Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things aren't that bad.

Consider this...

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negetive GDP growth. Have we had that? No. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis GDP has increased the last three quarters.

Q4 2007 GDP was up 0.4%
Q1 2008 GDP was up 0.9%
Q2 2008 GDP was up 2.8%

We have no banking crisis. We have had a handful of banks run into problems. And they were bought by larger healthy banks. Countrywide and Merrill Lynch have been gobbled up by BofA. Why? Because BofA plans on making money.

Lehman brothers is being carved up between several other firms. Barclays is buying Lehman's research division, Bain Capital is buying a hunk,Nomura hired about 2,500 of Lehman's British employees and bought Lehman's Asian operations. And of course, as we have all heard, Wachovia is buying $494 billion of Lehman's bad debt. Why? Because Nomura, and Wachovia, and Bain, and Barclay's are getting ready to reap a fortune in the investment banking business.

Citi just agreed to buy Wachovia's troubled retail operations. Why? Because Wachovia sucks at retail banking and Citi knows how to do it and make money. Citi plans growing, and Wachovia is well capitalized to compete in the investment banking sector.

Warren Buffet just took a $5 billion stake in Golman Sachs. Wells Fargo is strong. Citi is strong. BofA is strong. The land that backs up all of that "bad" debt isn't going anywhere. The U.S. produces more food than we can possibly eat. No one is going to starve. The U.S. Gov't holds 29,813 tons of gold bars. There are more than 700,000,000 barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Unemployment, which was over 10% in the 1980s is now barely over 6%. In inflation adjusted dollars we spend about the same for gasoline as we did in the 1950s.

I am astounded that anyone thinks these are hard economic times. We are rich rich rich. But we talk like the world is afalling apart. In the last 10 days I've heard some of my coutrymen express fear about overpopulation, another great depression, famine, global warming, run-away inflation, deflation, rising unemployment, high gas prices, and the price of cable televsion. I swear, people are nuts. Its like they don't have anything to wory about so they have to make stuf up.

And while I'm at it, I want to thank those 40% of House democrats and 66% of House republicans who voted against the Baking Bailout Bill. I am proud of you. It is probably the best thing Congress has done all year. Let bad banks fail so the healthy banks can eat them and make something useful out of them. Don't pick winners and losers. That's not your job. THank you for letting the market work.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Like a Dog to His Vomit

Like a dog to his vomit
Like a sow to her mire
So the bandaged hand waggles
Right back to the fire

“No one is happy about the tough decisions that were made today,” said U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), who voted for the bailout bill. “Our economy is in dire shape and drastic action is needed. I firmly believe that we need to act soon to avoid a domino effect that could trigger major job losses and a significant period of economic downturn with negative consequences not just on Wall Street, but on every street in the country.” Yet, Langevin added, “any proposed legislation must ensure [that] hardworking people will have access to financing for mortgages, as well as auto, student and small business loans."

Isn't giving credit to the unworthy the reason we are in this jam?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soundtrack: You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore

This song barely fits into the the time frame of the Saturday Soundtrack Series, and in its most famous version it is, in fact, to recent to be included. But Neil Diamond released the song as a solo on his 1977 album "I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight", so the song was officially released before "Saturday Night Fever" hit the screens. The solo version of the song was okay enough to get Barbara Streisand's attention and she recorded it in the same key (C Major, aka the "hit-maker" key) for her "Songbird" album. It took a DJ at WAKY in Kentucky to bring the two recordings together and broadcast them as one. It was an instant hit. Diamond and Streisand got wind of it, said, "Hey! Let's do this thing!" and in December 1978, their real duet of this song became a #1 hit single. I don't think it was ever included in an album by either singer. This video clip is from the 1980 Grammy Awards.

Friday, September 26, 2008

News of the Strange

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that a protestant group named "Every Home For Christ" (It's a laudable goal but an odd name, don't you think?) is building a replica of the Western Wall so people can simulate visiting the real thing which is in Jerusalem. This reminds me of the Orthodox practice of making Icons of other Icons. For example, the Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon and any number of weeping Icons are reproduced in other Icons to look like the prototypes. Copies of weeping Icons even have painted on tears. So, obviously, I don't think this is the strange thing. Making copies of a holy things and venerating the copies is Orthodox.

