Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Soundtrack: It's all about the hair

Friday I had to clear drains for some of my tenants: Three women living together. The enormously huge amounts of hair in the drains was unbelievable. There was so much that it totally fouled my snake. It got me to thinking about some hair related songs.

I was born a year after the play Hair opened on Broadway, but a decade before the movie was released. I saw the movie on cable when I was 12 but don't remember anything about it except three songs: Good Morning Starshine, Aquarius and Let the Sunshine In. Of the three, though it is less well known, Good morning, Starshine is my favorite. Here it is from the 1979 movie.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Esther and Purim Parties

Tonight I read the unabridged version of Esther. It was my first time. Very cool.

This verse jumped out at me: "The Jews vowed and took on themselves and their descendants and on ALL WHO SHOULD JOIN THEM [emphasis mine], to celebrate these two days without fail, in the manner prescribed,and at the time appointed, year after year." (Esther 9:27)

Is this a license to crash Purim parties, or what?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I sometimes worry that this blog makes me look like a much better person than I am. I know any intelligent person knows better, but, still, I worry about it. But more than that I worry about the state of my own soul. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Much work to be done. And the temptation there is to despair, saying, "I can never attain holiness." Then, on Leah's blog (She must have an amazing library. I am constantly amazed by the far-ranging breadth of her quotations. I am thankful to her for bringing them to us.) I see the words of Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios and am refreshed and relieved of worry as the lie of the enemy is exposed:

"Let us never think that holiness means infallibility, the perfect man is nonexistent. Holiness is in the area of struggle, not perfection. No one is perfect. Perfection does not exist for us in this life. What exists is the struggling man, the one who keeps striving. We must understand this. I say this because at times we may think that holiness, which is our calling by the way, is so far out of our grasp that it is unattainable. This is not so. It is a delusion and the work of the devil, to tell us that holiness is unrealistic and we cannot reach it. The devil wants to destroy us. No, my friends do not listen to this. Holiness is in the struggle!"

Axios! Axios! Axios!

Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad has been elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Εις πολλα ετη Δεσποτα!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Urbanism does not have to be Socialist

Too often the Urbanist movement is linked to Socialism. As an Orthodox Christian, who follows Abraham in his journey toward that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God", and who prays every day to Martyrs killed by the hands of Socialists this has always bothered me. Why would Capitalism, the most blessed and God-serving of all economic systems shun the beauty of the City for the ugliness of the Suburbs? Especially, I have been concerned that the foremost proponent of Urbanism is the pink-tinted Congress for New Urbanism. But there are Capitalist Urbanists, as only makes sense. Consider this: Suburbs only exploded and spread their miasma over the countryside when the government decided to get into the housing business. I don't know about other states but in California oppressive taxes in cities drives the middle class and businesses out of cities, as is happening in San Francisco. In San Jose, the Socialist requirement of "affordable" housing is suppressing the market demand for infill development of condos and apartments that the downtown needs, which increases unemployment and homelessness.

Recently, I came across a Capitalist Urbanist blog by the name of Market Urbanism. It is a much needed counterweight to the Socialism of many Urbanists.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In a CITY Every Street is a Stage

Aside from suburban development being bad for the environment, bad for human health, and bad for architecture, they are deadly for street culture. Let me just ask you, are there street musicians in Cupertino, Tyson's Corner, or Highland Park? No. In order to have street musicians one must have streets (or train stations, or subways) where people walk.

Jazz in Paris

Folk in Santiago de Cuba

Gospel in Barcelona

Classical in Munich

Blues in San Francisco

Calypso in Brooklyn

Vivaldi in Venice

Slide Guitar in Dublin

Quantanimo Has Been Ordred a year. Maybe.

