Thursday, December 27, 2012

Life Saver

Chiune Sugihara. This man saved 6000 Jews. He was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sugihara risked his life to start issuing unlawful travel visas to Jews. He hand-wrote them 18 hrs a day. The day his consulate closed and he had to evacuate, witnesses claim he was STILL writing visas and throwing from the train as he pulled away. He saved 6000 lives. The world didn’t know what he’d done until Israel honored him in 1985, the year before he died.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christ is Born!

In the year, from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created Heaven and Earth, five thousand, one hundred and ninety-nine; from the flood, two thousand, nine hundred and fifty-seven; from the birth of Abraham, two thousand and fifteen; from Moses and the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, one thousand, five hundred and ten; from the anointing of King David, one thousand and thirty-two; in the sixty-fifth week, according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; in the year seven hundred and fifty-two from the founding of the city of Rome; in the forty-second year of the empire of Octavian Augustus, when the whole earth was at peace, in the sixth age of the world, Jesus Christ, eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, desirous to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months having elapsed since his conception, is born in Bethlehem of Juda, having become man of the Virgin Mary. 

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Music and Fruitcake

I'm making fruitcakes tonight.  I'm also listening to Christmas music just a wee but early.  This is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.
The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.
O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Really? Who needs one of these?

Jay Leno has one.  The company's stock is being talked about by stock traders and investors.  I'm sure techno-geeks are drooling.  But what good is it?  Why would I need one of these?  I don't even use the inkjet printer that is attached to my computer.  And I already have too much stuff.  I don't need a machine that makes more stuff.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: Piña Colada

Many years ago, in 1954 at the Hilton Caribe's Beachcomber Bar the Piña Colada was introduced.  About 30 years later, I guess it was 1980 or 1981, I was in Michigan visiting my cousin.   At that time a really really bad song by Rupert Holmes was popular.  I think the real name of the song was Escape but I always thought of it as the Piña Colada song.  I suppose most people who heard it thought of it the same way.  Regardless of that, my cousin and I, though we were under-aged (I was 12.  He was 15.) becme totally enthralled by the Piña Colada.  That meant that his fave ice cream was Piña Colada flavored, and my fave jelly beans were Piña Colada flavored.  Five years later while on an 18 hour pass from Fort Monmouth in New Jerssey, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan I tasted a real Piña Colada.  About 8 months after that I bought a Piña Colada at the Casa Gallardo restaurant in Tampa for a 17 year old girl who would later become my first wife.  It was her first mixed drink.  I haven't had a Piña Colada since that night.  I think I should have another.

2 oz. white rum
1 oz. coconut cream
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. pineapple juice
4 oz. ice

Blend all ingredients until smoothe.  Pour into a goblet and garnish with pineapple and cherry.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Secret Menus

Everyone who's been into an In n' Out knows about the things you can order that are not on their menu.  But there are plenty of restaurants in America that have special menus.  For example, if you go to the café upstairs from Books Inc. in MountainView you might be there on the right day to have their poppy seed cake.  I haven't had it in years but it is very very good.  You have to know to ask for it.  They won't tell you about it if you don't already know.  And there used to be a certain cheese shop in San Francisco where one could, if the right words were said and enough cash paid, leave the premises with soft, unripened raw milk cheeses.  I don't know if that store still exists.  I hope it does, even though I don't have that kind of money anymore.  One place you can go and get a truly amazing off-menu item is Harris' Restaurant:  Sweetbreads in a conac reduction. But there is that money problem again.

There is one place, more than one place, maybe, in San Jose to get your off-menu yummies and not go broke in the process: Mama Do's Kitchen.  It has all the Vietnamese clasics but there is one thing that is sooooo good that you won't find on the menu:  Chicken stewed in ginger.  I can not even begin to describe how good it is.  I could say it is better than sex, but people have said that about many things.  Usually, they are wrong when they say that.    But if someone were to say Mama Do's chicken stewed in ginger is better than sex they might be right, at least, some of the time.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Stinger

It is a truism that all the best cocktails are variations of the Martini.  That classic mixture of a high-alcohol spirit and a contrasting flavor of low-alcohol spirit is mirrored in the Manhattan, the Rusty Nail, the Black Russian, and a dozen or more others.  This weeks cocktail is part of that family.   No one, to the the best of my knowledge, remembers who first mixed one, but the recipe was included in Ideal Bartender (1917) by Tom Bullock.  Every Christmas I am reminded of this drink's former popularity when I watch Cary Grant order stingers in the classic movie The Bishop's Wife.
The Stinger
1 ounce brandy (I like Christian Brothers)
1/4  white creme de menthe
Shake well with crushed ice.  Strain into a cocktail glass.  Serve.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My brother, Demitrios.

Since Sept. 24 I've been selling cars for a living.  It's fun but the hours are long, 50 -60 hours per week. I take the bus to and from work.  Late tonight I was waiting for the bus, and it zoomed right past me.  The driver did see me, though.  He stopped half a block past me.  I ran up to the bus and when I got on he yelled at me for not being more noticable.  I yelled at him for not being more attentive.  Then I saw his eyes.  There was something different.  I said, "where to you go to chuch?"  He looked shocked, but said, "St. Nicholas Church, near the Alameda".  I said, "I go to to St. Nicholas Church in Saratoga!"  We apologised to each other, and Demitrios and I had good fellowship, talking about Jesus and his Church, until I had to get off the bus.

Monday, October 01, 2012

For hot California weather: Cocktail of the Week

As everyone knows, the Oskie is the mascot of U.C. Berkley, and a bruin is the mascot of U.C.L.A.  and a bear is on the flag of the California Republic (AKA The Golden State).  So, to offer refreshment during this hot California weather, here is another cocktail invention of my own.

The Golden Bear

11/4 cup dry white California wine (Mondavi, Almaden or Gallo preferred)
3 tbsp Potter's triple sec (It is distilled in San José, California.)
1/2 cup of crush ice
Orange slice

Put ice, wine, and and triple sec into a pint jar.
Garnish with orange slice.
Drink through a straw.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In the Ghetto: Saturday Soundtrack

I know exactly where I was on August 16, 1977.  I was in a car on my way from Visalia to Mountain View. I was on Highway 152 leading up the east side of the the Diablo Mountains, at the San Luis Reservoir when the announcer came on the air and said that Elvis Presley was dead.  My mother and my aunt Carolyn were in the car.  I was sitting on the front seat between them.  This is the first song that was played after the announcemnt.  I don't remember if they cried, but I did.

Elvis holds the record for most songs charting on the Billboard top 40 (104 sogns) and the Bilboard Top 100 (151 songs). To this day, The King of Rock and Roll makes hits.  Several of his pothumously released recording went to the top of the charts, and rereleases and remixes have have continued to reach the top ten all over the world as recently 2004.  In 2010 Cirque du Soleil released the music from their show, Viva Elvis, as an album.

