Saturday, December 21, 2013

When I was a little boy: Saturday soundtrack

When I was a little boy, of 6 or 7,  I would get my Mom's Firestone Christmas record out of the cabinet and play this song over and over.  This isn't the exact recording that was on that old promotional record, but it's the closest I can find.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Man Made Global Warming

When it comes to man made global warming I am a skeptic.  In fact,when it comes to all claims by scientists I am a skeptic.  Why?  Because scientists are, most of the time, wrong.  For example, in the 1950s pediatricians and psychologists were saying kissing and holding babies was bad for them.  No one agrees with that now, but just 60 years ago it was a scientific "fact".  Many scientists today say life appeared spontaneously from non-living matter. They are completely convinced that this idea is true. However, no one has been able to produce life from non-living matter. Why is this important?  Because it shows that scientists are willing to ignore the rules of their profession in order to assert a conclusion they hope is true. And when it comes to weather, scientists are unable to predict the amount of cloud cover next week, or the number and severity of hurricanes.  Their predictions for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season were laughably wrong.  So, when they predict droughts, and extinctions, and rising sea levels I am pretty skeptical.  Not totally skeptical, just 60% or so.  But when they go on to say people are responsible for global warming I am 99.99% sure they are just making stuff up.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Getting Ready For Christmas

The boys with their tree at the farm.
On the 6th of December I had to work so wasn't able to go to Church on St. Nicholas Day, but I made sure there was candy for the boys' shoes, and I made sure my god children found letters from St. Nicholas in their shoes.  I also prayed the Akathist to St. Nicholas.  I had never prayed it before.  I think I have a new favorite prayer.

On the 7th of December I went to see Anselm in the St. Nicholas pageant at St. Stephen Orthodox Church.  Basil, Athanasia, and I all sat in the same row. It was a very moving pageant.  Athanasia was in tears.

On Wednesday, or the night before last, I picked the boys up after school, and took them to the Tobacco Rd. Christmas Tree Farm up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They picked out the tree and tied it to the roof.  While I went to pay for the tree the boys played on the farmers tire swing.  It was pretty neat.  It swung way out over the mountainside, and, I suppose, at one point there was about 40 feet of air between the boys and the ground.  It was quite a thrill for them.  The big sign read "WARNING! Swing at your own risk!"

There are several Christmas tree farms up there.  We've been to several of them, over the years.  Once the tree was roped to the car,I took them to their mother's apartment, made them dinner, and mulled some cider.  I read books to them while they decorated their tree.

Three of the books I read to them were Great Joy, Papa's Itchy Christmas, and The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler's Sons.  It was so much fun to read these books to my boys again.  The Cobbler's Sons book was given to us by a priest's wife the year when Basil as just a newborn. Athanasia bought Great Joy in 2009.  I bought Papa's Itchy Christmas at Hicklebee's in, I think, 20011.  Athanasia didn't get home from work until late, but she heard the last of the three books.  Then I went home to my sister's house. (I have had no chest pains since I've been there.)

Today Athanasia invited me over for Christmas Dinner.  I don't know what I'll make.  I'll have to think about it.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Jobs, children and scouting.

Since the 23rd of October I've had a job. It isn't very good.  It isn't the fast food job I mentioned in my last post but it is about the same as far as earnings and social strata are concerned.  I am a door-to-door canvasser for a solar energy company. It pays  only about 1/3 of what I need to live in the Bay Area but it is something. I am living with my sister until after Thanksgiving.  Then I'll go back to my friend Jeff's house for a couple of weeks.

I have to work on Saturdays, which is the day I had been spending with my boys. That really makes me sad.  But last Wednesday I had off from work so I picked the boys up from school.  At 2:30 I got Basil and we played chess at Peet's Coffee on Lincoln Ave until Anselm was finished with his robotics class at 5.  Then I got Anselm and we worked on the physical fitness requirement for Tenderfoot rank.  He doesn't seem very interested in progressing through the ranks to Eagle Scout, and his Troop is pretty laid back.  He loves the meetings and the games they play, and he likes the camping but very little of that is designed to help him advance to Eagle Scout.  I am worried he might not earn Eagle.  I need to find a way to work on rank advancement with him.   

I have a really good job prospect.  It is with a small liberal arts college.  They are flying me to meet with them in December.  I hope I get the job.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I Have a Dream

A long time ago, when I was a boy in Tampa I read an essay by Philip Yancey about the Prophets.  So I read them.  There was a description of life when Jesus returns that really appealed to me:

"And every man shall sit under his vine, and under his fig tree, and there shall be none to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken." Micah 4:4.

I know that when I looked at it I liked it because it indicated that God was going to preserve private property in the Millennium. (at the time I was a pre-trib pre-mil dispensationalist.)  Later, as I began thinking about this verse more I would sit around drawing maps of my future vineyard and orchard. I even tried to make it real, or as real as I could, given my circumstances.  For example, I planted grape vines at several of the rented places I lived. I tried to buy a farm once but my first wife opposed the idea. I still look at and listen to farm reports on the radio. I keep up with my local ag industry, too.   I tried to talk about owning a farm with Athanasia but she didn't like the idea either. 

This morning something occurred to me.  I am completely free to have a farm now.  So here is the plan: 

1.  Get a job
2. Get out of the San Francisco Bay area (eastern Oregon?  Michigan?)
2.  Get my student loans out of default (or maybe, move to another country and not worry about the student loans.)
3.  Buy a small farm close enough to a city so I can work a job during the week and take care of my vines and/or trees on weekends.

It might seem unrealistic, but at this point in my life, I think I'd rather have this unrealistic dream than my too real reality.  Oh, man, I start a fast food job for way less than I need in just a few days.  Who am I kidding?  This life is over.  I'll probably die in poverty, on a sidewalk, covered in an old cardboard box. But there is Micah 4:4  Someday, not in this life but the next, I'll have a farm.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Deficits and Lies

While driving to Concord yesterday, I listened to the President's press conference.  I wasn't surprised by anything he said.  However, near the end of the press conference he said, "You know, if you're concerned about long-term debt, that's a good thing to be concerned about, but don't pretend as if America's going bankrupt at a time when the deficits have been cut in half."  

Cut in half?  Really?

Here are the budget deficits for the last few years:

FY 2013     $973 billion (Obama)
FY 2012  $1,087 billion (Obama)
FY 2011  $1,300 billion (Obama)
FY 2010  $1,294 billion (Obama
FY 2009  $1,413 billion (Bush)
FY 2008     $458 billion (Bush)
FY 2007     $161 billion (Bush
FY 2006     $248 billion (Bush)
FY 2005     $318 billion (Bush)

So, here is my question.  How is the current deficit of $973 billion half of any of Obama's previous deficits?  How is $973 billion half of Bush's largest deficit? So, the President lied.  Or he's stupid. 

