Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Poseidon adventure

We left Greece and bordered a ship at Patras. It was supposed to be an overnight trip leaving at 7 PM arriving by noon the next day arriving at the port of Acona, Italy. Then a three hour bus ride through Tuscany to Florence.

Instead, the ferry left at 8:00 PM and in the middle the night we stopped Albania for a couple of hours. There is mix up with food.

The cabin were incredibly claustrophobic. It was almost oppressive.

We basically have the whole day on the shelf for the kids played Uno and lounged around. That night the high school kids enjoyed the onboard disco. Heather did win €125 in the casino.

After a 22 hour boat ride, we boarded a bus for a 3 1/2 hour ride. 

It was an exhausting ordeal actually. 

The next day we explored Florence. Stay tuned for the next blog post.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Greek orthodox and Catholic‘s

Being a history buff, I’ve always understood that the Catholic Church was split in about 1000 A.D. Our Greek tour guide mentioned the differences a little bit yesterday, but she did not capture the full history.

Today I saw a small Greek orthodox by the roadside and I’m going to insert about the history.

Eastern Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics are the result of what is known as the East-West Schism (or Great Schism) of 1054, when medieval Christianity split into two branches.

The Byzantine split with Roman Catholicism came about when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne, King of the Franks, as Holy Roman Emperor in 800. From the Byzantine viewpoint, this was a slap to the Eastern Emperor and the Byzantine Empire itself — an empire that had withstood barbarian invasions and upheld the faith for centuries. After Rome fell in 476, Byzantium was the only vestige of the Holy Roman Empire.

Charlemagne’s crowning made the Byzantine Emperor redundant, and relations between the East and the West deteriorated until a formal split occurred in 1054. The Eastern Church became the Greek Orthodox Church by severing all ties with Rome and the Roman Catholic Church — from the pope to the Holy Roman Emperor on down.

Over the centuries, the Eastern Church and Western Church became more distant and isolated for the following reasons:

Geography: The West encompassed Western Europe and the northern and western areas of the Mediterranean and the East took up Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

Ignorance: The Byzantine Church knew less and less Latin and even less Latin tradition, and vice versa. So most patriarchs in Constantinople couldn’t read any Latin, and most popes in Rome couldn’t read any Greek. Byzantines in the East used leavened bread in their Divine Liturgy to symbolize the Risen Christ, and Latins in the West used unleavened bread as was used by Jesus at the Last Supper.

Different theologies: Both were valid, but each had its own perspective. The West (Latin) was more practical and, although fully believing in the divinity of Christ, put emphasis on his humanity when depicting Jesus in art — especially by making realistic crucifixes. The East (Byzantine) was more theoretical and, although fully believing in the humanity of Christ, focused on his divinity, which was much more mysterious.

Personalities and politics: Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Pope St. Leo IX weren’t friends, and each one mistrusted the other. Cerularius crossed the line when he wrote in a letter that the Latin use of unleavened bread was Jewish but not Christian. He was denying the validity of the Holy Eucharist in the Western Church. Leo countered by saying that the patriarchs had always been puppets of the Byzantine emperors.

In the end, Pope Leo and Patriarch Michael excommunicated each other and their respective churches. But more than 900 years later, in 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople removed the mutual excommunications.

Eastern Orthodox branches include the Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Greek Catholic, Melkite, Romanian, and Italo-Albanian Byzantine Churches. In addition to the Byzantine, Eastern Catholics also include Maronite, Coptic or Chaldean Catholic Churches.

In any event, the schism that divided Christendom right down the middle exists to this day. Although both sides accept the validity of each one’s orders and sacraments, no inter-Communion exists between the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox. That means that normally speaking, Catholics aren’t allowed to receive Holy Communion in Orthodox Churches, and conversely, Orthodox shouldn’t receive Holy Communion in Catholic Churches.


Today we arrived in Delphi after the three hour bus ride. The scenery is amazing. This is Greece I’ve heard about: Cobblestone streets, quaint shops and restaurants, and crazy one-way streets! And the smallest bathroom we’ve ever seen. 


We had the opportunity to go to Europe for spring break. Yesterday on Saturday, we toured Athens. 

We saw the temple of Poseidon which was stunning. 

The temple of Poseidon at Sounion was constructed in 444–440 BC. This was during the ascendancy of the Athenian statesman Pericles, who also rebuilt the Parthenon in Athens. It was built on the ruins of a temple dating from the Archaic period. It is perched above the sea at a height of almost 60 metres (200 ft). The design of the temple is a typical hexastyle, i.e., it had a front portico with six columns.[6] Only some columns of the Sounion temple stand today, but when intact it would have closely resembled the contemporary and well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus beneath the Acropolis, which may have been designed by the same architect.

As with all Greek temples, the Poseidon building was rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides. The total number of original columns was 34: 15 columns still stand today. The columns are of the Doric Order. They were made of locally quarried white marble. They were 6.10 m (20 ft) high, with a diameter of 1 m (3.1 ft) at the base and 79 cm (31 inches) at the top.[7] At the centre of the temple colonnade would have been the hall of worship (naos), a windowless rectangular room, similar to the partly intact hall at the Temple of Hephaestus. It would have contained, at one end facing the entrance, the cult image, a colossal, ceiling-height (6 metres (20 ft)) bronze statue of Poseidon.[8]

After that we toured the Parthenon and the acropolis.