Even though Elvis was a Rock and Roll and Country music star, arguably the brightest of them all, his three Grammy Awards were won in the Gospel category.  I hope I meet him someday.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Dairy Farm

I thought I would start a new feature for this blog.  I have, pretty much, grown tired of the Saturday Soundtrack but I still like the structure of a regular topics.  So, without further ado, the first Cocktail of the Week.

The Dairy Farm (an original recipe)
The other night it was kind of chilly, I was feeling sad and wanting to feel the happiness of Christmas, which means eggnog.  But I didn't have all the needed ingredients.  What did I have?

Strauss Family heavy cream
Christian Brothers V.S. brandy (It is produced by the Heaven Hill company of Kentucky)
Granulated sugar

Note on spices: If you only have pre-ground nutmeg and allspice that's okay.  But if you are going to make this for guests, you really should use a little grater and a dedicated pepper mill, for the sake of presentation.  Besides, fresh is always better.

Note on brandy:  If you use Paul Mason brandy (not recommended) you will want to leave the sugar out of this recipe.  Paul Mason is already very sweet.

Note on cream:  This is the main part of the drink so it needs to be of the highest quality.  Ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurization and homoginization ruins the God-given taste of milk and cream.  If you can't get Strauss Family cream in your area look for any non-homoginized cream pastueurized using HTST pasteurization or even un-pasteurized (trust in the alcohol and stomach acid to kill any bacteria) that is from grass-fed (NO CORN!) dairy cows.

Directions:  Put 1 tsp granulated sugar and 2 oz brndy into a large mug. Heat 6 oz of heavy cream on stovetop or in microwave.  DO NOT BOIL!  Pour hot cream into mug.  Stir gently. Grate a little nutmeg and grind a little allspice onto the cream, no more than 1/8 tsp of each.  Drink.   If you only have pre-ground nutmeg and allspice that's okay.  But if you are going to make this for guests, you really should use a little grater and a dedicated pepper mill, for the sake of presentation.  Besides, fresh is always better.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When I was a child I drank as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish drinks.

Last night, after the boys and Athanasia were in bed I felt like drinking.  So I went to the Duke of Edinburough in Cupertino.  It took me a long time to decide what to order.  I settled on my old favorite: The Martini.  This particular martini was a 4-1 made, Tanqueray, two olives.  I only had one but it was beautiful.

Sitting there, drinking that drink, I felt like my old self again.

Today, I got a job offer.  I start to work on Monday.

Now, if I can just get my wife to love me again, everything will be all right.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Letter to the Romans

Many years ago, when I was a Protestant and attending Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino, I think it was 1997 or 1998, I taught a 51 week long course on the Letter to the Romans.  In addition to the Letter I relied, primarily, on Martin Luther's lectures on Romans, but also the writings of John Calvin, Lorainne Boettner, J. Vernon McGee, and Matthew Henry.  I very much enjoyed all the reading and writing.  I felt very proud of myself, and by the time I finished the course I felt like I was an expert on the Letter.  But, in fact, after my year teaching Romans I had become cemented in antinomianism and hypocrisy.  Only now I feel like I am beginnging to understand the Letter, but only beginning.  I am not deep, but this is what I think I know:  The Letter isn't about theologogical systems.  It isn't about election or justification or supercession or predestination.  It is about love and how I am to live in love, which means living in thanksgiving and repentence, always experienceing God's mercy and working with God to make myself into a conduit for that mercy.

When I was a boy, I asked my Dad how to understand some passage in the Bible.  He didn't answer my question.  Instead, he asked me me a question: "What is the nature of God?"  Of course, I knew the answer to that question: Love.  So, here I am, a maiddle-aged Orthodox Christian, only learning now what my Dad tried to teach me when I was a boy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pie Crust

It is the beginning of autumn pie season; when pumpkin, cranberry-walnut, apple, onion, and chicken pies are lovingly put on tables.  But the foundation of every pie is the crust.

Here is my pie crust recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour.  I like King Arthur brand.
2 cups fresh unsalted butter.  
1 cup COLD water.
1/2 tsp non-iodized salt. (I like Diamond Crystal.  Yes, I know most bakers like fine salt but I like this.)
(2 tsp granulated sugar is only for sweet pies.  I like C&H Baker's Sugar.  The quaity is consistent.)

Combine flour, salt (and sugar) into large mixing bowl. Stir it up with your fingers so the salt (and sugar) is evenly distributed throughout the flour.  Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers (I've never tried a pastry blender, so I don't know if that is a better method.)  When the butter and flour form pea sized balls (in about 5 minutes) start slowy adding the cold water; just a little at a time.  You do not want to add too much water.  Only add enough water so all those peas sized bits come together into one big ball.   Divide the dough in 1/2 and form it into disks.  Set in on parchment paper and put it the fridge for 1 hour.  Take out of the fridge and roll it out to fit your pie pan.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cold Enough For Socks

Today has been pretty cool.  I haven't actually put sock on, and the windows are still open, but I have thought about putting on socks and closing windows.  And that means Christmas is comming. So, today I learned this song on my ukulele.


[D] Holly's in the window
[A7] Home where the wind blows
[D] Can't walk for runnin'
[A7] Christmas Time's A-[D] Comin'.

[D] Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
[G] Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When [D] it's snowin', I'll be goin'
[A7] Back to my country [D] home.

[D] Christmas Time's A-Comin'
[A7] Christmas Time's A-Comin'
[D] Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I [A7] know I'm goin' [D] home.

White candle's burnin'
My old heart's a-yearnin'
For the folks at home when
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Snow flake's a-fallin'
My old home's a-callin'
Tall pine's a-hummin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

But it sounds a lot better with a fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and bass.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I walk into the kitchen. Put the Mellita cone on my mug, insert a filter, add two tablespoons of ground coffee - dark roasted arabica beans from Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Quatemala. I pour water into the kettle and set it on the stove. Then I wake up my boys by singing to them. By the time they are out of bed the kettle is singing with me, so I return to the kitchen and slowly pour the water over the coffee. It is a cool morning, and I enjoy the warmth of the steam on my arm as I pour. Usually, but not today because it is Wednesday and the Beheading of St. John, when the cup is full, and the kitchen smells beautiful I add a little milk.  No sugar. I drink it while my sons get ready for school, while the squirrels play in the orange tree outside my window. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Physician, Cure They Self

So, I'm being put through a divorce.  But a funny thing is that I got a letter from a friend the other day asking for advice on how to save her marriage.  The friend is a woman I have not seen since 1986, when I was 16 and she was 15.  I gave her the best advice I could think of, and yesterday she thanked me and said it had worked.  I wish I could do the same for my marriage.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Three Miracles I Have Seen

I was 6 years old.  My mother and I were driving home from somewhere.  The gasoline light came on.  We were just about out of gas.  My mother said, "Let's pray". We prayed.  I saw the gasoline guage go from empty to 1/4.  Enough to get home.

