Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We just had an earthquake. Well, it was 9 minutes ago. All is oky. It seemed like one end of the living room went up about 3 inches then came back down. Basil is still saying "Scarry Scary" and holding onto my leg. Anselm is checking the walls for cracks. The USGS says the epicenter was over near east San Jose. I hope they are okay over there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I don't know what to title this

Yesterday I went to my Mom's apartment to start cleaning it out. Everything in those rooms seemed to reflect echoes of her back to me. But they were weaker than they were on Thursday. And much weaker than they were on Tuesday when I last talked to her on the phone, when we talked about how beautiful my nephew's wedding was, when she asked me to take her to the doctor on Friday, which would have been yesterday.

The echoes yesterday when I was cleaning out my Mom’s refrigerator were much weaker than the Friday before (or was it Monday? I can't belive I am unable to remember what day it was.), when I last was in her apartment. When, for the last time, I saw Basil run down the hallway to her door with his arms in the air and his red shoes a blur. I thought then, “I’m going to miss the sound of those little feet running down this hallway when he is older.” When he reached her door she was standing there, barely, to greet him. And as always he hugged her knee. He will not rundown that hallway again.

The echoes were fainter still, and mor horrible when I looked in the clost and saw the toys she had bought for my sons to play with when they visted her. That they had played with at her feet on Just a few days earlier.

I brought some pictures home from her apartment. Anselm brought home the broom that he used to sweep off her patio, the patio he has swept almost every week since he was two years old.

Today we were at a farm on the coast to get pumpkins. We got the pumpkins but we also climbed up onto a 2 ½ story high stack of hay bales and jumped off. I rode the boys around in a wheel barrow. We played with the goats and the pig. On the way home I thought, “I’ll call Mom when I get home. She’ll love hearing …”

But there is no one to call to tell about the exploits of my children. At least, no one who will be as delighted to hear as their Granny was.

I am sad for me. I am heartbroken for them.

But I will tell them the stories and they will remember she loved them. And, I hope, the echoes of her love will not fade to nothing. I hope its enough.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Mom Died Last Night

She didn't answer th phone this morning. My brother-in-law went to check on her. He found her sitting on the side of her bed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Indian Aesthetic

Lately, I've been attracted to a south Asian aesthetic; clothes more than anything else. I've been seriously thinking about buying and wearing some kurtas, and I've been encouraging my wife to wear salwar kamis. But it never cooured to me that Indians would see something in western culture that they could so easily adopt. I am talking about the Infant of Prague.

Back when I was an aparment manager I had a tenant who was a devout krishna devotee. But on her wall was a poster of the Infant of Prague. I recognized the other gods on her walls but I did not know this one. I thought he was just some child-king of 17th century central europe. It never occured to me that it was a picture of Jesus. And she was shocked when I asked who it was. She was probably thinking, "Stupid American. Dosn't even know his own gods." But he looked much more like a Hindu god than the Jesus of the Bible or the Icons. It was just a strange moment.

Then a couple of days ago I was in a bead store. On one table were a bunch of little boxes containing little one inch portratis of Hindu gods. Among them, painted in the same style was the Infant of Prague.

This is so weird!!! Does anyone understand what is going on here? Do Hindus see the beautiful clothes and think, "He must be one of ours"?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


My nephew Kevin wed his friend Courtney today. They had a 10+ year courtship. It was more than difficult for all of us who love them to be patient all of those years and wait for them to get married. But today they did it. God grant them many years and an expedient number of children.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Islam is Evil

"Benazir Bhutto was totally talking like an infidel. What should be the reaction of jihadis? "

One woman TALKS like an infidel, so some other people have to DETONATE BOMBS AND KILL PEOPLE. That's a pretty amazing escalation curve. Our president is naive to think these people want freedom and peace. They want victory and are willing to kill anyone to achieve it. America might not win this war. I don't think we have the stomach for it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Be yourself

"Do not be afraid because of your Orthodoxy; do not be afraid because, as an Orthodox in the West, you will be often isolated and always in a small minority. Do not make compromises but do not attack other Christians; do not be either defensive or aggressive; simply be yourself." - Elder Amphilochios of Patmos


Every couple of months I look in my Spam folder to make sure the Spam filter is not misdirecting real email in to the trash. (That happens sometimes with my wife's work email.) I'm happy to report that my spam catcher is doing a fine job. A randomly selected sample of 50 filtered-out-as-Spam messages contained the following:

