Friday, August 31, 2007

this day

Woke up at 6 to take my wife to work. Stopped at Peet's for coffee on the way. (I lost my militta #2 filter holder.) After dropping Cyndi off at work the boys and I went to the park.

This particular park was designed by an award winning park architect named Royston. This park was mentioned in Dwell (my favorite architecture and interior design mag.) as one of the best parks for kids. My earliest memory of the place is of when I was 4 years old. I jumped into a concrete tunnel and split my head open. The doctor stitched me up and i was fine. Anyway, the boys and I went there today and had a good time. The water play area is fun for them. Because it was a school day and very early in the morning, they were the only kids there.

We went home had breakfast. Then Anselm got to work on his reading work. We are doing the Independent Styudy Program of our local school district. We want to home school, but I am not confident in my ability to teach reading. After working with him for a couple of hours (during which time little brother Basil was doing everything imaginable to destry the house.) It was time for a nap.

After nap we went to BevMo where we bought a case of S. Pellegrino. It is my fave sparkling water. And BevMo is the only place where I can find 500ml bottle with a real bottle cap. (I hate twist off.)

I've tried other sparkling waters, of course. I like San Faustino for it its bubbles are light and gentle but it is a little chalky. And Calistoga is local but too carboniferous. Gerolsteiner is good in a pinch. But I don't understand the price. I don't think it is worth 10% more than San Pellegrino.

From BevMo we went home and made lunch. But first I read to them. Basils new favorite book is a version of Stone Soup set in China. Lunch, of course was soup. It is so much fun to see the boys weilding big chef's knives and cutting up celery, garlic, parsley, leeks, cabbage, etc. It was a crasy kind of soup with some of every kind of vegetable in the house thrown into the pot. (But the San Marzano tomatoes really made it.) Anslem like the liquid part while Basil liked the solid part. So, I guess, it was a success.

After lunch we went tot he Palo Alto Children's Museum and Zoo for a little while and then we picked up mommy from work. Soup for dinner followed by teeth brushing and reading of the Hobbit. Anselm is really enjoying it.

One thing about home schooling that is really neat is getting to pray right before instruction begins. The boys like watching me struggle to get the incesne going. (Anslem always has lots of advice: "Blow - put the match on it - hold the charcoal higher", etc.) Basil just gasps every time I light a match. (I always need at least three to get it going.) Now you might be wondering "why is Incense a big deal? You're Orthodox. You should be used to it." Well, at Church, yes. But my wife doesn't like the charcoal smell, so we don't usually use it at home. But since success in education is so imprtant, and to make sure Anselm understands how important it is, we burn incense when we pray before lessons.
Then we light the lamps before the Holy Icons and pray O Heavenly King , which is the prescribed prayer for such occasions.

Its a good life. I need to try harder to be thankful for it.

Two things I learned this week

1. One shoud avoid whistling Village People tunes in the locker room of the Y.M.C.A.
2. Chinese Five Spice is not a good substitute for for any other spice, especially not for chili powder.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The cure for my prior nostalgia

Helen: True, but for people who haven't read the New Testament but hear someone tell them that "God is compassionate" couldn't that be understood as "we shouldn't suffer in this life"?

Fr. Tom: If someone said to me "God is compassionate," I'd remind them that the word "compassionate" means co-passionate or co-suffering. The God who is compassionate is the God who suffers with us. He's not the God who takes our suffering away in the fallen world. Never forget that the ultimate revelation of God on the planet earth is in the bloody corpse of a dead Jew hanging on a cross in front of the city of Jerusalem, put to death by Gentiles between two thieves, in the most horrible, vile, wretched method by which a person could die, which, according to Mosaic Law, was even cursed. That's the Christian faith.

From an interview here.

Monday, August 27, 2007


It may be that you have heard of Conservapedia, the conservative alternative to wikipedia. I thought it sounded like a good thing, and I wrote a couple of articles for it. For instance, I wrote the first half of the "Christianity" article - from the top of the page through the Jesus sub-head. I also began work on the "Salvation". I was attempting to cover all of the major theories of how we are saved, including a discursive on soteriological conflits within conservative Protestantism (e.g. Calvinism vs. Arminianism).