I was 15 years old my parents and I where out in the middle of nowhere Forida, near Horsehoe Beach. There was nothing but forest for miles.  We ran out of gas.  A big white truck pulled up behind us.  A giant black man with the most beautiful face and dressed in spotless white got out of the truck and walked up to my dad's window and said, "Hi, I have three gallons of gasoline for you.  It will get you to the next gas station."  My dad tried to pay him but he said, "No, God has been very good to me."  Then the man got in his truck pulled in front of us and at a certain point -  and I cannot explain it for there were no intersections, no driveways, no place for the truck to go - the truck and the man were gone.  We did not see another soul until we got to the gas station.

Just a few years ago I entered a church near here.  I was early and there was no one in the building but me and an old great schema monk, leaning on a cane.  He frightened me.  When he looked at me I knew every sin I had ever commtted.  Then he floated through the air to me. There were about two inches of air between the monk and the floor.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meteor Shower

Anselm, Basil, and I went out and watched part of the meteor shower tonight.  Right after supper (pasta with mushrooms and zuchini) we set out for the San Antonio Valley.  To get there from San Jose one drives on California State Highway 130 over the peak of Mt. Hamilton and the Lick Observatory, where the state highway becomes San Antonio Valley Road.

On the eastern slope of the mountain the grade was so steep and the turns so sharp and so frequent that even in first gear my brakes started to over heat.  It is merely an 50 minute drive from where I live but could be another planet.  Granite boulders, scrub oak, gnarly pine, deer, owls, bats, jack rabbits, bobcats.  I think it is named appropriately.  St. Anthony would feel at home there.  It is a beautiful piece of land.  Looks like a good place for cattle, but I think the Nature Conservancy has bought up a lot of it.

 We sat out there for three hours and only 1 pick up UC-owned truck heading to the observatory and three Hells Angels went by. We saw some amazing meteors.  Most of them were just short whit lines flashing in the sky.  Five of them had tails 20 degrees or more in length (Yes, I measured.) and traveled half way across the vault before they burnt into nothingness.  One meteor burned brightly enough to light up the sky, not like the sun, of course, but close to the brightness of the full Moon.  I was astounded.  Anselm and Basil both yelled "WOW!"

I was way past the boys bed time by the time we saw the first meteor.  And they were so tired from a long day of play and swimming at the YMCA that a few minutes before 11 I decided to drive them home.  It was fun.  And this outing helps Basil earn the Cub Scout astronomy pin. (Anselm already has his astronomy pin.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Athanasia Wants a Divorce

She says that for 10 years she has not loved me and wants out of our marriage.  I beg God to kill me and he doesn't answer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cub Scout Skits

I have applied for many jobs over the last few weeks and have had a few interviews.  I still don't have a job.  However, I have been keeping busy by volunteering at Cub Scout camps.  I taught knots and leather work one week.  Another week I was the archery range master.  Next week I'll be range master again.  All the camps in out council have a safari theme this year.  So, for next weeks camp I wrote or modified some skits to fit the theme.  Here they are.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Berry Pie

On Saturday morning I went to the farmers market and bought 3 pints of black berries.   By the time I opened the bag that evening they were beginning to be moldy.  But I'd already made my crust and needed a filling.  So, last night I went to the grocery store and bought frozen black berries.  Today I made the pie.  Here is my recipe.

2 pints black berries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 bottom pie crust (I use a basic 321 pastry recipe with a little sugar added)
1 top pie crust
2 tablespoons milk
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Pre-heat oven to 425
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup flour and 3 1/2 cups of berries.  This is the filing.  Put the filling in the bottom pie crust.  Add the remainder of the berries.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Put top crust on and pinch closed around the edge. Cut some vents in the top crust to let the steam out.  Brush the top with milk.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in the 425 F oven for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 375 F and bake until the filling bubbles and the top crust is light brown, about 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack before eating.

Monday, July 02, 2012

We look for the resurrection of the dead and life of the age to come.

We are all traveling in the footsteps of those who come before.
And we'll all be reunited on that new sun-lit shore

Oh, when the Saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marcing in
O Lord, I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in

And when the sun refuses to shine
When the sun refuses to shine
O Lord, how I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in

Oh, when the Saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
O Lord, I want to be there on that morning when the Saints go marching in

When the trumpet sounds its call
When the trumpet sounds its call
Oh, I want to be in that number when the trumpet souds its call

Oh, when the Saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, oh, I want to be in that number
Oh, when the Saints go marching in

Now some say 
some say this world of trouble 
is the only world we'll ever see
But I wait for that morning when the new world is revealed

Oh, when the new world is revealed
Oh, when the new world is revealed
Lord, How I want to be there on that morning when the new world is reveald

When the Saints go marching in
Oh, when the Saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in

Oh, when the Saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, oh, I want to be in that number
Oh, when the Saints go marching in

Thursday, June 21, 2012

12 Movies

Since I've been diagnosed with depression I have, on doctor's orders, been watching a lot of movies.  Here are 12 movies I have enjoyed and recommend to you.  In no particular order they are:

1. Howards End
2. Eat Drink Man Woman
3. Enchanted April
4. Big Night
5. Like Water For Chocolate
6. Much Ado About Nothing
7. My Dinner with Andre
8. Zelig
9. The Quiet Man
10. Out of Africa
11.  The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain
12. Sweet Land

Saturday, June 09, 2012


My father's mother was named Minnie.  I called her Mammy. She did not see a car until she was 7 years old.  She told me it terrified her.  She thought it was some kind of animal that had gotten hold of her uncle.

My earliest memory of her is from the summer before I started Kindergarten.  My father and mother and I drove from California to Missouri to move her out west.  She was thrice widowed and living alone in a mobile home near Springfield.  I remember she had pretty flowers, and a manual water pump in the front yard.  My dad showed me how to prime the pump and get water to flow.  I remember enjoying playing with that pump.  I don't remember anything about the drive to Missouri and back to California.

When I was nine years old Mammy and I rode the Greyhound bus back to St. Louis to visit her sisters.  I bought a comic book at every depot.  I remember the Flagstaff depot was enormous and very clean.  I remember the soldiers on the bus getting off near Ft. Leonard Wood.  I remember a couple kissing, and really going at it, on the seat across from us.  Mammy told me not to look at them.  I looked anyway.

We didn't spend anytime in St. Louis.  One of her sisters, I forget which, picked us up at the bus station and drove us accross the river into Illinois.  I remember seeing the arch.  And on the way to that sister's house we ran over a snake in the road.  Actually, we skidded the tires on it to kill it.  The women in my family bear no sympathy for snakes.