5 - Contraband pharmaceuticals (Who takes drugs they get from a website?)
7 - Penis enlargement therapies
1 - Breast enlargement therapies (apparantly men are more insecure about their bodies than are women)
9 - Investment advice/Get-Rich-Quick scams
2 - Distance education – legitimate
1 - Degree mills ("Get the respect that only comes with a Ph.D.")
5 - Loans/credit cards/financial services/insurance
8 - Discount (aka counterfeit) designer watches, purses, shoes, etc.
7 - Deceptive subject lines (i.e. “Order Confirmation #12492-1334” / "I forgot, are we meeting after work tonight?")
2 – Internet gambling
1 - Weight loss (legitimate company, I think)
1 - Magazine subscriptions
1 - Discount cigars

Two of above items came with attachments sure to infect my computer with many hideous viruses.
I was kind of surprised that none of the filtered spam were Nigerian scams. I was surprised that legitimate companies/schools are still Spamming. It seems that the ban on intenet gambling in the US is working. (In 1999 I made a lot of money promoting internet gambling for the mob. I didn't know I was working for the mob at the time. I used to sell access to an email list of 1/4 million "known internet gamblers". It was a very valuable list. Of course,today, with the new law, that kind of list is much reduced in value.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Psalm

My friend Mateo (see linksin right margin) had a link to this on his blog.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You know you're Orthodox if...

Your two-year-old insists on kissing all the X's when you're trying to teach him how to play Tic-Tac-Toe on the sidewalk with chalk.

eating machines and a soup recipe

My boys' appetites seem unbounded. Today they had:

Breakfast: oatmeal with maple syrup (Basil likes his with butter. Anselm wants no butter), milk,black plums

Second Breakfast: Toast with butter, Milk

Lunch: Norwegian sardines on toast, tangerines, milk

Afternoon snack: Semifreddi baguette, milk, See's chocolate coin (1 each)

Supper: roasted tomato soup (Anslem helped me make it. He also sharpened my knives.), milk, baguette

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP (with links to recommended ingredients)

2 lbs San Marzano Tomatoes, washed,peeled, and halved (long ways)
5-8 sliced cloves garlic (It depends on how big they are, doesn't it?)
1 onion sliced
1 cup vegetable broth, chicken broth, or beef broth
A little olive oil

1. Put the tomato halves face down in lightly oiled glass pans, cover with sliced onion and garlic, and bake for 20 minutes at 400 F (You pre-heated, didn't you?)
2. Remove from oven and dump all the contents of the pans into an blender (it is okay if there is more than will fit in your blender,you can blend the remainder after this first batch.), and totally liquify the tomatoes, onion, and garlic.
3. Pour all the liquified goodness into a saucepan.
5. Add broth, and while stirring, heat to desried temperature.
6. Pour into blue and white porcelain rice bowls. (Because red, white and blue look good together. Just ask any of a couple of dozen countries.)
7. Spoon one tsp of sour cream into each bowl.
8. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Global Warming

I have to admit that part of the reason I think global warming is bunk is because most of the people who are promoting the theory are people I regard as being enemies of liberty and haters of humanity; people who think population control (aka abortion) and socialism are the best ways to combat global warming. But part of my skeptecism is because very prominent scientists also regard it as bunk.

"ONE of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works". (More here)

Boy! That's a relief.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Supper in Autumn

Sugar pumpkin with grade B (its better) maple syrup.
Diced tart apples, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and raisins, baked and topped with butter and maple syrup.
Coffee for Me. Milk for children.

Boys are playing hide and seek while I write this.
Much fun.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This day so far

The boys are napping. I just fed thim lunch.
Anselm had science class again this morning. They learned about some of the uses of ultraviolet light. While he was doing that, Basil and I went to the park, where we played in the sand, and played follow-the-leader. Basil thought that was the neatest game ever!

When we picked Anselm up from his science lass we did something very special. One of my wife's teachers does something (I don't know what) with the Heth Hetchy system, and that teacher gave all of her students these great big cartoon maps of the system. (For those who don't know, the Hetch Hetchy project is the most importat water system in Northern California. It brings water from high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains all the way accross the State to the people of the San Francisco Bay Area. Without it there would be no Silicon Valley, and San Francisco would be a little parched town.) Well, on this map we saw something we had never heard of before: The Pulgas Water Temple. WOW! I'm 40 years old and have lived 15 minutes away from this thing most of my life and was totally oblivious to it. So, right after science class the boys and I went to the Water Temple. All I can say is, this is amazing. The last pipe from the east comes out of that ground and you can look down into the well of the temple, drink from the relflecting pool, see the water roaring out of the pipe and into the canal that takes the water north. It is just amazing. Oneof the neat things is hearing the roaring water coming out of the well in the center of the temple while reading these words carved in the top of it: "I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people" (from Isaiah 43)

While we were there some men were doing some tests on the underground machiery. They let us go down and look at the pipe. Very neat. I love California. I love being a Californian.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A good day

We went to church today and got to hear a new priest preach his first sermon. He is the son of a woman who was a pillar of Holy Trinity Cathedral when we first started attending. Not long after we we met her she died. I bet she was proud to hear her son preach today. After this week he becomes the priest of a new mission in Bend, Oregon.

