Methinks I see an heav'nly host
Of angels on the wing
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes
So merrily they sing:

Let all your fears be banish'd hence,
Glad tidings I proclaim,
For there's a Saviour born today,
And Jesus is his name.

Lay down your crooks and quit your flocks,
To Bethlehem repair;
And let your wand'ring steps be squar'd
By yonder shining star.

Seek not in courts or palaces,
Nor royal curtains draw;
But search the stable, see your God
Extended on the straw.

Then learn from hence, ye rural Swains,
The Meekness of your God,
Who left the boundless Realms of Joy
To Ransom you with blood.

The Master of the Inn refus'd
A more commodious Place;
Ungenerous Soul of Savage Mould,
And destitute of Grace.

Exult ye oxen, low for joy,
Ye tenants of the stall,
Pay your obeisance, on your knees
Unanimously fall.

The royal guest you entertain
Is not of common birth,
But second to the great I Am;
The God of heav'n and earth.

Then suddenly a heav'nly host
Around the shepherds throng,
Exulting in the threefold God
And thus address their song.
To God the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Ghost ador'd;
The First and Last, the Last and First,
Eternal praise afford.


"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"


Tab emptying time.

Lessons from the Center for Collective Intelligence

Cool Street Art.

Google Patents.

A quick look at how behind the tech-times our government is.

Interesting WW2 strategy reading.

Mozart is now free on the internet. All of it, apparently.

Co-youth leader Peggy started this company, please buy her soaps.

CB2 is Crate and Barrel's answer to Ikea. I have to say the marketing strategy is straightforward and interesting.

Swivel would be a lot cooler if I wasn't colorblind.

Dreamhost has cool flash tools.

This could be useful but I'm kinda wary about it.

Strange Soviet buildings.

Have my sights set on my next NYC burger experience.

is another of the many wonderful reasons that God saw fit to give us internet.

Specialized's Christmas card, performed entirely on bike parts. Formerly here.

Punished accordingly, I'm sure.

Time's 2006 photos of the year.

JibJab's year in review
(slight off-color humor warning).

(Tuesday links because I don't have time to write and this post has been sitting around for a week or so. Probably more links soon.)


"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child really loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are Real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."


Letter to the Editor

Adbusters Journal


Kalle Lasn's intriguing article on "rewilding the cultural environment" in volume 69 was filled with good information and insight, however it certainly leaves the reader at a critical impasse.

Lasn's got his heart in the fight, but the problem is he's in the wrong fight. A "battle for the mind" will not work. That's the same path that unsuccessful leaders throughout history have sought to promote their causes. Causes are most successfully promoted through either brute force (eg. Roman empire) or changed hearts on a massive scale (eg. the rise of Christianity, somewhat ironically at the time of Roman rule). Changing your mind might motivate you in some way, but changing your heart shifts the values of your life.

Being "not quite of this earth" (ref. First World Facismo, same volume) is exactly what should most motivate us to hold it in the highest of care. Say you're driving your new car and get in a minor accident. Sucks, but insurance will cover it, no biggie. Now say the same thing happens when your driving your friend's new car. Different feeling. The idea is that when you are entrusted with something, it gains a certain weightier value. Same goes for our planet - it doesn't belong to us.

Over-valuation of the planet earth for its own intrinsic qualities, rather than seeing it as a gift, given to us to be cared for and returned, leaves one at a dead end. True motivation for caring for something at a level that will bring meaningful change comes from love for someone outside of your own existence. Anything less - even love for the planet itself - is just selfish ambition to have a better place to exist in, while the self is here, or at best the hope of a self's progeny being guaranteed a better existence (which is really just self-perpetuation, not love).

I really, really love your magazine and where its going, although I'm probably about the furthest thing from your typical reader. I work for a massive global business consulting firm, and I happen to be an executive in my company's consumer products group. With a focus on Retail. I support the global war on terror if it means my children will have a safer world to live in, even if we got it off to a shitty, corporately driven start. I loathe the culture of shop, shop, shop, me, me, me, that we live in, and I'm an enthusiastic environmentalist. I'm a deeply reformed Presbyterian.

But you seem to promote a balanced and open attitude towards these many of these vital issues, and that's key. I hope that much of what you're pushing for you someday see. And, true to my consulting nature - I'm just trying to help you do it better, faster, more efficiently. See it as the gift it really is - then change will come.


Right so I used to have this blog I used to write on. Once upon a time.

So what's up?

Last week was Chicago M-W and then off to Orlando for my operating group's management conference. Which was basically state of the operating group during the day and o.p.e.n. b.a.r. during the night. I'm old and sleep deprived and so I was in bed by 2 or 3am after plenty of drinks both W and Tr nights, and both following mornings I awoke to voicemails/text msgs from my higher ups threatening to fire me if I didn't show face at the bar RIGHT NOW (which happened to be 3 or 4 in the morning). I'm getting to the point that I can't party at the industry level anymore.

Maybe it was just their one time to let loose. I can hope.

Saturday was errands and working on today's lesson, and then that evening was the wonderful, the epic, the ever-blissful Cooke Christmas Party. Met lots of great new people and saw lots of old friends I don't keep up with like I should. I stayed later than I should have and of course missed out on my one chance at 8 hours of straight sleep for the past/next week or two.

And then it was today and church and youth group and home and laundry and football and pack and football and...blog and go to bed. I have to be on my way to the airport in roughly six hours, joy. Oh and caught up on some of the drawing for Christmas presents. Haven't really drawn seriously in quite a bit, and it feels good to be doing so again.

So...from here...

Its Chicago, fly back to NYC, drive to Boston, back to NYC, back to Chicago, home for Christmas (a very white one), DFW for New Years where K-train is getting all married up on the Eve, back to Chicago, then back to my own bed sometime in early Jan. So I'll have tonight and perhaps two other nights between now and then in said bed, which is where I'm going now.

Bleak hope to blog something of some substance before Christmas. Doubtful.

Oh and happy December. 10 days late, for cry-yi-yi.


So I've been watching parts of Brokeback Mountain lately as its on HBO every night I'm in the hotel. Not the gross part(s?) but enough to get a picture. They are two great actors after all and its clear to see that these parts will probably be career high points for both of them.

Anyway, I still of course consider homosexuality to be a perversion of God's natural order, but one thing I realized watching some of this is that I regularly watch movies where people break plenty of the ten commandments. And this movie was more about breaking a law that isn't even expressly mentioned there. Kind of puts things in perspective, even if its a gay one.

Meanwhile one of the DVD's I've had tossed in my work bag to get watched again sometime soon is Seven.

I'm not saying one is better or worse than the other so much as ruminating on how we tend to focus on certain things - perhaps ones that we don't struggle with so much - and look down on them from our vantage point of 'lesser evils.'


Staying at the nice Westin in town for a couple of days, they have a lap pool which is just freaking great, as I can't run. I don't think I blogged it yet, but I was up to 8 miles a day by the time I left for Greece, and shortly thereafter, whereupon I decided to either get a hairline fracture in my upper femur or tear some kind of deep muscle tear in my upper thigh (the ilioipsofacto or something like that - only smart people know all those Latin names for leg muscles). So, yeah.

Here until Wednesday and then its off to Orlando for a management conference with the execs in my operating group, so that should be good networking times.


And, disaster struck last week. I lost not only my favorite belt - black, worn almost everywhere I've ever been, durable, enduring...just the perfect belt. I'm still hoping the hotel from last week might have found it. Bleak hope.

Hat, on the other hand, is a simply unmitigated nightmare. Hat has been with me just as long if not longer, and its even more perfect for my noggin than belt was for my waist. I've actually worried from time to time about losing it, and on my trip back home this weekend, I lost it at some point. I'll check the lost and founds for the rental car place, but I'm pretty sure hat has left me for good.


