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.)