The strange thing is that these are evangelical protetants who are doing this. It is almost like they are looking for a way to embrace sacramentalism but are relectant to do it the Christian way (with sacraments), and are instead doing it in a Jewish way that has never been a Christian way. The Temple was destroyed after the Church was established and the western wall (actually a retaining wall, not part of the temple proper)became a Jewish shrine after that destruction.

Unpaid Internships

So, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do in January once I have this degree under my belt. After looking at scads of recruitment ads for entry-level city planners, it occurs to me that I am not going to get one of those jobs without first doing one or two very long unpaid internships. It makes me think of this (from the website Stuff White People Like:

#105 Unpaid Internships
July 20, 2008 by clander

In most of the world when a person works long hours without pay, it is referred to as “slavery” or “forced labor.” For white people this process is referred to as an internship and is considered an essential stage in white development.

The concept of working for little or no money underneath a superior has been around for centuries in the form of apprenticeship programs. Young people eager to learn a trade would spend time working under a master craftsman to learn a skill that would eventually lead to an increase in material wealth.

Using this logic you would assume that the most sought after internships would be in areas that lead to the greatest financial reward. Young White people, however, prefer internships that put them on the path for careers that will generally result in a DECREASE of the material wealth accumulated by their parents.

For example, if you were to present a white 19 year old with the choice of spending the summer earning $15 an hour as a plumber’s apprentice or making $0 answering phones at Production Company, they will always choose the latter. In fact, the only way to get the white person to choose the plumbing option would be to convince them that it was leading towards an end-of-summer pipe art installation.

White people view the internship as their foot into the door to such high-profile low-paying career fields as journalism, film, politics, art, non-profits, and anything associated with a museum. Any white person who takes an internship outside of these industries is either the wrong type of white person or a law student. There are no exceptions.

If all goes according to plan, an internship will end with an offer of a job that pays $24,000 per year and will consist entirely of the same tasks they were recently doing for free. In fact, the transition to full time status results in the addition of only one new responsibility: feeling superior to the new interns.

When all is said and done, the internship process serves the white community in many ways. First, it helps to train the next generation of freelance writers, museum curators, and director’s assistants. But more importantly, internships teach white children how to complain about being poor.

So when a white person tells you about their unpaid internship at the New Yorker, it’s not a good idea to point out how the cost of rent and food will essentially mean that they are PAYING their employer for the right to make photocopies. Instead it’s best to say: “you earned it.” They will not get the joke.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Older is Better

Last week, or the week before, I had to go to court in Palo Alto to pay a "fix-it" ticket. The building was functional, as public buildings are now days. It suffered an amazing lack of beauty. Anselm and Basil went with me.

Today Anselm, Basil, and I were in downtown San Jose. Anselm had to go to the bathroom. THe nearest bathroom was in the old county courthouse on the edge of St. James Park. THe buiding was beautiful. THirteen granite steps lead up to enormous bronze doors. In the foryer of the courthouse the deputies searched us, but I barely noticed them. My eyes were on the architectural details: Gold gilded moldings in the ceilings, monocrome frescoed plaster that seemed to deep to be real, rich woods (even in the elevator), and corinthian columns. We popped our heads into a court room and saw more architectural beauty. The benches were old and polished, the proportions of the room suggested the majesty of the law brought down to human scale, and were very close to the golen ratio. Even the bathrooms were gorgeous, with shining marble, porcelain, and wood. It is a fitting building for the judicial branch. And it was built in the late 1800s.
As we were exiting the old court house Anselm said, "I like this court more than the other one. It's better."

Then we went to the old main post office next door. It was built in the 1930s during the Great Depression. And oh what a palace! I don't even know how to describe its features. The doors are heavy bronze, the redwood ceiling (stained in a many-colored geometric design) is supported by huge columns covered with cream-colored tiles of exquisite craftmsanship. I have never seen the like. The P.O. boxes were of the old brass variety, the kind with the little windows. Long wooden tables, high windows, and a hundred fine details made me proud to be an American.