And quite apart from that, these deficits do not even include all the increase in our national debt. The federal deficit is the amount each year by which federal outlays in the federal budget exceed federal receipts, but the gross federal debt increases each year by more than the amount of the deficit each year. That is because an enormous amount of federal borrowing is not counted in the budget.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cocktail of the week: Daquiri

I have a pet peeve.  It really bugs me that bartenders and their patrons are so unimaginative that they can't think of new drink names.  The adulteration of the name Martini is probably the most extreme example (The use of a cocktail glass does not make a mixture of apple brandy, crème de cacao, and vodka into an "apple-choca-tini".) but it happens with other drinks, too.  For example, there are mint Daiquiris, mango Daiquiris, strawberry Daiquiris, and Vanilla daiquiris.  And all these drinks have in common is rum, sugar and ice.   Dumb.  Why not call the mint daiquiri a Tropical Frost?  Why not name the strawberry Daiquiri after the place it was invented? (That is how the original Daquiri got its name.) Or why not call it a Plant City Cocktail, which is a semi-tropical Florida location famous for strawberry cultivation.  Well, I'll get down off my soap box and post the recipe.

The Daquiri (The way Hemmingway liked them.)
Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime in to a glass.
Add simple syrup so the sweet and sour are balanced. (You have to taste to make sure.)
Add ice.
Fill to the top with rum. (I prefer Mount Gay)
Garnish with slice of lime.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Napa, Friends, a Festival, and Music

Today is Tuesday. The job hunt continues.  Frustratingly, I have had horrible problems with unemployment insurance.  I worked a temp job for a day and a half in July and it messed something up.  I haven't received any unemployment insurance payments for the last part of August or any of September.  I thought I was broke before, but now I am really broke.  I have half a tank of gas and $4 in my wallet. I thought the unemployment insurance problem was fixed last week, but if it was I should have received money yesterday.   I will have to go visit their office today.

Basil chopping tomatoes
In other news, I had an interview at a restaurant today.  They asked me to come back for another interview on Thursday.  I hope I get it but, gosh, there is no way it pays enough for me to live.  When you have to make 3 dimes but the best opportunity you can find is only offering 1 dime what do you do? 

Saturday was fun.  I took Anselm and Basil to V. Sattui Winery.  It was a group outing.  My friends Jeff, Keith, and Brian and there families were with us.  The winery was beautiful.  It is harvest time and they were in the middle of the crush.  It was fun to take all the kids through the winery explaining how the process works.  (I know how because lived next door to the Parducci Winery in the Ukiah Valley for two years when I was a kid.)

Anselm and Basil helping in the beer booth
I can't believe it was my first time in the Napa Valley.   It is a beautiful narrow valley with one main road running the length of it; wineries and vineyards lining both sides.  I want to go back again.

After the winery we went to Jeff's house for supper.  Each family had a part to play.  Me and my boys made the salad. Basil chopped the tomatoes, Anselm cubed the avocado the right way, and even taught Jeff, who beats me 2/3 of the time in cooking competitions, how to do it.  I love that one of my sons is spreading culinary knowledge!

After supper we drove to my sister's house in Sunnyvale to spend the night.  In the morning we went to Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas in Saratoga and then worked in the parish festival.  It seems to have been a huge success.  I know that where I was working, the beer booth, we brought in an amazing amount of money.  (We sold Baltika #3, #6, #7, and #9)  A really neat thing was getting to see my brothers and sisters from other parishes, whom I do not often get to see.  It was a bit like a family reunion.  Much fun!

The festival was a lot of fun.  It's like an added benefit of Orthodoxy.  When I became Orthodox, I really only did it for two reasons: Apostolic succession and the real Body and Blood of Jesus.  I wanted real bishops and real communion.  I wasn't even aware of parish festivals.  Another really amazing thing for me is the music.  It, too, is like an added benefit.  Here are some of my favorite Orthodox songs:

This is my favorite short hymn.  If you love the Bible as I suspect you do, you will know the words: 
The final prayer sung at the funeral of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas (several languages)
This isn't a church song, per se, but it captures I think the joy of Pascha as experienced by Orthodox, (translation can be found in the comments). 
This is, probably, my favorite hymn about Mary, notice how Mary, the Church, and Zion are all conflated in the song as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. This is typical of Orthodox theology; everything points to something else and is part of something else. This is, actually, a very small part of a long hymn called the Paschal Canon.
And this is probably my all time favorite.
Well, I have to apply for more jobs and get ready for tomorrow's court hearing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Sound Track: Johnny Cash, Live@ S.Quentin - Folsom Prison Blues

I wonder, do other countries produce so many songs about prison as America does?  And if they do, are the songs as good as this one?

Friday, August 30, 2013

I finished another chapter of my book: Romancing the Vasilopita

Well, I've never tried to sell a book before. Something I have learned is that books are usually sold before they are written.  So, even though I haven't finished the whole thing, I have begun sending proposals to agents.

I put the first chapter on here a few months ago.  Here is the 16th.  I. don't think I'll put the whole book on here, though.  I hope to sell it and make some money.

Well, here is chapter 16 which I just finished today.

Chapter 16: 

The Eighth Day of Christmas: Romancing the Vasilopita

In which the oldest Wilcox son learns to make vasilopita, and finds a girlfriend he didn't know he was looking for.  Recipe for vasilopita and instructions for playing the coin game included.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dropping out. Going off-grid. Disappearing. Is it an option?

Well, I still have no job.  I am on my 4th address since I moved out of my ex-wife's house a few weeks ago.  I do not get enough money in unemployment insurance to pay my student loans, my phone, child support, and my car each month. A few days ago I got a letter from the IRS.  I haven't opened it.  What will they do, put me in Club Fed?  That might be a step up for me at this point.

Civilization isn't really turning out too well for me.  I'm thinking about going off into the woods.  Of course, it will be against the law. One isn't allowed to live in national forests.  But I seem to be running out of options.  I don't want to be supported by other people.

A big concern is my sons.  But what good am I to them now?   I don't see them but a few hours a week.  I have become Disneyland Dad but without the money to even take them to Disneyland.

If I do this I will have to be concerned about bears, exposure, and being found by rangers.

Summer is almost over and I think its going to be a hard winter.  I probably shouldn't try it before next spring.  But by then it might be too late.