Though the new (I think he was ordained last week) priest preached today (and will be serving the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedal every day this week) Bishop Benjamin was the celebrant. After the service I had a chance to talk with him about you know what (and if you don't knowthenIam happy for you). I am much comforted. Also, His Grace made lunch. It was pretty good. Fr. John lead the parish in singing "Many Years" for Basil and then "Happy Birthday"

After church we visited my Mom. Since my Dad died she has not had joy. I don't mean she walks around weeping. She just doesn't want to be here anymore. (As for weeping, I'm the one who does that every time I think of my Dad.) I took out her trash and got her mail from the mail box for her. She gave Basil his birthday presents. I can't belive it was two years ago today that he was born.

Then we four went and got a pizza (it seems to be Basils fave food) and to Butter, Sugar, Flour for cupcakes. They must have been 900 calories each. I had an apple tart tatin.

Then we came home and I finished reading the last volume of the Chronicles of Narnia to Anselm. And, of course, I cried at all of the reunions. (Anselm: "Why are you crying" Me: "Because this part of the book is True")

After everyone went to bed I organized the DVDs and CDs. And read a little bit. I'm going to bed now. Have to wake up in 6 hours.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Field Trip

Our homeschooling group had a field trip today. We (all four of us) went to Seacliff State Beach and went fossil hunting with other homeschooling families. We saw a lot of very cool things. 20,000 year dead whale skulls, 50,000 year dead clams, etc. We followed the line of 11,000 year old sedementation in the cliff from sea level up to about 60 feet on the side of the cliff. I'll try to explain that a little better. In California we have earth quakes. Those quakes move the earth (duh!) but at this beach they have, over a period of years raised one end but not the other. So as you walk along the beach you can follw the 20 inch thick, white sedimentary line from sea level at one end of the beach to the up up up to the top of the cliff at the other end of the beach. The docent said that the same sedementary layer is found above 900 feet above sea level farther north on the coast. Anyway, we had fun. Anslem used a brush and uncoved some 11,000 year dead nasa snails. After that we drove north to Santa Cruz where we met my wife's sister and her husband for lunch at Vasili's. It was a good time. It was a good day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cole Porter Wrote a Song

One of the best songs written by Cole Porter is I've Got You Under My Skin. In fact, it is one of the best songs ever written by anyone. But it was Frank Sinatra who made the song famous. Or, if like me, you think it is the horn section that makes this version of the song what it is, then you might say Nelson Riddle's arrangement was key to its success. But really, it took all three of them: Cole Porter, Nelson Riddle, and Frank Sinatra.

The first time I heard the song was during an appearce of Martin Short on the Tonight Show. He was nuts!!!! He was thrilling!!!! He was like a three-way cross between Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, & Bobby Short (Most people know Short from the Charlie commercial though he was an institution in at the Cafe Carlysle). With only one exception, which is at the bottom of this post) I can't hear the song without seeing Martin Short running in to the audience to sing "...use your mentality..." as loudly as possible. It was a total spoof, but as I would learn later, he totally captured the essence of the song as performed by Sinatra and then amplified it X10. Not long after that I did hear the song by Frank. (He lets me call him Frank). And I began to appreceiate the song for what it was, a very grown up song about coming to terms with being in love with someone.

Even though he is the one who made the song so unbelieveably famous, even turning it into a cliche to be performed by Martin Short, Frank Sinatra's version is only one of several good versions of the song. Among the versions I like are Michael Bubble's almost reincarnatin (the dates don't quite work) of Frank. The piano only version by by Vanessa Paradis is cute if you need something to tap dance to, and I can even listen to Bobby Darin's bizarre Rock & Roll version of the song. Sammy Davis Jr. (he was really wild.) did drums only version in his stage show. Even I, just a few months before I met my wife, did a duet of the song in a resturaunt with cocktail waitress. But there is one version of the song that is almost hypnotizing. Here it is: The only version of the song that can block Martin Short out of my mind.