I went back to the site on Saturday night to continue work on the article when I saw that one of the Sysops deleted everthing I wrote, put in something that is very similar to the Four Spiritual Laws, which is a good example of St. Anselm's satisfaction theory. I don't mind being radically edited. (Being a wiki contributer is not for the thin-skinned) No, what galled me, I mean totally fried me, was that my user account was blocked!!!! Think about this: I am the most conservative man in Santa Clara County and I was banished from Conservapedia. (Credentials: I was in the room when Reagan made his Evil Empire speech, raised money for the Contras, never voted for a pro-abort or a Democrat, and got all my friends who were 18 to register as Republicans when I was still to young to vote.)

I wrote to the Sysop who blocked me but heard nothing. On Sunday night I wrote to the chief Sysop. I still haven't heard anything. It seems that my tribe has rejected me.

(In case you are wondering, Orthodox Christians adhere to a version of what is known to Westerners as the Christus Victor theory of salvation.)


Update: I've been reinstated but the sysops will not let anyone alter the Salvation article, even though, as I've pointed out to them, some very heavy hitting conservatives such as Justice Antonin Scalia, Paul Wyrich, and Bill Buckly disagree with the the conservapedia sysops' explanation of salvation.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Harry's Patronus

I have several times in old books seen illustrations of a stag or hart with a cross in it's antlers. I never knew why there was a cross there until I read an article at about the Stag being code for Jesus. But even in that article there was no explaination of why, other than the falling off and regrowing of the antlers. But our brother at Biblicalia just poisted this. I'm copying it here for your edification:

The General and the Saint
General Placidus had been hunting the great-antlered, magnificent stag, the finest he’d ever seen, for three days now. He and several of his servants had followed it through a wooded valley to the side of a mountain late in the day, just a great storm blew in. The proud general gained the distinct impression that he was being taunted by this haughty stag, which seemed to be leading them onward, waiting, and then bounding out of range of their javelins as soon as he or his men would close in. Now the rain began pouring down, and day seemed to turn to night. Lightning began to flash all around, and the thunder was deafening. Still, the general could catch glimpses of the stag further up, higher up, waiting, but then always moving toward the top of this rocky mountain. He looked for his men, but couldn’t see them, shouted, but they could not have heard him through the downpour and the thunder. For all he knew, they may have been felled by the lightning already or fallen down the steep slopes. In the prime of his life after many conquests in the far-flung empire of his lord the Emperor, Placidus continued uphill, pulling himself up the rocky face hand over hand, feet finding slight purchase on the slick rock, the rain running off his cloak. With a flash of lightning just above, he sees the mighty stag standing on a jutting rock just above him, very close, looking down at him. A little more climbing, and he finds himself exactly where the stag was, on a roughly level area, next to a craggy peak. More flashes of lightning illuminate the scene, and he sees the stag looking back at him and bounding up the peak itself. Placidus roars and bounds forward himself, javelin at the ready, knowing the stag will have little chance of escape. Lightning strikes dangerously close all around the general, and yet he scrambles onward and upward. He can no longer see the stag. There, near the peak, he sees what seems to be a cleft in the rock, and a glow coming from within it. He supposes his men to have found a cave and set up a fire within, the lazy slaves. Still, a warm fire in a dry cave without lightning flashing all about would be welcome. Yet he wondered where the stag went, if not into this very cleft. He heads toward the cleft in the rock, and then notices the strange quality of the light, how it is steady and bright, like sunlight, not flickering like a fire. He proceeds out of the rain, entering the cave cautiously, but then stops in his tracks, dropping his javelin. There, inside, stands the stag, magnificent, mighty, bigger than any stag should be, with the finest antlers imaginable. Placidus, the fearless general, commander of Rome’s legions, is suddenly frightened, for between the mighty antlers of the great stag shines the image of a man on a cross. The great stag stands, noble, impassive, staring directly down at Placidus, who falls face-down in worship, striking his fists on the floor of the cave, weeping. He knows the Crucified One. He hears a mighty voice, loud as the thunder, and is paralyzed, nearly fainting in fear. It says, “You have hunted Me long enough, Placidus. Now you have found Me.”

After his visionary conversion experience, the general Placidus and his family were soon all baptized as Christians, with him taking the baptismal name Eustachios, either late in the reign of Trajan or early in the reign of Hadrian. He gave most of his wealth away to help the poor. He and his family died as martyrs for the faith, after refusing to worship the gods of Rome. The feast of St Eustachios, also known as St Eustachius and St Eustace, and his family, is 20 September in the West, and 2 November in the East. The place of his conversion, where he saw the vision of the stag, is called Mentorella, and is a place of pilgrimage.