At my Great Aunt Goldie's house I had a lot of fun.  We played aggravation (the board had been carved out of a piece of plywood) every night.  They let me use the blue marbles. We ate radishes from her garden at every meal.  They were big white radishes.

My Great Aunt Virgie took us fishing when we visted her.  That was a lot of fun except for the water moccasin which was scarry.  They told me about their uncle who died from a water moccasin bite.

At my Great Aunt Mable's house I had the most fun.  Her house was built out of stones her husband had pulled out of the field.  It was a beautiful house.  In the field was a garden where I pulled weeds, and picked strawberries and green beans.  We made strawberry jam, and when we were finished we bleached the strawberry stains from our fingers with lemon juice.

When I was twelve my parents moved to Florida, and Mammy moved with us.  She lived in a little house behind our house, and she made breakfast for me almost every day: Two hamburgers with mayonaise and mustard.  When she was in her eighties and I was a soldier at Ft. Campbell she died of cancer.

Friday, June 08, 2012

evil thoughts

‎"Above all beware of excessive day dreaming, of seeing yourself in the centre of a drama, of self pity, and, as far as possible, of fears."

(The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis V1: Family Letters 1905-1931)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three Years

Three years ago today my oldest son died.  The local newspaper published this obituary.  I miss him more now than I did then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Fall of Constantinople

The Seige of Constantinople
On this day in 1453, the Roman Empire disappeared.  Since the 1430s the imperial capital, Constantinople had been surrounded on all sides by the forces of the Ottoman Turks.  The Balkans, Thrace, and Asia Minor fed the Muslim armies, while Constantinople, for the most part, had to be supplied by sea from the imperial lands in the Pelloponese.

For hundreds of years, Constantinople had held out, first against the Arabs, then the Seljuk Turks, and finally the Ottoman Turks.  But throughout that time the Roman Empire shrank in size, while the Muslims took all the land around Constantinople.  By 1453 the city, the jewel of Christendom lay in the heart of Ottoman territory, a beautiful thorn of independence between the eastern and western parts of the Ottoman Empire.

The last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, who viewed himself as not only the Roman Emperor, but as the secular protector of the Church and "father" to all Christian kings and head of a commonwealth of all Christian states, continued to hold out for help from the kings of the west.  Though some of the merchant cities of northen Italy sent help, the kings of the west failed.  The most help came from western individuals such as Giovanni Giustianani, who brought with him 700 Genoese soldiers trained in defending walled cities. It was a pitiable token number, but it was almost enough.  Including the Genoese, the defenders had about 2,500 men to repel about 50,000 attackers, including 1,500 Christian cavalrymen from Serbia who were already subjects of the Turks.  Five years before the attack on Constantinople, the Christian prince of Serbia, though a subject of the Sultan paid for the repair and improvement of the walls of Constantinople. Constantinople had high thick walls, among the best fortifications in the world at that time.

A Gun Used in the Ottoman Seige of Constantiople
The seige began on April 7.  For the next seven weeks, while the Church prayed continuously and the smoke from censers mingled with the smoke from canon, attack after attack was repulsed by the outnumbered defenders on the outer walls.  But the western-built canons of the Mohamadens (Will the west ever stop siding with Muslims against Orthodox Christians?), eventually, breeched the walls.

On the dawn of May 29, when the final all-out attack began, the Serbian Christian subjects of the Sultan were the first to fall before the walls of the city.  Strangly, just as there were some Christian subjects of the Ottoman Turks fighting against the Roman Empire, there were Muslim subjects of the Roman empire helping to defend Conastantinople. Turkish soldiers working for the Romans and commanded by a Turk defended one section of the walls along the sea, and remained loyal to the Roman Empire till the very end. Nevertheless after nearly two months of fighting there were not enough Romans or allies left to defend the walls.  Actually, there had never been enough men to defend the walls, and only the outer walls had been manned.  But against these walls, built centuries earlier, the bodies of the attackers were piled up.

By the end of the attack the main formations of the Ottoman Turks were slain or exhausted.  But the Sultan had terrible force held in reserve, and over the bodies of the fallen these dreadful formations came: The reserve battalions of Janasaries, Balken Christian children kidnapped and raised to be killers for Mohamed and the personal bodyguard of the Sultan.

On this morning, when he saw the Janaseries raise the Ottoman flag over the walls, the Emperor, having put off the purple but arrayed in the splendor of courage, charged with the last of his knights into the seething army of Islam.  The emperor's body was never found.

Memory Eternal!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Sandtrack: Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was born in 1919, and everyone knows his name and what he is done. But even if they don't, Wikipaedia does.  If you like Peter Paul and Mary, The Kinston Trio, or thought the Lion King had the best movie soundtrack ever, you like them, in part, because of Pete Seeger.  Pete Seeger is even the force behind Bruce Sprinsteen finally making music worth listening to.    

As best as I can remember, the first Pete Seeger song I ever heard was "If I Had A Hammer", though at the time I thought it was a Peter, Paul, and Mary song.  And this brings me to something that makes me very sad, since he is such an important part of America, but Pete Seeger was and remains a Communist.   

I like to think he is merely deluded and not truly malevolent, but I don't know.   It is hard for me to think anyone can still be a Communist after the events of the 20th Century, but he is.  He joined the communist Youth League in 1936 and the Communist Party in 1942. In 1945 Seeger became head of People's Songs, Inc.  A report by a fact finding committee of the California Senate said of People's Songs that was 
"a vital Communist front … one which has spawned a horde of lesser fronts in the fields of music, stage entertainment, choral singing, folk dancing, recording, radio transcriptions and similar fields. It especially is important to Communist proselytizing and propaganda work because of its emphasis on appeal to youth, and because of its organization and technique to provide entertainment for organizations and groups as a smooth opening wedge for Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist propaganda."
In 2000 he affirmed that he is still a Communist, saying the Soviet union wasn't real Communism.  In 2008 he performed the anti-property verse of This Land is Your Land at the "We Are One" pre-innaugural concert for President Obama.  I pray for his salvation.
This is my favorite Pete Seeger song.  My first experience of the song was in 1982 when the Tokens version of it came over the Florida airwaves from WRBQ to my bedroom.  This mash-up version of the song, containing references to at least three other songs, is by an acapela show choir called Straight No Chaser. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mornings on Prozac

Report on the first day of prozac.   The M.D. (I also see a Psy.D.) said it would probably cause drowsiness for the first few days.  Wow!  That was an understatement.  I was dozing off all morning and finally just went back to bed around noon.  I set the alarm for 2:30 but slept through it. About 6p.m. I felt irrationally happy for about half an hour.  Have not cried at all today.  I am wide awake now and the boys and I are hanging out while Athanasia is at a Cub Scout summer camp planning meeting.  As soon as they go to bed I'll finish my last paper for the semester. I'll be glad to have this semester behind me.


