gratification, revelry, the 4-F's, vice.) Nevertheless, I still have some admiration for the people who are able to make a compelling advertisement.

I recently read your critique of the Army's new recruitment ads. (Slate, Aug 22), While I don't even watch television anymore (so so your article is the only exposure I have had to the ads) it seems to me that you don't understand the ads because you you are not the kind of person to whom the ad is targeted. If I had to guess, I'd say you live a sissified life in which being a "stand up guy with a manly bearing" is not very important.

I currently have three sons. One of whom is 17, that is old enough to enlist. And even though you do not think I should be proud if he pulls recruiting materials out at the dinner table, I would be proud. I'd be very proud to think he wanted to be like the men of Valley Forge, Frederiksburg, Tripoli, the Coral Sea, Inchon, and a thousand other battles.

For too long, the Army has pandered to to the selfishness of teenagers. The "Be all You Can Be" campaign seemed like an offense against the men of the past; the men who gave everything they could give. I suppose the Army did that becuase their marketing consultants told them it was the best way to get people to enlist. I never saw the "Army of One" ads you mentioned in your article, but from your description it seems they were in the same vein, pandering to self-interest instead of the higher calling of selflessness that is the the most noble aspect of military service. I am glad, that as you report, the Army is getting back to what the Army is about: Duty, Honor, Country.

You ask in your article, "Who wants to let her son enlist when soldiers are getting killed every day?" Mothers are quite a bit different from fathers, but history shows us that mothers want their sons to be strong, noble, and good. And if we look at the diaries produced during the Civil war, we can make an argument that women are even more concerned with the honor and manliness of their husbands and sons than are the men themselves. But as for me, a father of three sons, except for my sons becoming priests, I can think of nothing better for them to be than soldiers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More news

My very good friend and co-religionist (who I can't name here because I don't know if he has told anyone else) called me this morning and said, "She said 'yes'." Many years to the happy engaged couple!

I just applied for a new job: City Jailer for the City of Alameda. Who knows if I'll get it? If I do get the job it would be fewer hours (even with the commute) and more money. I think I'd be a good jailer.

I have been telling the little boy a story for the last few nights that I think will make a good childrens book. I started writing it down two nights ago, and adding instructions for the illustrator. The illustrator will be my wife. She used to be an artist. It will make me very happy to see her using her talents again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The nature of managing rental property

Of the last five tenants who signed leases for apartments at this property 4 did so because I charge less than the places they were living before. This means that they are not here because of ammenitites. They are not here because of they get to choose the colors. They view housing as a commodity.

This is a huge problem. If they view housing as a commodity I'll never be able to raise rents enough to pay for:
1) Mexican tile in the kitchens and bathrooms (Currently, the floor is vinyl!!!!),
2) Baseboards and crown molding (That's right. None of the apartments here even have baseboards.)
3) window seats,
4) Hardwood floors
5) Fancy shower fixtures
6) Cedar-lined closets
7) Viking ranges
8) Sub Zero refrigerators
9) hammered copper sinks

or any of a dozen other cool things that will add beauty to the lives of my tenants.

Hmmmm. Maybe, I can get a local wine store to come and do a wine-tasting once a month? It doesn't add to the property's value, but it is someting fun the tenants might enjoy. I'll have to see what the liability issues are before I do it, but I think it is a capital idea!

In the meantime, I am thinking about Nativity. I know it's nuts. It is still august. But this coming nativity I will have two children. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Poor Tenants

Lately, I have had several tenants move in with a few little things not quite ready in their apartments. One has no closet door. One has no screen door. One has a phone jack hanging out of the wall. One had the hot and cold water reversed. But because I have other tenants who have horrible plumbing problems that require the ripping out of walls, retiling and repainting, my maintenence men do not have the time to get to mere closet doors and phone jacks. I feel so sorry for them.

The good news is that I just rented my last vacant apartment. Move in will be in about two weeks. Hopefully, everything will be ready.

My wife is having a hard time. I think the pressure of our jobs, the tenuous financial position we are in (even though we are doing better than we were a year ago it is still pretty tight.), the prognosis on my neck (Holy Unction the other night was really cool, btw.), the nearness of the baby's birth, the fact that our offices are being moved to a less desireable part of the building to make room for a club house, the problem tenant, and the fact that about 10% of the tenants in her 20 or so buildings (I manage one 30-unit building. She manages about 20 buildings with about 150 units total) have given 30-day notice in the last couple of weeks.... and several other things are starting to get to her. It is difficult to figure out how to help her.