Our new President ordered the prison camp at Gitmo shut within a year, unless it can't be. Republicans on the Hill have been pointing out that many of the released Gitmo detainees have returned to their terrorist ways. I think this is a good time to revist something I wrote in 2005 on the law of war as it pertains to to Gitmo, POWs, ad Unlawful Combatants. Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened in the Doctor's Office

I've been sick since December 28. I've been to the doctor a couple of times. Amoxocillin and Zithramax and a bunch of other medicines. They think I have the pertussis. I'm getting better but am not 100% yet. I'm very tired, I guess from the low blood oxygen levels. Here is a funny story about that. The last time I was at the doctor, last Friday, the medical assistant took my blood pressure and said, "oh, that's good". I guess they expect it to be high because of my age and weight. She took my temperature and said "That's good." Then she took my O-level and didn't say anything. So I asked, "Is that good, too?" She said, "The doctor will talk to you about that". DOH!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bob Wilkens is Dead

I just learned today that Bob Wilkens died on January 7. When I was a boy growing up in Palo Alto and Mountain View I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late and watch Creature Feature on KTVU (Ch. 2) hosted by Bob Wilkens. The show came on at 9 p.m. on Saturday nights and we had church the next morning. But once in a while if I begged hard enough and the movie was not particularly revolting they would relent and let me watch. So, at 6 I got to see Ray Harryhausen's 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. I also saw Blackula, which was kind of a cross between Dracula and Shaft. And I saw Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Hardware Wars, and few others. But some of the movies, even though poorly made, gave me nightmares. So, with nightmares and church the next morning I rarely got to watch Creature Features. Oh, I remember one movie that was so scary I had nightmares about it for years.

(Creature Feature Intro)

One cute thing about Creature Feature was something my nephew Aaron, who was three at the time, asked my Dad. He said, "Papa, do you watch Peacher Peacher? Are you feared with it?" 30 years after those questions were asked, whenever my parents talked about their grandson Aaron to each other, Dad would say, "do you remember when he asked..."

When I was 9 he launched a new kids show that came on every weekday afternoon. He introduced Japanese kid culture to the Bay Area, by showing movies like Ultraman and Space Giants. I even had a Captain Cosmic decoder card.

He did a lot to really build the science-fiction and horror sub-culture. On his shows he would often mention book signings, or celebrity appearances at Sci-Fi oriented stores (You know them. They sell things like Battle Star Galactica trading cards and Imperial Storm Trooper helmets) such as The Federation Trading Post or Starbase Earth, both of which are now out of business. Bob Wilkins even helped organize and hosted the very first Star Trek Convention ever.

C 2

C asked me for more information about Orthodox Christianity.

Glory to Christ!
Glory Forever!

Dear C.,

With 2,000 year of history we have a lot of information. I hardly know where to start. I suppose, since you said you want a deeper walk with God, the best thing to do would be to buy a copy of the "Pocket Prayer Book" and begin ding the Morning and Evening prayers. (You might also want to get an Icon of Jesus and face it during the prayers.) This is the elementary practice of all Orthodox Christians. See how it goes.

You can get the "Pocket Prayer Book" and an Icon at:

They also have lots and lots of books written by and for adult converts. But remember, Ortho-doxy isn't possible apart from Ortho-praxis. I recommend that you do the short morning and evening prayer services.

Let me know how it goes.

In Christ,


Saturday Soundtrack: The Deadly Mix of Alcohol, Women, and Guns

"Out in the west Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with a Mexican girl..."

Has there ever been a more perfect opening line to any song ever? I don't think so.

I know Marty Robbins recorded other songs, including three really bad sequels to El Paso, but none, to my mind, are as universally applicable as this one. While relating a story of the foolishness of men it exemplifies the Western half of Country and Western music. The song was released in 1959. In the 1980s it was chosen as the official fight song of the University of Texas at El Paso. I remember being about 10 or 11 when Marty Robbins died.


I tried to read War and Peace when I was 15. It was not a successful venture, as I didn't make it 50 pages deep into that book.

When I was 21 my sister introduced me to What Men Live By. Reading it aloud has become a Christmas tradition. In a little way this book eased my conversion to Orthodoxy. When so much in Orthodoxy was different from what I was used to I saw a painting in a priest's dining room that showed someone praying at a road-side shrine of the type mentioned in What Men Live By. It wasn't much, but it was something familiar. Other than that, I read nothing by Tolstoy.

This Christmas just past my sister gave me a collection of Tolstoy's short stories. I am really enjoying it. The stories often have no plot, but are more like psychological snapshots of different types of people. It is fascinating. I heartily recommend the collection.