Today I start taking prozac.  The M.D. said if they work I should start feeling less sad in a month.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When it rains it pours

Imagine the most horrible thing possible.  I can't tell you what that is.  It's your imagination, and what you imagine is the most horribe thing is probably not the most horrible thing as I imagine it.  Now, pretend that horrible thing is really happening.  Yes, that is what is happening to me.  But it isn't imaginary.  It is real. The most horrible thing I can imagine is actually happening to me. If I was not absolutely sure suicides go directly to Hell my straight razor would be in my hand at this moment.  Some people think Hell is a bad thing.  But to me, right now, the threat of Hell is the only thing keeping me alive.  Some people think God  a merciful God wouldn't let there be a Hell.  Those people are wrong.  Right now Hell is proof to me of God's mercy.

On the Holy Trinity

In Christianity (and in Judaism, too) God is transcendent.  He is the One[1] who can not be approached.  Like a great black hole at the center of a galaxy He melts anything that gets too close to Him.  He is a consuming fire[2], and the dreadfulness of His glory is such that even the holy seraphim cover their eyes as they soar around His throne.[3]
But there is more to God than His terrible transcendent Oneness. He is also unimaginable condescending love.  His love is such that He is near whenever He is called[4], and He is unfailingly faithful and loyal.[5]   The Prophet King David describes God’s love:
The Lord executes mercy and judgment for all that are injured. He made known his ways to Moses, his will to the children of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and pitiful, long-suffering, and full of mercy. He will not be always angry; neither will he be wrathful for ever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor recompensed us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, the Lord has so increased his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, the Lord pities them that fear him. For he knows our frame: remember that we are dust.[6]

Hedge and Donna: Saturday Soundtrack

Update 5/24/2012:  I have been in correspondence with Donna Carson.  She left the music industry in 1977 and became an emplyoyee of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles County, from which she retired as Supervior of Advocates for Abused and Neglected Children in 2010.  She did not share with me any information about Hedge Carson.

Originally Published on 3/19/2011

Hedge Carson and Donna Capers released several LPs from 1968 to 1973 (most of them on Capitol Records) and were popular touring artists.   Most interesting to me is hearing the melesmatic quality of Donna's voice.  It is the same powerful tremor heard in Annie Herring's earlier music, the stuff she recorded in the mid 70s with 2nd Chapter of Acts.  I wonder if Annie Herring got it from listening to Hedge and Donna. A big mystery is what ever happened to them.  After their last album release in 1973 (I think "Guava Jelly" was the only good song on that record.) they disappeared from the public eye.

My favorite Hedge and Donna song was released this this song the year I was born (Album: All The Friendly Colours. Publisher: Capitol Records).  I have no idea what it is about, but it seems like a congeries of two songs.  Here it is:

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Depression Is Like

I started thinking about my son Billy, then before I knew it I was thinking I had failed at everything worth doing, then I began thinking there was no reason to do anything else.  Then I wept for an hour before I managed to pull myself together and do the laundry.  This really sucks.  Being in the sunlight helps.

Army Days

I don't often think about my time in the U.S. Army.  But when I do I usually think about basic training.  That was the best part of the Army, as far as I'm concerned.  Running around, shooting, singing, shouting, blowing things up, leaping over walls.  And life was simple.  Wake up, work hard, eat, sleep, obey.  I was in the second squad (12 men) of the 1st platoon (53 men), of B Company (218 officers and men), of 4th Battalion (883 officers and men), of the 5th Brigade (4,600+ officers and men).  I saw the colonel once.  I saw the sergeant major once.  I saw my captain 4 times.  But I saw Drill Sergeant McCain every minute I was awake for 8 weeks.  He was one of the best men I've ever met.

In my squad was a man named Micael Ainsley.  I don't know much about him, but he had a hiarious sense of humour.  He told me about a book called Bored of the Rings. I read it after I was graduated from basic training and thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever read.  Back then, the only time a soldier got to fall out of formation was for a smoke break.  Until I heard a sergeant say it, I thought "smoke 'em if ya got 'em" was just something said in the movies.  He thought I was pretty funny and bought me my first cigar so I could hang out with him and the other smokers on their smoke breaks.  It was a White Owl.  In the second week of basic training the Surgeon General of the Army forbade smoking in all training units.

There was a man, he was 19, in my squad from the Dakotas.  He played the cello and had joined the army to pay for the rest of his education.  I think his name was Olson.  He told me, and I've never been brave enough to try it, that he learned on an indian reservation that one can pour a bottle of rubbing alcohol through a loaf of bread and it won't kill, blind, or make the drinker mad.

Pete McGlincy was one of the funniest men I met in those at weeks at Ft. Dix.  He was a 17 year old from Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania.  When Olson, Ainsly, and I would be talking about philosophy and cigars and our plans for the future (wow, those sure didn't work out!) he would talk about all the girls he slept with and laugh at us for not knowing what was important in life.  I think he managed to go on sick call at least half the days of basic training.  I think he actually added a few pounds of fat before graduation!  He was the one who told me about the donuts in the hospital.  I didn't see it for myself until I got hurt while stationed at Ft. Monmouth, but it seems that back then, if not today, there was a big platter of donuts on a counter in every Army hospital.  It had to be 3 feet high!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Laid off

I figured it was coming when, for over a month, I was only getting 2 or 3 days of work each week, and even some of the most skilled men in the company were being sent home early because of no work.  I was laid off today.  Oh, well.  It was fun.  Things I got to do that I had never done before: Weld steel and iron, solder copper tubes, repair and install pumps, drive a bobcat, weave re-bar and pour concrete, and a bunch of other really fun things.  I, also, received a nicknme: Pipewrench. Now that part of my life is over. Time to find something else. And file for unemployment insurance.

Oh, wait mintue.  My wife just gave me a list...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Star Trek

It is strange to think of it this way, but Star Trek has been part of my life, for my whole life.  In fact, the earliest thing I can remember seeing on teevee was an episode of Star Trek, the one in which Cap'n Kirk fight the Gorn.  I must have been four years old.  It scared me so I went outside and played with my plastic sword.  Later, when I got out of the Army and was living with my sister my brother-in-law and I would watch StarTrek: The Next Generation together.  The show had been on the air for a few years at that point, but I was busy doing Army stuff and hadn't seen it.  I really liked the last movie, especially how Cap'n Pike was put into the story with the whole time travel thing. Being a Star Trek purist, I was worried about how that was going to play out.  I think consistency in the Stat Trek universe is important.