OK so I've got like 4 or 5 draft posts sitting around that are just link cleanups from the Firefox tabs. Shameful that there hasn't been a Thursday post in that long. I'd like to go on my diatribe about the first week in Chicago right about now (I just settled into the couch after my very long commute home), but that's going to have to wait til tomorrow - the massive amount of links simply demand to be published. I can't argue with that.

Searchmash is actually a Google venture but they don't want anyone to know. Someone let word get out, although I think it was around and serving their purposes for a while before the word finally spread. Its basically a proving ground for some of their new ideas. Cool stuff, what with the expandable wiki link results and so forth.

I rarely ride my bike on the streets of Manhattan because its downright dangerous. Strangely, this is the same reason I really love skating on my brake-less half-pipe blades in the city. I can sympathize with these guys.

Day late and a dollar short on this one, but its still a cool idear.

Briefly entertained the idea of going in on a ski share at the Killington Haus, but seeing as I won't be sleeping in my own bed from roughly mid-December to mid-January, its probably not the fiscally prudent idear.

Forbes Fictional 15 Richest. I like that Lucius Malfoy is on there.

Cool idea, if I ever traveled for not-work anymore.

Ok I saw a recent issue of Adbusters in the checkout line at Whole Foods on Monday night, and although this magazine was an appalling NINE FREAKIN DOLLARS I simply couldn't resist buying it after seeing the cover, back cover and the first page I flipped to inside. These guys are awesome. They have op-eds from people like Tom Green to some reader who clipped a picture out of another mag of a toddler girl in Prada heels and a string of pearls and whatnot..."I found this ad in W magazine. It immediately caught my attention in a terrible way. The young girl is pictured among expensive shoes and handbags...she wears diamond earrings and her teddy bear lies neglected on the floor." And that was it - their page on Toxic Culture. Can't wait to read this tomorrow.

I haven't read it yet because the few minutes I've had this week have gone to Metal Men, which is simply intriguing and fascinating as all heck, even though I'm only half-way through it. Its the story of the multi-billion-dollar financier who started in metals trading, defrauded the US (and scores of other countries) of millions (perhaps billions) of tax dollars, flooded millions of US dollars to Iran in the 70s-80s, basically single-handedly creating the spot-market for oil speculation, and did a lot of other Very Bad Things. He still lives in Switzerland despite the fact that Clinton pardoned him on his last day in office, because acceptance of a presidential pardon generally implies an admission of guilt.

My admission of guilt is that this is only the first draft post of links I had saved, and I'm too lazy to do the rest right now. Maybe a double-up tomorrow, more likely just my initial impressions of Walgreen's (heretofore WAG - their NYSE symbol).

More likely nothing, but hopefully somewhere in between.

As of this past weekend, the Iraq war surpassed in length the complete involvement of the United States in World War 2. Food for thought.

Earlier this month, just the second Medal of Honor bestowed to a participant in this war was awarded posthumously to Corporal Jason Dunham, of Scio, NY. In April of 2004, Dunham threw his kevlar PASGT helmet on top of a live fragmentation grenade that was dropped by an insurgent he was in direct combat with. He did this to save the lives of his two fellow corpsmen in the vicinity, both of whom survived the blast. Chances are that you never heard about Dunham, however, because he died about the same time as a one Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire.

Dunham died with his parents by his side in Bethesda, MD, after moving through a number of military hospitals and undergoing brain surgery to try to repair the shrapnel damage to his head.

I've had this article pinned to the back of my bedroom door since the day I read it the spring of 2004. The WSJ had their signature dot-matrix caricature of Dunham's picture included with the article, and every day I wake up at home I am reminded of his broad smile, which is no more.

From what I've read, I don't know of anyone more deserving of the MOH. One other one was awarded for services in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and before that 2 were awarded for actions in Mogadishu defending the now infamous Black Hawk (Down). These are the only other MOH's that have been awarded (all posthumously) since the Vietnam war. It is a medal presented exclusively by the POTUS, after either an act of Congress or approval through chain of command.

I do feel that there are probably many more in the armed services who have sacrificed themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States...". That said, I am thankful for the unique example that Cpl. Dunham has provided to the United States - a young, small-town-America kid who extended his stay in Iraq because, as he said, "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive."

At the opening of the Marine Corps museum in Washington, DC, on what would have been Dunham's 25th birthday this month, President Bush said, "As long as we have Marines like Cpl. Dunham, America will never fear for its liberty."

The problem with that is that the majority of our young men are more concerned with getting the latest video game system then they are about patriotic duty. We simply aren't raising up a nation of men who are willing to lay this kind of sacrifice on the altar of freedom. And we're all to blame for this - supporting politicians who would underfund protection for our soldiers, pay them so little to risk so much, all the while sending their children to Ivy League schools. I shudder to think where we will be 20 years from now at this rate.

If there's a better argument for conscription than Jason Dunham, I've yet to hear of it.


Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circum- stances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other's heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.


I see dead turkeys. They're everywhere. Walking around like real turkeys...

OK, not so much. Especially not in Washington. When will an American president finally be a real man and condemn that turkey to its horrible carnivorous fate?

These are the thoughts that plague me.

I'm listening to the rain on my skylight. I love that sound. If it rains a little harder, I can hear it on the roof, which is even better because there's no skylight in my bedroom. Something about the rain on the roof - living without that sound is what makes the prospect of about 95% of Manhattan apartments unattractive to me.

I don't know why I love rain so much. I always have. Really, precipitation in general - I mean snow, I go giddy-child-stupid for that stuff, love wouldn't even begin to do it justice. Snow is just a part of who I am. But rain, I just love. Its like the next best thing. Especially a good thunderstorm. Everyone always asks what it is you would run back for if you could grab one more thing as your residence burned to the ground. Me, I'd grab my hard drives. But the second thing would be my raincoat - I love my raincoat not because its a great raincoat, but more because I've had so many great times in the rain with it. Then my hard drives would be dry, too.

Snow falling doesn't really have a sound. It has, rather, a distinct absence of sound, perhaps the complete absence when you're in the right location. Another reason to more than love it.

As ever, my thoughts - rambling and unimpressive.

So the week was work from home - wrapping up a bunch of training stuff before the magic starts again in Chicago next week. If I haven't mentioned it, I'll be there with Walgreen's for the foreseeable future. Oh and Monday I saw my ortho for the pain I've been having in the upper left thigh. Its either a stress fracture to my femur or a muscle tear, the MRI next Friday will tell us. Either way, its likely due to the running 40-50 miles a week thing, he said anything above 25 miles a week puts you in a whole new category for these things.

And then today I went with some Redeemer folk to serve at a soup kitchen in Brooklyn for the early afternoon, and then it was off to Dave's for dinner with his family and a bunch of other folk. Probably the best Thanksgiving food I've had outside of mom and Mossy's - you just can't beat your own maternal seasonings when it comes to holiday foods. But it was great - good food, good times, lots of beating Jonathan at his own video games, trying to protect yourself from Mike's groin shots, and taunting Dave for his inability to draft a good fantasy team and his poor liquor pricing speculations. I like their place, its one of the most completely comfortable places that I've found in this city - I guess because it reminds me of home in a lot of ways.

Tomorrow and Saturday are wrapping up the work/life stuff I still need to get done before the traveling starts. And then the traveling starts.

As ever, I have much to be thankful for.


Yesterdays' post made me realize that I never really did a post mortem on the Greece trip, which is something I wish I had done a little closer to returning home from there. But here's the opinion a couple weeks out...

I really, really liked Greece. Its...my pace. Now, this should be tempered with the fact that I really, really wasn't that excited about it as our destination for the big family vacation. I wanted to see the big cities in Europe - London, Paris, Rome, etc.. Or at least just bum around Italy. The idea of Greece just didn't ring my bell, but the 'rents were excited so I sucked it up and tried to get excited about it.

