Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Soundtrack: All the best songs are about trains

The Orange Blossom Special, City of New Orleans, and Wabash Cannon Ball are just a few of the trains to have inspired great songs. Of all of them, the Orange Blossom Special is my favorite. I think about being on a train leaving New York in the wintertime and arriving in Miami. What a wonderful trip it must have been. Here is the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performing their unique version of the song. I lived in Florida long after the Orange Blossom Special was retired, but the song makes me miss the Sunshine State.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Reading List For Advent And Nativity

Usually in June or July I start thinking about the coming of the Nativity Fast, Nativity, and Theophany. I keep an eye out for new books to add to the collection below. I mentioned the collection to a friend and she asked me for the list of titles. Here it is, mostly without comments.

In the Orthodox Church, The Nativity Fast, which is also called Advent start on Nov. 15 and continues through Decemer 24. The feast of the Nativity of Jesus, also called Christmas begins on December 25 and continues though December 31, which we call "The Leavetaking of Nativity. December 6 is the Feast of the Theopany. The period from December 25 through January 5 are commonly called the Twelve Days of Christmas. All the days between these dates I've mentioned are full of activity and observances but these dates are the major ones.

Beginning on November 15 we begin reading to our children the books from this collection, augmented by new purchases, gifts, and the pulic library.

Christ in the Old Testament
This is a very good book. Essentially, it is a collection of 14 or 15 Old Testament passages and their corresponding fulfilments in the New Testament. For example, on the page titled Root Of Jesse are Isaiah 11:1-2,10 and Luke 4:17-21. Now this might seem a liitle boring for pre-school children, and it is. But the illustrations by Niko Chocheli are captivating. A three year old can be kept busy counting crosses, or churches, or grape clusters. A 6 year old can be fascinated by the story salvation told in pictures all through the book. For example, on page is framing the scriptures is leviathan with a hook through his tongue, on the next is leviathan's carcass below the satisfied visage of a lion. And if one knows iconology and alcchemical symbology the illustrations (for example the pelican on the border of the page talking about the Creation of the world) on the pages do not just make the page pretty but call to mind layer upon layer of meaning.

Beginning on December 1 we read one installment each night of the Advent Storybook.

I can only give this book, The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean a so/so recommendation. Its a good story but the writing syle is a little stiff and by youngest son was bored by it last Advent. He had just turned 4. The book is 24 chapters in which a boy interacts with a cranky old craftsman who is employed by a church to carve a Jesse Tree. It also tells the Story of Salvation, from Eden to Bethlehem. I got a kick out of the introduction that talked of "puritan vandals" destroying the icons in England. If you are a protestant you might not want to read the introduction aloud.

Books read on particular days:
A. On December 13 we read St. Herman of Alaska by S.A. Smith
B. On December 24 we read What Men Live By by Leo Tolstoy
C. Sometime during Hanukah we read The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket
D. On December 27 which is the the 3rd Day of Christmas, which is St. Stephen's Day we read Stephen's Feast by Alice Englander
E. On the day we begin decorating the house we read The First Noel by Jan Pienkowski and then hank it from the ceiling.

These are two activity books. Your kids might like looking at them but they are really for parents to use. These are a good homeschooler resource.
A. The Season of Christmas by Constance Tarasar (Orthodox Church in America, Dept. of Religious Education, 1980)
B. Advent Arts and Christmas Crafts by Jeanne Heiberg (Paulist Press, 1995)

Beginning on the on the Sunday before the Nativity, when it is just too hard to wait anymore, we start reading aloud from this list and don't stop until after Theophany:
1. Pappa's Itchy Christmas by Angela Shelf Medaris
2. The Toys' Night Before Christmas by Susanna Ronchi
3. The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler's Sons by Ruth Sawyer (If your children are little get ready to hear "Schnitzle! Schnotzle! and Schnootzle!" yelled very loudly and very often.)
4. The Animal's Merry Christmas by Richard Scarry
5. Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
6. The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
7. Corgyville Christmas by Tasha Tudor
8. One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham
9. Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt
10. A Christmas Treasury by Christian Birmingham (illus.)
11. The Nativity by Francesca Crespi (Its a Pop Up book and my 4 year old loved it last Christmas)
12. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck (There will be tears.)
13. The Friendly Beasts by Tomie dePaola
14. A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg
15. One Christmas by Truman Capote
16. A Treasury of Old Fashioned Christmas Stories by Michele Slung
17. The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim (I don't like this one too much but my kids boys do.)
18. Wenceslas by Geraldine McCaughrean (Same story, Better illstrations, but worse writing than Stephens Feast.)
19. I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge (I can not recommend this book highly enough. So unbelieveably amazingly astoundingly good!!!!)
20. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
21.December by Eve Bunting