The entire history of Star Trek is in this timeline infographic.
Source: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Job Hunting

Things have been slow at work.  Only got 2 days this week.  Week before, too.  My boss says there are several really big jobs in the pipeline.  I'm looking for other work.  Applied for several media sales jobs today.  I need to make more money than I make as a pump and compressor mechanic.  Besides, I'm pretty good at media sales.  Seattle, Hollywood, Mountian View, Los Angeles.  Hope I get one of them.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Treehouse Closing

Stacy the "Chief Elf"
     When Anselm Samuel was in the second grade, and we lived 50% closer to his school he would walk to school and then back to home.  Sometimes, he wouldn't be home when I expected him.  On those occasions I would put Basil Wenceslas on my shoulders and walk down the street to the school.  Invariably, I would find him in Treehouse in the Glen, playing with Stacy the "Chief Elf" of the best toy store I ever knew.  Most of their toys were made of wood, and all of them were very engaging.  Haba, Holtzinger, and Ostheimer are some of the lines they carried.  The boys bought many marbles there.  And wooden swords.  My favorite thing we ever bought there is a game called Chickyboom.  But what was really nice was that my son had a place where he could stop for a few minutes on his way home from school.
     I just got an email announcing that Treehouse in the Glen is closing.  A couple of months ago I thought they were showing signs of struggle: No new inventory, half their floor space set apart for art lessons.  But today it is official.  Their website is already down.  Tomorrow they start a going-out-of-business sale: Everything 50% off.  I am not excited about the sale.  I know everything changes, and probably another interesting business will take the storeforent, but it makes me sad to see this place my son enjoyed so much go out of business.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

When I was 10 or 11 I saw "A Little Romance".  It is still, after more than 30 years, the sweetest movie I have ever seen.  Nostalgia for a movie.  Gosh, what's wrong with me.  Well, this piece by Vivaldi was used throughout the movie, and makes me feel in love with being in love.  If you get a chance, see the movie.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I've been diagnosed with depression.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I won't list all my symptoms, but they are the typical collection of indicators. My wife has been trying to get me to see a psychatrist for over a year.  It is strange to think of the way I feel as a disease.  To me, it really seems more like sin.  Sin of ingrattitude.  Sin of selfishness.  Sin of faithlessness.  But, I suppose, it might be a disease.  After all, the Church teaches that sin is a disease more than it is an infraction of the law.  I think, if I could just see Jesus I might be alright.  Since his resurrection he is always telling people to be at peace to be not afraid.  He even offered his wounds to Thomas to get him to calm down.  He ate some fish with some of his disciples to help them see who he is.  Probably, his mother was the only one he didn't need to re-assure, as she was already full of grace.  I need to be full of grace.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anywhere But California Dreamin'

I was wondering how is it that my wife and I make so much money (way over the national average) but barely skimp by.  Then I heard a story on the news talking about the extremes of the American economy.  At one end is Detroit where $400,000 gets you a 4 story, twelve thousand sq ft house on 2 acres.  And on the other side is where I live, Silicon Valley.  In my "middle class" neighborhood of Willow Glen $400,000 doesn't buy anything.  In fact, if you want a twelve hunded square foot "starter-house" on a 1/8 acre lot you are going to pay $600,000 to $800,000 for it.

My current situation remeinds me of a movie I saw about 12 years ago.  It was called "The Slums of Beverley Hills"  I won't go into the whole movie, but the important part, as far as I am concerened was that the main character of the movie was so concerend about projecting an image of proserity that he refused to live anywhere but in Beverly Hills.  So, he lived in one ding bat apartment after another, all just barely within the city limits of Beverly Hills, and all just barely out of his budget.  I do not want to be that man.

I love California.  I really do.  From the deserts to the beaches (where I was yesterday), to the fog shrouded redwood forsests, to the high Sierras.  I love it all.  But the prices are killing me.  And taxes.  I had to cash in my life insurace to pay my taxes.   I see no future for my children here.  I think pretty soon, if I can find a job somewhere else, I might be one of the people who leave California.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mary at Pascha

One of the things I have learned about Mary is that she is the Church, and the Church is her, and Israel is the Church and we all love God, and Mary is the remnant of Israel, and God shelters her, and she is Creation's offering to God, which means we are Creation's offering to God and we offer God to God, And she is the God-bearer and we are God-bearers, too,  and Mary rejoices in being God's servant and not putting herself forward  (unlike certain of the 12 disciples I could mention) and she is the offering of adoration to God by Creation, and she loves God, and He loves  Mary  and He loves the Church and it's all tied up together when Jesus is raised from the dead. Zion rejoices. Mary Rejoices. The Church rejoices. All people on earth Rejoice.  All angels in heaven rejoice.  Creation rejoices. And the Orthodox sing this song at Pascha.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Conversation with Physician

Physician: You have Y and Z.
Me: Okay, what's the cure?
Physician: There really isn't a cure for these things, maybe surgery for Z, but even then it might not work. I'll give you a referral to a specialist.

Maybe it's faulty memory, but I remember that when I was a kid doctors cured things.  I'd get sick, go to the doctor, get a bottle of something and a couple of days later I'd be out playing with my friends again. So, I want to know, when did doctors stop curing things?  Gosh, where are doctors like Edward Jenner, Jonas Salk, and Louis Pastuer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paschal Hours

In the Orthodox Church this week is called Bright Week.  We eat anything we want.  We drink anything we want.  We have as much sex as we want, or can, if that is the case.  But we also change some of our liturgical practices.  For example, we do not read the Psalms or pray O Heavenly King.  And there are liturgical changes at home, too.  Morning and Evening Prayers, as found in the prayer books, are pretty long but during Bright Week we pray different prayers (click the links to hear the music):

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Holy Unction

Anselm and I, the sick ones, went to Holy Unction tonight.  We thought we'd be at St. Nicholas' but when we got there we saw so many cars in the parking lot and all up and down the street that we knew it would be packed like a sardine can in that little building.  So, we went to St. Stephen's instead.   And, I am so glad we did go there.  A friend from San Francisco, who I haven't seen in several years was visiting St. Stephen's tonight. It was good to see her again after so many years.

 Ah, was there a miracle tonight?  Yes.  Anselm was the first to notice it.  But I won't say anymore about it but that it was beautiful and unexpected.