I didn't. And next thing I knew I was there, I was tired, and I was annoyed. I had arrived a day earlier than the folks and had no idea where to go or who to meet, because mom had all that info, and I had been expecting her and the rest of the fam to be on the same flight as me, before they missed their connection. But Chris finally found me and did the smartest thing a Greek guy could do, he took me straight to the best kebab Greece has to offer.

I have been lusting for said kebab all day long today. I realized 2 things - I didn't have enough of them while I was there, and I neglected to take a picture of one, in my furious bouts of greco-gluttony. The kebabs are a good standard-bearer for the rest of the dining fare offered in that country. I'm not huge on a lot of the seafood offerings, but I can't really remember a meal there that I did *not* think was fabulous.

The Greeks as a whole are fairly welcoming to Americans, in that sense that an arrogant American might welcome a well-meaning foreigner - happy to help them but generally assuming that this foreigner is ever-so-slightly a bit of a moron. Maybe we're all right, in the end. But the ones I dealt with were plenty nice, even if they were usually in a position to take my money in one way or another.

Greeks enjoy their late nights and late mornings, and as a whole I don't get the impression that they work very hard at all. They do however seem to maintain an equal or greater stress level as those societies that do in fact work a good deal harder. They just spend their afternoons sitting around drinking coffee and smoking and discussing how stressed they are. Of course I exaggerate, to a degree, but the point remains. Perhaps its the way they drive that contributes to this.

The islands, well - the islands were simply delightful and I fully plan to return and spend much more time there. Athens I could take or leave, but I will make a point to take the kebabs if I'm ever back. Thesoliniki I would like to spend a night of clubbing in, that's about it.

And if I'm ever back I plan to have my motorcycle license before I arrive. And I'd like to speak a good deal more Greek. Seemed to come off like the kind of place that you could be a friend with any stranger if you only knew the local dialect.

So there's your rave review of Greece. I was wrong. It happens, at times few, and far between. I remain, ever the skeptic.


I've been behind on a lot of things lately (as evidenced by lack of blogging), but one of them that I really shouldn't be is burning and mailing out my Metafilter Side-Swap CD's. Basically its a way for a few of us to send a disc of what we've been listening to lately to a few of the other MeFites (as we call ourselves) out there who are also willing to mail out a few discs.

Now, I can blame bad timing, the email that gave us the addresses of those we would be sharing with came out shortly before I left for Greece. But, I've been back for over a week and I couldn't find an hour to devote to the task until now, shamefully. But the discs are burned and all that remains is to get them in the mail in the AM. And to finish updating my flickr photo-set from the Greece trip, so that I can share that with my MeFite friends (promised in lieu of on-time disc delivery) as well as everyone else that I've promised to get them too. Another thing I'm way behind on, but little brohim in Cali needed me to walk him through the best way to upload all the ones that I took on mom and dad's camera (when my memory card crapped out), and I finally got that done tonight.

Anyhow, back to the music. Here's the playlist:

The majority of these were related to Greece in one way or another. Some examples:

The New Radicals - I heard this song blaring from a coolish looking little bar on the back streets of Athens' club/bar district where we ate on our last night there. The family was having desert and smoking cigars, so I left to walk around some before the smoke made me throw up all over their deserts. I'm not sure this is the exact NR song I heard, but I know it was one of the hits off their first album, and it took me straight back to junior year of college.

There were a lot of tunes I heard on the radio that had been re-recorded with Greek lyrics. I'm still trying to decide if "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight" is better in English or Greek.

Mindy Smith was recently profiled by a music critic for the LA Times as one of the best new artists of the year. I don't think she's particularly new, but she was new to him at the time, and she's got a NYC feel to her music, which I like, although not particularly in this song. Anyway, I read about her while I was over there.

Heard some old-style swing guitar at one of the cafes in Nafplio while we were walking down the waterfront. Sounded like Django to me - might not have been - but kudos to them if it was.

I heard "Theme from Abbadesse's Street" on the plane as we were flying back, probably somewhere over Italy or the sea near it. Reminded me of a tune from Ocean's 11, but I like this one better.

As for the rest, I either listened to them at some point on the trip, or something in them speaks to a thought from the trip, or they are completely unrelated to the trip, and I threw them in simply because I liked them and thought they rounded it out well. Its by no means a good definition of my musical tastes overall, so much as it is a sample of what I've been putting in my ears lately.

If you'd like a copy of the CD, just email me your mailing addy.


Friday felt like a really fast recovery from jet lag, but as the weekend would prove, it took the body clock a while to get back on track - I kept waking up at like 5:30 in the morning.

I skated into the city to pick up a package from the office and then down to the church offices to help round up the high schoolers for the Young Life work crew trip. As per normal for these trips, we get a lot of kids coming out of the wood-work, so I was kind of bummed that I wasn't going, but I knew it was the prudent decision - I had dry-cleaning to pick up and sleep to catch up on and an early flight coming up Monday morning, and a work crew weekend would have just sucked it out of me. So anyhow, we got all the kids out to Hoboken where Cregan and Mindi and Jenny all met us with the rental cars to drive everybody up. After sending them on their way I picked up a burrito and got started on cleaning out my email.

Then I get the call about an hour later that lets me know the Chicago thing is on hold for the moment, and I'm not flying out Monday after all. Super greaaaat. But all things for a reason, even poor management timing on projects I haven't yet started on.

Then it became the weekend of shopping. It started innocently enough - a couple of pairs of jeans from the Earnest Sewn sample sale, then a couple of shirts around the corner at DCC Labs. Then Sunday everything just went to crap. Some qualifications:

Hugo Boss hardly ever has a sample sale of any size whatsoever, and this was evidenced by the hordes of people in line when I got there on Sunday morning, most of whom were gay men or well funded straight guys with their girlfriends or wives. But mostly gay men. Another great qualification is that I need some suits for the Walgreens project, and these ones were a full 2/3rds off their normal market price. And they were beautiful. And I could not say no. And no one would help me. Next it was dress shirts and knit tees and tennis shoes and dress shoes and then my entire annual bonus was gone. Just like that. I was a victim of the situation.

I'm taking back the Hickey Freeman I picked up shortly before I left for Greece, so that will let a little of the blood, but November will still be known for years to come as the month the wheels came off with my years-long restraint with the credit card. Shame on me.

So this morning, instead of waking up and catching a plane to Chicago, I woke up and got back on the 8-mile horse, and there's nothing nicer than running on completely rested legs. Odd to have running weather in the middle of November, but I'll take it while it lasts.

Still working on getting all the pictures hashed out on flickr, should have a link for them soon.



Been up for goin on a full 24, given the time change. Flying back is a lot freakin longer than flying out. Right now I'm trying to stay awake and catch The Office, and then I'm sleeping until I wake up tomorrow.

Pictures forthcoming...


Its over.

Lunch in that area that starts with a P that I will spell right sooner or later (but not quite yet), and then we drove back to Athens. Got my last kebab while the last of the shopping took place, and then we all had dinner at a nice joint that Chris had taken me to on my first night here, before the folks got in. They really liked it, but I was dog tired. Woke up a little and walked around the area while they had desert and smoked cigars at a place across the street. I wanted to see the area and staying in range of that cigar smoke would have been dangerous for me. It reminded me a lot of the village - it was just kicking into gear at 1am and seemed really full of life and smoke and music and booze and talking and people and life.

Took a quick spin by the Marathon arena, couldn't get very good pictures in the dark but it was still something to behold, and then we jetted over to the parliment building to catch the 2am changing of the guards in front of Greece's very own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Reminded me very much of our own, there was a lot of respect and time-tested honor there.

Wake up in 5 hours to head to the airport.

Where we will shop some more before coming home.


From two nights ago...

Back in Greece. Disembarked the ship early this morning and we all hopped in the van with Chris to head north to Kavala - where we're staying tonight. Our base camp, or sorts, for Philipi and Thesoliniki tomorrow. Everyone's looking forward to that but at least some of us are getting a fair bit vacationed-out at this point. If there's one thing I've learned in the last couple years of traveling for work, its that there's no soft spot in the world to curl up in like your own sweet bed. I want my down comforter, and my fan.