Friday, January 23, 2009

C 1

Out of the blue I got an email from a man at Christ for the Nations. He found something I wrote about F.F. Bruce being instrumental in my conversion to Orthodoxy and wrote to me to find out more. I won't name him, or even put his questions here, but I will post some of my answers to his questions. I will label these blog entries "C".

Glory to Christ!
Glory Forever!

C., in reading F.F. Bruce's book, "the Canon" I first realized that there was a time when the Church didn't have a New Testament, and centuries went by before there was agreement on what books are canonical, or even if we should have a New Testament at all. In short, without his meaning to, F.F. Bruce convinced me that the Church decides which writing are Scripture, that is the Church is prior to, above, and produces Holy Scripture, not the other way around.

I understand what you mean about seeking more reverent worship. I am the son and grandson of Pentecostal preachers. I visited Christ for the Nations with my parents in 1977, when I was a child.

Everyone in Orthodoxy will rejoice when you become Orthodox (and you probably will. Few begin the journey from Pentecostalism to Orthodoxy without completing it.) but you should be prepared to lose a lot of your Protestant friends. They will think you have become a heretic or a legalist. Some will think you are not even a Christian anymore. Without becoming angry or feeling abandoned you will need to count it as part of the cost of following Jesus.

I don't know anything about you, but if I may make one more recommendation, follow the advice of one of our foremost priests (in fact, he has been given the title "protpresbyter" by the bishops) Thomas Hopko. He recommends that people who want to know about Orthodoxy not attend the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. Rather, go to Vespers or Vigil services on Saturday nights. Attending the Divine Liturgy can be confusing and overwhelming, since it is really the fulfillment of the service on Saturday night. Also, more than half the Divine Liturgy is for people who are already Orthodox. You're not going to get much out of it. Stick to the Saturday night services for a while.

In Christ,


Don Cossacks Still Getting Work

Interfax is reporting that the holy army known as the Host of Don Cossacks is sending men to Montenegro to protect the monastery containing the hand of St. John the Forerunner. The party will be composed of 56 Cossacks specially selected for the mission. This is being done with the blessing of Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands.

Painting: "Don Cossacks" by Julisz Kossak, 1887

News Source: Interfax

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I never would have made the connection

My wife, I'm sure, is sick of me bemoaning the state of public art in the Bay Area. It seems that aside from the stature of Willie Mays in front of PacBell Park all public art, especially statuary is of the most hideous modernest, non-representational style.

Digression: Plato disliked art because, in his thought, it was a further step away from the ideal. In his cosmology there was the Ideal and there was this world made of stuff that represents or points to the ideal. To Plato, Art is something that points to something that points to the Ideal. So, what would he have thought of abstract sculpture that points to nothing?

My own taste in public art tend toward the monumental. I like all those general on horseback, those lions in front of the New York Public Library, the bronze Burghers in the Stanford Main Quad. Not for me the pink shrouded islands.

Whither this modern disdain for the representational? One Scotsman, the Queen of England's official sculptor, no less, has an opinion:

That, Stoddart says, is the trouble with Scotland. 'The Reformation says smash impressive things. Scotland has become a metaphysically philistine country. That is to do with having become an abode of a people of the book.' He holds that in a word culture there is no respect for beauty and people are therefore likely to disfigure beautiful buildings with ugly glass boxes. 'Like the Jews and the Arabs, Scots worship logos. The word is on high but as everybody knows the word is a very crude instrument, because it is the handmaiden of the concept. Artists are concerned with the percept.(Read the whole thing here.)

Monday, January 19, 2009


"We renounce, censure and condemn racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissensions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers..." Pan-Orthodox Council, Istanbul, 10 August 1872

An interesting thing happened at Anslem Samuel's school last week. He learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. but was never told that King was a Christian. That treating people impartially is Christian practice, that non-violence is a Christian value. And of course he was never told that Archbishop Iakovos, though not agreeing with very much of the theology of King, agreed with goal of ending racism (which is a sin) and marched with King.

Read the whole Marting Luther King Jr. Comic Book here.

Anselm asked me how we are going to celebrate this day. I told him I have no idea since it is a band new holiday and no traditions are associated with it. He said, "We can make our own traditions. So, any recommendations?