Anselm Samuel is sick so I am home with him.  Taking advantage of the time to get ready for Pascha: Boiling eggs, cleaning house, making sure we have have all the ingredients for paska and kulich.  Anselm and I will go to Holy Unction tonight.  But I am so tired.  That's one of the things I saw the doctor about yesterday.  All I want to do is sleeep.  TO much to do, though.  Looking forward to Pascha.  My wife is the parish warden so that means I'll be pretty busy helping her do crowd control and other stuff the warden has to do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lazarus Saturday to Tuesday of Holy Week

Saturday:  I was able to attend  the Festal Vigil for The Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem (AKA Palm Sunday).  I am so glad I did.  Last week I heard a certain priest (his books I tend to like) say the account of the disciples getting the ass and her foal in the Gospel of Matthew was semi-mythical.  I do not understand how Orthodox priests get away with such faith destroying things like that, but this one is famous, so I guess he gets away with it.  But, at the Vigil on Saturday night the Gospel reading was the same passage from Matthew.  And Father Basil gave a little talk.  And what do you think he talked about?  That's right he talked about that passage, and I don't know if it was intentional or not, but he answered that famous priests' argument and in 5 minutes my damaged faith was rebuilt.  I think I am going to avoid listening to the famous priest's recordings. I also was able to go to confession.  That was good.

Sunday:  We went to San Francisco where I became god father to a little boy.  It scared his mother when I did the prostration with the boy in my arms, but he didn't touch the ground and didn't fuss at all until he went into the water.  I gave him my cross to wear.  It was good.  And it was good to be in Holy Trinity Cathedral again but Father John's sermons are way over my head.  I only understand about 1/4 of what he is takling about.  He is a very deep and intellectual man.  But not like a ful-of-himself intellectual like Marx or Sartre.  He doesn't show off. He is one of the most loving men I have ever met.  Everytime he talks to me it is like my presence is the most important thing in the world to him.  He's like that with everyone.

Monday: We met with a lawyer.  Went hoping for good news.  Got ambiguous to bad news instead. Once this issue is completed and is behind us, I hope I never have need of a lawyer ever again.  Saw my doctor, who gave me more bad news.  It is piling up.

Today: Was up at 5:30, at work at 7.  Had to drive to Monterey to install a lift in a garage.  This one was made by Challenger.  Much heavier than the Rotary lifts I usually install.  The work wasn't too bad.  Thankfully they had a fork lift, and that made it much quicker than I was expecting. The rain was cold.  I saw lightning over the ocean.  Rain is expected all week.  Got back to San Jose at 5:30.  Anselm Samuel has a fever.  It looks I'm staying home with him tomorrow.  Looking forward to Holy Unction tomorrow.  Hoping for a healing or three or four.

Right now:  Basil is teling me about minataurs while spinning around in circles making himself dizzy.  Being his Dad is much fun.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Turabian Cheat Sheet By Professor John Kreiss of APUS

Turabian Cheat Sheet 2.0

There is certainly a great deal of confusion regarding the appropriate formatting of footnotes and bibliographies. Chicago, Turabian, APA, MLA - which style guide ought you to use? APUS requires what they call Chicago/Turabian style guides. The two style guides are similar but not the same. I have opted to use the Turabian style guide in all my classes at APUS and to assist you with this, I have created what I call the Turabian Cheat Sheet 2.0 - it is called 2.0 since it is actually my second attempt at such an undertaking!

The information provided here is taken from the 7th Edition of Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), and while I make no claim to being comprehensive (you can buy Turabian at any bookstore), what I have included here seem to me to be the most common sort of formatting issues you will encounter in your writing.

One of the few things I learned in my Historical Methods class in graduate school (I say "few" because that course actually taught me very little) is that when it comes to footnotes and bibliographies - be consistent.

Friday, April 06, 2012

An Interview with the Only Orthodox Priest in Pakistan

Fewer Hours, Confict on the SSC, This and That

This week I've only worked about half the hours as I normally would.  Why?  No work.  Today, everyone but the salesmen stayed home.  It doesn't bode well.  

What does bode well?  On Tuesday a customer I was doing a job for asked me for a price on a thing.  I looked at it and figured out that it was a custom built piece of equipment and that it would take some work building a duplicate.  So, I took measurements, took pictures, drew a diagram and gave it to my boss.  Yesterday, Thusday I asked him if he had a price so I could get back to the customer.  My boss was less than enthused and wanted nothing to do with the project.  I don't fault him.  He has been blamed, latley, for things going wrong that, I think, went wrong in the sales process long before they landed on his desk.  He only wants to do what he knows how to do and doesn't want to do anything unless he knows he can do it quickly and make a lot of money.  He said to me "We don't do that kind of work.  We don't sell stuff like that".  But, unknown to me, the owner of the company was standing behindme and said, "We are in the business of selling anything anyone wants to pay us for."  So, the project was put into my hands.  I've been getting prices for supplies together, thinking about the manufacture process, and talking to the one man in our comapny who I think can do the job.  I think the company will make about 70% gross profiton this job. It fun to work with a spread sheet again after several months of not using one.

The principle of the school my boys go to is an ex officio member of the School Site Council, which decideds how to spend certain moneys.  He and I are at loggerheads over whether or not he has the right to change meeting dates and times.  One of the teacher members of the Council totally does whatever the principle wants to do (he is her boss so it makes sense), the Chairman of the Council (a parent member) is good but seems more interested in what the Council spends money on than in how the Council operates.  The other, members of the Council are, I think, more like the Chairman, and don't think constitutional questions are very important.   I on the other hand, think questions of procedure and powers are paramount, for they decide everything else.   Oh, how I love a good parliamentary battle!

I am still working on that M.A. degree.  And  I am looking for other work.  Something that pays more money and is less dangerous. (I won't even tell you about the crazy dangerous stuff I did Wednesday.)

More and more I am wondering about the rest of my life.  It is clear to me that I am never going to do anything great.  I'm not going to be a farmer.  I'm not going to have any of the careers I had once hoped to have. Not in advertising, not in city planning, not in farming, not in law, and not in the priesthood (canonical barriers to that last one).  And, everthing that is within my realm of possibilities I have already done.  It is likely that I will live into my seventies.  That's thirty years of... what?  I am remided of that song by John Cougar Mellancamp.  The one with the line "... Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone."  I didn't understand that song when I was 15.  I understand it now.  I don't think I am having a midlife crisis.  I'm not even sure what that is.  I just can't figure out what else I am supposed to do.  I mean, other than stick around 12 more years for my kids.  But after that, what?  Maybe, if I had been able to go to any of the Lenten services this year I would be feeling differently.  Maybe, I'll feel differently when the boys are grown and gone.  I'll be free-ish, but will I be to old to do anything?  Even if I have the money to buy a farm my body tells me I am too old for that.  Does my Church have anything for old laymen to do?  Do we have lay missionaries?

I think I'll do some more homework now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Relics Comming to Saratoga

Dear Friends,
Christ is in our midst!

The following relics will be visiting our St. Nicholas Church in Saratoga, THIS Thursday evening at 7 PM. After a brief Prayer Service, and veneration of the relics, we will have a presentation on the New Martyrs of Aiud (Romania) in the Parish Hall. Please, come and tell your family and friends.