Turkey was cold, and in retrospect, our Turkish tour guide really rushed us through the Ephesus ruins so that we'd have plenty of time in his buddy's rug store when we got back to the port. But it was good to see, even if we only had a few hours there. I think I've officially spent less money than anyone else in the family - the shopping thing just isn't doing it for me. In Kasadusi, I bought exactly 30 minutes of net access and one lamb kabab. I like the Greek food better. And the hospitality.

Basically, the Turks are a bunch of greedy...guys. Example: most Americans have no idea that the Turkish airforce invades Greek airspace over the isles *every* day. They fly around there until the Greeks intercept and obtain missile lock, and then they leave. They do this because they're trying to create an international incident (ie. hoping that some day a Greek will accidentally fire a missile, etc.), because they want the airspace rights to the isles, many of which are within a reasonable distance of the Turkish coast (take Samos, for instance). I learned about this while we were driving north this morning and I saw the daily dispatch of Greek fighters taking off. I think its somewhat of a good representation of the general Turkish feeling towards the western world. And they insist on being best friends with America. Go figure.

But that's just my initial impression.

Still a few ruins left to see, a few pictures more to take, and a few more plates of slouvaki to attack, and then its back home. Oh, and Pantalomos (or something close to that) - a little city on the side of the hills across the valley from Mt. Olympus. We had lunch there today, and coffee after. If I ever come back to Greece, this will be one of my primary destinations. Hydra, then Pantalomos, then perhaps Mykonos again. Preferably on a sail boat.

And talking with Chris today, I have a feeling my next visit to Europe may be to do a BMW cycle tour of some of the western EU nations. Have to get myself a bike license once I'm home.

Tonight was walking around the port of Kavala and then dinner in a local joint where we once again experienced the true Greek hospitality of a round of ouzo to start us off, and the refusal to give us the check until they had given us all free desert. This seems to happen everywhere we go, and I like it.

From this morning...

Back in Pantalomos. Yesterday was a big one - woke up in Kavala, hopped in the car and headed for Philipi, where we spent the morning exploring the ruins there. Saw the cell that Paul and Silas had their chains miraculously released in, at the bottom of the very building they must have witnessed to the jailer and his family in. Saw the amphitheater and the tunnel that the Romans used to release the animals to torture the Christians. Saw the first actual Christian church (that wasn't a home-church, but specifically built for Christian worship).

Then off to Thesoliniki - we got there early evening, and we hadn't stopped for lunch, so I had an hour or more of extremely low blood sugar misery while everyone did their thing. When we finally did stop to eat, it was more great Greek food and hospitality, followed by what else but a couple more hours of frickin shopping. Thesoliniki actually seemed to be a really cool town - like Athens its old but very metropolitan, busy, crammed with people. I would have liked another day there to just explore, but that will have to wait for next time.

Last night we drove back to Pantalomos where we stayed at a place near the water, as everyone wants to have lunch up in the hillside village again. Which is where we're off to now.

After that we'll head back to Athens, have our last dinner there, shop - I don't doubt - for a few more hours, and then tomorrow morning its the flight back home.

I've got about a bajillion pictures to sort through, I figure I'm going to finally break down and buy the upscale flickr account so that people can see them easily, but I'll try to throw some hi-lights up here too. Be patient, I have a busy weekend of prep for the start of the Chicago thing when I get home and then the magic starts again on Monday.

Its been a good trip over all. I like it a lot here and don't want it to be over, but I like home a lot too and I'm looking forward to being back too.


Slıghtly less smokey ınternet cafe, mainly because theres only 3 of us ın here. Youll notıce the lack of apostrophes and the funny letter İs ı suppose because I cant fınd them on the keyboard. Loggıng ın was not very fun just now.

Im above a bazaar ın Kadusı, Turkey. I wont be joınıng the other few thousand cruıse passengers ın the normal stop to shop routıne, even though apparently Ill be mıssıng out on ıncredıble exchange rates, accordıng to our tour guıde, who was actually a great guıde ın the ruıns of Ephesus thıs afternoon. I saw the worlds oldest advertısement there - thats what he called ıt, at least - pıcture to come. And upon gettıng back to the port he promptly trıed to usher us all ınto hıs frıends carpet store. Or the leather store across the street. Or a jewelry store. Or any other kınd of store that takes money. Any kınd of money wıll do, just so long as you have some.

Wasnt very ınterested ın helpıng me fınd an ınternet cafe.

But here I sıt, nonetheless, trapped above busy shoppıng streets, wıth narry 20 mınutes tıl ıts back to the boat. They actually have ınternet on the boat, but the problem ıs ıts a Euro and a half a mınute (dıd I mentıon that already?). Four Euros thıs AM for the fastest fantasy football pool update Ive ever done.

Sucks that I dont have the tıme Id lıke to wrıte at the moment, much less a western keyboard, because I have a lot I want to wrıte, and as Ive found of late, I can do ıt much faster through a keyboard. Ive come to loathe pen and paper after a fashıon, ıf only because ıt feels lıke thoughts have to queue up and waıt to get out - I can type probably 3 to 5 tımes faster than I can scrıbble.

After spendıng the mornıng on Patmos seeıng the ısland to whıch John was banıshed and the very cave that he wrote the book of Revelatıons from, we hopped back on the dıngy and rowed over to Turkey, where as I mentıoned the destınatıon was Ephesus. A full 6 mıles ınland, a cıty that was on the water ın Pauls day. Durıng hıs years of mınıstry, he spent more tıme ın that cıty than anywhere else, and today my feet stood on the same stones that hıs once dıd - I watched the evenıng rıse over the same hılls and valleys he lıved and breathed ın.

And I was rıghteously pıssed because I was out of megabytes ın the camera. I had a number of other thıngs on the lıst of stuff to be pıssed about, and as I sat there lookıng at a monument to one of the Roman emporers, beıng pıssy, Ecclesıastes came rushıng ın.

None of thıs crap matters. I cant get food on the boat when I want ıt late at nıght. Sıster ıs upset wıth me for makıng some gross comment. Ran out of megabytes. Mom and dad revertıng to parents, guy ın hıs late 20s not takıng ıt too well. Cant fınd freakıng ınternet anywhere. Dont know what I thınk about goıng back to a project ın Chıcago or stayıng ın consultıng or goıng back to school or what to do wıth my lıfe.


Buıld a monument. Buıld a cıty. 5 tımes over, on top of the old ones. Buıld an empıre that covers the known world. Drınk yourself to death because theres nothıng left. Doesnt matter. Someday a few thousand years from now people mıght be lookıng at what we dıd, but chances are at best ıt wıll be a small tourıst attractıon ın some corner of the galaxy. Doesnt matter.

And then thought two.

Paul and hıs contemporarıes were concernıng themselves wıth the only thıngs that mattered. Sure, they were tent-makers, and carpenters, and fıshermen, and dealıng wıth daıly ıssues - ınterpersonal, fınancıal, whatever. But theır lıves were centrally about one thıng - tellıng people about the good news. And ın the end, when all the ruıns have worn away and the seas drıed up and the megabytes are all gone, that wıll be the only thıng left.

Im fındıng perspectıve ın weırd ways on thıs trıp, but at least ıts fındıng me.


Another smoky internet cafe, this time somewhere on the island of Rhodes. I've never seen water so deep blue as the sea here.

Last night I ran out of the net cafe and down the shoreline a few blocks to the last bus back to the boat. Margy left a bag of her shopping hoard in one of the shops near the cafe I had been in, and she had to run back to get it while the bus waited for her and a few others who were running late. This stressed the rents out, something awful - the thought of leaving a daughter behind on some Greek island in the middle of the night. Its funny how when people get older certain things seem to stress them out a lot more than they should - I mean its even worse with my grandparents, for instance. But take last night, worse case I would have just told them to get on the boat, I would have hopped off the bus, and gone and found her. Even if we missed the boat, its not like we're going to spontaneously ignite or something.