I've been waiting and waiting for the course materials to arrive from Joensuu. I emailed the school last night. I heard back from them today. The finance office never told the course administrator that I had paid tuition, so the course administrator had not mailed the course materials. But it all got straightened out today.

As far as money goes, I think I'm going to get a job doing something in the evenings. I don't remember who the Saint was, but a certain Saint said something worth remembering: "An unmarried man has many rights. A married man has very few rights. A man with children has no rights at all."

Pills for neck: 6
Alcohol units:1
Tobacco units:0
Caffine units: 6
Contractors dealt with: 4
Tenant issues dealt with: 7
Meetings with my boss's boss: 1

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Feast of the Holy Prophet Samuel

Troparion to the Holy Prophet Samuel

Thou didst blossom as a scion of righteousness from a barren womb, O great prophet Samuel. Thou dist reveal beforehand the blessings we should receive; from childhood thou didst serve the Lord in priestly office; as a prophet thou annointedst kings. Ever reember those who acclaim thee.

Today is the little boy's name day. He spent last night with his uncle and aunt in San Francisco, and this morning, very early went to the farmers market at the ferry building. Then he came back down here and we had a party.

The big Icon of the Holy Prophet Samuel was framed with flowers (purple agapanthus, red and white oleander, pink hibscus, red geraniums.) and moved from the little boy's room to the dining room. The menu was fish tacos with lots of different kinds of salsas, champagne, iced tea, chips, italian sodas. We sang the troparion,. We sang "God grant you many years". We ate. We told stories. It was a good time.

Who came to the party? Jeff who recently earned a M.A.T. from Fuller, (and with whom I used to have a joint blog.) and his son (age 2), the previously mentioned aunt and uncle who is a lawyer(J.D. from Wisconsin.), a certain man from my parish who while being a lawyer, also has a Th.D. from Chicago, and his daughter. It was a fun group. The conversation was mostly law and theology. I love being around people who know more than me. It is so invigorating.

Godmother wasn't able to come to the party but gave the little boy a collection of 8 little cars. We've been playing with them all night.

Godfather wasn't able to be here either but he sent two Icons to the little boy. One is of the Theotokos holding Jesus. The other is the the Call of Samuel. They are beautiful.

Alcohol units: 3.5
Caffine units: 2
Tobacco units: 0
Pills for neck: 2

Friday, August 19, 2005

Leave me alone

"Leave me alone." Isn't that what suburbs and DVDs are all about? Read this from the NY Times. I know I have lamented the death of public life many times on this blog, but it seems that every day I see more evidence of its decline. Now it seems the movie theaters, even the ugly (if only in comparison to the great movie palaces of the past) cine-plexes are losing out to the desire of Americans wanting to stay in their houses.

But I know in my heart that people do want cities. They do want to be downtown....

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown - waiting for you tonight
Downtown - you're gonna be all right now

I think this is why the New Urbanism movement is growing. But new urbanism will not thrive until it throws off it's quasi-socialist shackles. (Was Manhattan built by socialists?)

In the southbay town of Mountain View, we can see what Conservative (conservative does not mean hyper-individualistic libertarianism) thought can do for new urbanism. In the 1970s downtown mountain view was a slum. But the people of Mountain View, and Santa Clara County began some impressive public works:

1) A new train station was built for the CalTrain that links San Jose and San Francisco.
2) City Hall and a performing arts center were rected on Castro Street, the main street of the downtown area. (Unfortunately, the city council insisted that the performing arts center not be as tall as City Hall so the big traveling shows from Broadway don't play there. The ceiling is too low for a fully staged show. Oh, well.)
3) The light rail system was built, and a staion was co-located with the Cal-train station.
4) Narrowed the useable roadway of Castro Street, provided for more curb-side parking, and widened the sidewalks. The city also planted scores of trees along the street. All of this made the street more friendly to people who want to get out of their cars and walk.

These public works, especially the transportation items, were a signal to private investors. Nothing says long term potential like train tracks. Unlike a bus route, it doesn't easly move. And that lead to one of the coolest things. The building of several hundred high-density townhouses downtown, right across the street from the trains.