Coming are the relics of :

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Saint Nectarios of Aegina

Saint Luca of Crimea

Holy Apostle Acquilla

Saint Maximus the Greek

Saints from Sinai and Raithu

Monday, April 02, 2012

No confusion here.

Real Madrid removes Cross from atop the crown in their logo “to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation”.  Really.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Paper on the Seven Ecumenical Councils

Here is a paper I wrote for my Byzantine History class.  It, certainly, isn't the best paper I've ever written, but it is the best paper I've written while recovering from surgery and stoned on drugs or deprived of sleep and going to work at a very demanding job.


The Seven Ecumenical Councils: Causes and Consequences

On Church Councils
When St. Constantine I ordered all bishops of the Christian Church to assemble in Nicea to settle the question of Arianism it wasn’t as though he was acting on a novel idea.  Some years earlier he had experienced a local synod settle the question of the Donatists in north Africa[1].  But that was a local problem settled by a handful of bishops.  The Council called by Constantine that would meet in the city of Nicea was different.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I spent most of Saturday, which, given the hour I hight think of as yesterday or today, writing a paper on the Seven Ecumenical Councils.  I only made it through the first one.  Not nearly as much as I had hoped.  Intersting thing though, I learned (I always learn the most while writing papers) that the Church of England was burning Arians as late as the 17th Century.  Arianism, it seems, is like a monster in a movie: You think it's dead but then it appears again.  Oh, I also learned that we were successful in destroying all of Arius' writings.  We only understand today what Arius' ideas were because St. Athanasius did such a good job refuting them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A disadvantage of living in a republic

In general, I love living in a republic.  I am who I am, and bow to no man, except Orthodox Clergy, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the poor, and sinners, and pictures of saints, and... but other than those few exceptions, I bow to no one.   Because we are all equal-ish.  I'm a mister and the President is a mister.  But when I see and hear something like this; love of their queen, and faith that God hears their prayer blended together in beautiful music, well, it is almost enough to make me a monarchist.

Making money on the mark of the beast (this is a stock tip)

I have no doubt that NFC technology will be key to the Beast's control over the economy, but it seems to me that there is no reason not to make some money off of it before he turns it to evil.  So, if you want to make a lot of money over the next 5 years you should take a look at NXP Semiconductor (NXPI).  

Why I am recommending it:

1.  NFC is a key technology in rapid flow of money, and money's favorite thing to do is move.
2.  NFC technology is being built into all personal electronic devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers.
3. NXPI is the leader of the NFC industry
4. NXPI is the excusive supplier of several of the largest device manufactureres
5. NXPI owns many patents that are crucial to the NFC industry
6. Every credit card, check, debit card, and Federal Reserve Note in your wallet represents a money moving system for NXPI to dislocate.
7. The price of the stock, as measured against reasonable potential earnings, is very low.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who Will Bow to the Antichrist?

"Anyone who is attracted merely by glittering censors, incense and beautiful vestments, he, first of all, will fall down before Antichrist."  -  Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gearing up

I had surgery on my leg earlier this week.  The one I cut with an angle grinder at work a few months ago.  I also had a frank discussion with my wife about finances.  Given the danger inherent in my work and the low level of remuneration for that kind of work, I've decided to get back in to advertising, even if it is on the sales side and not on the planning side.  So, it's back to reading AdWeek, Fast Comapny, and the the Wall Street Journal ...and writing resumes.  Oh, the surgery?  It was successful. Been stoned out of my head in narcotics all week because of the pain, but they got all the fragments out.  But that doesn't matter.  I'm still going back to being an ad man as soon as someone makes me an offer.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Better Procession

It is a recent custom in the Orthodox Church in North America that parishes in an area get together on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy and process with their icons around the interior of one of their buildings.  It is fun.  But is it the best we can do?  No.

If you've read about the contest between the Orthodox and the Iconoclasts in the 8th century you know the processions of the monks carrying Icons was not in their church buildings.  Rather, their processions were through the cities, under the noses of the very people who denied the holy Icons.  They did this even under the threat of violence and death.  And they won.

Then why, here in North America, where no one will kill us for carrying Icons in public, do we process indoors.  Why, when we are surraounded by Christians who deny the holy Icons but usually out of ignorance not animus, do we keep the Light under a bushel?

Proposed: Next year, instead of processing in our church buildings we should process through our cities, past all the churches that deny the  holy Icons.

Monday, March 05, 2012

From My Friend Matt's Blog

Through The Looking Glass
J.E. Dyer:
It’s a useful distinction to consider. A particular moral idea governs left-wing views on social and health matters, and the left’s purpose with political advocacy is to put the power of government behind that view. By examining the left’s very different policy approaches to eating and sex, we can discern the features of the morality at work.

The left’s governmental approach to sex today involves, among other things, the following:
The suite of policies advocated by the left is designed to encourage sex but limit procreation and STDs. The social “good,”

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Gates of Hell

I often hear it said that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail" against God's Church.  Usually, I hear it in the context of a temporary set back in the Church, spoken as encouragement from a pastor to a suffering Christian.  But it occurs to me that gates are not a weapon to be broken on the neck of the Church.  A gate never killed anyone.  No.  I think what Jesus had in mind when he said the gates of Hell woud not prevail against his Church was a battering ram.  Yes, the Church is a battering ram, smashing the gates of Hell into oblivion so that it's prisoners can be free.  It is a battering ram driving missionaries into un-Christian lands, lands where they kill Christians but where the gates of Hell will be smashed open.  It is a battering ram, knocking down the gates of Satan's strongholds in my heart.  The gates of Hell can not prevail because the Church is God's seige engine of uncirmuscribed love.  His weapon of truth. But if the Church does not attack the gates will hold, and those trapped in Hell while living on this earth will die and spend eternity in Hell.  If I do not let the Church wage war against the wickedness in my heart I will be found impure on the Day of the Lord.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bob the Builder

The work week is over.  Here is a list of tools I used this week: Bosch roto-hammer, 4 lb mini-sledge, mill file, shovel, Bobcat with front end loader, rebar bender-cutter, dikes, pipe wrench, De Walt 12v cordless drill, assorted Craftsman combination wrenches, 34 inch Pittsburgh (it is made in China) wrench, assorted punches, De Walt 4" angle grinder with diamond blade, Makita 7"angle grinder with flap wheel, De Walt chop-saw with carbide blade, channel lock pliers, Craftsman 1/2" socket set, Craftsman 1/4" socket set,  18 inch Crescent wrench, hex wrenches, Klein insulated screw driver, wire strippers, wire crimpers, Lincoln flux core welding machine, three different prybars (The smallest is one foot long.  The largest is five feet long and weighs 80lbs!), De Walt bench grinder with wire wheel, trowel, rebar tying hook, Milwaukee reciprocal saw, Skill rotary saw.