So, what happened? Why are the new courthouses and post offices so ugly? Certainly we have more money now than we did then. Certainly the ingenuity of our architechts and the skill of our craftsmen have not declined, have they? Have they? I just don't understand.

I see the same thing in church buildings. We know what makes a beautiful church building, but most church buildings built in America over the past 50 years are hideous. And it happened in skyscrappers, too. THink about the Chrysler Building in New York City. That is a beautiful tower. Now think about the glass and steel "International Style" office towers built in the last 30 years. See what I mean? We know what is beautiful but build ugly.

Is this an effect of sin?

Repairs, Cats, Scouts, Tradition

A resident left her keys and wallet in her car. Both were stolen. I couldn't help with the wallet, but I changed the locks on the doors for her. I gave the old locks to her boys. As I walked away they were busy learning how deadbolts work.

I opened a clog drain for another tenant. I bought a new auger for this project. The new auger, unlike my old auger (I think it got lost in the move) can be attached to my drill and can really tunnel down the pipes is a jiffy. Very cool. I just have to squeeze the trigger and feed the line down the pipe.

Looks like we didn't trap all the cats. I have a feeling that I am going to have to be dealing with cats as long as I live here.

I've been working with Anselm Samuel on his scouting stuff. He know the Cub Scout Sign, the Cub Scout Salute, the Cub Scout Motto, and can recite the Law of the Pack. In the course of learning these various things, we had to have a long talk about loyalty: To God, to the Church, to our family, and to California, to the United States. It was very moving. This scouting stuff is very exciting. I have a feeling that if there were more people were scouts as children our prisons would have much more vacancy than they presently have.

It has been said that children are the most traditional of all people. I experienced that today. This morning before the sun came up we did morning prayers. But I didn't light all the candles. I only lit the lampada in front of the Icon of Christ Pantocrator. When we were all through Basil was sure we had done it wrong and wanted to light all the candles and start over again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Addition to Prayer

In general, I am reluctant to add things to the morning and evening prayer services. I just do what's in the prayerbook. But I have been having a hard time of late. In fact, for the last few days I've actually been feeling sorry for myself; no more dangerous ground than that, and I have learned that this prayer (I first read it on Leah's blog) makes me very happy. It is part of morning prayers now.

What shall I give Thee, Lord, in return for all Thy kindness?
Glory to Thee for Thy love.
Glory to Thee for Thy mercy.
Glory to Thee for Thy patience.
Glory to Thee for forgiving us all our sins.
Glory to Thee for coming to save our souls.
Glory to Thee for Thine incarnation in the Virgin’s womb.
Glory to Thee for Thy bonds.
Glory to Thee for receiving the cut of the lash.
Glory to Thee for accepting mockery.
Glory to Thee for Thy crucifixion.
Glory to Thee for Thy burial.
Glory to Thee for Thy resurrection.
Glory to Thee who were preached to men and women.
Glory to Thee in whom they believed.
Glory to Thee who were taken up into Heaven.
Glory to Thee who sit in great glory at the Father’s right hand.
Glory to Thee whose will it is that the sinner should be saved through Thy great mercy and compassion.

~St Ephraim the Syrian

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gibson: Clueless

The Power of the Song: Saturday Soundtrack

It is the nature of popular music that it must appeal to common desire and reflect common experience. That is it's power. Who likes to work? No one. If we liked it it would be called something else. Almost everyone would rather be doing something else with their lives. Which is why songs about how horrible work is are a constant presence on the various song popularity charts. Likewise, on radio stations with many teenaged listeners, songs about hating school are popular; Pink Floyd's "The Wall", for example. And, of course, pop song versions of "I see you, you see me, we have to be together or I'm going to die" are legion.