After that it was a show then gambling and drinks and dancing and whatnot. Dancing is certainly interesting when the floor is moving. I'm pretty sure 5 card stud takes your money faster when you're at sea, too. Going to try to stay out of that part of the ship for the next two nights.

Today Joe and I rented a motor bike and we've been zipping around the island, seeing a lot but stopping a little. Margy got one too but she promptly laid it down with dad on top of her. Thankfully everyone was ok, but I'm pretty sure they were taking her bike back after lunch. Time for more zipping around for us, now. Tomorrow: Patmos and Ephesus.


In my years of blogging, I sit now in what is officially the far and away coolest location I have ever blogged from. I'm in an "internet cafe" above the shoreline of the island of Mykonos - one of the Greek isles.

Not what an American would think when they think internet cafe, either. I'm surrounded by smoking Greeks, a dozen or so who just finished a mass multiplayer FPS game. They're cursing at each other about why the winners were cheaters, why the losers are whiners, etc.. You don't need to speak the particular dialect to know the language of the gamers. As its Europe, they're all smoking and there's loud music. I appear to be the only one who's not here to play games other than the few at the bar out front.

And my space bar is clearly over-used from massive FPS gaming. Which adds to the coolness factor.

I have to run to the last bus back to the ship in about 10 minutes, and from there we're off to Rhodes tomorrow. Today was mainly getting to the boat in the Port of Athens, getting checked-in, and riding some rough seas here to Mykonos. Which was actually nice because it kept most of the people confined to their staterooms, and left the ship open to explore and relax in, the first of which took all of 15 minutes. While its a cruise ship, its not entirely that huge, in cruise ship terms (I should know...), but we are at sea, and I'm plenty happy about that. Nice to have my sea-legs back, although I'm envious of every sail boat I see.

Oh, and the average age on the boat is probably about 60+. Fine for three days, but...oy. Good thing we went with the all-inclusive drinks.

We got off the boat here in Mykonos this evening and began exploring the main city. Its everything the pictures and paintings made it out to be in my mind - curvy tiny little large-stone-paved streets, every single structure is white-washed stone with blue wooden trimmings, and there's winding little alleys to explore every 20 meters or so. Its mainly a tourist trap but if you're not really there to shop then you don't have to worry about such things. Unlike my sisters and mother, on the other hand.

Anyhow, cruising all weekend and the rate for internet on the ship is a Euro and a half per MINUTE, so I'll be sticking to uber-cool little joints like this where there's incredible art on the wall, well dressed gamers with their headsets on sideways, smoke in the air hi-lighting the great lighting, and probably the best sound-track to write to, ever.

I hope I get back here someday.
Athens today. Started out at the national museum, which was quite fascinating. Bronze statues that had been found in the sea after spending a thousand plus years there, etc.. More marble human/animality than you could shake a spear at. Interesting to walk through the evolution of sculpted art - from the statues with both legs shaped in one pillar, to dual leg stances, to weighted stances, to full-on action poses (the discus thrower, et al.).

Then off to the Acropolis and the surrounding ruins. Walking around the city for a few days, seeing it in the distance, looming above you, does something to add to the experience. When you finally get up there, you have high expectations, and in my case they were certainly more than fulfilled. Even in all its manifold destruction, it still emanates authority. There's a million and one stories to be told about that place, and its probably less than 3 acres in size at the top. But there's simply no end to the lore and adventure that existed, across the ages, on that one rocky hilltop.

Standing by the flag pole, we debated whether or not Paul would have visited the Acropolis in his time or not, with both sides making logical arguments. Personally, I think if he preached on Mars Hill, he walked the rest of the way up.

I of course am already running out of MBs for the digital, so I have to start getting selective, as I opted against bringing the laptop with me, and therefore can't upload to free up space. I was realistic about the fact that I couldn't go cold-turkey on internet (I mean, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? I have a problem. I'm fine with that.), but I did think it was an important step to pretty much totally disconnect from work for a week or so. I was thinking about this dilemma with the camera today, however - kind of ironic that I now, somehow, feel limited by the hundreds of pictures I can take.

What in the world did people do back when they used to have rolls of film they had to carry and (shudder) get developed? How did they take more than a few pictures of anything?

And to think they did it all without cell phones.

(Seaward bound in the morning.)


Today was a study in contrast. We saw many amazing things today, but for me, the contrast was most clear.

We set off in the morning for Korinth. Where Paul spent some of his time, making tents, speaking, writing letters, and other Pauline pursuits. First impression: sea sure has subsided / silt sure has risen a good couple miles in the past couple thousand years - the ruins were no where near the sea, although it was visible in the distance. Stood in a few of the same spots that Paul himself did, that was just plain moving, reading from Acts while standing there.

As we were eating lunch outside our van, getting ready to head off for Mycenae, one of the typical Athens taxis pulled up (read: bright yellow Mercedes). Mind you, Korinth is a solid hour's drive from downtown Athens. Four Japanese business men poured out of the taxi and started walking around taking pictures. Chris pointed out to me that the cab driver would make upwards of 300 Euro for the cab fare one-way alone, not to mention the return trip or tip. I guess some people can just afford to appreciate the ruins at that luxury.

The ruins at Mycenae were equally, if not more so impressive than were those at Korinth. For starters, Mycenae is mainly a large fortress of sorts on the top of a hill. There are surrounding famous tombs in the hillsides which seemed so dominant in their size that they somewhat diminished the hills that contained them, but the fortress itself is a sight to behold. The Lions' Gate, the main entrance, itself is quite imposing, these thousands of years later.

Just inside the gate, as we began our way up the paths towards the crown of the fortress, I saw what I can unequivocally say is the shortest living human I have ever seen. This woman would be considered, essentially, a midget to a normal midget - that is to say I doubt she was above 3 feet tall - perhaps not even 2.5 feet. She was walking down the uneven path with the aid of the typical walker-crutches people with these kinds of disabilities have, and almost to where her friend with the wheelchair was able to get the chair up to. And on we moved towards the top of the fortress, continuing our exploration.

An hour or so later we were leaving the ruins, headed off to a dinner in one of the picturesque sea-side towns. About a quarter-mile down the hill from the parking lot below the ruins, we passed the short lady and her friend, who was wheeling her down the road, sans vehicle. We had plenty of room in the van and so we stopped and offered them a ride. They hesitated briefly, as many might, but then agreed.

They were French, of which a few of us spoke a little, but between their broken English and our broken French, we could communicate well enough. As we drove them the mile or so to the main road, we realized that they had taken the bus out there from Athens to the nearest town, which was another two miles down the main road. They had taken the earliest bus out, walked (well, her friend had pushed her) all the way up to the fortress, saw the ruins, and were hoping to make it back to the city in time for the last bus back to Athens. Being as it was going on 6pm, and the last bus was at 8:15, I doubt whether they might have made it.

In the 15 or so minutes we spent with them, we actually learned quite a bit about each other - places they were from that some of us had been, and vice versa. When we pulled up to the bus station we found we had just missed the 6:15 bus, and we were disappointed they had to wait an hour. They clearly didn't share our disappointment - they had an hour to sit and have coffee and relax. I pulled the wheelchair out of the back of the van and Chris took a picture of them with the family.

And off to dinner on the seaside we went.

It hit me later that night, in the quiet of a van full of sleeping people at 120km/hr on an empty freeway, that we were much closer in stature and standing to those business men in Korinth. We have the benefit of our own vehicle, excellent meals, warm beds, and the ability to view the incredible locales at our own leisure.

I just hope that, in our hearts, we might be a little closer to those who, despite their limitations, want so earnestly to appreciate the same things we were there to see.

