Sunday, July 29, 2007

I know a young boy who swallowed a tack.

Yesterday we had to drive drive drive to deal with stuff for my wife’s mom and pick up her ashes. There was a gathering of the female descendants of my mother-in-law. It was difficult for my wife. They asked her to pray but her mother committed suicide. That means there are only two possible prayers that an Orthodox Christian can offer. And each can be offensive to non-Orthodox. But she prayed one of them. And all went well. The ashes are in a little wooden box on a shelf about 2 meters from me. Heavier than I expected.

So, since nothing got done yesterday, today is chore day. After morning prayers Athanasia went to the store to buy stuff to make into a birthday present for my mom. And the boys and I picked raspberries. When Athanasia got back she joined us and we picked enough berries for a cobbler.

When the berries were picked we realized that we didn’t have all the necessary ingredients. So, back to the store for my wife. I sorted laundry, fed the boys second breakfast, and was starting in on the dishes when Anselm came running into the kitchen drooling from the mouth, grabbing his throat, and eyes bulging. He had swallowed a thumb tack.

Paramedics came and immobilized his head and neck, and transported him by ambulance to the ER where they could not find the tack in his throat. The M.D. wasn’t willing to go exploring down his throat without radiographs so we had to wait for an X-Ray camera to become available. While we were waiting he puked up a stomach full of raspberries and one thumbtack.
All of this happened before noon.

Basil is asleep. Anslem and Athanasia are finger painting. I’m taking break from chores to write this blog entry. My Mom’s birthday party is tonight.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Party Leaders Notice

Ahhh. The leaders admit Ron Paul is the guy the grass roots like. It is just a foot note but there it is.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thoughts on HP7

I finished HP7 on Tuesday and have been thinking about it for a while. I'm sure all the real HP7 Scholars have already thought of these things and have published their ideas, but since I come to them independently (not that anything any human being does is independent.) I figure these are my ideas as much as theirs. That said, this is what I think.

Style: Even though this was (one of?) the longest Harry Potter novels it seemed rushed. Did Ms. Rowling just throw this one together?

The Hallows and the Horcruxes: It might have been intentional, and it might have been my lack of sleep while reading the book, but keeping track of what the mission was (e.g. finding the hallows or destroying the horcruxes) was confusing. It all got jumbled up there for a while, didn't it? But maybe that was her intention. Like us, we sometimes forget that we are supposed to be busy laying the ax to the root of sin in our lives and try to save our lives instead. That seems to be the problem Harry, Ron, and Hermione had. THey were given the clues to find the hallows, which would have allowed them to defeat death. But in gathering the hallows they would have had to neglect their assigned mission: destroying the horcruxes that allowed the enemy to keep returning. "He who would save his life will lose it."

Harry's death: Harry had to die. He had been practicing this in the previous 6 books, but in HP7 he actually died in order that others might live. It reminded me of St. Justin Martyr of whom it was said he was a martyr for his whole life before he ever laid his head on the chopping block.

Teamwork: Harry only destroyed a couple of the horcruxes, while others destroyed the rest. He was helped in all he did by Dumbledore, Snape, Hermione, Ron, and dozens of others. To them belonged the victory. THis was a picture of the Communion of the saints, of life in the church. Evil is overcome in community. Voldmort, on the other hand, did everything alone and for himself. THe only time he did anything with others it was completley for selfish reasons. And when he died with Harry Voldemorts soul seemed to be a lonely, deformed, crying infant. While Harry's soul was described as "a man" and he was in the company of Dumbledore whom he loved. All of this reminded me of something said by the Archpriest Victor, "The only thing we do alone is go to Hell." That is what happened to Voldemort.

There is more, but these are the main things. I don't want to catalogue all the things, such as the sword/cross in the pool and the baptism there, that are obvios allusions to Christian thought and practice.

So, my review is mixed. It was a good ending to the story but it could have been written better.

Byzantine Ruler quiz

Which Byzantine (they refered to themselves as Romans) ruler are you? Click here and take the test.

Me? I'm St.Theodora.