Songwriters, at least the one's who make money, know how to pluck those universal chords. But, to the best of my knowledge, there is only one song about the ability of a songwriter to completely reveal the feelings and thoughts of an unknown listener. (Barry Manilow's "I write the Songs" doesn't count. It wasn't about a songwriter. Rather it had for its subject the platonic ideal MUSIC.) It is a remarkable idea, and the song in question has been covered by the Jackson 5, the Fugees, and countless other artists. With the exception of some up-tempo Japanese girl band recordings, I like almost every version of the song I've ever heard, especially a flamenco version I heard once. I, even I sang it karaoke in a tiny smoke filled room once. But my favorite version is the 1974 Grammy Award winning recording by Roberta Flack. (Music by Charles Fox, lyrics by Norman Gimbel)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Teeth and other things

Anselm has lost his two bottom front teeth. He also moved up the waiting list very quickly and starts at the school within walking distance on Monday.

Basil has been acting atrocious lately. I don't know what it is. I don't mean he is being bad, I think he is just being two. But it is difficult. he does not walk anywhere, he hops or gallops. He does not hold my hand, he hurls himslf on the ground, which pops his elbow out of joint, and then I have to pop it back in. When I put him on the leash he cackles and runs around things and gets tangled. But he sings with me and that makes up for most of the difficulty.

I'm in my last semster of school. When I started on this program I was sure it was the right thing to do. Now that I am almost finished I ask myself, "What did I learn? Is that useful?" And I'm not sure about the answer.

For the wings of a dove

Our bad tennant is really getting us down. After being called a thief and a liar and an idiot, after having my children insulted, after they wrote letters to our boss trying to get us fired, I offerd to accept their thirty day notice and give them a good reference (they have never been late on their rent and have caused no damage to the building) but they said they aren't leaving. And they haven't done anything evictable. Athanasia and I are thinking of quiting. We feel like prisoners, afraid to go outside lest we see these people.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Road to Emmaus

It has been said that, with the exception of St. John Chrysostom's Nativity and Paschal Homiliesthe only part of the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church that is not inspired is the sermon. Well, I think we might have to add one more to that list. I've been reading back issues of the Orthodox Journal road to Emmaus for the last couple of days. It has been pure joy. For example, take this little story about a sermon:
My mother was at a church once where a very kind and prayerful batiushka
serves. One day, on the Nativity of the Mother of God, after liturgy he
came out of the royal doors to give the sermon. It was obvious that he felt
the feast deeply. He crossed himself and began... “The Most Holy
Theotokos...” (his voice trembled) “...our Lady, the Mother of God.” Tears
stood in his eyes and began to run down his cheek. People in the church
began sniffling. “...her holy parents, Joachim and Anna...” he continued,
crying openly now. The people were weeping quietly. Batiushka tried to continue,
but was unable. Tears were choking him. He made a hopeless gesture
with his hands and retreated into the altar. The people sobbed aloud, and
leaving the church, my mother heard two of his parishioners say that it was
the best sermon they had ever heard.
– Sergei Laposhin

You can read many more articles (And you must read about the missionary vayages of St. Andrew!) at the Road to Emamaus website.

The Universal Exaltation of the Life-Creating Cross

Happy Feast Day! Today is the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross (one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church). Below is the Epistle reading for this Feast and, followng that, an exerpt of a paper I wrote. (I apologize for the footnotes not posting. I don't know how to fix this problem.)

Corinthians 1:18-24 (Epistle)
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written:
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.