We also read the Christmas portiond of the Little House books, The Wind in the Willows, and The Keeping of Christmas at Brace Bridge Hall which is being published again after many decades as Old Christmas.

A new book that I am adding to the readings this year is O Holy Night: Masterworks of Christmas Poetry
There are a couple of books adult readers might enjoy (I did):
An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Basil's First Confession

My youngest son, Basil Wenceslas went to confession for the first time. I wasn't expecting it, and I didn't prepare him for it, and I have no idea what he might have confessed. But he wanted to go, and my eyes were off of him for a minute, so he ran up to the priest. I thought, "Well, hes already there..." I saw him and the priest talking by the Cross and the Gospel. I saw the priest nodding his head. Then Basil got on his knees and the priest prayed for him.

Later I asked him what the priest said, he started to tell me what he said instead and I said, "no no. We don't talk about things that don't exist anymore. When you go to confession God forgets so they no longer exist." He was puzzeld by that and said, "We can remind him next time". Sadly, that is often the case isn't it? But I said, "no we don't do that. But tell me, what did the priest say?" I was thinking maybe he gave Basil istructions for confession and I wan't to know what they were so I could remind Basil of them next time. But Basil said that all the priest said was "That's okay. That's okay." And I thought, "Yeah, that's right. Jesus makes everything okay."

The Feasts are Comming

We are just a few days away from the start of the two week fast that preceeds the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. At about the midpoint of that fast is the feast of the Transfiguration. These are two of the Church's major feasts but sometimes they can be overwhelmed by the activities of Summer. Leah put something by St. John of Krondstat on her blog that we should all heed. I'm going to put the saying below, but you should still click on the link above a read all the helpful things on that blog. It's like a visit to a spiritual spa.

At the approach of a great feast you must watch yourself with particular care. The enemy endeavors beforehand to chill your heart towards the event being celebrated, so that you will not honor it by whole-heartedly considering its reality. He acts upon us through the weather, or through the food and drink we have taken, or through his own arrows thrown plentifully at the heart and inflaming the entire person, at which time evil, impure and blasphemous thoughts occur to us, and we feel thoroughly averse to the solemnity (of the feast). We must overcome the enemy by forcing ourselves to meditate and pray devoutly.

~St. John of Kronstadt

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In Dreams: Saturday Soundtrack

Roy Orbison, whom Elvis Presley said was the best singer ever, wrote this song after forgetting another song, he said to himself, "A candy-colored clown they call the sand man" and went to sleep. During his sleep the song came to him, and when he awoke he made a quick demo. The first time the song was a hit was in 1963. The second time, in 1986, is when I remember hearing the song for the first time.

In early October 1986 had just come home from flunking out of the U.S. Army's Chaplain Assistant course (I couldn't type 20wpm. Now I do 60+. Go figure.) and no one was home to greet me. I didn't quite know what to do with myself so I went to see movie. The film was David Lynch's Blue Velvet. This song was featured in the film and I've like it ever since. Later on I'd see all of Lynch's films (I wonder what I saw in them now.) and serve in the 101st Airborne Division. But that first day back from failure, while seeking distraction, this song just floored me.

There is a funny story about Roy Orbison that Bruce Springsteen tells. He was was talking to Roy and said, "Roy I get up on stage and run around, and scream, and jump up and down, and just wear myself out to put on a good show, but you just walk out and stand there, and have the audience in the palm of your hand the whole time. How do you do that?" To which Roy replied, "Well, I'm a singer."