Things improved considerably after that ast post. Anselm had science and acting lessons, Basil got in a short nap, and we three went to the park for a picnic (rice cakes, apples, and bananas). We stayed at the park until after sunset, then went to pick Athanasia up at her office. (She stops working at 4:30 and then doeshomework until 7: or 7:30) We had te boys in bed by 8. Read the second chapter of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis aloud. Then all three fell asleep. I stayed up reading for school. I woke Anselm at midnight and we went out to see the moon rise. Mars was to the right of the moon and very bright. Anselm brught his binoculars. They really did improve the view. It never occured to me that just as the moon has phases, so do the planets. I had expected to see a small red disk through the binoculars. Instead, we saw a brilliant red/orange 1/4 phase planet. it was beautiful. Anselm was vrey happy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

This yucky yucky day.

I won't go into the details but it started last night am with a sense of foreboding about church and the Metropolitan who was going to be there. Then I began thinking that maybe I shouldn't go. That my passions might get the best of me and I might yell Anaxios! and embarrass Bishop Benjamin. (It is hard to remember that the bishops are just men and I need to expect less of them.) Even as I was getting fressed thins morning, after convincing myself that i wouldn't do something like that, I was still anxious about going. But we all got into the car and began the hour drive to SF. Half way there God intervened and had Basil puke all over the back seat of the car. Boy, was I ever releived. Believe it or not, that was the best thing to happen all day. Other than that the day has been filled with mostly useless activity, spinning wheels, waitin for the day to end so we can get on with better things tomorrow. I'll send Bishop Benjamin a card congratulating him on his enthronement. I'm sure it was beautiful. And God used my sons stomach to "lead me not into temptation". God is good even if the state of my heart isn't. I need to go to confession. Soon.

Why We Fight

Associated Press
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Taliban militants hanged a teenager in southern Afghanistan because he had U.S. money in his pocket, and they stuffed five $1 bills in his mouth as a warning to others not to use dollars, police said Monday. Taliban militants elsewhere killed eight police.
The 15-year-old boy was hanged from a tree on Sunday in Helmand, the most violent province in the country and the world's No. 1 poppy-growing region.

"The Taliban warned villagers that they would face the same punishment if they were caught with dollars," said Wali Mohammad, the district police chief in Sangin.

Dollars are commonly used in Afghanistan alongside the afghani, the local currency, although the U.S. currency is more commonly seen in larger cities where international organizations are found.

Militants often justify their attacks and executions as a response to U.S. meddling in Afghan affairs.

In Sangin on Saturday, the Taliban shot and killed another man who had sought farm assistance and seeds from an international aid program, Mohammad said. The militants accused him of being a spy.

Trip to the doctor's office

Monday morning we were up at 6, took my wife to work, then came home where I taught Anselm how to make oatmeal. Basil decided to help. There was some oatmeal scattered about the kitchen. Then we went to te library to check out the final volume of the Chronicles of Narnia. We have read all the others alound to Ansem and this is all that is left. (We had started the Harry Potter series but HP2 is too frightening for Anselm. Every time Harry heard the voice Anselm was too disturbed. So we decided to shelve the HP series and finish up CofN.) While walking into the library, I holding one of Basil's hands and Anselm holding basil's other hand, Basil decided he wanted to be free. He threw himself to the ground violently while shouting, "Walk!" the whole time we were in the library he was i a bad mood. Whining even crying. I didn't understand what was wrong until we got home. Then I saw his right arm was hanging limp. I thought, "Oh, no! Not again!" Trip to the doctor. Bone popped back into place. The doctor taught me how to do it so I won't have to keep bringing him in. So far this week, I've had to heimlich this kid (he tried to eat a quarter) and take him to the doc to get a bone popped back into place. Lets hope this week improves.

Well, I have to be at church in just 8 hours. I don't know how they are going to fit seven bishops, their deacons, and all the priests in the diocese into my tiny parish, to say nothing ofthe faithful. It going to be nuts. Hope it isn't too hot.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Death in my sons unit

Yesterday the Pentegon released the names of several men killed in Afghanistan. One of them was from my sons battalion (about 500 men): "Matthew D. Blaskowski, 27, of Levering, Mich.; sergeant first class, Army. Blaskowski was killed Sept. 23 when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire in Asadabad, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy."

This man, as a Sergeant First Class was in the position known as Platoon Sergeant. There are only 15 or 16 of these men in the battalion. They are amazingly important and without them the Army would cease to function. These are the senior sergents who make sure troops are fed, armed, trained, alert, and obedient (this last thing is very difficult when everyone is iritated, tired, and armed) It is going to be difficult for the Staff Sergeant who gets moved into the vacant position to fill those boots. It will be difficult for the unit to functiion as effectively. Please pray for them.