The Universal Exaltation of the Life-Creating Cross (September 14)
The placement of this feast in the church calendar# has been a cause of no small amount of discussion. Why in early September? Wouldn’t it make more sense for this feast to occur closer to Pascha, when the Church celebrates the destruction of death? The best answer I have read comes from the pen of a monk of St. Tikhon’s monastery…“Truly, the Nativity of the Theotokos was seen as the beginning of our salvation, and the Cross is seen as the culmination of our salvation.”# Therefore, the two feasts are placed close to each other.
We find the origin of this feast sometime after A.D. 335 but before A.D. 347#. The historical accidents of the Feast, as reflected in the Icon are the raising of the Cross before a crowd of people by the Bishop of Jerusalem. It is thought that the Cross was presented to the people at the time of the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection, which temple is represented in the background Icon#.
But the date, location, and occasion of the elevation of the Cross are not the point of the Feast or the Icon of the Feast. The elevation of the Cross is a universal phenomenon. The Church in all places and at all times looks to the Cross as “the weapon of peace”# which grants victory over the adversary. This universality is seen in an interesting version of this Icon that is in the nave of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco. At first glance it looks like any copy of the Icon of the Exaltation of the Cross. But upon closer inspection we see that the bishop lifting the Life Creating Cross is not the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Instead, he is the Patriarch of Moscow. And the crowd of people before whom he is raising the Cross is not the population of Jerusalem. It is the sacred throng of the Holy Martyrs of the communist persecution; St. Benjamin, the Royal Martyrs, St. Elizabeth, and tens of thousands of other bishops, children, priests, nuns, monks, lay men and women, all are looking to the Cross exalted by the Patriarch. And each of them is holding a small cross in his right hand. They saw the Cross that was lifted up before them and they embraced it. They exalted it not just at a Feast once a year, but in their hearts. They followed Jesus to Calvary and they received the “invincible trophy#”.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Soundtrack: Tears on Pacheco Pass

When we heard the news that Elvis was dead my Mother, my Aunt Caroline, and I were driving through the Pacheco Pass on our way from my grandmother's house in the San Juaquin Valley to where we lived in Silicon Valley (but I don't think it was called Silicon Valley then.) My aunt Caroline began to cry. I barely knew who Elvis was so I didn't understand why my Aunt was crying. But the first song the radio DJ played after annoucing Elvis' death was this one.
Then I cried, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Soup

1 carton of Pacific Foods vegetable broth.
2 large carrots, chopped.
1 large turnip, peeled and chopped.
10 basil leaves, chopped.
3 hand fulls Shiitake-Ya gourmet mushroom blend.
1/2 tsp salt.

Put all ingredients in pan
bring to boil
reduce heat to simmer
simmer until turnips and carrots are desired firmness.

Judgement, Forgiveness, and Continuing the Work

The American Church has heard or read the report of the Special Investigating Committee headed by Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco. I don't want to address the contents of the report here; too sad to recount. But I do want to talk about the response of some to the contents of the report.

Those who were the worst actors have have been removed from office. One has been canonically deposed. One bishop has been effectively banished to one small parish. Those who knew something was wrong but did not act to protect the Church from bad actors will have to live with that shame. For some people in the Church this does not seem to be enough. They desire... Well, I'm not sure what they desire; Four bishops deposed? Three more priests deposed? Shall they be excommunicated and anathematized, too? I'm sure some would say yes.

But I disagree with those who want more punishment. The Holy Synod has obeyed St. Paul and has rebuked the wrong doers in public. Now they must forgive. And the whole Church must forgive. If we don't we go to Hell. At least, I will, as my sins are worse than the things those men are guilty of. I am sure that if God accepts me at the chalice, he accepts those failed bishops and priests (and a couple of laymen, too), too.

In coming months we will be choosing a new Metropolitan. Let us pray that we find the man God wants in that see. And let us remember to look far and wide, as no Canon requires the Metropolitan be chosen from among the existing bishops, or even from the clergy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I love you, Lord, kind of.

The Handmaiden posted a quote from "The Way of a Pilgrim". It got me to thinking.

Back in 1974 a woman by the name of Laurie Klein wrote a very pretty song called I Love You Lord. It became a popular song at The Church on the Way, and spread throughout the pentecostal churches in California pretty rapidly. The song was included in Maranatha Music's Praise 4 cassette in 1980 and spread throughout the world. It really is a beautiful song and echoes parts of the Song of Solomon and some Psalms. But I always felt like a hippocrite when I sang the song. Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments". I think I might want to love the Lord. Or, maybe, wish I wanted to love the Lord. But I'm not even sure of that. As far as I can tell, I've only lived three sinless days in my whole life, and probably, if I looked harder at those days I would find sin in them. That is proof enough that I don't love Him.