In addition to these public works, the city also made a smart decision regarding the use of private property: The owners of several delapidated or vacant buildings were told to get them occupied and fixed-up or else they would be condemned. But because of the city's investments, and the incereased value of private property in downtown Mountain View, most of the owners were able to improve their property and make a profit in the process.

The end result of all of this is that downtown Mountain View is semi-thriving. I say semi because there is not a very good mix of retail shopping. There are plenty of good resaurants, two excellent coffee shops, two bookstores, and one good night club. But there is not much else. No clothing or shoe stores. No hardware stores. No electronics stores. Why? I think that part of the reason for this is because the United States Tax code has unbelieveable depreciation schedules that prop up shopping malls and choke the life out of downtowns across the country. (In case you didn't know this: I hate the income tax. I think a 5% national sales tax on all goods and services is much less likely to be manipulated for the benefit of the few and the destructin of public life.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The War in Iraq

Heretofore, I have not written much about the war in Iraq. But hearing about this woman Cindy Shehan has really... I don't know, not upset me, but made me feel embarrassed, and ashamed. I'm embarrassed for her fallen son, that his mother is behaving in such an unseemly manner. I am ashamed that our society has produced a woman like her and that some in our society are exploiting her.

Now as for the war, I don't think I ever believed the WMD argument for going to war. But approve of the war for these two reasons:

1) Sadaam was a wicked dictator. In general, I am in favor of overthrowing wicked dictators.

2) When G.H.W. Bush drove the Iraqi's out of Kuwait it was within our power to overthrow sadaam, but we did not. We let his tyranny continue. When the Shiites attempted to break away at the end of the American involvement in the war we offered no help. Sadaam's army destroyed them. It was like watching Soviet tanks roll through Prague again. G.H.W. Bush brought shame on the United States. And then more ridicule was heaped on the United States when Sadaam gloated ove Clinton's defeat of G.H.W. Bush.
But where the father failed, the son has redeemed. Not only did the present president George Bush overthrow Sadaam but he won reelection. He has removed the stain of his fathers failures.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hindusim, science, Christianity, and alternative medicine

There is a very interesting conversation at Doug TenNapel's blog. Here is a quote I thought was funy:

"Let’s pretend that we had a video camera in Christ’s burial tomb. There He is dead as a doorknob and we are recording his flat-line on tape. Suddenly, he wakes up resurrected from the dead and we have it on video. An Intelligent Designist (ID) scientist and a Philosophical Naturalist (PN) write papers to present the data in a journal. The ID guy hypothesizes that a supernatural event took place. The PN can ONLY describe the events within the confines of his Materialist presupposition, so he claims the body wasn’t really dead, or that the instruments were jacked and that this whole thing is just an illusion.
Both scientists see the same event, but one of them has a philosophy that literally forces him to describe every supernatural event as natural…or as Shermer always says, “One day science will be able to find out what actually raised that man from the dead but in the meanwhile we need not believe in the supernatural.
” "

You can read the whole thing here.


My wife has been doing such an amazing job controlling her blood sugar through diet. It is amazing. All day long she keeps it in the acceptable range. Unfortunately she has lost a little weight, not something a pregnant woman should do. Also, every night, while she is sleeping her blood sugar creeps up. It is as though her own body is her enemy. How can one control blood sugar while sleeping? Well, the doctors say she can't, no one can. So, starting tonight she has to take a pill. She is pretty sad about it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mark of the Beast

After reading something like this, I am sure that there wont be many people declining the mark of the beast. Scarry days are ahead.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dormition and Holy Unction

Today is the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The little boy (his checken box is all over. I'm not even sure he knew he was sick.) and I made the trek up to San Francisco for Liturgy this morning. It was a beautiful, cold, foggy drive. I love it. The service was good. We got there just in time for the Gospel reading. Athanasia couldn't go because of work. Fr. Victor is too weak to serve in the altar.

After liturgy we drove through the old neighborhood (Oh, I miss it so badly) and stopped at Katz's bagels. Poppy bagel and cream cheese! Yum! Best way to end the fast. My wife is happy that the fast is over. Now we can eat the same food. I must admit that the dietary rules are difficult when one's wife is pregnant and has diabetes. Making seperate meals for everyone is a pain. Well, at least it's over until Advent Fast.