So, I have done a quick inventory of what I have that can help me survive in the woods:

Water gathering and purifying
Field sanitation
Soap making (It is the easiest thing.  Sometimes, I wonder why I ever buy it.)
Outdoor cooking
Survival food gathering  (I took a 1 week course in the army, but I need to brush up.  About all I remember is how to prevent scurvy.)

Equipment and Supplies
1- Trailhead-6 tent
1- Army cot
1- wind-up rechargeable AM/FM/Shortwave radio receiver
1- axe
1- wind up electric lantern
1- Leatherman super tool
1 - double barrel shotgun, 12-ga
1 - pump action shotgun, 12-ga
100 - #8 and #6 bird shot cartridges
40 - #00 buck shot cartridges
1- shotgun cleaning kit
1-  6lb sledge hammer
1- fishing pole with assorted hooks, lures, and other tackle
1- cast iron grill, with fork and spatula
1-one cast iron skillet (it was a wedding present from my grandmother to my mother)
1- .380 semi-auto pistol, with about 50 cartridges
1- pistol cleaning kit
1- hunting knife
1- fishing knife
1- whet stone
1- magnesium fire starter
2- sturdy trousers
3- packets of cabbage seeds
1- packet of radish seeds
1- packet of fennel seeds
1 - good coat
1 - water proof bag
1 - 100 square foot waterproof tarp
1 - pair low-rise hiking shoes
2 - pair wool socks
3 - durable long sleeve shirts
1 - pillow
1- bolt/chain cutter (you never know)
1 - assorted other hand tools (unfortunately, they are mostly for working on machines)
1- turkey call
1- compass
1- mirror

Things I will need to get
A. a good back country emergency medical kit
B. spade and hoe
C. box of nails
D. map of destination (Idaho?  Nevada?  The coastal states have too many people.)
E. 100 feet strong rope
F.  candles
G. matches
H. wool blankets
I.  carbolic acid (50 lbs?) and a large supply of toilet paper (takes up so much space.  Alternatives?)
J. thermal long underwear
K. sturdy boots
L. water containers
M. empty 55 gallon drum
N. 5 gal gasoline can
O. animal traps
P. a spit for cooking
Q. rice, dry beans, barley, wheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, oatmeal, and salt to last the winter, hmmm.  Maybe 20 pounds bacon to last me till I kill something. If I eat 1/4 pound a day that will last 80 days.  Surely, I'll be able to find a bear or an elk in 80 days.  Hmmm.  Shotguns are only for close range.  Maybe I should find someone who'll swap me a an old 30-30 or an SKS for one of my shotguns.
R. cotton undershirts, more wool socks
S. water-proof and pest-proof containers for food and clothes
T. Dutch oven and tri-pod w/chain
U. several 12" to 18" pieces of re-bar
V. plastic sheeting
X. a cup, a plate, a spoon, a fork, a cutting board
Y. sewing kit
Z. Seeds and grape vine cuttings

Things I'll need make on site:
A. a fish trap (so easy)
B. a rain water trap (rain water is usually cleaner than stream water.)
C. charcoal
D. smokehouse
F. outhouse

Sunday, August 18, 2013


"Lutherans also face a challenge because of the church's central and northern European roots. When many ELCA congregations were planted, Scandinavians and Germans were migrating to the U.S. in droves. Now, Lars and Gretchen have scattered and neighborhoods have become more ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, churches are still catering to their charter members."

I just read this story about membership decline in ELCA and thought, "Hmmm.  Part of this applies to the Orthodox."  Certainly, the ELCA has other much more serious problems than ethnicity, but it is clear to some Lutherans, at least, that their ethnic focus is a problem.

Last week for vespers of the Dormition of the Theotokos I visited the magnificent Ascension Cathedral in Oakland.  Except for one litany and the Trisagion prayers every word was in Greek.  And who was in attendance?  Five chanters, one priest, one deacon, and nine other worshipers.  And, shockingly, because Oakland is a famously predominately black city, not one black person.  Now, having said that, several people talked to me and welcomed me.  The people I met there were very friendly.  But who goes to the Orthodox Church to make friends?  Anyone who visits a service of the Orthodox Church is looking for God. Why hide Him behind a wall of language? 

And I don't mean to pick on the Greeks.  The same problem occurs in the OCA.  In Berkeley the OCA parish, St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church does all the services in Slavonic.  Slavonic!  It isn't even a real language!  It's the Orthodox equivalent of Esperanto

Who puts a light under a bushel?  The Orthodox, that's who.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Job Search

Today is Monday 13 August 2013. 
Last week I spent a few nights at my sister's house while I worked (volunteer) for the Cub Scouts during the day.  I also had three job interviews at an Acura Dealership.  Haven't heard anything from them since last Wednesday.  Yesterday I applied for 15 more jobs.  Have been sick to my stomach since Saturday.  Talked to a recruiter yesterday who said he would have something for me by the 19th.  Today I talked to another recruiter who said I am unemployable because although I have a fabulous education I don't have any skills that are in demand.  That wasn't helpful.  I think I'll talk to another recruiter.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Traditional Food for Transfiguration

In the middle of the Dormition Fast falls the Feast of the Transfiguration.  I was looking around for traditional recipes for the feast and came across a neat "book" at the EWTN website.  It has lots of recipes for various feasts, including these two for Transfiguration:

Dormition and Dolmas

The Orthodox Church's two week long Dormition Fast starts in a few hours.  It is a time when, in preparation for the feast, we abstain from meat, dairy, fish, wine, oil, and sex. 

For the past couple of years I have not been able to get one of my fasting staples at Trader Joe's:  Amazing vegan dolmas in an octagonal glass jar. They also used to carry some in cans which were very good but not quite as good as those in the glass jar.  I know it is possible to get dolmas from other sources, but the jarred dolmas sold by Trader Joe's were the best.    

And the other great thing about them was that you could  burn the leftover oil from the dolmas jar in your lampada!  It was like an answer to the prayer I used to sing at every chapel service at Sunnyvale Christian School.  What prayer you ask?  This one!  But back to the story...

Yesterday, while in a coffee shop, I ran into the Captain of a Trader Joe's store.  I told him about how we Orthodox depend on Trader Joe's dolmas, how we would stand around after services and talk about how great Trader Joe's dolmas in the glass jar are.  He had no idea they had a fan base.  Today he sent me this message:

"Hello Matt.
To follow up on your quest for Dolmas, I have good news.
My computer tells me that we will be getting Dolmas again.
What I know is that it will be $2.49 for 9.9 ounces.
What I don't know is the exact arrival. Could be a week, could be a month.
Could be a can or a jar, I won't know until it arrives.
Feel free to ask at the front desk periodically for an update when you are in shopping.
Thanks, Randy
Trader Joe's Pinole Captain."