What I do know is that even though I do not love Him, He loves me. And when I ask Him to have mercy He does. In fact, He pours out His mercy on me day and night, whether or not I ask for it, whether or not I think of Him, even if I hate Him. The wells of His mercy never run dry.

Patriarchs of Russia and Georgia Speak

You have probably already read the this story from the New York Times, but I only read it today.

The two churches expressed dismay. The patriarchs of both the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches issued immediate appeals for peace. The strong urgings were all the more striking for the Russian patriarch, Aleksy II, who rarely differs publicly with the Kremlin.

“Today, blood is being shed and people are perishing in South Ossetia, and my heart deeply grieves over it,” Patriarch Aleksy said in a statement on Aug. 8 as the fighting raged. “Orthodox Christians are among those who have raised their hands against each other. Orthodox peoples called by the Lord to live in fraternity and love are in conflict.”

"Two days later, in a sermon in Tbilisi, Patriarch Ilia II of the Georgian Orthodox Church said that “one thing concerns us very deeply — that Orthodox Russians are bombing Orthodox Georgians.”

According to the church’s Web site, he added: “This is an unprecedented act of relations between our countries. Reinforce your prayer and God will save Georgia.”

The ties between the Orthodox churches did prove strong enough to offer some relief to civilians swept up in the conflict. Bringing food and aid, the Georgian patriarch made a pastoral visit to Gori, a central Georgian city, while it was occupied by Russian forces." (Read the whole article here)

I thought the whole article was interesting but this paragraph jumped out at me:

“This is an especially painful situation for us because four Orthodox peoples are in conflict,” said Deacon Andrei Kuraev, an outspoken Russian Orthodox missionary noted for his Web site, his books and his sermons at rock concerts by bands that have embraced Orthodoxy. He said that Orthodox segments of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s populations did not wish to be under the Orthodox Church in Georgia."

I wanted to know more about him. So, I did what one does when one wants information.

Bosom of Abraham

"Healey library reference staff often receive questions involving students' personal responses to, and the scholarly contexts of, works of art, poems, buildings, artifacts, etc.

This happened recently with an artifact in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A student chose to study the "Bosom of Abraham Trinity", an alabaster sculpture carved by an unidentified English artist in the 15th century.

We have prepared a brief case study showing how the student ended up connecting this sculpture at the MFA with Christian theology, religious pluralism, Gothic art, medieval mothering - and a gospel tune recorded by Elvis Presley.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Daddy, look at my pond.

Those are the very troubling words, from the mouth of an almost three year old, that first gave be cause for concern. Then I heard the water running. Why had I not heard it before? Well, I guess I had, but I was reading the new laws pertaining to swimming pools and rental housing (Like we don't already have enough laws. I wish the legislature would just take a five year break. I mean, the Annotated California Code is more than 40 volumes of very small print on very thin paper. Enough is enough.) and didn't really grasp what was going on. When I ran to the kitchen to see the pond I was hoping it was an exaggeration. Alas. It was not. As I approached the kitchen water squirted up from the carpet and did wet my ankles. The kitchen, the downstairs bathroom and part of the living room were flooded. Basil and I both slid and fell on the hardwood floor of the kitchen. Truly, it was a pond. Every towel in the house was used to sop up the water. It wasn't enough. I wrung them out dozens of times and kept sopping up the water. No use. We rented a wetvac and, thankfully, that did the trick.

In other news of this day, my wife found my wallet, missing since last Thursday. Of course, I reported all the credit cards lost/stolen on Saturday. O well, at least, it prompted me to get a credit report so I could get a list of all m credit cards. (I know it sounds silly, but I almost never use them, don't keep old bills, and could not remember what cards I have.) Anyway, the interesting thing about the credit report is that I discovered that American Express has mixed up my account with my late father's account. Very strange, considering he opened his account with them three years before I was born. I have to get copies of birth certificates, his death certificate, and send them to American Express to get the problem corrected.