Friday, August 24, 2007

News of My Son's Unit

Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, August 3, 2007

An officer who was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan has been identified as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy.

First Lt. Benjamin Hall, 24, assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), died in Asadabad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents in the Chowkay Valley, according to a Department of Defense news release.

Hall is from Virginia, the release stated, but his hometown wasn’t listed. The Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Hampton Roads, Va., reported his hometown was still being verified. Little other biographical information was available on Thursday.

Hall was at Vehicle Patrol Base Seray when enemy forces initiated an attack from multiple locations, according to a news release issued by Southern European Task Force (Airborne), the higher headquarters of 173rd.

By Mark St.Clair, Stars and Stripes,
Mideast edition, Wednesday, August 8, 2007

His name is Tank, and the U.S. soldiers have no idea where he came from, nor do they care. All they know is that he’s one heck of a scout here in eastern Afghanistan.

Sure, he’s got the standard allotments of unconditional love, dogged loyalty (he is, after all, a dog), and infinite patience. He gives those to the grunts in spades.

All the enemy sees is the feral beast within.

“We’ll be at an observation point, and Tank’ll hang out with us. Every once in a while, he’ll run around the perimeter sniffing and marking his territory. Any time we go on patrol, he’s with us,” said one 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldier from Task Force Rock. “If he hears anything, he’ll just keep barking. He hates the [enemy].”

It’s tough to tell how old Tank is, with his lopped-off ears and wheezy breathing. Put him next to a team of infantrymen, and it’s anyone’s guess who’s dirtier. His bark-box still works, though — so much so that one company commander told his troops to either have Tank removed from the base or he would “be removed.”

The men got him out on a convoy the next day. Three days later, he showed back up, having walked for miles in the summer heat. As soon as he made it, the soldiers said he fell over from exhaustion.

One paratrooper had given him an unopened water bottle; Tank still managed to get a drink, happy to be with young soldiers who treat him as one of their own.


A platoon who will remain nameless for security reasons is using magic to try to flush out enemy activity in the eastern Afghanistan mountains near a small base occupied by 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers.

Part radio equipment, part oscillating fan, “Magic Man II” is also all bunk.

Set up to look like communication equipment, the decoy will eventually sit on a hillside across the valley from the troops, smack in the middle of an enemy hornet’s nest.

A far fancier version than his predecessor, Magic Man II will come with a host of improvements to make him look more like a real piece of equipment.

Magic Man I wasn’t very successful, one specialist said. “We had some kids come and start to play with it. We had to fire a warning shot to scare them away.”

The troops hope No. 2 will produce better results. With the amount of danger the platoon is in, they need all the help — magical or otherwise — that they can get.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Memory Eternal!

While I was on vacation my friend Vladimir reposed in the Lord. I missed him during his illness. He greeted everyone who came in the door of the Cathedral and, given half a chance, would fill one's ears with stories of the radio industry. He is the only smoker I ever knew about whom it could be said, the force of his personality overcame the anti-gravity of his cigarette-smell. My son loved him. I hope I see him again.

Friday, August 10, 2007


We are going on vacation. Its not the best time according to the calendar of feasts and fasts, but it is when my wife is able to get away. We'll be camping again but this time in the Hendy Woods. We liked the place we went last time but the nights by the ocean are SOOOOO COLD!!! This time we will be a little inland and protected from the cold, but close enough to Mendocino to go there, and close enough to the fun stuff in the Anderson Valley to go there for little day trips. We'll be gone five nights. Leaving right after church on Sunday.

Bragging on my wife

My wife is the hardest working person I know. In addition to her very important work at Stanford (which she does not enjoy) she just finished CERT training and she has a special helmet and an ominous looking backpack, is knitting Christmas presents for a whole bunch of people, is a much loved mother, and just got an A in her public finance course (final paper was an analysis of the effect of urban growth bounderies on housing prices in the S.F. Bay Area. With 4 semesters down and two to go she has a 3.86 gpa in her masters degree program at USF.). Ten years ago, if someone had suggested I would someday be married to a person like her I would have laughed. But, here I am married to a person like her. Who ever would have thought I would someday have a trophy wife? God is very good to me.


My wife informs me that I reported her GPA wrong. She has a 3.95, not a 3.86 as previously reported.


A few days ago someone left a comment on my post about pickles saying I should try Bubbies Old Fashioned Sauerkraut. I did. And it was the best sauerkraut had ever tasted. Thank you, Bubbies. You are marvelous.