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.)