Anselm Samuel had 2 hours of homework to do tonight. So far he has had 30 minutes to 1 hour of homework Mon-Thurs nights since the term started. I am more than a little bit alarmed by this. If this is how much home work he has in the first grade, what is second grade going to be like? Also, what are they doing from 8 to 2:15 every day? Why isn't this work being done in class? Two hours of homework! That's as much time doing homework as the whole school day was when I home schooled him last year.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Church Picnic

Today was Holy Trinity Cathedral's picnic. The event was held at Fort Mason, and it was a lovely late summer day: The Sun was warm, the breeze was gentle and cold. Athanasia and I were in charge of children's games: Bean bag toss, hot potato, duck duck goose, tug-o-war, egg-spoon race, and a pinata to cap it off. The pinata was crazy. It was made of tough cardboard instead of paper mache so after a a couple of dozen hard hits with an aluminum rod Athanasia just reached up and tore it open. The kids didn't mind.

Food: I had three hamburgers, one sausage and 5 beers (Thank you, Matushka Elaine, for bringing Guinness for me. That was very thoughtful.)

In other news, Archbishop Dimitri of Dallas was commemorated during the liturgy in place of our now gone Metropolitan. Glory to God for all things! Perhaps, we will now be able to get on with the business of being the Church.

No Lie

Sen. Obama says, "We're not going to be bullied, we're not going to be smeared, we're not going to be lied about."

Hmmm. Okay. Just the truth: You opposed protecting the lives of babies born alive. What you said was "What we are doing here is to create one more burden on women, and I can't support that." Never mind that the baby was born, that the cord was cut, that it was struggling to live. You said let it die.

You want to double the Capital Gains tax. The increasing value of capital is the #1 reason people invest in new businesses, save money, buy houses. It is the hope for profit that drives this economy. And more personally, my retirement depends on capital gains. And you want to tax that activity like it is some kind of social evil, like its gambling, smoking or drinking. You want to suppress job creation, savings, and home ownership? Are you insane?

You want to make college more affordable. How? By using the U.S. tax code to subsidize college tuition. Think about what that means. How is increasing the demand for a college education going to make college more affordable? Have you ever even heard of Adam Smith?

You aren't just wicked, you're stupid, too.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I close my eyes: Saturday Soundtrack

Sometimes, not often but once in while, I have a dream that is so good I regret waking up. This song has nothing to do with that. It is a Tony Award winning song written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber when he was merely 20 years old. ( I wouldn't be born until the next year.) Since then he has written many more great songs, more than I care to list here. (Hmmm. Why isn't he a viscount by now? Surely he deserves more than a mere knighthood. I mean, come on, there are ex-Beatles with knighthoods.) I've loved this song since I was a boy. It has a choir of children, a dramatic bridge, a semi-island rythm, and is written in C-Major. (According to Sir Andrew C-Major is the secret to his success. All his most popular songs are written in C-Major. THis is handy for recorder players. ) Well, without further delay, here is the song, as performed by Donny Osmond. (Mssr. Osmond revived the role of Joseph on Broadway a few years ago).

Friday, September 05, 2008

Anti-Christ Loses

Over the past few days I have heard and read some very sad things. Gloria Steinam and Annette Benning, columnists such as Ellen Goodman, NPR and hundreds of internet commenters have attacked Gov. Palin, not so much because of her policy positions but because of her motherhood (and her daughter's motherhood). It is as though they see her 5 children and their conciences feel the heat of their self-made anti-human hells. It is remeniscent of the pagan Romans' hatred of Christians because of the Christians' practice of rescuing babies left on the outskirts of Rome to die of exposure. These people who hate Palin for her embrace of life (I am not saying she is above criticism. I, for example, think she is wrong about solving our energy problems through drilling.) do so because they have sided with the ancient enemy of mankind. They hate babies and they hate mothers because they hate the Giver of Life. Like Tolkien's Southrons were captives of Sauron, and like Lewis's Calormenes were captives of Tash, Steinem, Goodman, Dowd, and other haters of humanity need liberation from their lord more than they need defeating at the ballot box. Evangelism trumps politics. Love always defeats hate. The light of Christ dispells the shadows of anti-Christ.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Puke, Cookies, Fingerpainting, and Faucets

This morning I dropped Anselm Samuel off at school and took Basil Wenceslas to Kidspark, so I could work on the faucet of one of my tenants. Unfortunately, just as I was signing Basil in, he puked all over the place. So, I couldn't leave him there.