This is the video that came out with the Movie Blue Velvet.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beginning to Feel Like Christmas

We had a cool day. I think the thermometer only got up to 75F in San Jose today, and its in the mid 50s now. I couldn't help thinking about Christmas, and hot cocoa all day. So, late this afternoon I went to the library and got this book to read to Basil Wenceslas. (Anselm Samuel is visiting his Aunt in San Francisco this week.) I got choked up by this story about a girl and a doll.

It isn't an explicitly Christian book, but in it we see that doing the right thing isn't always easy, that evil is vanquished in the end, that important things are going on in the world but people are blind to them, and that our lives are not complete when lived for ourselves alone. I might have to buy this book and add it to the Christmas book shelf. Hmmmm. I should probably post a list of all the Christmas books I read to the boys each year.

If it is still cool tomorrow, maybe, I'll make some hot cocoa.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Love: The beginning of theology

"Theology, mysticism, spirituality, moral rules, worship, art: these things must not be kept in separate compartments. Doctrine cannot be understood unless it is prayed: a theologian, said Evagrius, is one who knows how to pray, and he who prays in spirit and in truth is by that very act a theologian. And doctrine, if it is to be prayed, must also be lived: theology without action, as St. Maximus puts it, is the theology of demons. The creed belongs only to those who live it. Faith and love, theology and life, are inseparable. In the Byzantine Liturgy, the Creed is introduced with the words, ‘ Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity, one in essence and undivided.’ This exactly expresses the Orthodox attitude to Tradition. If we do not love one another, we cannot love God; and if we do not love God, we cannot make a true confession of faith and cannot enter into the inner spirit of Tradition, for there is no other way of knowing God than to love Him." - Bishop Kallistos

(Painting: "Two Peasant Women", 1878

Thinking about death

Sometimes, I think I have many years ahead of me. But other times, like right now and other times during the last two weeks I've wondered if I would live through the next few minutes. I've been having unusual chest pains. I've heard that heart attacks make a person's left arm hurt, and make a person feel short of breath. I've had neither of those symptoms but, still, it is a little worrisome. Well, that isn't really what I wanted to talk about. We all die sometime, don't we? There's nothing we can do about it but prepare for it. I have enough life insurance that my wife will be okay financially, at least for a few years. But there is eternity to think of. That is what I am, mainly, thinking about right now...

The hour of death will come upon us, it will come, and we shall not escape it. May the prince of this world and of the air (cf. John 14:30; Eph. 2:2) find our misdeeds few and petty when he comes, so that he will not have good grounds for convicting us.
Otherwise we shall weep in vain. ‘For that servant who knew his Lord’s will and did not do it as a servant, shall be beaten with many stripes’ (cf. Luke 12:47).

~St. Hesychius the Priest

I am looking forward to Confession later today. O God, be merciful to me.

The Apostles Speak to the Presbyterians

Good Vibrations: Saturday Soundtrack

Once again, the song I'm putting up here is one I first emmenating from my older brother Mark's (My mother and Ronald Reagan were Beach Boys fans, too.) room sometime between 1975 and 1979. There are other good Beach Boys songs but this one is associated with a very vivid memory from my several years (1982-1987) in Tampa. One Saturday a friend and I went to a water park called Adventure Island. It was one of the best days I ever had. And as I was reclining at the edge of a wave pool I heard this song. It just seemed to sum up the day and my hopes for the future.

The song was released by the Beach Boys in 1966 and immediately became a number one hit. Brian Wilson, the author and producer called it his pocket symphony. Mojo Magazine called the song "The Greatest Single Ever". Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #6 on their list of Greatest Songs of All Time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Last Night

My friend Jeff and I got together. I think it might have been the first time since the Trisagion prayers for my son, Billy. On the way to San Francisco where we were to meet at Sam's Grill (It's the oldest restaurant in S.F., established just after the Civil War.) I was able to read much of one of my textbooks. That is, I think my favorite thing about the train: An hour and a half of near quiet, in a reasonably comfortable chair, and a good book.