Tomorrow Global Warming Stops.... Ha Ha HA Ha

Tomorrow Obama and Waxman will start working to stop global warming. God save us from unnecessary cures.

Although Arctic sea ice last summer reached the lowest level recorded since satellite observation began (an important qualification), Antarctic ice reached the highest, but Al Gore was not shouting about that. Global average temperatures hit a peak in 1998, but have been declining since. Now, to the further embarrassment of alarmists, Kerry Emanuel, professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, who first advanced the thesis of a connection between global warming and hurricanes, has rejected his own theory after further research. (Read it all here.)

This is not about saving the climate. This is about the government taking control of private property. This is about people who think they are smarter than you wanting to tell you how to spend your own money.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Density, Walkability, Objectivism, and Orthodoxy

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows my thinking on land use: Developed land should be either farms or urban space with narrow streets, small lots, mixed use zoning, and tall buildings. A couple of months ago I heard about a developer giving a plot of land to the orthodox Church so we could build a temple in the new town. (It isn't unusual for developers to do this. When my Dad was the Superintendent of the Florida Dist. of the Pentecostal Church of God they wee given a plot to establish a church in the new, at the time, town of Deltona, which was being built by the Deltona Corporation. I guess developers get a tax deduction for the donation.)

The place where the Orthodox church has been invited to build a temple is I'On, which is in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It's a gorgeous development. Small lots, walking trails, canals (the preexisted the current development), very casual feel. In many ways it resembles the award winning and very famous Seaside, Florida. But I also notice that I'On is all single family detached houses starting at $400,000.00, that the development still has narrow "two square" sidewalks and that there appears to be a lack of commercial and industrial space.

One thing I think that is neat about I'On is that they've named a street after John Galt. I think that is extremely cool.

You can listen to an interview of Holy Ascension Orthodox Church's architect here. You can hear an update interview of Fr. John here.

Marian Feasts

Among the 12 Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church are some which are feasts of Mary: The Nativity of the Theotokos (Sep. 8), the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (Nov. 21), The Annunciation (Mar. 25), Dormition of the Theotokos (Aug. 16). At church these are always big deals. But how do you bring these feasts home and help little boys enjoy them? God has provided color as a way.

Liturgically, at least in the OCA, the color for these feasts is blue. One thing my wife does, and I think it's pretty neat, is make blue popcorn balls for the boys on these days. All you have to to is add a little blue food coloring to your recipe and voila! you have Festal Popcorn Balls guaranteed to please the youngest members of the family and help them enjoy the feast.

This is not a problem. This is an opportunity.

Did you read that American dairy farmers are complaining about not having enough customers for their product, and might find relief in the stimulus package? Apparently they are producing so much milk that it is driving the prices down.

Intersting. Especially since it was just in the summer of 2007 that prices, especially for organic milk were very high and farmers were trying to produce more.

Maybe dairy farmers should consider the following:

I am not a farmer but here are some things I think I wold consider if I was a dairy farmer:

1. Convert to all organic right now. Organic milk in the SF Bay Area goes for $6 (Horizon) to $8 (Strauss Family) per gallon.

2. Dairy farmers already know how to raise healthy cattle, maybe they should diversify into beef production; raise angus steers along side those Jersey cows.

3. Cheese making. Non-organic partially skim (meaning the fat was sold separately) gruyere commands a price of $13 per pound. Any milk the farmer doesn't want to sale at a low price he can turn into cheese and sell at a later date.

4. Organic pork. This won't work unless the dairy operation is organic, but once it is the farmer can diversify into organic pork. Why organic pork? Because there is no way a dairy farmer can compete against industrial pig farms in the non-organic sector. But in the Organic pork sector there is a lot of money to be made for the small producer. And those high-value organic pigs love to eat organic milk so there is ready demand for excess milk right there on the farm.

In short, my advice to dairy farmers is this: Convert to Organic, look for new markets, and diversify. Do not ask Congress to take my money and give it to you. That's just stealing by another name.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Selling Grandchildren into Slavery.