The Church has decided that I will receive the mystery of Holy Unction (my neck can only be healed by God's hand.) on this coming Thursday evening. It will be done at my house.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Worship Rules of the Road

My friend Big Matt has this funny thing about pentecostal/charismatic worship on his blog. It remided me of my youth. The list is definately exaggerated, but like all things funny, there is some truth to it - especially #12. There is someone or several someones like that in every pentecostal/charismatic church: The person who gets things going. I've seen it be a 10 year old girl. I've seen it be a 70 year old man. But there is always someone to "get the blessing" first. And then Boom! it spreads.

Back in the mid 1970's the church my dad was pastoring in Palo Alto sent him to several really big pentecostal churches that were having huge crowds of people show up. They were kind of famous for standing on their feet for a couple of hours with their hands in the air. Some people in my dad's church had criticised him because these other churches had this kind of spontaneous worship thing going on, and our church didn't. So, my dad visited a bunch of them to learn what they were doing. Anyway, in one of them he saw that near the end of a song, the worship leader would motion to a guy in the back of the church. That guy in the back of the church would start playing chimes, and like clock work people would start doing "spontaneous" worship. And when the chimes stopped the people quited and the next song, or the preaching, or the annoucements would occur. I thought it was a funny story. My dad didn't see anything diabolical or nefarious in it, he just gave it as evidence that most worship is planned, even "spontaneous" worship.

A few years later, I remember, sitting in a revival meeting and seeing something similar. About the third night I saw the preacher kind of glance at his daughter who was sitting near the front, and she started moaning. And as he got more emphatic in his preaching she moaned a little louder. And the congregation got excited with her. Was that planned? I doubt that the preacher and his daughter sat down and planned the glance, the moaning, the crescendo in the preacing, but there it was. And it happened every night of a two week revival meeting. Although, sometimes it was his wife instead of his daughter.

I suppose some of you would be interested in knowing more about my Dad. If so, you should rent the movie "The Apostle", staring Robert Duvall. That preacher is a lot like my dad.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Is this ontologically possible?

The worldwide Anglican Communion might kick the Church of England out of the Communion. Think about this: It would be like all the Roman Catholics in the world kicking the Diocese of Rome out of the Roman Catholic Church. Read the story here. But what else can we expect from a church that was founded not on the Resurrection of Christ but on the balls of Henry VIII?

The animal under the sink.

When the old grinder under the sink went out, did I settle for the Badger 5 with 1/2 hp of mauling virtue? No.
Did I settle for the Badger 5 Plus with 6/11 hp? No, I did not. I got the best garbage disposal system that fits under my sink: The 3/4 hp In-Sink-erator 444! Yeah Baby! Yeah!

(Yes, the 777 is more powerful but where would I put my trash can?)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yo hablo espanol

I am slowly learning spanish in order to speak to my tradesmen. It is painful and sometimes they laugh at me. But it is fun, too. The hardest thing next to vocabulary and grammar is getting used to the mexican accent. Most of the Spanish-speaking people with whom I have interacted heretofore have been Cuban.

The Ailments of a Child in the Summer

The little boy has had an earache for the last couple of days, so this morning I took him to the doctor. He has swimmers ear. We also found out that he has chicken pox. The first lesion appeard on Tuesday. This moring he had 4 more. I thought they were bug bites. He had been vaccinated as an infant so I thought he couldn't get the disease. I learned today that in many people the vaccine only makes the disease less painful and less taxing on the body. So, it is a good thing he got swimmers ear, otherwise we wouldn't have known about the chickenpox.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Speaking Truth to Power

"Simply put, the abortion industry is opposed to parental notice laws because parental notice laws place a hurdle between them and the profits from the abortion clients--not the girls who come to them but the adult men who pay for these abortions. These adult men, whose average age rises the younger the girl is, are eager not to be disclosed to parents, sometimes living down the street. . . . At nearly one million abortions per year, the abortion industry is as big as any corporate interest that lobbies in Washington. They not only ignore the rights of parents, they also protect sexual offenders and statutory rapists."

-Sen. Orrin Hatch

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Praying for salvation, preparing for the worst.

My biggest problem tenant has threatened me. He has also threatened one of the other tenants. But in writing he has said he is being discriminated against (He is a member of a legally protected class.) so we are having trouble getting rid of him before his lease expires in 11 months. So, now I have to think about the safety of my other tenants, and the safety of my family - and not because of an outside threat, but because of the man who lives next door to me. (He scared my little boy when he yelled at me today.)

So, what am I doing? Building a file to give to the lawyer, praying the prayer for enemies, and keeping a pistol loaded with seven .380 hollowpoints at hand.