When I got to San Francisco I got on the 30 to head up to Bush Street. I hadn't taken the 30 in a few years and wasn't entirely certain it was the right bus. I thought maybe the 45... Anyway, I asked the driver, "Does this bus go to Bush?" She slowly turned her head to look at me with her misshapen eyes, one lid almost closed. She paused to licked her lips - her tongue sliding over cobblestone teeth - and said in a whisper "All buses go to Bush". Then she turned to face the front of the bus, laughed, and floored the accelerator pedal. I fell over into an empty seat but righted myself before the next stop. And that is where - surprise! - my friend Anastasia got on the bus! We had a short but fun conversation about our books (we are both writers). Short because she had to get off at Market Street but fun nonetheless.

I got off near Bush and walked over to Sam's where I drank Wild Turkey on the rocks until Jeff got there. For dinner he had sole. I had veal. I really wanted the calf liver but felt it was overpriced. After dinner, which was very good, we walked up Belden Place to pine and the Occidental.

The Occidental is one of the few places in California where you can smoke inside without breaking a law. They are able to allow smoking because the owners are the only people who work there. It was a great good time. Barman Jake was really happy to pour samples. I tasted a 50 year old Irish Whisky (I forget the name now) that was the best whiskey I ever tasted. It is my opinion that most whiskey is too sweet and that sweetness smothers all the other flavors, but not this one. I tell you, I could taste the dirt of County Cork in that glass!

After a Fonseca 10-10 Maduro (very nice, good spice, a little dry) I took out my pipe and filled it with bourbon soaked burly leaf. Jeff had a Fonseca 10-10 Maduro and a lonsdale size Arturo Fuente natural. He said he liked the Arturo Fuente, which I thought was nicely aromatic, more than the Fonseca. Then something interesting happened.

The Canadian man to my left, dressed like million dollars, said to Barman Jake,"want to trade me for a Cuban hand-rolled?" Jake took a look at the cigar. He took a step forward. He looked around the bar."What is it?" he asked, half to himself. The man to my left, a Canadian, quieted his voice answering, "it was made by a roller in a state factory from his own daily ration. Do you want to trade?" Jake looked around the bar again. Looked at the cigar again, and said,"I can't but maybe one of my guests would want to trade you." The Canadian glanced at me, and I offered, "I'll trade you an Arturo Fuente" and the deal was done. I have to admit that until last night I thought the Cuban cigar legends were exactly that, legends. I always thought they couldn't be that much better than Honduran, Dominican, or Jamaican cigars. But I was wrong. What I had last night was the most expertly rolled cigar I have ever smoked. It was like the ocean and soft leather and chocolate and caramel and cinnamon and warm Caribbean breezes and fresh coconut juice and the brown thighs of Cuban women. I wish I had the vocabulary to describe that cigar. All I can say is that the Cuban cigar I smoked last night was the telos of the tobacco leaf.

The last thing I drank while at the Occidental was a glass of the best rum I have ever tasted. Now Bacardi used to be a client of mine back when I was an ad man, and I have been loyal to them, only drinking their product on those extremely rare occasions when I drink rum. So, as I was smoking a Cuban cigar I thought I'll have a Cuba Libre, but Barman Jake had other ideas. He said, "Why would you want to ruin rum with sweet soda?" and I didn't have a good answer. He asked what rum I'd like, and I said something about only drinking Bacardi. Now, as I mentioned above, Barman Jake enjoyed offering samples. So it seemed only right that I taste every sample offered. I tasted many before I tasted the best rum ever and ordered a glass of the best rum ever. Zaya. It is from Trinidad & Tobago and it is excellent. It was like drinking a chocolatey cane syrup, but it wasn't syrupy.

After we left the Occidental I noticed we were on Kearny Street, home of my fave Vietnamese place (It is one or two doors down from the House of Nanking and 10,000 times better). The most amazing imperial rolls I have ever tasted. I am not kidding about this. They are amazing! And super inexpensive. I implored Jeff to go get some with me, but he begged off, claiming work the next morning. So, he hopped on BART and went back to the East Bay,and, well, I didn't want to eat imperial rolls alone, so I walked down to the train station (Oh! I walked by the Hotel Utah on my way to the train station. So many good memories of that place.) and came home. It was a good night. I haven't done anything like that in a couple of years. Didn't really have the time or money for it last night, but it was fun, and my grades this semester are good enough that I can risk one wild-ish night.