I'm one who tries to complain as little as possible, but heaven help me if I grumble once more on this trip.


I'm pretty sure you're required to have a lit cigarette in your hands at all times as part of your citizenship of a country in the EU. So far I have no evidence to the contrary. Also, both sisters and my youngest brother have taken it up with some regularlity as well. Good for them. Let's all kill ourselves slowly. Sounds like a blast.

Me, I'll be doing it with copious amounts of finely cooked meats, thank you.

Chris and I met the family at the airport, and upon renting our van we trekked to the city to get our ruins/museum passes and grab kababs at the same place I've now eaten at 3 times since getting here. Then it was lots of shopping (which for me meant lots of browsing) in the downtown area followed by the traditional late afternoon coffee.

Then we drove/walked to the highest point in the city, a small chapel on the top of the hill situated close to the center of the city, which also happened to be windy and cold as heck. After that it was groceries for the road trip tomorrow and Chris, Margy, and I got a late dinner, while the rest of the family crashed. Which is what they're still doing now. I'm not the least bit tired.

Other observations to date:

- Lots of stray dogs wandering around, many with collars. Apparently the PETA folk actually collar them (and do nothing else for them, as I understand it) so that they won't be taken away and sent to doggie heaven.

- Pretty easy to fit in. Just like NYC, ignore everyone and pretend you know exactly what you're doing, even if you don't.

- Ouzo turns white when you put ice in it. I've always had it straight up in the past, so this was news to me.

- No good deals in Greece. Everything here seems just as pricey as the US, considering the exchange rate. I'm not seeing the big fascination with shopping. Why not just get everything for around the same price when you get home?

- Greeks seem to have a good estimation of the average American citizen, they seem to be a pretty easy going people so far.

- Everyone drives like a huge ass.

- There's nowhere remotely safe to run around here. The roads and sidewalks are for crep and (see the previous point). There goes a month's progress.

- Rain actually helps you appreciate the ruins a little more - you can see the texture in the rock structures that you otherwise would likely have missed.

Tomorrow is off to points north, I think we're planning to hit 3 cities. Can't remember the particular names at the moment, too many have been thrown around.

Boy am I going to get a lot of reading done tonight.
"Welcome to the worst city in the world."

This is how my cab driver greeted me on the way to the hotel this morning. Pretty sure he was only half joking.

Rewind to Sunday morning. Haircut, get ready for church, finish stuffing the bags and run into the city to lead ushering. Every time there's a 5th Sunday in the month we usher with the youth group, and I'm in charge, which means I'm to blame when the kids lose an offering basket, for instance. Managed to avert that, barely.

After, senior high youth group. After, Cregan drives me to JFK, as he was headed to Bklyn to car shop anyhow.

International check-in w/o the benefit of pre-printed boarding passes and the frequent-flyer fast lane through security just plain sucks. Spent an hour standing in lines, and I'm the type that would rather open a bag of rabid weasels then stand in a line for more than 5 minutes.

Got on the mostly empty plane - 55 of us on a plane with 200 some occupancy. 'Rents / sibs connecting flight from Pittsburgh was delayed due to high winds in the vicinity, and Delta's mostly horrible customer service wouldn't hear of me delaying my departure to fly with them, so my plane backed out about 5 minutes before they got to the gate.

Movies. Should have read instead, but as a straight man who's worked in the fashion industry, I have to say I pretty much totally identified with The Devil Wears Prada. Woke up after a couple fitful hours of sleep to the sight of the northern coast of Italy. Every day should begin like that.

Landed in Athens, found Chris after a while, and after a brief stop at my hotel we set off to explore the city proper, or whatever they call it here, via bus and metro. Even rode them a couple times myself to get the lie of the land down, and I've already picked up some basic Greek, so I may prove to be a somewhat useful mammal to the family when Chris isn't around to help us.

Tomorrow: pick up fam at airport, then explore Acropolis and surrounding ruins (Mars Hill, etc.). Looking forward to it, I walked up to the base of the temple mound today and it looks pretty interesting.


Stuff from my surfing this week.

outside.in - Web 2.0 for your locale.

Google's latest: Co-op

Enron Explorer

Scrybe looks like it could hold my interest for a few minutes.

Facelift for the resume

Wage disparity much?

"We are, nevertheless, on the cusp of the Next Big Thing and those who are ready for the transition to 3D virtual worlds will be far ahead of the game." This is pretty much the coolest thing I've read this year.

Other interesting reads:

Globalization's losers

Wired's cover story chronicling the new Athiesm. Even the title of Dawkin's post on his own blog recently made me smile. He has his critics, though, eccentric thought they may be.

And, whatever the internet, or the world, or the universe at large may become in our lifetime, we will always have the blessings of the simple things in life.


If there's one thing I've been learning the value of lately, it has been the corporate nature of our faith (or, what a Calvinist might call "the covenant community").

From a recent read of mine:
I once heard a Catholic priest, a native of New Jersey, give a homily in which he told about visiting the southern part of the United States for the first time. At the hotel restaurant on his first morning, he studied the breakfast menu. Several combination meals featured grits, so when the waitress came for his order, he asked her, "Miss, what is a grit?" She replied, "Honey, they don't come by themselves!"

The priest used this story to emphasize the importance of the body of Christ. Christians don't come by themselves, he said. Like grits, "Christian" is a plural thing. To follow Jesus means to be part of a community.
Now, this is true. Worship and fellowship and all these things must be done corporately to be done right. The saints of the New Testament are perhaps clearest about this assumption in the fact that they rarely speak to it. Instead, their addresses are almost never to one person, but always fashioned for the digestion of the church body at large. We need each other to live out our faith.

But there is a problem with Christianity. Allow Deitrich Bonhoeffer to elaborate:
He who is alone in his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as devout people, they do not have fellowship as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship...
What is the solution to this? Bonhoeffer went on to speak of the grace of the Gospel, and how we can dare to be sinners before a God with whom masks do no good. And he's right. But what about the solution as it (the Gospel) is applied to our "pious fellowship"?

I don't believe the answer is an easy one. I believe it is quite simply the tough, truth-bearing work of real, honest, and complete accountability that can make this happen in the covenant community. It starts with true communication between only two people, and perhaps never stretches much further beyond those twos, but the more that are paired up, the more the community as a whole will grow in this very necessary change to our typical easy-does-it approach to honesty in the church community. This also requires a good deal of wisdom from the individuals approaching true accountability, and the Proverbs have great guidance for us, much of which must be balanced delicately:
He who covers an offense promotes love,
but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends.

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
To quote a very few.

And we must, we all must, remember to live out that grace of the Gospel of which Bonhoeffer spoke. We must see ourselves as equal sinners before God, all justly deserving of his wrath no matter what our individual struggles may be, all clothed in the work of the cross. With this humility, we can come to our Christian brother or sister, bear who we really are, and accept their confession as well. More from Dietrich:
...only the brother under the Cross can hear a confession. It is not experience of life but experience of the Cross that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions. The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus.... In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.
I am thankful for the blessing of friends in my life that can help me be more real. I can only hope to do the same in return.


Its Thursday and I'm cleaning up the FireFox tabs...

Scott and Fiddy are well on their way to hitchhiking 50 state capitols in 50 days. And yours truly gave them ride #1. I might not be as cute as all the college girls giving them rides, lately, but I think I came through pretty big getting them out of Times Square - they could have been there for a while. That deserved a picture or at least a little more write-up, hmph.

Ann Marie got me hooked on WOXY.

What a ripoff
of Woot Wine.

Web 2.0 + real estate = Hotpads. Speaking of real estate, this WSJ article (you'll need a subscription to read it) has me pretty convinced to buy near a major city. As does this WaPo article.

Completely missed OHNY. Smooth.

is fun with the sun. Meanwhile the moon theives our colors.