In other news, the little boy and I walked up to the little asian market. We had fun playing with the live crabs, and looking at all of the fish in the aquariums. He was very impressed with the octopus. He had only ever seen (and eaten) baby octopus.

I wrote my first wikipedia article.

Pills for neck: 2
Caffine units: 3
Alcohol units:0
Tobacco units:0

Monday, August 08, 2005


Yesterday we did something that we won't do again for a long time. Well, two years. Is that a long time? We cooked for our parish. With my neck and Athanasia's pregnant greatness it was very difficult. And when the baby is born in Oct. it will only be more difficult. So...we decided last night to take a break from cooking for two years.

Yesterday, being in the middle of the Dormition fast was still meatless and dairyless. So we made Indian food:

Vegatable Byriani made from basmati rice seasoned with saffron and tumeric. the vegetable filling consisted of diced tomatoes, diced sweet potato, chopped cauliflower, diced bellpepper, sliced onion, raisins, chickpeas, greenpeas, corriander, cumin, ceyenne, grated ginger, and cinnamon. I won't explain how to do the rice as I am sure you already know how to cook rice. But once the rice is made just set it aside until the vegetable filling is cooked. Cook it in a large skillet until the cauliflower and sweetpotatoes are just tender. Make a layer of the rice in a casarole, make a layer of the veggie filling, make a layer rice. cover with aluminum foil. bake.
Serve with firey onion relish (minced onion, lemon juice, paprika, ceyenne), pickled lime relish (in a jar at any indian market), mint chutney (ditto).

Tomato salad with scallions, mint, ginger, black mustard seed, oil, and lemon juice.

Fruit Plate consisting of sliced pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and melon.

I think it was a good meal. But I do wish our final meal (foir at least 2 years) had not been on a fast day.


Father David and Father Tom are going to do Holy Unction on me this week. Fr. David is going to call me with the date and time.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A couple of interesting things

An interview of Patriarch Alexi II is here.

Since today is the forefest of the Transfiguration you might like to hear Bishop Kallistos' teacing on the Transfiguration (in four parts) here , here , here and here. (You will need Real Media to watch the videos.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Vandalism, Lesbians, Birds and Police

My day started with the little boy doing a belly flop across my chest. Got out of bed, got dressed, did the breakfast thing. As I walked outside, I was met by Leslie, my tenant in #4 telling me that she saw someone lurking and acting suspiciously in the parking area and that the car parked next to her car had been vandalized.

I checked it out and discovered that yes it had been vandalized. Nothing was stolen, it was just wrecked. The miscreant had broken the ignition switch, scratched all the paint, broken of the mirrors, broken the locks, slashed the tires and the upholstery. It was a mess. I talked to the owner of the car, my tenant in #7. to let her know about it. She was very upset.

A few minutes later a third tenant, the one from #20 came to my office to let me know she had seen different suspicious activity that might be related to the vandalism. Then she went to get ito her car to go to work. But she came back to me very upset. She discovered that her car had been vandalized, too.

I set up a meeting with the police and all three women. That was at 8 this morning.

Then I had to deal with contractors all day to get units ready for move-in on Saturday. Ordered blinds for some units we are remodeling. Went to home depot and bought a birdbath to hang from the camphor tree. I also picked up some bird seed. The little boy goes with me on errands like this. He likes hardware stores.

We installed the birdbath and hung a second feeder full of sunflower seeds from the camphor tree. (The tree is about 45 feet high and 40 in diameter.) It was fun. I showed the little boy how to drive nails and pull them out. I also taught him how to use a screwdriver today, he's more adept with the screwdriver than I thought he would be. I caught him taking apart his mother's adirondack chair.

My tenants who are moving in on Saturday are lesbians, but they pass for straight. They are super paranoid that their bosses will find out. I had to assure them several times that all I ask employers for is date of hire, job-title, and income; that I don't give any information to employers. I was kind of surprised by their secrecy - this is California. I think they will be good tenants. But I have not had good experiences with lesbians. In my very limted experience (we tend not to run in the same crowds) they tend to be a little psycho.