In other news, I am a little bit worried my depression is coming back.  All I want to do lately is sleep.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Checking in

Today is Tuesday. I am at a coffee shop in Pinole, using their WIFI to look for jobs.  My son Anselm is at Boy Scout Camp High Sierra for the week.  Basil is in San Jose with his mother.  

Yesterday, Monday was Jeff's birthday so I made supper (champagne risotto garnished with paper thin slices of New York strip) and his wife made an apple pie.  They have an apple tree heavy laden with fruit.  Everyone should have such a tree! 

Sunday morning I drove down to San Jose, picked up Lara and we went to Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church in Saratoga.  I was worried about that.  Would people think it is too soon after my divorce to be with another woman?  Would people think Lara was a home wrecker?  Would people think I had left Athanasia to be with Lara?  (She isn't and I didn't.  We met in the bar at the Hotel De Anza just before Holy Week.  It is a beautiful room.) I had no reason to be worried.  Everyone wanted to meet her and was excited to talk with her.  Interestingly, my son Basil's Sunday School teacher from St. Stephen's Church was visiting my parish.  It was fun hearing her talk about Basil's participation in her class.

After Liturgy, Lara and I went to my sister's house for my great-niece's birthday party (I gave her a leather-bound copy of The Wind in the Willows). After the party I took Lara home, then I drove back to Pinole.

On Saturday I drove from Pinole to San Jose to hang out with the boys.  We did nothing too special but we did go to Vespers in Saratoga.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back and Forth and All Around

Life is kind of weird right now.  Here are my activities for the past few days.  I write them here just so I can remember them later. 

Today is Sunday. On Thursday I drove from Pinole to San Jose to stand in front of a judge.  It was strange.  Athanasia and her lawyer were on one side. I was on the other (I can't afford a lawyer.

Lara (I lived with her for two weeks after I moved out of Athanasia's apartment, but now I live with my friend Jeff in Pinole.)  and I saw a movie at the Stanford Theater.    The film was "The Devil to Pay" with Ronald Coleman and Loretta Young. I wasn't feeling well (I'll blame it on having to be in court earlier) so we left before the start of the second feature.   Then I drove back to Pinole.

On Friday I had a job interview in San Jose, so I drove down the side of the Bay again and pitched myself.  If I get the job I'll be paid for writing.  It would be the first time for that.  I really hope I get it.  Well, I was paid for writing in the past, but it was always in a sales context.  This job would be writing for a company blog and all of their social media.

I can't remember what I did after the job interview. It is strange.  It is like several hours are just gone.

I spent Friday night with my sister in Sunnyvale. They have a very comfortable house.   On Saturday morning I picked up the boys at Athanasia's work, the Stanford Guest House, and had fun with them all day.  We went to the athletic field at Palo Alto High School were for Scout promotion requirements I recorded their ability in sit-ups, push-ups, standing long jump, and 1/4 mile run.  We watched a little bit of a girls water-polo match (Water polo might be the most physically demanding sport I have ever seen.) in the school's pool.  Then we went to Café Barrone in Menlo Park.  There I bought the boys lemonade and a frosted mocha.  The lemonade is real and made fresh daily. The frosted mocha is an amazing blend of chocolate ice cream and dark roasted coffee beans.

After the drinks we went to Kepler's bookstore.  It is much reduced in size from it's previous glory.  But the children's section is still good.  While there I read a book to the boys that was much fun.  It was, I think, their introduction to non-Biblical epistolary literature.  It is a fun book and worth reading.  I also saw a copy of The Year at Maple Hill Farm, a book I read often to the boys.  Basil, especially, was excited to see it again.  His remembering with such happiness my reading it to him made me happy.

From there we went to the Gamble Garden.  We used to go there often when Basil was just very little, when Anselm was only five or six.  Now Basil is 7 and Anselm is 11.  Basil had no memory of the place but Anselm was super happy to be there again.  We played hide-and-go-seek.  Several varieties of apples and pears were ripe.  We picked and ate.  There was a Washington navel orange with ripe fruit on it.  We tried that, too.  We concluded that the Washington is sweeter, but California navel oranges are easier to eat.

After playing in the garden I showed the boys were I used to live on Middlefield road in Palo Alto, where I went to school at Fairmeadow Elementary School, and Mitchell Park which is situated between where I lived and where I went to school.  Basil said "you got to go to the park every day after school!"   They wanted to play in the fountain. I let them.

We left the park and I took them to their house in San Jose (It used to be my house, too) to change clothes.  Athanasia wasn't home so it was okay.  I made them something to eat, they showered and changed clothes and we went to Saratoga for Great Vespers at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.  We all went to Confession.  Basil served in the altar.  Each boy asked me to buy them a candle so they could pray.  After church I thought to ask what they were praying for.  Basil said he prayed for his brother Billy.  Anselm said he was praying for me and his mother.

After vespers I dropped them off at their house (Athanasia was home) and went to see Lara.  We talked briefly in a park near her house.  She is buying a new house.  Then I made the long trip back to Pinole.  Caltrans was working on the freeway and had closed half the lanes.  Instead of driving 65 mph the whole way I had to drive 40 for about 2/3 of it.  during the drive I had a strange experience.  I was on the elevated portion of the freeway in Oakland when all of a sudden I thought the road in front of me was gone!  It was very frightening.  I guess it was a combination of darkness and the way the road curved and dipped.  I slammed on my brakes and nearly caused a wreck behind me.  It was so strange.  I hope nothing like that ever happens again.

When I got to Pinole there was a black out in the neighborhood were I am staying.  PG&E trucks were all over the place and men were working furiously on fixing what ever the problem was. When I woke up this morning there was still no power.  I am writing this at a coffee shop.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Right to Disagree

From Justice Scalia's dissent:

"In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. [It is to] “dis-parage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo-sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race."

Saturday, July 13, 2013


I'm sitting in a Starbucks in El Sobrante.  Black coffee.
Yesterday I moved from Lara's house, where I lived for 2 weeks, to my friend Jeff's house in Pinole (Pinole is too small for a Starbucks?).  (You might remember Jeff.  I used to blog with him.) 
I have court dates on the 14th and the 17th and a job interview on the 18th.  All back in San Jose.  So, I'll be down there on those days.  I hope I can see my Anselm and Basil on those days.
I don't know how long I'll be at Jeff's house.  The future is hidden as if by fog.  I can see shadows of things that are near but I do not know what they mean. 