Why does the UK get the coolest Sony ads? Maybe its because their comedians read the bible.

18 mistakes that kill startups.

is rad, if you're a tad OCD about your task bar. Just a tad.

I want, I want, I need, I need.

I've linked to A Final Salute before and its pretty much the saddest thing ever, but man is it important.


I'm not known to be one who goes on many emotional roller coasters, but I feel like I just spend a week and a half at an emotional amusement park.

And yes, I am talking about baseball.

That's all I have to say about it. The pain is still too raw.

So I haven't blogged since Boston, which is shameful. I was unstaffed last week, and I have no excuse (sans the baseball travesty). Although I did get some training done and spent all day Friday in a technology seminar, which was both interesting and kind of weird at the same time. And Saturday we had a seminar for the youth leaders centered around counselling, given our unique position of involvement with families. And then I went out and got my groove on that night.

And then I went 5 and 1 in my fantasy league with a ridiculously stupid 120+ point win. With a team that I didn't draft. Ridiculous.

And I'm back up to 8 miles a day for my runs, and feeling pretty solid.

Will try to blog a bit more for the next couple weeks, but come end of month, I'm off to Greece with the fam for a week and a half, and when I get back from that, I start my stint in Chicago. That's right, Walgreen's in Chi-town, Monday thru Friday, likely for the next year. More on that when I know more. Which probably won't be til after I'm there, in mid November.


First time ever in Boston, this weekend.

Never really been a priority of mine to get there. It was nice, seemed like a decent enough city - too bad its filled with Red Sox fans.

Dave and I drove up Saturday morning so that his brother Mike could show me around Gordon Conwell - the seminary I've been looking into that both he and their dad attended. It was definitely a beautiful area, very close to the shore, and way outside of Boston. Way too far outside. But they do have a campus in the city, so that's something. But it would mean living in Boston.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life.

Anyway I caught dinner and bummed around the city with Angie that night, which was fun. We picked up some cannoli's at a little bakery off the beaten path, at the bottom of Salem street, and then walked up to the Old North Church, and after that over to a park to sit and eat.

Talking with my dad tonight on the drive home, he told me he did the same thing with mom almost 29 years ago, to the day.


This morning Dave and I went to Mike's church, then I was very blessed to meet with Jo Kadlecek and her husband (who I had met before) - over coffee after church. Jo's an author that I've been looking forward to meeting for a while, and she turned out to be a real sweetheart - gave me all kinds of awesome info - people to look up, programs to look into, books to read, etc.. So that was tres exciting for me, and its given me a number of things to do this week, while I'm still home and between projects.

Speaking of projects...no. I'll get into that later this week.

Dave, Mike, and I caught lunch at an Irish Pub (where else) and then we all drove down to their parent's place for dinner, and I drove home.

And Ben Roethlesberger is still terrible.

Go Steelers.


I didn't read I Kissed Dating Goodbye until I was at least halfway through college. Years later, I would come to wish I had read it before starting high school.

I didn't read I Gave Dating a Chance until I was well out of college. Years later, I would come to wish I had read it before starting college.

And tonight I had another enlightening (non-reading) life-event that I could only walk out of wishing it had happened to me 6 years earlier. Wondering where I would be right now and what life would be like, if it had.

But God didn't want it to happen until tonight. He wanted all that has happened before now - and all that has not happened as well - He wanted it that way for a divinely perfect reason. He wanted tonight to happen tonight, just the way it is.

Never stops to amaze me how I still, even as I write this, how I still think that I know what's best for me.

And, ironically, this is why I want to be a writer. Not enough people are writing enough quality material about some of the most important issues facing us today. Or I'm not finding the right books, lately. In my so very humble opinion.

Yes, that's an edited-for-kiddies version of Reuben's classic. For you prudes out there.


I love this city.

I love driving past the bull with my windows down late on an October Tuesday after not doing too terribly in my regular poker game down on Wall Street. You can't do that anywhere else in the world, and I love it, everything about it. I love walking down the middle of Wall Street, even if its blocked off to anything but pedestrian traffic for sadly necessary reasons. It feels like the safest part of town, with the cops walking around with machine guns strapped to their chests.

I love paying six dollars to drive through a tunnel every time I don't feel like riding the train/bus into the city. I love the myriad wonders of the subway.

I love the free metered spots on a Sunday morning when I'm headed to church and the general shopping public isn't even awake yet. I love the leaders and kids of my youth group and our regular Domino's habit. I love Central Park on Sunday afternoon when its filled with locals and tourists blending more seamlessly than anywhere else in the city at any other time.

I love my church.

I love not being a Yankee fan, and I love that anywhere you go here you will always run into co-fans of your out-of-state team, because 90% of the people here are from somewhere else anyway. Even at Yankee stadium in October. I love Steeler Sunday afternoons in Hell's Kitchen.

I love discovering a bar in the back of a restaurant on Bleeker that sells ridiculously low-price top-shelf drinks. I love taking a girl to a swanky little dinner joint secretly tucked at the end of an alley in SoHo. I love breakfast at the Hollywood diner near Union Square at 3 in the morning. I love haggling with taxi drivers over the fare back to Hoboken at 4 in the morning. I love knowing the secret best entrances to the Lincoln from 33rd and 31st streets.

I love the Cloisters, and I love my Winslow Homers that they keep in the Met. I love brunch in Chelsea, the Chelsea Market, golfing off the Chelsea Piers, and pretty much every bar I've found in the West Village.

I love Grand Central and the Theory employee store hidden near the library. And I love running into movie / tv shoots on a regular basis, not to mention seeing celebs crossing 5th Ave for a jog in the park, looking like we all look when we wake up to exercise.

I love the pizza here, and the constant availability of food and drink.

And I love that there are so many other people who live here and love all these things and more with me.

(Read: don't see myself leaving soon, even if I am starting to look at going back to school. Dilemma.)


I had not a minute to surf this week (and yes, its been incredibly difficult for me, thank you for asking). Hence, instead of the normal "here's what I've found," today is "here's what I normally surf."

My (online) day usually starts with a stop by my work email and my gmail (I have plenty of invites if you want one). And I usually try to drop by Woot earlier in the day than later. Most times the best stuff has already sold out by the time I get there, which is why some nights I try to remember to check it before going to bed.

If I do have time to surf, I usually kick it off at Metafilter, and that usually leads me to askMeFi and MetaTalk. And from there to all other kinds of places.

I also like browsing the del.icio.us' popular list from time to time.

If I have time for news, its either Google News or WSJ, usually. And I'm usually learning about a couple random things that come up via the ever wonderful Wikipedia.

Most years I would be checking my fantasy team at Yahoo pretty regularly, but I missed my draft this year thanks to work, so my team stinks, so I've lost most interest.

And I'll occasionally refer to craigslist, ebible, menupages, and Lifehacker, although I get to the latter a lot less than I used to. And sometimes when I actually just need to channel surf the internet, I hit the good ol' StumbleUpon button.

Oh, and of course, this time of year, I am consumed with playoff baseball.


There shall always be the Church and the World

And the Heart of Man

Shivering and fluttering between them,

Choosing and chosen,

Valiant, ignoble, dark and full of light

Swinging between Hell Gate and Heaven Gate.

And the Gates of Hell shall not prevail.
– T. S. Eliot

Happy birthday, T.


So thanks to a number of different reasons, I've been learning all about the Jewish holidays of late. I've met / spent some time with a number of people who either practice or are interested in how to practice the Messianic Jewish faith - most recently Karen, the sweetest old lady you could ever hope to meet, who sat next to me at (my) church this past Sunday. She gave me a hug and a traditional Rosh Hashana greeting when we reached the part in the service where we greet those around us. And today happens to be Tzom Gedaliah. Happy Tzom Gedaliah. And, since I missed it, happy Rosh Hashana too.