The Parthenon (/ˈpɑːrθəˌnɒn, -nən/; Ancient Greek: Παρθενών; Greek: Παρθενώνας, Parthenónas) is a former temple,[4][5] on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It was completed in 438 BC although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and western civilization,[6] and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis, were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.[7] The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a programme of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.

Today we are headed to Delphi on a three hour bus ride.

We are chaperoning about 20 Borah high school students. They have been great kids so far.

Monday, December 4, 2017

"Justice League" and Memories

I started to blog in June of 2008 mainly as a sort of a diary to keep my memories of my son. I knew that time would pass to quickly. And it has. I wrote this post on June 18, 2008 with this photo:

“Though Ethan is expressing his individuality and independence -- often proclaiming "I can do it myself" or "I need my privacy" or "I want to ride down the street alone," there are times when he is a daddy's boy and wants nothing more than to curl up in my lap. There's really nothing better than that, and I know the years will rush by. I'm enjoying these special moments as I can.”
That sentiment has not changed despite the years. As he approaches his teen years, I relish the special moments we share.
On Saturday, my son and I spent the day doing just stuff. We both got haircuts. Our wonderful barber mentioned that Ethan is getting taller every time he gets a haircut.  He is 12 years old and about 5’5”. 
Of course we all laughed that his haircut takes a long time because he has really thick hair unlike his dad.
After that, we had lunch together. Simply have a quiet lunch with my son made me sentimental. He chatted about school, hinted about girls (not too much because I am just the dad), friends, dreams, his interests, music, etc. I often grinned when he would make an irreverent comment.  After lunch, he rated the cheeseburger and fries. “It was a 7 Dad.”

When we got the check, I asked him if he had any money. “Dad. I paid the tab for you, Mom and me on Black Friday using my lawn mowing money. Do not push your luck!” And he laughed. I paid. 
That afternoon, we saw the movie “Justice League.”  As we do rating his cheeseburgers and fries, we rate previews and the actual movies. The scale is the proverbial “Up or Down” plus “1 to 10.”

That rating system has been in place almost 6 years.
After my strokes when it was difficult for me to speak at all, Ethan avoided me. Starting to see movies together helped with our healing process. My wife would drop us off because I could not drive. In the darkness of the movie theater our raw feeling of loss started to heal. I did not have to talk. Often, Ethan would hold my hand.  "Everything is find Dad."
After the movie on Saturday, we headed home. He went upstairs to his room, and I followed. I hugged him saying, “Ethan! Thank you for hanging out with me today. We did really do anything other than just being together.”
He hugged be back, and said, “I really love you, Dad.”
I went downstairs feeling really emotional and teary eyed. He yelled from his room when I was on the stairs, “Dad! Everything is fine.”
Perhaps this blog post seems pretty “oh hum.” Just an ordinary day.  Yet, it was everything to me.  When you almost lose everything, nothing is ordinary.

On the cusp of being 13 years old in January, Ethan is exploring is his world and dreaming of his future. Wait for me Ethan! Hold on!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Burger King Grudges and Christmas

I went to Burger King today, December 1, 2017.

I had a "Whopper." Nothing happened.

So, why do a blog post about it? Well, this was the first time I went to that specific Burger King on Overland and Orchard in Boise, ID since Christmas Eve in 1974.

The difference is 15,683 days.

On Christmas Eve Day in 1974, my brother took me to that Burger King. It was supposed to be a quick lunch because we are finishing last minute Christmas shopping. After that, we drove to our dad's house, the trouble started to "brew."

In other words, both of us got food poisoning. It was a Whopper!

I remember moaning for a couple of days.

Our mother was the champion of grudges. I had a grudge against Burger King for decades.

Nevertheless, it might be another 15,683 days for me to have another Whopper again.

I am my mom's son after all. Grudges, food poisonings when you are 13 years old, and ruining my Christmas still reverberates through the years.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Today my wife and I had lunch at a popular restaurant. I asked the waiter where the restrooms were located.

It seems pretty simple.

I had an Instant flashback about when I could not go to the bathroom alone.

When I got out of the hospital it was on my son’s 7th birthday. We went to a restaurant and my son took me to the restroom. I was scared. I had no concept signs or gender. My son guided me to the “men’s room.”

Because of my aphasia, I did not even comprehend the alphabet, men’s, women’s, etc.

Several months later, I went to a local restaurant. I was so confused and I went into the wrong restroom. I was so embarrassed and I didn’t tell my wife for several months.

Three times, I peed in the sink rather than in the urinal. I only noticed when I realize that I was washing my hands where I just peed.

Those early days after my strokes were humbling in general. Losing your sense of self is tough. Agonized about the embarrassment of not knowing how to go to the bathroom.

It’s been almost 6 years and I’ve come along way. And I’m still embarrassed.