The Bible tells us that the borrower is the slave of the lender. If you think about this you will see that it is true. What is a salve but someone who doesn't get to enjoy the fruit of his labor, who's earnings are taken away by the slave owner. So, what is Congress thinking about when they are trying to spend nearly $1 trillion on a stimulus package?

Evidently they are not thinking about what this means for our children and grandchildren. They are only thinking about now. Perhaps, they are thinking about the next election. But they are not thinking about the cost to our progeny.

There are about 300,000,000 people in the United States. Lets say 1/2 of them are economically productive. (This is a generous assumption since we can't count government workers, unemployed, children, or retired people. That gives us 150,000,000 people to pay off a $825 billion stimulus package. (Is it just me or does "stimulus package" sound like the latest erectile disfunction remedy?) That is $5,500 per economically productive person. For my family that means we are going to be responsible for $11,100 of the package. But what does that mean?

Hear are three things it means:

1. The money I might have used in the future to spend the way i think is best is being hijacked today by Congress who wants to spend it the way they want to spend it. They want not only my taxes today but to control how I spend money in the future. They think bailing out (e.g. giving my money to) a bank I don't do business with, or a car company who's products I don't buy, or a city I don't live in is a better use of my money than anything else I might possibly think of doing with it.

2. Tomorrow's demand is being exercised today in order to keep up production and save jobs today. This can only mean there will be less demand in the future, thus another, probably bigger, stimulus package will be "required" during the next recession. It's like rerouting and dredging the Mississippi River to control floods only to be devastated when in the future an unusually large flood defeats the engineer's best levy.

3. Because we will not pay back the amount borrowed for the stimulus package, the interest will pile up on the debt and require a future devaluation of the currency (FYI: Our dollars used to be worth 1/20 Oz. of gold. Right now $1 is only worth 1/850 Oz. of gold. It is hard to imagine it being worth less.) or brutal and oppressive taxation. Either one will result in poverty for our children and grandchildren.

My recommendation: Foregoe the stimulus package, and tough out this recession and come out of in a couple of years with no stimulus package debt, with pent up demand and cheap labor.

Kunstler on Suburban Development

Wow! Someone who feels more strongly about this issue than I do.

The Transendence of Johnny Cash

I saw this over at and think its pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buget Cuts

My mayor, the Honorable Chuck Reed announced today that there are going to be budget cuts and lay-offs. D'ya think? What's this going to do to the mayor's goal of reclaiming the Safest Big City title? If you ask me, it isn't going to happen. There has been a rash of thefts in my neighborhood, and I live in the good part of town.

Friday, January 09, 2009

My Wife is So Smart!

Since before Nativity, my wife has been studying for the "Professional in Human Resources" exam. (Offered by the Society for Human Resource Management). It took her three hours to take the test today. She passed. Now the only question is this: On her business cards, after her name does she put "M.P.A., PHR", or does she put "PHR, M.P.A."?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Theophany

I hope everyone is having a happy Theophany (unless you are old calendar, in which case, Merry Christmas!). Went to church this morning and got our bottles filled. Question: Theologically, Theophany is as important as the Nativity, and it is a Biblical feast, but (most) Evangelical Protestants do not celebrate it. Why? Its not like you have to believe in Holy Water to celebrate the feast. I know plenty of people who deny the Virgin Birth who still celebrate Christmas. Anyway, there is a neat article I came across. Happy Feast Day!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What do Converts Want?

Isn't that a strange question? I had never even thought about it. I knew what I was looking for when I stumbled across Holy Orthodoxy, but it never occurred to me until a few minutes ago that there might be people thinking about "what converts want". In case you are wondering I wanted real worship, the Body and Blood of Jesus, Apostolic Succession, and New Testament ecclesiology. Below is the essay that brings up this subject. I have no idea if it is copyrighted or not. Terry, if you read this and want it taken down, just let me know. I'll send you an email, too.


What do the Converts Want (adapted from an address at the 2006 Orthodox Christian Laity conference)
By Terry Mattingly

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern Baptist congregation.

Baptists worship at several different times during the week -- at least they did in the old days when I was growing up as a Southern Baptist pastor's son. One of those times is on Sunday nights. Back in the early 1980s, I was active in a church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in which the typical Sunday morning crowd would be about 200 to 300 people, which is rather small for a Baptist church, but fairly normal for an Orthodox parish. Then the crowd on Sunday night would be from 40 to 45 people.