Oh! News: Jeff changed churches. He is CMA now (Yes, he does change denominations often, but they are all very like each other.) and is pursuing ordination. And I think he is going to go duck hunting with me. He has a boat!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Hike

On Saturday morning last I lead Cub Scout Pack 204 on a three mile hike to the lime kilns at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It was a much fun experience. The kilns provided most of the lime for cement used in the construction of San Francisco. They closed down in 1919. The route we took was gorgeous. It was like being in a forest not touched by man since creation. Except, 90 years ago there wasn't a tree within 2 miles of the kilns. They had all been felled to feed the fires. It is amazing how it has grown back.

After the hike Anselm and I stopped by the book store at St. Lawrence Orthodox Church to by some charcoal for the censer. I use the smallest diameter disks they sell and break them in half but they are still too big. The longest service I do at home is Matins and the charcoal is still burning when I am done. I tried to break it into even smaller pieces but that just makes a mess. Also, Anselm got an Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. He was pretty excited. As he said "it's my first major feast icon!"

Then we stopped by our fave grocery store and bought lunch: Figs, peaches, and Pirate Booty.

Then we drove home and I wrote several pages on the history of wine (FYI: Archaeology supports the Noah planting a vineyard story. All evidence points to the earliest wine making operations being in what is now SE Turkey/NE Iran, which is in the vicinity of Mt. Ararat.)

Picture: Anselm is on the right. They are standing in front of one of the lime kilns.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Satuday Sound Track: Decmber 1963

The very last hit by the Four Seasons was the first of their songs I remember hearing. In 1978, when I was just 8 years old, someone gave me a K-Tel LP of disco hits. One of the songs on the LP was December 1963. It was my favorite song on the record.

The song had been originally released in 1975 on "Who Loves You" and was on the first Four Seasons album to feature someone other than Frankie Valli singing most of the lead vocals. (Valli had lost much of his hearing to otosclerosis, since repaired by surgery.) It was the biggest hit the Four Seasons ever had.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Biggest Christmas Ever: Prologue (draft 2)

I'm not going to put the whole book on this blog. But I thought, maybe, Gentle Reader, you might be interested in what I am writing besides history papers.


The Last Normal Christmas

Max's Dad, his Uncles Jake and Raul, and his brother Ben were watching a football game in the living room while Max, his Mom, aunts Katie and Piper, his older sister Claudia and twin sister Leslie, and Max's cousins were in the den, what his sister, Claudia liked to call "the parlour" eating popcorn and waiting to open the presents under the tree. The only person in Max's family who wasn't there was his Great Great Aunt Irene. They had already had Christmas dinner, pizza, and were eager to get to the presents.

It wasn’t really Christmas but that’s the way it was in Max's family. They never really had Christmas on Christmas because someone always had to be somewhere else on December 25. As far back as Max could remember, they always had Christmas at least a week early. Which is why Great Great Aunt Irene wasn't here. She was very old and very old-fashioned and would not celebrate Christmas one day early. Also, she lived in the big city a couple of hours away.

Finally, Aunt Katie began chanting – "We want Christmas. We want Christmas" – all of the kids joined in and marched into the living room trying to get Dad, and Ben and the uncles to come open presents. But there were still 8 minutes left in the football game, and as everyone knows, that means there was really half an hour to go until the game was over. So they went back into the den and waited.

Finally the game was over, the television was turned down (but not off) and the football fans joined the others in the den. Dad handed the family Bible to Uncle Jake, saying, “You read it this year” so Uncle Jake read…

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem….

Finally, he got to the last line about the shepherds glorifying God and Mom said, “Okay! The spiritual stuff is over let's get to the important part” and we all yelled THE PRESENTS!!!! Everyone except Claudia. For a second, Max thought she looked sad.

But if you want to talk about sad, that happened after the presents had been opened. Max kind of felt like, "is that it? Is that all I get?" But he really did get a lot. His presents included the action figures he wanted, and a new rocket set, two new video games, a scooter, socks (from his Mom) and a lot of candy. But he still wanted more. And then he felt bad for wanting more instead of being happy with the things he got. He even cried a little bit, and Aunt Katie said “Why is Max crying?” Max quickly answered for his mother, “I’m just so happy! I love Christmas.” But Claudia gave Max a strange look. She knew. In fact, she felt the same way Max felt.