Cooked tonight. My own special pasta meatavera recipe, and its tres delish, if I do say so myself. Used the new Barilla Plus, thanks to this miracle I can eat pasta again. Caught the second half of Heroes, which I had really hoped to catch both halves of - but then I need to kick this TV watching thing anyway, reading has all but dropped off the radar, again. But they are going to have a replay of the premier online, and that's too cool to not watch.

Trying to get an update to the side-bar sometime soon, but doubtful that will happen - I have a lot of work to get done on my day off, if I can't stall it, and I have to get it done before noon because Cregan, Dave, David, and I are headed to Whitetail for the afternoon. And I have a blog post to write.

Saturday I worked all day and did my lesson that evening, and Sunday was your typical fall Sunday - church, youth group, and meeting Dave at Merc Bar (although we ended up at Joshua Tree) to watch the Steelers lose a game they should have won by two touches. Ridiculous. But kind of karmically deserved after the way we decimated them in the playoffs last year.

And I found a new song, from Mayer, that's going to get me to finally pull out the guitar after a summer off. Plus lil bro Jon introduced me to Current Swell, and I seriously dig their stuff.

You peaches from Jamaica? Cause Jamaican me crazy. I love that Stop and Shop ad.


Albeit in a smaller, much more hurried manner...I have that annual happy- its-fall feeling that I get when the weather starts to turn and the regular fall activities ramp up.

First the days get a little more bearable temperature wise, and things are just beautiful for a week or two. Then you start to feel a comfortably cool breeze in the evening that gives you hints of sweat shirts and long pants. Before you know it, its nice enough out at night to leave the windows open instead of the AC on - and you can sleep comfortably with the sound of cars and people walking their dogs and whatnot, passing in the street below.

It will be another week or so and we'll be shifting all the vents again. My room tends to be the hottest in our place, so during the warm months we close the all the other vents and open the one in my room, and in the cool months, close the one in my room and open all the others. And a week or two after that, it will be one of my favorite times of the year - when the down comforter comes back out and the light one goes back in the closet. And I sleep better for 4 months or so.

But its not just the weather. I like fall because usually I've had a good summer with some long weekends and a few adventures and perhaps a weeks' vacation or so. And the beginning of fall kind of signifies wrapping up the fun break and getting back to things - work, youth group, home fellowship group, et. al.. This year there wasn't much of a summer, but I have a feeling it will be a good fall all the same.

The folks are taking me and the sisters to Greece for a week and a half, after all. Life goes on.


The people of Save Darfur were marching on the UN this weekend when Bush spoke, and I was sadly unable to join them. These people are doing a good thing.

I want a Firefox extension to...

Yep looks pretty cool. As does Peanut Gallery (possibly may have linked to this before - no idea).

Forgot all about fo.rtuito.us, haven't really been using it.

Cool Google link, as usual: Biiible.

102 WPM with 4 (corrected) mistakes. Yep...stilllll got it.

I may someday turn to this for sleep help.

FreeNYC. And NY's best cheap eats.

I think I'm going to try these guys for my next pair of glasses.

The issues facing our generation today.

Only in Hoboken: Giant Robot imprisons parked cars.

Open House New York - almost that time again. Also see: The New Yorker Festival.

And last, but the very furthest extreme opposite of least, a belated happy 10th birthday to Homestar.

And that's how you turn 35 open tabs into 8. Ok, 9, I admit it. I have a problem.


As you might have noticed, yesterday I finally threw up a blog post, after some weeks off. And here's the strange thing: it wasn't so much work's fault. Yeah, I've been working the same crazy hours on the same crazy project, but there's been time here and there. And yet blogging seemed like this huge looming burden I had to deal with, even though I knew after just one post I would break through and be, hopefully, back in the swing.

Anyway, I don't expect that to make sense to anyone, it barely does to me. Suffice to say, I'm back, and I'm going to make a earnest effort at throwing something up here on a Mon-Fri basis again, even if its just pointless drivel like this. Because that's what keeps them coming back, the pointless drivel. And my cunning wit.

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means links.

Oh, and yesterday's post - I've had all but the last paragraph or two written since shortly after the trip. Along with a few other posts. And pictures. What is wrong with me?

Here's the pics from the trip. Well, 10% of them. Hoping to add some more to the same set, soon.

Welcome back...

Go A's.


For me, of all the 300+ photos I took during my trip to New Orleans this past summer, none said more to me than this one. This guy, sitting there, on break from work, reading his paper and smoking his cigarette. For him, life is normal. He lives and works in New Orleans, one year after one of the most catastrophic natural disasters to ever strike our nation.

The city will rebuild. Its part of our human nature - we fight back against the rest of nature, we dominate it, and even though it may lash out at us from time to time, we live in a perpetual state of perceived dominance over it. People will eventually return to this city, live there, work there, worship there, and take their smoke breaks there. But it will take so much time.

Imagine the place that you live, the place where you sleep and keep all your belongings - filled to the top with muddy water. The water subsides, your belongings, what's left of them, settle to the floor after floating for so many days, scattered and broken. And then everything sits for one year. No windows, no locks on the doors, everything just sits in the humid, motionless air. Imagine the dirt caked on everything. Imagine the dank water still sitting in broken dishwashers, refrigerators turned on their sides, tubs with the plumbing clogged. Imagine the smell.

This is the house we walked into on day one of our work week in New Orleans. There were 18 of us, leaders and kids from the youth group at my church, split into two teams. Although this was not your typical international missions trip, we might as well have been on the other side of the planet - this was a disaster zone left to sit, for all intents and purposes. With my team, we helped gut 3 houses. Imagine someone going through all your things, your secret possessions, your life built up around you, tearing it all out and placing it in a pile on the street. This is what we were there to do. Family picture albums, closets full of clothes, books and bibles, jewelry, household chemicals, pornography, kitchens full of utensils, electronics, furniture, guns, everything. All in piles on the street.

They are still finding bodies to this day in New Orleans. The neighborhoods where we were still sat empty by and large - I never once worked in a house that sat adjacent to any other inhabited residence. With so many deserted homes, neighborhoods, and other uninhabited areas, I imagine they'll still be finding bodies years from now.

What amazes me most is that anyone would expect a city full of people who were totally dependent on the government - who couldn't even provide for themselves the most basic of necessities in the time of the storm, and who couldn't find even a ride to points north - that anyone would expect these same people to rebuild their entire house. To gut it, to throw out everything they once owned, to rebuild from the ground up. In one year.

One year after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands of displaced people had begun to move back into the city and rebuild it, but that was a different time. Nobody was waiting on the government to help - in the end, the same government that had ordered the law enforcement to shoot looters on sight was only able to establish temporary housing for some 20,000. And this was in 1906.

We live in a different era now. Now there are cities full of people that expect the government to care for them when things go bad. New York City is no different - the blackouts in Queens recently and the region at large 2 years ago provide preliminary evidence of that. Society at large relies on a system that it believes will be there for them in their day of greatest need. In that sense, we are on a razor's edge.

I believe this is the failure of the church. Our failure was not in a lack of immediate response to New Orleans, when the government failed to act, or even in the fact that the church lacked even the ability to respond to a disaster of that magnitude. The church's failure at large has been to sit idly by while a godless nation has ever so slowly but surely placed its faith in the government, not in God.

I think it was C.S. Lewis that once said, "We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them."

I wonder how much hard He's going to have to shake, before things change.

That said, we were all very glad that we went on the trip. Almost everyone expressed a desire to return and help keep rebuilding next year. And the knowledge that the need would still exist went unspoken - there is simply no question about it.

I think, most importantly, at the end of the day, our goal, whether we realized it at the time or not, was to show people what it really means to rebuild your life. We were there to help people who had seen their physical reality completely displaced. And we did. But in any place - especially a place like New Orleans - our greatest need is to rebuild the misplaced foundations of our faith. To rebuild our lives on something that cannot be shaken. I hope that in some way, some tiny little way that may never be known, we helped towards that end.