Back in the mid-nineties, when I was working at SF Weekly, it came out that I was a Christian. (And all because of a pizza. But that is another story.) This one woman, a very out and political lesbian in my department couldn't stand that a Christian was working with her and started harrassing me. She would come to my desk and say the most amazing things - "So you must think I'm going to Hell." "If you think breeders are normal what do you think of me?" "How long have you hated women?" "You probably think Melissa Etheridge is a bad musician." It was nuts! Finally, our boss told her to leave me alone. She didn't. She was fired. All of my experiences with (known) lesbians have been similarly unpleasant. Let's hope my new tenants wil buck the trend.

About 5pm the little boy and I went swimming. He has been able to swim up from the bottom of the pool for a long time. As well he can swim the length of the pool. But this week he finally figured out how to swim down to the bottom. He is very proud of himself. I'm proud of him, too.

The police arrived about 8 p.m. tonight to talk with the three women, my lovely and gracious tenants, Leslie, Julie, and Angelica about what was damaged and who saw what. After that the policeman, the little boy and I walked around the property to see what I might be able to do to prevent crime. He had some suggestions but they boild down to: build a fence with automatic gates and hope for the best. I couldn't figure out how to explain police to the little boy. Finally, I just said "They are like guardian angels. They keep the bad guys away." He accepted that.

I just put the little boy to bed. He was exhausted. But I read him a book before he fell asleeep. His mother bought him a little book published by the Ukranian Catholics called "The Guardian Angel Book". It's a pretty good book. The bottom crossbars are not tilted correctly, but other than that it is a good walk through of the Divine Litrgy. I also had to explain that some churches have pews but ours doesn't. And he didn't understand why the priest in the pictures was beardless. But he likes the book and insisted on sleeping with it and an Icon of St. Herman tonight.

It is late. I am tired. Goodnight.

Alcohol units: 0
tobacco units:0
caffine units: 6
pills for neck: 2

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

God and Natural Disasters

This is in the Wall Street Journal today...

"In 'The Doors of the Sea', David Bentley Hart, an Orthodox theologian, tries to provide an answer. His book is, among much else, a rhetorically powerful and conceptually dense restatement of what Christianity has to say, over the centuries, about the suffering and death produced by nature itself--that is, by events outside human agency."

(Read the rest here.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dentistry on the Cheap, The Race Card, Bono

A co-parishoner of mine is studying for a D.D.S. degree at the University of the Pacific. She is in her 3rd year and needs volunteer patients. I volunteered. So, today I went up to San Francisco to have my teeth worked on. It was really neat to watch all the young dentists in training. Most looked like they were about 23 years old. Very eager. (My teeth are fine but I am going to get a gold bridge to make up for two teeth I lost a few years ago.)

The tenant that I am having trouble with played the race card today. I hate that. Especially, since I let them move in even though...

1) They did not meet our credit requirements
2) I had to give them 2 months to pay their security deposit (ordinarily I require that on the day of move in)
3) they did not meet the income requirements.
4) they did not have good work histories.

Why, you ask, did I let them move in? Because they were living in their car, and having once lived in a car myself, I felt sorry for them.

My boss came to talk to me about it. I hate that too. This is the first time in a couple of weeks that I have had to talk to her, and it is about a five page letter a tennant wrote to her complaining about me.

Thankfully, when I was in school to get certified for this job I was told "if it isn't in the log it didn't happen". I log everything, and I write letters to tenants more often than I talk to them. I don't know who invented writing but I am very happy they did. My boss was very happy to read the log, the letters from me to the problem tenant, and letters from other tenants about the problem tenant.

So, am I in trouble? No. All records support me and make the problem tenants look like paranoid lunatics. But I feel like people I tried to help are super-ungrateful and trying to hurt me, and it makes me sad that they are so unhappy. If they are so unhappy that they feel like they need to write a five page letter of complaint, I have failed. After keeping the owner of the property from getting sued, protecting the property, and keeping all of the apartments rented, my number one priority is to keep all the tenants happy. And these people are not happy.

And it just drives me nuts that they think it is because of their race. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with them breaking rules. And besides that, 9/15 of my tenants are of a race other than mine, and they don't break rules!

Oh, this is the second day of the Dormition Fast. Here is what I have learned so far in this fast: I really miss eating.

Besides all of that, Bono gives an interesting interview.

Caffine units: 1
Alcohol units: 0
Tobacco units:0
Tenant issues:2
Pills for neck: 4 (My physician is rotating me through drugs so I don't become adapted to them. Now I am on Celebrex.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Looks like the OCA is staying in the NCC

From the OCA website comes this news...