I don't know if Orthodox kids are told this or not, but when I was a Protestant kid I was often told that God has a plan for my life and I just need to find that plan.  Well, yesterday while driving up the peninsula and across the bay I was reflecting on the fact that I have failed at almost every important thing in my life.  Has God cursed me?  And I was thinking about how so many times, from at least the age of 6 months, I have been rescued over and over again by various people. When would I be in a position to not need rescuing but be able to be a rescuer. I was wondering what God's plan for my life could possibly be, and why hasn't he brought it to pass?   Then it occurred to me: God had a plan for Lazarus' life, too.  I don't mean Lazarus of Bethany.  I mean this Lazarus:

[19] "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
[20] And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores,
[21] who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
[22] The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;
[23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom.
[24] And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.'
[25] But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
[26] And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'
[27] And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house,
[28] for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
[29] But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
[30] And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
[31] He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

(Yes, I realize that as an American living in the 21st century I am richer than that rich man was.)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Cocktail of the Week: The Hard Laverne

Lara (She's my girlfriend.) and I were talking about making cocktails tonight.  The problem was a dearth of ingredients.  All we could find was a bottle of super cheap vodka, a carton of heavy cream, and a can of Pesi-Cola. Throw in some nostalgia for 1970 television ( If in heaven we don't meet, hand in hand we'll bear the heat. And if it ever gets too hot, Pepsi Cola hits the spot.) and Voila!  The Hard Laverne was born.

The Hard Laverne

Into a tall glass filled with ice cubes pour:
- 2 oz ice cold cheap vodka (It has to be cheap because niether Laverne nor Shirley could afford the good stuff.)
- 2 oz cold heavy cream
- 4 oz cold Pepsi-Cola
Stir gently. Enjoy.

Gosh, after reading this, don't you want to hear the theme song?  I do!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I drove up to the cathedral in San Francisco for the Pentecost vigil yesterday.  Lara and I arrived early and had a picnic in a public garden a couple of blocks from the church.  Sandwiches (sharp chedar and dijon mustard on sliced San Francisco sourdough bread), gala apples from Washington, California navel oranges, and a rose from Reatta Winery.(The rose is their best wine.  Don't ever buy their pinot noir!)
It was beautiful to be in the Cathedral for the first praying of O Heavenly King in weeks, to greet all my friends, to venerate much loved but seldom seen Icons.  I didn't meet the Metropolitan, but I did get to talk briefly with Archbishop Benjamin. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Heart Attack?

For the past couple of weeks I've been having horrible pains behind my sternum. I thought it was just gas. Beginning yesterday the pains were accompanied by dissiness.  I just had another one.  This one lasted about a minute and I felt pain in my jaw and upper arms.  It left me shaky, too. I think I might be having heart attacks. I have no medical insurance, so if it is a heart attack it could be the answer to a lot of my problems.  It will be good to see my parents and my son, Billy again.  I only wish I hadn't cashed in my life insurance.  I guess, I'll just have to wait and see what happens.  In the meantime, I'm working as a temp cleaning buildings, sleeping on an old army cot at night, and wondering where I'm going to get the money for my car payment.  And my ex wife is constantly demanding more money. Oh, please, be a heart attack.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do you think Joel Osteen has read this?

"And after he had spoken these things to me, he said to me, "Let us go into the country, and I will show you the shepherds of the sheep." "Let us go, sir," I said. And we came to a plain, and he showed me a young shepherd dressed in a suit of yellow clothes. He was feeding a large number of sheep, and these sheep seemed to be well fed and very frisky, and were happily skipping about here and there.... And the shepherd himself was quit happy over his flock, and even the very appearance of the shepherd was exceedingly cheerful as he was running about the sheep. And he said to me, "Do you see this shepherd?" "I see him, sir," I replied. "This the angel of luxury and deception. He crushes the souls of God's servants who are empty and turns them away from the truth, deciving them with evil desires in which they perish. For they forget the commandments of the living God and live pleasurably in worthless luxury, and are destroyed by this angel, some to death and some to corruption." I said to him, "Sir, I do not understand what 'to death' and what 'to corruption' mean." "Lisen," he said. "The sheep that you saw happily skipping about are those people who have been turned away from God completely and have handed themselves over to the lusts of this world. Among, these, therefore, there is no repentance leading to life, because they have also blasphemed against the Lord's name. For such as these, there is death."

- Hermas (140-154 A.D.)


Last night as I was reading The Wind in the WIllows to Basil (though he hears the Christmas chapter every year he has not heard the whole book since he was 2 or 3) we read a description of Badgers underground house.  There was a description of tunnels like roads, many rooms like buildings, and arches.  Mole asked Badger how he had ever built it all, to which Badger replied that he hadn't built it.  Rather it had been built by people of long ago. 

When the chapter was finished I asked Anselm who he thought built badgers house.  He said, "Was it the Romans?"  It was a small thing, just four words.  I was so proud of him.  Then he said something that made me very happy. "I'd like to go to England so I can see the Roman ruins; and Stonehenge, too."

Friday, June 07, 2013

Blessed Assurance

I just read a story about press coverage of a Broadway revival of A Trip to Bountiful.

It made me happy to read these words again.  And if you grew up like I did that means you heard them, too.

Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain: This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Here are two versions I love!

Alan Jackson is here is here.

Kinetra Dixon and Southside are here.

It's big in Korea, too!

Bonus Comentary:  Do you know what black choirs have that, in my experience, all other choirs don't have?  Absolute control at all times.  No matter how emotional or even boring some of the music is, the choir does what it is supposed to do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Remedy

     Something sad sad sad to me is when someone asks, as someone one recently asked me, "how can you believe in God when the world so shitty?"

     There are some assumptions in the question; one about the asker and two about God.  Those about God are well known: That God is either not very good or He is not very powerful.   But it is the one the asker makes about himself that is not often explained.  The assumption the asker makes about himself is that he is not to blame not the condition of the world.   

     It has been a few years since I heard it, maybe 20 years, but Garrison Keillor described the unconcious, unintential, but completly deadly effects of sin when he said an argument between a husband and wife can cause babies upstairs to stir in their sleep, dogs to wimper in the back yard, and a woman all the way on the other side of town to drop a plate and wonder why she was so clumsy all of a sudden.  We are all connected.  The drunk driver kills one but hudreds mourn.  A police officer abuses his power and dozens lose respect for the law. A preacher commits adultery and a congregation splits.  Not just lies.  Not just angry words.  Not just gossip.  But even vain words shall be judged.   St. Paul wrote "All have sinned" and for this reason "creation groans".