Theodora was the wife of the ninth-century emperor Theophilus and mother of the future emperor Michael III. Theodora ruled the lands after her iconoclastic husband died. She labored to overturn his heretical policies, chiefly by summoning a council that upheld the veneration of images of Christ and the saints. For this, she is herself honored as a saint by the Orthodox Church. Her feast day is February 11

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Things overheard waiting for HP7

Friday night at 10:30 pm I woke Anselm, got him dressed and into the car and drove to the Borders Bookstore on University Ave. in Palo Alto. (It is located in the renovated movie palace where I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show many many years ago.) We got in line at 11:56pm. It was nuts. The police came through. Fire fighters were on hand. There were hundreds of people in the street. We heard some strange things standing in line.

1. "Yeah I just flew in from Austin an hour ago. But I had to come here and get the book before I could even think of going to my hotel."
2. "Why are the stormtroopers here?"
3. "Hey! Watch it with that wand, buddy!"
4. "Next person who gets on the fountain will be arrested. (Announced by a fire marshal flanked by two police officers."
5. "I'm not well known in the industry at large, but in the world IEEE standards I'm pretty famous."
6. Girl dressed like Hermione Granger #1: "Is she supposed to be Prof. McGonnagle?" Girl dressed like hermione Granger #2: "Only if Prof. McGonnagle is a slut."
7. "Actually, the stormtroopers aren't as strange as the 40 year old women dressed up like witches."
8. "We saw Skynard at Shoreline tonight. I held my lighter up for the whole song and totally melted it. Wanna see my thumb?" (Said by the drunken whisky smelling "dude! Its Summer!" elementery school teacher standing in line in front of us.)
9. "My iPhone is the first thing I touch in the morning and the last thing I touch at night."
10. "This is fun, Dad. I love Harry Potter." (Said by Anselm, who until that night had never even heard of Harry Potter.)

We stood in line for just over two hours. I bought book #7 for Athanasia and myself . I bought book #1 for Anselm. (For those who think Harry Potter is Satanic please look here.) Oh, in case you are interested, I read through to the end of chapter 24 on Saturday. But I haven't read any today since my wife had me building shelves, renting trucks, and moving furniture. I'll try to finish Monday night.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Do you hear those j-i-n-g-l-e bells off in the distance?

So, here we are in July. That means one thing and one thing only: It is time to start thinking about Christmas. Top of my "music I gotta buy" list is Brian Setzer.


All I have to say is that Giuliani Girl has a better singing voice than Obama Girl.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

News About My Son in the 503rd

My son is in the heavy weapons platoon of B Company, 2-503 Inf. Regt., part of the 173rd Airborne. He is a paratrooper. His unit has been in combat for a while now. They have suffered 3 KIAs but have killed over 4,000 Taliban. Below is the latest news I have of my son's company:

JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 9, 2007 – It's been almost 18 months since 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Rock, left Afghanistan after proving its capabilities against insurgents throughout operations in the southern part of the country. The battalion's success was notable as it established relationships with the population helping Afghan authorities develop a respectable fighting force, all while intensely finding, fixing and destroying large numbers of enemy on several occasions.
(PressZoom) - JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 9, 2007 – It's been almost 18 months since 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry ( Airborne ), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Rock, left Afghanistan after proving its capabilities against insurgents throughout operations in the southern part of the country. The battalion's success was notable as it established relationships with the population helping Afghan authorities develop a respectable fighting force, all while intensely finding, fixing and destroying large numbers of enemy on several occasions. More than a month after replacing 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Rock has once again been charged with completing the task of taming the area between the Pech and Korengal valleys called the "Valley of Fire" by soldiers who patrol it because of the frequency of fire fights. "We are to conduct counterinsurgency operations in ( Regional Command ) East to destroy and defeat the insurgents and build the capability of Afghan National Security Forces to enable the ( Islamic Republic ) of Afghanistan ( to ) provide a secure and stable environment that deters the re-emergence of terrorism in the region," said Army 1st Sgt. LaMonta Caldwell, of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. "The troopers of Battle Company, 2-503rd, understand our task at hand: first, to finish what 1-32 has already started -- working with locals to establish a sound-living environment, to help train and work side –by side with ( Afghan National Army ), and second, to eliminate forces that cause disruption to the process of a good, trustworthy government in our area of responsibility," he said. Already the "Sky Soldiers" placed along the triangular-shaped intersection of the two valleys have been in several fire fights and repelled various ambushes. But attempts to challenge the Rock's Paratroopers are a waste of the insurgents' time, Caldwell said. "The insurgents, as you may want to call them, will never match up with any troopers from Battle Company or Rock Battalion," Caldwell said. "This is not our first rodeo. We just left Afghanistan 16 months ago. A lot of those veterans are still around like me. We have been shot at before, mortared before, and we know what to do. Taking care of your buddy to your left and right is the key to our success, and getting after ( terrorists ) when they try to attack us is our motto. And that comes from the heart of these troopers in Battle Company, and no insurgent can match that." The soldiers based in and around the dangerous valleys have proven they have heart and much more in the short time since their arrival. As their war stories accumulate, their vested interest in the progress of the Afghan authorities becomes a personal matter. "We have fought with these guys," said Army Sgt. Raul Padilla, a Battle Company team leader at Firebase Phoenix, in the Korengal Valley. "This has become personal to us. The people, not just the soldiers and policemen, of Afghanistan are depending on us to help them get control of their country." Personal is the only way these hardened paratroopers can take the death of one soldier and several combat injuries in their battalion. But not even the death of their fellow soldiers will deter them, Padilla said. "We won't leave this valley until the insurgents leave, and if they won't leave we'll make it personal for them too," said Padilla, a veteran of Task Force Rock's last deployment to Afghanistan. "This area is now under the control of Afghan and coalition forces. The Taliban is going to have to go away or go around us because they aren't welcome here anymore." The sense of purpose these troops have gained goes beyond their specific jobs and ranks at this point, Army Spc. Jason Mace explained. "Slowly, we are accomplishing things here," Mace explained. "We've already done things we were told were impossible. They said we couldn't go to this area or pass that line, but we have. It's taking time, but it's not going to stop until we do something about it, and we are." The soldiers know their role in Afghanistan is important, said a platoon sergeant from Company A who lives at Firebase California, in the Pech Valley. His platoon's job is to secure an area that includes a road project, seven villages and an unknown number of enemies. "I hope they know by now why they are here," Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Magaña said of his soldiers. "To look out outside the base and see people doing things, selling things, kids going to schools, even girls, that's why we're here, so that the Afghan people can do things many take for granted. It's not easy to bear all the sacrifices these soldiers are making, but their role is historic in granting people the same freedoms we have at home." One of the platoon's specific tasks is focused around a road project linking several population hubs through three districts. "Our job is to secure an area of the Pech River road," said Magaña, also a veteran of the battalion's last rotation to Afghanistan. "The strategic location and purpose of this road make it very valuable. We need to ensure the road's progress moves forward. This road will improve the lives of the people who live here, enhance the Afghan security forces' ability to control the area and stimulate economic and social development." Just hours after Magaña's interview, Firebase California fended off an insurgent attack. Despite persistent but apparently futile attempts to disrupt Task Force Rock's work, the battalion continues to push economic and social development. A good relationship with the local populace is a goal the battalion is working hard to achieve. "It's important to concentrate on both lethal and non-lethal aspects," said Army Maj. Scott Himes, Task Force Rock's plans and operations officer. "Historically this has been an area of safe haven for the insurgents. If we don't have a lot of positive interaction with the people, they will be susceptible to the Taliban's leverage. We have to rely on a partnership with the people." "We have to prove to them that there is a positive alternative," Himes said. "As we build trust with the people and the people trust more in the capacity of the Afghan governmental agencies, we can build long-term partnerships. They'll know we are going to stay and provide security." A recent flooding of the Pech River, which killed three people and destroyed one home and nine bridges, may have demonstrated the local government's commitment. As coalition forces came to offer aid, they were already in full swing planning repairs. The Pech district's sub-governor not only planned, but also with coalition help repaired the only road leading to the victims of the flood and delivered emergency relief.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Blast from the Past

My childhood and, I suppose, my adulthood (though I'm such a stuffed shirt), was formed in the midst of the Jesus People movement. (What does it mean to label something a movement?) So I sometimes find myself looking for Keith Green on YouTube, or looking for old issues of Cornerstone magazine. I also always notice when the movement shows up in the traditionalist Christian press.