  • "In the area of ecumenical relations, concerns over the Church’s participation in agencies such as the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches were expressed. It was noted that such matters remain within the competency of the Holy Synod of Bishops. In his presentation, the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, assistant to the chancellor for external affairs and inter-Church relations, echoed the sentiment expressed in Metropolitan Herman’s opening address, in which he recognized the tensions that exist as a result of the Church’s participation in ecumenical organizations while sharing even greater concern for the Church’s responsibility to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel. He also described the connections between the ecumenical participation of most of the Orthodox Churches, both in North America and globally, and the Orthodox Churches’ common witness and common theological voice in ecumenical organizations and events. He noted that ecumenical participation certainly requires careful consideration and discernment. As further proof of our historic commitment to this task, it was reported that the Holy Synod of Bishops had blessed the OCA’s participation as a founding member of Christian Churches Together, thereby providing yet another opportunity to proclaim the Gospel on this continent. It was noted that in the Tomos of Autocephaly, the OCA is charged to “maintain direct relations with all other churches and confessions, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.”
  • Read the whole thing here.

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Antiochians to NCC: "See ya. Wouldn't want to be ya."

    I just read at Mere Comments that the Antiochian Archdiocese has decided to leave the National Council of Churches. I wish I could hear some news about the OCA now. Has anyone heard what the OCA decided?

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005


    I heard from the University of Joensuu in Finland. They have received my application and the course materials will be here shortly. I'm very excited.

    In other news....

    Athanasia is borderline/at risk for gestational diabetes. She is going to counseling and adjusting her diet. They are thinking about giving her pills. No decisions yet.

    No change in my neck. Unless God heals me or I submit to the surgeon's knife it will not get better.

    Our bird feeder has become very active. Finches and chickadees mainly. There are at least 1/2 a dozen, usually more in the camphor at all times between dawn and dusk. I love the little sounds they make. I put up some suet hoping to attract some other types of birds but it has been there for several weeks and hasn't been touched. We had some blue jays earlier in the summer but they are gone now. They ate the food I set out for the squirrel.

    Athanasia finally saw a hummingbird at the hummingbird feeder. Last summer there were dozens of hummingbirds. This year only two. It is strange.

    Alcohol units: 0
    Tobacco units: 0
    Caffine units: 1/2 (I'm out of coffee. Had to have tea instead.)
    Itallian sodas: 1
    Pills for neck:16
    Tenant Issues: 1 very serious, and 5 minor (but expensive) plumbing related issues.

    Father of the First Columbine Victim

    The Father of Rachel Scott, the first girl killed in the Columbine school shooting testified before Congress..

    "I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies. Much of that blame lies here in this room. Much of that blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves."

    You can read his whole speech here.

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    I made dinner for my wife

    I don't know what it is. Maybe the drugs. Maybe the pain. Maybe the drugs and the pain together are making me seem "off" to people who come to rent from me. But I have been having a bear of a time leasing my 3 vacant units. It is killing me. the budget is for 5% vacancy per month. right now I am at 10%. My wife noticed. She asked me yesterday if she could help. She did. One down, two to go.

    So I made dinner for her tonight. It took a really long time, both because of what I made and because my right arm is too weak even chop a cucumber. Anyway, tonight I made the following (in order served).

    Course 1. A wedge of Maytag cheese on a plate with grapes, pineaple chunks (I tried to slice this with my chefs knife but gave up. My arm is too weak from my neck problem. Instead, I let the weight and velocity of a meatcleaver do the job.), pluot cubes, bosc pear slices, and ripe strawberries. (All organic) and little cruncy toasts. Salty and sweet, creamy and cruncy, hard and soft. It was good.

    Course 2. A garden salad consisting of green leaf lettuce, cucumber, jicama, carrots, red cabbage, heirloom tomato. Blue cheese dresing.