The next few days were blah. There were still Christmas specials on TV, and there were people saying “Merry Christmas”, and the Wilcox family kept their Christmas tree up. But for the whole family Christmas had been over for six days by the time Christmas Eve arrived. Between the night they opened presents and Christmas Max zoomed around the neighborhood on his new scooter, played video games, and mainly tried not to be bored.

And then on Christmas morning there were stockings to open. But it wasn’t a big deal to Max. He just woke up and found a stocking at the foot of his bed. His house didn't have a fireplace at which to hang stockings, so the foot of the bed had to do. In the stocking were some colored pencils, more candy (but Max was already tired of candy), and a new belt. He was happy to get the presents. He didn’t feel the disappointment he had felt 7 days earlier. But he didn’t feel excited either. This was really just another day, but with a new belt, some colored pencils and some more candy. To tell you the truth, he was happy Christmas was finally over. For Max, and the whole Wilcox family, the last week had seemed like a strange time, Christmas was over but not really. It was like a zombie Christmas they couldn't get rid of. None of them liked it very much, but its what they always did and habits are hard to break.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday Soundtrack: Singing Theology

I was six years old and it was a Sunday night service and we sang this song. My Dad, one of the the best preachers in the Pentecostal style (I've heard hundreds of them so I think I am a fair judge.) used it as the launching pad for a sermon on the resurrection of the dead and the second coming of our Lord. I remember his exact words. As the last word of the song was being drawn out and before the last last note faded away his voice rose above all the others and he said...

"O Church, don't think this isn't true. Don't think for a minute it isn't true. The Angel asked 'why are you standing there looking up? Jesus is coming back in the clouds the same way he left.' We have the assurance of the Apostle Paul that 'the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air...'"
And he was off like a race horse at the sound of the bell.

I'm sure I was in the room many times when this song was being sung but that summer night I really heard it for the first time. It was like my ears were open in a way that has seldom been experienced since. And the song prepared me to hear the words of the angel and of St. Paul that my Dad was going to quote at the start of his sermon.

I have never forgotten. It is still my hope. Sometimes, on warm nights like tonight I find myself humming this song. I think tomorrow, after the Divine Liturgy I'll teach it to my boys.

James Black, 1893 (Rev.20:12)

1. When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
* Refrain:
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
2. On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
3. Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Grad School, Volunteering, and Other Stuff

Beginning last week the amount of work I am doing in grad school has increased dramatically. For example, since last Sunday I've written a 6 page paper on the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus, 3 pages on Athenian ostracism, 3 pages on the role of the Roman army in the enculturation of conquered peoples, 6 pages on the the 1st and 2nd century B.C. stresses on the Roman constitution, and still have due (on Sunday evening) an assignment on Greek drama during the age of Pericles. This is in addition to 400 pages of assigned reading. I am having a blast! I'm thinking about applying for a fellowship so I can work on a Ph.D. Oh, wait. There's no money in this. What am I thinking?

Today I volunteered to serve on my city's Independent Police Auditing Commission. Essentially, the commission advises the judge who investigates police misconduct and makes recommendations to the City Council and Chief of Police. I don't know how many people have volunteered but the judge will only pick 10 people. I hope she picks me. It sounds like a very fun job and I have a feeling it comes with doughnuts and coffee.

I sent a book proposal to an agent a couple of days ago. I keep checking my email but haven't heard anything yet. Almost as soon as I sent the proposal I thought of a dozen changes I should have made. O well, if this agent doesn't like the proposal, I'll make the changes before I send it to the next agent.

Well, I have a door jamb to repair and kids to take care of tomorrow, and won't have time to write those pages on Greek drama tomorrow, so I better get to work on it now.

Oh, one more thing. I took Basil Wenceslas and Anselm Samuel to Powell's late in the afternoon today. Anselm got something very strange. It was a soft drink with the following name: "Looks Like Orange Tastes Like Grape". It lived up to its name.