A story I just read at First Things today contains this chuckle inducing paragraph: "Their conversions to Bible-believing Christianity were not the sort to rejoice the hearts of suburban, middle-class parents. The intelligence that one’s runaway daughter had given her life to Christ, been baptized in a bathtub, and taken up residence with a bunch of barefoot, long-haired, guitar-strumming, tongues-speaking twenty-year-olds in a place called Maranatha House was only marginally less disturbing to the average Methodist mother than the news that the same daughter had moved in with a professional tabla drummer and changed her name to Windflower." You can read the whole article here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

They brought him

On Sunday Bishop Benjamin preached (he's a pretty good preacher.) at my parish on the healing of the paralytic man. He focused on the fact that "they brought him" to Jesus; saying that often people do not go to Jesus on their own but have to be brought. It reminded me of the Assemblies of God deacon who followed my then 17 year old dad out of the house through a bedroom window to see him converterd. My Dad did not want to be brought to Jesus, but that Assemblies of God deacon wanted to bring him.

So I think to myself, am I supposed to be like that deacon? Do I grab the spiritually paralyzed and bring them to Jesus? How? I am always ready to explain the faith, I pray for people(its a long list), and try to be a light that attracts people to Jesus, but very few ever ask to introduced to him. I wonder if I am too afraid of offending people and losing friends to bring them to Jesus. Maybe, I don't really love them enough to do the outlandish thing that would bring them to Jesus. I don't know.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Changing my party again

Currently, I am member of the California Independent Party. But I saw a bumper sticker for Ron Paul yesterday and looked him up on the web just now. All I have to say is WOW!

-He is a veteran.
-He is a westerner.
-He is an OB/GYN in private practice with over 4000 deliveries.
-He is pro-life.
-He has never voted to raise taxes.
-He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
-He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
-He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
-He has never taken a government-paid junket.
-He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
-He voted against the Patriot Act.
-He voted against regulating the Internet.
-He voted against the Iraq war.
-He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
-He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

I am going to change my registration to Repubican so I can vote for him in the February primary. If my wife and I had not agreed years ago not to give money to candidates I would be writing my check now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Recently, a certain priest in my Church has been criticized for, maybe, over-promoting the ideas of St. Dionysius the Areopagite. (Or, perhaps they were really the ideas of an anonymous writer known as Pseudo-Dionysius,who lived 400 or 500 years later. No one seems to know for sure.) I myself was once admonished by my dogmatics professor not to be "enthralled with P-D when thinking abour the Holy Mysteries." But it is difficult think St. Dionysius was wrong. Especially when what he wrote comports so well with Holy Scripture, and the teaching St. Ignatius of Antioch's description of the hierarchy in the local church, with Philo's explaination of the relationship between God and the Logos, and even the physical world.

My friend Matt brings to our attention an interview (in the Jerusalem Post) of George Gilder which contains this line: "The universe is hierarchical," says Gilder, with the intensity of someone racing to keep up with a mind constantly in overdrive. "And hierarchy points to a summit. The summit remains enclosed in fog, but this doesn't exclude the possibility that behind the fog is a divinity that we, through our faith, might worship."

If you have never heard of George Gilder, I would like to recommend his book Men and Marriage. This book is an amazing philosophical/sociological tour de force on manhood that is the antidote to 25 year olds who behave like 15 year olds. I read this book in the early 1990s and had no idea that Gilder was a scientist/engineer until today. Also, I thought he was much older.

----- Break----

When I was writing this earlier today I was at the park with my boys. I was using the "free" local Google WiFi network. Then the signal dissapeared. And I lost about half of what I said. It happens al the time with the Google WiFi. Such a hassle. Now I'm at a closed Starbucks, sitting in my car, connected to the Starbucks/tmobile network. It costs money but it never drops me.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Islam Is Evil

Christians in Gaza, Saqer declared, who dare to engage in "missionary activity" will be "dealt with harshly,"

Read the whole thing here.