    Course 3. Egg Tagliatelle covered in hearty red wine and lamb sauce. This takes about 5 hours to cook.
    - in a medium size pan (barely big enough for all four shanks to squeese in while touching the bottom of the pan) put a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, slice and add one yellow onion to the oil and saute until the onion is transparent and just starting to caramelize.
    - Next you add the lamb shanks to the pan. Some people like to trim the excess fat of the lamb shanks. I don't. I just salt and pepper them, toss them in the pan (over a medium flame), and brown them.
    - Once the lamb shanks are browned and, perhaps, even have some good crunchies on them, you add 1/2 bottle of HEARTY red wine. Like a big red Bordeaux. You do not want a skinny waif of a wine for this. You do not want a wine that is thin and unidimensional, like Celine Dion - it is not up to the task. A one emotion player. It is too light, too simple. You want the Valkyrie of wines. You want the Caroline Wisnant, or if you can find it, the Deborah Voight of red wines. No! Even better. The wine you want has the power and dark passion of Janis Eckhart's Carmen. There can be no other choice. The wine must have body, character, presence, gravitas. Why? Because the wine is what makes or breaks this dish. If your wine is to wimpy (and here I am thinking something like Riunite Lambrusco, which is fine over ice on a hot day, but not in this dish.) the dish will barely be fit to serve at the Olive Garden.

    Oh, do I have a story about the Olive Garden. First of all, it was a mistake to eat at a restaurant that is owned by the Darden company, or any "casual dining" restaurant, but the people I was with wanted to go there because their kids would eat it. The willingness of a child to eat food is no excuse to suffer bad food. If it was up to children Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and root beer is all they would ever eat. It is up to adults to teach, educate, and develop the the tastes of children. They will not eat pan-fired squid in plum sauce if their parents do not serve it to them. And you have to start early. I think 5 might be too late. You have to give them kiwi and avacodo and smoked salmon at 6 months. (What? you use baby food in a jar?) Hummus, pita and citrus fruit and sharp chedar cheese at at 1 year. Brie and adriatic fig spread, sushi, caviar, fried pork rinds with hot sauce, dates, all the stinky colorful cheeses, carnitas tacos from road-side stands where no one speaks English, crab, Chinese, authentic Italian, Thai food, mussels and clams at 2 years. And you have to cook with them. You have to let them risk burning their little fingers so they can stir the curry. I'm telling you, start them off young or else they will only want McDonalds when they are eight years old. And no Television. None! I used to be an ad-man. I know the power of advertising. It will twist their minds into thinking they need Cap'n Crunch for breakfast instead of French toast made from challa and covered with real maple syrup.

    Anyway, 5 years ago, the third and last time I ate at the Olive Garden, I ordered shrimp in a white wine sauce. Ordinarily, this is very delicate fare - the wine cooked with a handfull of chopped scallions just to the point where all the alcohol is burned off, the shimp thrown in at the last possible moment so they do not over cook, a tiny bit of butter to hold the wine and the shrimp together. When it is done right it is almost heavenly. But that is not what I experienced at the Olive Garden. (And what is up with that name? Are they trying to say Jesus would feel comfortable praying there? Let me tell you, the Olive Garden is no Gethsemane.) No. What they brought to the table is almost too horrible to describe. It was a sea of rubbery shrimp-like things wallowing in melted butter. I ate it because I was hungry. When the waitress came back at the end of the meal and asked "is everything okay?" I tried to explain what was wrong, and that I would like to show the chef how to make this dish. She thought I was asking for my money back and said I could not have a refund. I wasn't even asking for a refund. I merely wanted to help them do better. What blindness. They serve what they call "food" and think only of money. There is no love in that kitchen. I have not been to Olive Garden since then. Oh, but let's get back to talking about the wine to go in the lamb sauce.

    Now I am not talking port wine. A Graham's Six Grape Porto, as wonderful as it is, is just wrong for this dish. Port wine is too sweet and has too much alcohol. No, what you want to use is something like BV Napa Valley Merlot or a Parducci Petite Sirah. (Notice: These are two very different wines. But they both work becuse they are each full of flavor and complexity.) Once you have poured 1/2 the bottle into the pan bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat has fallen off the bones and the wine is almost completely reduced.
    -remove the bones, what is left in the pan is your sauce.
    - cook the tagliatelle according to the directions on the box.
    - put the tagliatelle in individual bowls, ladle on some of the sauce.

    We drank San Pellegrino on ice. The little boy said he wanted still water instead.

    So, that was dinner. My wife was happy, so I was happy. And there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

    Caffine Units: 6
    Tobacco Units: 0
    Alcohol units: 1
    Pills for neck 12
    Tenant issues: 1 and it is serious. Probably going to evict someone for threatening another tenant. The problem is that he is a member of a legally protected class. My crazy 'Nam veteran in apartment #3 is easier to deal with than this guy. All he says is "You'll hear from my attorney" and then closes his door. He barely has the money to pay rent. I feel sorry for his family. Talking to the lawyer tomorrow.