     The Orthodox are reminded of this, as if we need a reminder, when we pray the Akathist for the Departed...

     We are to blame for the calamities in the world, for the sufferings of dumb creatures and for the diseases and torments of blameless children, for through the fall of man the beatitude and beauty of all creation have been marred.  

     The man who asked me the question about this "shitty" world thought he had defeated my argument (I had said the existence of the world is evidence of the existence of God.)  and walked away laughing before I could answer him.  I wish he had not walked away because I was about to tell him he was half right.  This world is shitty.  But there is more to it.  That akathist for the departed I quoted above continues with these words...

     O Christ our God, greatest of innocent sufferers, Thou alone hast power to forgive all. Forgive, then, all and everything, return to the world its former prosperity, that both the living and the dead may find peace, crying: Alleluia!    

     I'll see him again and tell him about Jesus and how Jesus is not content to leave things the way they are.  But that for six thousand years, and even from before the creation of the world, Jesus has suffered with us, and has been working to make all things the way they should be.   And that even death can not stop Jesus' saving power, for he has defeated death.  And in addition to that, he doesn't just give  us peace after our spirits leave our bodies, but forgives sins right now.  That is, to the living he says "peace".  

Saturday, April 06, 2013


More than thirty years ago, my friend Rob Brohmer and I came up with an idea: Dragons were able to fly and breath fire because, instead of methane, their biological processes produced hydrogen.  Of course, we were just goofing around and making jokes about farting dragons,  but today I came across this article and now I wonder if we might have been on to something. Could microbes living in dragons' guts have been producing vast quantities of hydrogen?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Saturday soundtrack (shhhhh. It's Thursday): Gaye and Wilson

In 1983 Lionel Richie left The Commodores, and anyone interested in the band thought that without that very talented singer fronting them they were all over.  But in 1984, Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died and their deaths inspired the Commodores to write and record this 1985 Grammy-winning song. 

When I first heard this song as a teenager living in Tampa (I used to listen to WRBQ FM) I didn't care for it much.  But over the years I've become more familiar with the music of the men it memorializes,

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)

and Jackie Wilson (1934-1984)

When I was in the Army, at my class’s graduation party at the 3283rd USARF School I convinced a group of other soldiers to sing with me Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" to a bunch of female soldiers.  (One of them, a medic with the most beautiful blond hair, took care of me after I passed out in a hallway from drinking 190 proof Everclear.  I wish I could remember her name, but all I remember is her holding an icepack on my head and her hair.) Later, I would write my first college paper about Marvin Gaye's song "I Heard It Through The Grapevine".  I remember I got an A on that paper but I don’t remember what I said in it.  I wish I still had it.

I haven't heard it, but I've been told that the Commodores have added a third verse to Nightshift; in memory of Michael Jackson.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Disney Movies + Poor Education = Homosexual Marriage

In a few hours the U.S. Supreme Court will hear  arguments in a case that will decide if the people of California have the right, under the U.S. Constitution, to forbid same-sex marriage.  I am astounded that it is even a question.  But, I suppose, I shouldn't be astounded.  There has been a 40 year campaign to see the normalization of homosexual behavior.  The entertainment media has been full of sympathetic portrayals of homosexuals since as early as I can remember.  When I was a little boy, 8 or 9 years old, there were two television shows that had homosexual caracters: Soap and Three's Company.  I didn't know until later, probably in my early teens what the shows were about, but there they were, polluting my mind;  and polluting the minds of my countrymen.  If one watches Glee or - and here I am guessing because I do not have a television machine and only stream a few things over the internet - or other television shows, then one can witness the constant overt persuasion.

And it seems the country has been persuaded.  But why?  What has changed?  This is what I think has changed.  Two things.  The first of them is Disney.  It is Disney's fault.  They have been telling kids since the 1930s that marriage is about happiness and romantic feelings.  Prior to that, I think everyone understood that marriage was about property and children, and if one was a Christian it was also about salvation.  When did divorce laws in America begin to liberalize?  In the middle 1950s and 1960s, when those kids raised on Disney movies and other fantasies about marriage began to be legislators and judges.

Abandonment and adultery and incurable insanity had been the usual grounds for the rare divorce.  But then "cruelty" or "mental cruelty" were added.  And in in California in the 1960s up to 70% of divorce case plantiffs were asking for divorces for such cruelties as "she refuses to make dinner", and "he swears at me".  And in 1970 at the urging of lawyers and judges, Caifornia made the first "no-fault" divorce law in the United States. (A black mark on Ronald Reagans record.)   And marriage, in the pursuit of individual happiness, became completely separated from its original purpose: The generation of and provision for children.

The second thing that contributed to the acceptance of the idea of homosexual marriage is a lack of mental training.  Are you surprised I did not say a lack of evangelization, or a decline in the percentage of Christians?  Perhaps, that is what I should have said for Natural Law is an important outgrowth of Christian theology, but many of the people who favor homosexual marriage are Christians.  They think of it as unfair to forbid the happiness of marriage to people who have homosexual urges.  (There's that happiness thing again.) No, the problem is lack of mental rigor and training.

The first time I really thought about the subject was in 1988. I was witness to a man getting a "bad conduct" discharge from the Army for committing homosexual sodomy.  Of course, being a Christian, I knew what he did was wrong, but I was interested in why the United States Army cared.   So I decided to try and figure it out.

It only took a couple of days, but I reasoned out the Natural Law on the subject (I had been introduced to the concept by Francis Schaeffer), though I am sure my understanding was crude.  Later, in my mid-20s and when I joined the Conservative Book Club, I read a little pamphlet the book club sent me by Harry V. Jaffa that stated much more precisely and elegantly what I had figured out for myself a few years earlier. The worth-reading pamphlet is titled Homosexuality and the Natural Law.

So now, here our country is, poised at the cusp of complete moral collapse.  It has reached the nadir of the death spiral St. Paul described in Romans 1:18-31.    I do not think we can be a free people very much longer.  Our Constitution was not written for a wicked people, and as Benjamin Franklin predicted, we can not but now fall into despotism.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Biblical Religion

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."  Matthew 25:31-33

What does this tell us?  Those who are God's are on the right side.

But when he came to himself he said, "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I'm dying with hunger!  I wil get up and go to my father, and will tell him, "Father, I have against heaven, and in your sight.  I am no more worthy to be called your son.  Make me as one of your hired servants".  And he arose and came to his father.  But while he was still afar off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran towards hin, and fell on his neck and kissed him."  Luke 15:17-20

What does this tell us?  That before the prodigal son even uttered a word, his father had forgiven him.