You can read the whole address here and I highly recommend it.

Grand Duke Henri Says No To Legalized Murder

Every student of philosophy or political science remembers Plato's 6 forms of governemnt:

Good forms/Bad Forms
1. Democratic/Democratic (It depends on the morality of the people)
2. Republican/Oligarchical
3. Monarchical/Despotic

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg has said no to a law that would allow the killing of the sick. This is proof that a monarchy is better than an oligarchy and even a democracy, when the people are evil. Now his wicked subject are trying to overthrow him.

Update: Locum Tenans of the Russian Orthodox Church lends support to Grand Duke Henri

Friday, January 02, 2009

Leah had a clip of Fr. Moses on her blog, and I went ahead and watched several more. I really like this one. It makes me miss my uncles.

Icon Corner

Here is a shot of our Icon Corner. The table is a semi circular hall table with a small drawer in the front. The drawer is handy for incense, wicks, matches, prayer books, etc. We do always have the Icon of the Nativity where it is in this picture. It serves as our main Icon of the Theotokos.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Time Just Rockets On

Time just rockets on and every day and every night is filled with whirling activity. I hardly know what day it is. I know it is New Years Day/Circumcision of Jesus/St. Basils Day. But don't ask me if it is Tuesday or Thursday i have no idea.

I think it was the 30th I took Anselm Samuel ice-skating and to his favorite restaurant, the Original Joe's. We sit at the counter and watch the waiters and the cooks do their work.

Yesterday I had planned on going to vespers but was pushed back by electrical problems. So, Anselm and i sat up to welcome the new year. We watched the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol staring Alastair Sim. But the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come scared him and he went to bed just 15 minutes before midnight.

Today I woke up very sick. Cough hack cough hack. Went back to bed at 10 and slept another 90 minutes. I still don't have a voice.

This afternoon we made a big meal for the feast.

Salad of toasted walnuts, feta cheese, and red leaf lettuce, with a raspberry dressing
Smoked trout dip on whole wheat crackers
Roast beef infused with onion, rosemary, sage, and bacon
Steamed artichokes with mayonnaise
Roasted fennel bulbs, fingerling and new potatoes
A magnum of Anchor Brewing's "Our Special Ale 2008"
A bottle of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider

It was my first Vasilopita. Both boys helped me make it. When it came time to eat it we prayed for St. Basil to bless the person who found the coin. Basil Wenceslas found the coin.

Anselm Samuel and I delivered 8th Day of Christmas presents to some nephews and nieces. Read the Christmas portion of The Wind in the Willows.

I just read read something and thought you might like to read it. Click HERE to go to the article.

New year/Circumcision of Christ/St. Basil's Day

Well, not too much to report. Had to do electrical repairs ("hmmm. Where does the white wire go?") around the townhouses on the 31st. That set us back and we missed Great Vespers. Bummed by that. But it turned out okay. Athanasia made ham and lentil soup. (The ham we procured on Christmas Eve has now made more than 30 meals, and there is now soup in the freezer!) We played games. Athanasia and Basil went to bed about 9:45, while Anselm and I stayed up to meet the new year. We played backgammon and Rock'em Sock'em Robots. We drank eggnog (alas not my home made egnogg, but a very good commercially produced eggnog from Strauss Family Creamery. It only has cream, eggs, and spices in it.). We watched the 1951 "A Christmas Carol" staring Alastair Sim on DVD. About 11:45 Anselm popped the cork on the Chandon Blanc de Noirs for me. It shot 1/2 way across the street. Then as we approached the appearance of thet of Christmas Yet to Come anselm became afraid and ran upstairs to bed. It's funny, he has seen two other versions of this story and is not afraid of them, but this one frightens him. It is a very powerful telling of the story. It is the only one that makes me weep, as I did tonight. When the housekeeper says, "A Christmas present? For me?" I just fall apart. Well, happy new year everyone. If you are at St. Basil's Church in San Jose (just few blocks from where I live) for liturgy today you might see me and my family. Good night and happy new year.