That meant I had to tell my tenant that I had a sick boy and could not fix his faucet until after 3:30 when Athanasia would be home to take care of Basil. He was fine with that.

So, what did we do during the day? We made chocolate oatmeal cookies. THey turned out gross. I will never make them again. They are like Clif bars. YUCK!!! We also finger painted. There was paint on the walls of three rooms, on the floors, on the kitchen and bathroom counters. Thankfully, it was washable and a little water and a rag cleaned it up. But Basil had a great time.

Picked Anselm up at 2:15, and then I swept and vacuumed while the boys had an afternoon snack of cheese and crackers and water. My wife came home at 3:30 (She has to be at work at 6), and I got to work on the faucet.

As it turned out, the faucet is obsolete, and what I thought was going to take less than 10 minutes required 2 hours, a trip to the hardware store, and jury rigged replacement parts. Thankfully it works and the parts cost the owner less than $7. And the tenant is happy. Much better conclusion than buying a new faucet, I think.

When I was through with the faucet I took over homework duty (1st Graders have home work!?) from my wife and she got to work on the weekly reports.

THen it was time for the boys to have baths, during which time Athanasia completed our weekly reports and faxed them into the central office. After the boys were through with their baths I went grocery shopping. When I came home they had just gotten in to bed but insisted on getting up to do evening prayers with me. I don't think they are all that spiritual, they just don't like going to bed. What's cute though is that Basil insists on everyone holding a prayer book, even though evening prayers are memorized.

Basil and Anselm are still sick. I'd keep Anslem home from school tomorrow but he missed Wednesday and I don't want him to fall behind.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Very Good Speech

That was good, huh?

Well, this one is even better.

Wow! What a Day!

After dropping Anselm Samuel off at school, Basil Wenceslas and I went for a walk. We chased lizards, counted 8 wild turkeys, got within 15 feet of a doe and her fawn before they ran away, counted 7 more deer besides those two, chased ground squirrels, and then followed a bee back to its hive in a tree. That was the best part of the day.

The worst part of the day was having one of my tenants standing on my front porch yelling at me, "Nobody here likes you" "This used to be a good place to live until you moved here", etc. She even insulted Basil who answered the door with me. We immediately offered our resignation to our boss expecting him him to accept it. We were very distressed and feeling like we had no where to go and not enough money to get a new place to live. Instead, our boss told us we were doing a good job and that he wants us to stay. Apparently, the people in this position before us did not enforce the rules, and some of the tenants are having trouble adjusting to our "by the book" approach. (FYI: In this business doing things "by the book" keeps one from being sued.)

So, how do I feel now? I feel like our boss is in our corner. He likes it that we enforce the rules and do not play favorites. He likes it that we are dealing with problems that the previous manager didn't deal with. But I still wish all the tenants liked us.

Samuel is sick with a cold. I prayed the "Prayer for a Sick Person" for him and gave him some holy water. Basil wanted some, too. I'm almost out. I'll try to remember to take the bottle to church next Sunday to get a refill. I should have asked Father John to make some when he was here last week.

Anselm has memorized the Pledge of Allegiance after just one week of school. Basil is learning the Our Father - he says the last few words of each line with us as we say them - just from saying Morning and Evening prayers with us. It is hard to explain how happy it makes me to hear them saying those words.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Where does Governor Palin Shop?

Look at the package of baby wipes in Gov. Palin's hand. They are Kirkland brand baby wipes. She shops at Costco.

This is Cool

Mateo had a link to this blog by a McCain daughter (I didn't even know he had a daughter.) on his blog. Looks like their having fun on the campaign trail.