When I go to confession in the Orthodox Church, before I even utter a word the priest puts me on his right.

What does this tell us?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spreading Good

A couple of days ago a man I worked with had a problem.  And he came up with a way to fix it.

"Matt, I have [company asset].  I need [solution to personal problem].  Can you help me by [lying and stealing].

I answered, "No".

He asked, "why?"

"Because it's evil."

"That's not evil."

"Yes it is, but I can give you the money you need."

"How is it evil"

"It's evil because it's dishonest"

"You church people make me crazy!  Now you are making me feel bad."

"I'm not trying to make you feel bad.  I'm trying to keep you from doing something evil."

Then he walked away with a very sad look on his face.

About an hour later I saw him bouncing through the FIAT studio with a giant smile on his face.  He walked by me and said, "Thanks, Matt.  You helped me do the right thing.  I [solved the problem] the right way."

See how easy it is to keep someone from doing evil?  In this case all I had to do was refuse to participate in it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Advice for young men

I am 44 years old.  I have two divorces cut into me.  Here is my advice for avoiding my situation.

1.  Make yourself ready for marrige before you get married.  This includes but is not limited to...
2.  Finish school.  I do not mean be graduated from college. I mean have school behind you before you marry.  Whether that is highschool or a Ph.D. program be trough with it before you marry.
3.  Get estalished in a career
4.  Buy a house
5.  Don't waste money or time.  Your 20s are not your teens.  Save save save.  Let the grasshoppers play.  You be the ant.
6.  Do not marry a woman older than 22 if you can help it.  DO NOT marry a woman older than 30. Women of that age have been running their lives for years and are not going to give up that control.
7.  Look at the family the woman comes from.  Is there divorce or mental illness?  If so, run.  Do not let yourself fall in love with that woman.
8.  Look at how her mother treats her father.  Look at the marriages of her siblings.  Can you live like that?
9.  Consider a monastic vocation.
10. Heed the warning of "The Quiet Man".  Do not be weak, do not be afraid, and do not fail.  You must never ever lose her respect.  No woman wants to be married to a failure.
11.  Get to know her well enough that you can pick out presents for her that she will like.  Some women will like knitting needles.  Some will like pearls.  Make sure you know what she likes before you marry her.
12. Politics matters.  Do not marry a principled paleo-con if you are a principled neo-con.  It is difficult to maintain respect for each other if you think each other to be idiots.  Opposites might attract but they make for difficult marriages.
13. Do not go into debt.  Not for school (there is a glut of college graduates on the market.) Not for cars. But maybe for a house.
14.  Does she always need excitement?  Is she easily bored?  If so do not marry her.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Three Gold Merchants

I saw the three young scary Russians first.  The shop was deep inside the building. Like with all shops of this kind, I had to be buzzed in.  But this one had a large man by the door with a gun on his hip and a three-bar cross hanging on his neck.  An older man, maybe 35, sweating, was weighing small gold coins and putting them in plastic bags.  The third and youngest man, a double-headed eagle tattoo peeking out above his wife beater, spoke in a thick Russian accent.  "I've seen you before."
"Yes, I was in here a couple of years ago to show my sons the jewel map".
"What brings you in today?  We still have the map.  The oceans are lapis."
"I'm selling gold.  Can you give me yesterday's New York minus 1%?"
"Let me see it."

I reached into my pocket.  The man counting coins stopped and wached me pull it out and hand it to the younger man.  The watch on his otherwise bare arm was Patek.  His fingernails were dirty. He carefully weighed it and acid tested it.

"I must have a 3% profit. So I can give you..."
"Okay.  Thanks.  I'll walk up the block.  I might be back in a few minutes."

The Chinese woman was young and pretty and smiling like a snake.  Unlike the Russian's shop, hers was open and bright and orderly.  Her fingernails were perfect.  She smelled beautiful.  She cradled my right hand in her left as she took the gold from my palm with her right.  Her skin was cold and soft.  She smiled at me.  I would have let her devour me, almost.  She weighed the gold, she read the markings with a jewelers loop.
"You bought this in Chinatown".
It wasn't a question but I answered, "Yes".
"It's very nice.  I can give you..."
"Thank you, but I already have a better offer."
Cold narrow eyes.  "I can't pay more."
"You have some pretty things.  Maybe, I'll come back for that amythest ring."
"Thank you.  Please, come again."

The old Sicilian (He's connected, by way of the Falcone fmily, to the Bonanos.), a man I've done business with before, was siting at a card table looking through a big magnifying glass at an old belt buckle.  On the table before him were what looked like military artifacts from the WWI: Old French medals, a bayonet, a map case.  Around him on the walls of the shop were swords, sterling platers, hundreds of gold chains, cloth bags full of old (from the days when our money was real silver) U.S. coins, framed Krugerand collections, a commemorative plate of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spenser, and silver goblets full of Morgans.

He stood and greeted me with a hand shake and asked if I was buying or selling.
"Selling this", I answered and I set the gold on the card table.
"Hmmm.  You know the weight?" I knew he would weigh it.  He was just finding out if I had other offers.  I saw the sparkle of avarice in his eyes.
"I know, but you go ahead and weigh it."
"I can give you..."
"I already checked the New York and London prices this morning. That's all you can do?"
"It's called profit.  If you want more come back in a month.  Gold is going up."
"Okay.  Thanks.  I guess, I'll see you later."
"You know, this is the time to buy silver.  Are you in the market again?"
"I'm only selling.  See you later."

The Russians buzzed me in.  Everyone was in the same place but now the sweaty man was weighing little bars of silver or, maybe, it was platinum and recording the weights in a ledger.
"It looks like I won."
"Last night's New York spot minus 3%" (Even though it is $4 higher this morning)
He copied my name and address from my drivers license into the state's book.  I gave him the gold.  He counted out the Franklins.
"Don't feel bad.  I see a lot of this."

I walked out the door and I sobbed alone on the sidewalk for a few minutes before I walked home without my wedding ring.
Home.  But only for a few more days.  I think, I have enough money to get my own lonely place now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Day

I had today off.  The boys didn't have school.  Athanasia left the car for me.  WOOO HOOOO! 
The boys and I went to the bagle store up the road and had our traditional breakfast (we haven't had it in months because of my job), read the comics to each other, and talked about the rain.  We also talked about the urge for gun control with a San Jose policeman.  He assured us that he would never obey orders that infringe on the rights of Americans to bear arms, inclundings those the California Legislature is trying to ban.

(I can't believe I'll be divorced on the 22nd of this month.)

After bagels we went by my work so I could return a credit card.  While we were there I let the boys check out the extreme sports - you know, snow boarding obstacle courses, cliff body diving, etc. - on the jumbotron in the lobby.  Then I took them through the car wash (a perk of my job is free car washes.)  They are stil young enough to enjoy being in the car as it goes through the car wash.

(Something is very very wrong.  I am going to be divorced on the 22nd of this month.)

Then we went to Japan Town, where we walked around, peeked into shops,  and looked at the monuments.  After we had been there for a while it started to rain, so we ran back to the car and headed to the MLJK library.

(O, God! What is going on? How can my marriage be ending in just a few more days?)

Basil took all the escalators to the top and back down to the 2nd floor where Anselm (he likes to be called Sam, now) was discovering that scholarly papers had been written about Minecraft.  The librarian helped Anselm find the article in an Australian science education journal, and had a pdf sent to Anselm's email address. (He has an email address?)  It is so weird to me that my "little boy" is already looking at scholarly journals.  It's neat, but I still think of him as my little boy who just yesterday was hunting for snails and worms after the rain.

After the Library (we checked out some books) we went to Mel Cottons where the boys were fitted for .22 rifles and I picked up a 2013 Dept. of Fish and Wildlife guide.  I saw an ad in the guide that said they are looking for game wardens.  I think I'll apply.

(I only met her a few days ago.  How is she throwing me away like this, like so much garbage?  I love her!)

Then we went to the gocery store and I bought the stuff we needed to make peanut butter milk shakes. (They were my Dad's favorite.)   When we got home from the market I made the milkshakes and hambrugers for the boys, like the hamburgers my Mammy used to make for me when I was a boy.

(How can there be even more loss?  Must I say good bye to more people?  I'll never remarry. Two divorces are enough heartbreak for any man.  Oh, my children!  God!  What about my children?)

We read books, we did the dishes, we played cards, we took a nap.  I made them dinner.  Athanasia came home and the teperature dropped to zero.

God, please, do not make me live to three score and ten.  Let me fly away.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where does Lent come from?

Ever wonder where Lent comes from?  Did it suddenly appear in middle ages?  Is it some kind of pagan thing the church adapted to it's own use?  Nope. It is Apostolic.  Yes, you heard correctly.  Lent is Apostolic.

First century Bishop, successor of the Apostle Peter, the child Jesus set beside him (Luke 9:46-48), and food for the emperor's lions, St. Ignatius of the Church of Antioch:

"These things, brethren, out of the affection which I entertain for you, I have felt compelled to write, exhorting you with a view to the glory of God, not as if I were a person of any consequence, but simply as a brother. Be ye subject to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons. Love one another in the Lord, as being the images of God. Take heed, ye husbands, that ye love your wives as your own members. Ye wives also, love your husbands, as being one with them in virtue of your union. If any one lives in chastity or continence, let him not be lifted up, lest he lose his reward. Do not lightly esteem the festivals. Despise not the period of forty days [e.g. Lent], for it comprises an imitation of the conduct of the Lord. After the week of the passion, do not neglect to fast on the fourth and sixth days, distributing at the same time of thine abundance to the poor." - Letter to the Philippians, Chapter XIII

Saint Irenaeus, disciple of St. Polycarp who was the disciple of St. John to whom Jesus entrusted the care of his mother, of the second century, makes the claim that the fasting preparation for Pascha (Passover/Easter) was a long standing tradition.

"For the controversy is not merely as regards the day, but also as regards the form itself of the fast, For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more, while others [do so during] forty: the diurnal and the nocturnal hours they measure out together as their [fasting] day. And this variety among the observers [of the fasts] had not its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors, some of whom probably, being not very accurate in their observance of it, handed down to posterity the custom as it had, through simplicity or private fancy, been. And yet nevertheless all these lived in peace one with another, and we also keep peace together. Thus, in fact, the difference [in observing] the fast establishes the harmony of [our common] faith."

Eventually the Church universally accepted, and established, an inviolate practice regarding lenten fasting still held to by Orthodox Christians.  This acceptance was similar to how Christians accepted the various books of the New Testament.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thess 2:15)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Day off.

Well, it after midnight so I guess I should say yesterday was my day off.  I slept through most of it, though.  I have a bad cold that is accompanied by a terrific headache.  I have to be at work at noon.  I hope I am feeling better by then.

I like my job.  It doesn't pay much, at least not now.  I sell cars but there aren't a lot of customers at the moment.  I have been doing okay compared to my peers (I've sold more than any of them this month.) but there seems to be a reluctance by people to spend money.  Perhaps, there is fear of what the future holds for the economy.  I don't know.

The other problem with my job (I don't want this to sound complainy.  I really do enjoy it.) is the hours.  I am at the FIAT studio 50 to 50 hours per week, including Sundays and Saturdays.  And I don't get off work until 9 p.m.  What this means is that I haven't been to church in months.  And I barely spend any time with my children.  I don't know what to do about it.  In the long run, I hope to become a high school teacher so I'll have Sundays and summers off, but right now I just don't see what else I can do.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boom Shaka-laka

Where does "boom shaka-laka" come from? It pops up in various pop culture moments, such as during basic training graduation in the movie Stripes, and in the Muppet Treasue Island.  But where does it come from?  The earliest occurance of the phrase I have been able to uncover is in this 1971 song by Ike and Tina Turner.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cocktail of the Week: Dreamy Chocolate Winter

Christmas is over and, here in northern California, we have settled in for the usual long cold wet winter.  It has been raining off and on all day and the mercury currently reads 40 F.  So, it is perfect weather for this cocktail.

Make a mug of hot cocoa according the the instructions on your tin of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa.  To that add the following:
1 oz. Kahlua Coffee Liquor (original)
1 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream Liquor
1/4 oz. Potter's Amaretto (it is made in Fairfield, California by Frank-Lin)
Top with whipped cream.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Heaven in Tolkien

This is interesting.  C.S. Lewis (especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) layed part of the foundation for my conversion to Holy Orthodoxy.  I never thought of the influence of Tolkien on my thinking and believing.  But now I see it.

Heaven, at least as it was described to me when I was a child, always seemed very boring to me.  But but now I see how Hobbit holes, Tom Bombadil's house, Lothlorien, Rivendell, Beorn's home, and even the Prancing Pony inn in Bree planted seeds in me that grew into longing for more "home".   That home of course is Heaven.