Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life Update...Part 2

After Pittsburgh, I flew to Baltimore, where my dad picked me up, and from whence we drove home to Frederick.

The next morning, we hit the road semi-early in Dad's Pinto, and went to visit my dad's brother and sister and aunt in West Virginia.  This is an approximately 4.5 hr. drive through the beautiful mountains of Appalachia.  I was raised, for part of my childhood (ages 3-8) in these mountains, and for the rest of it in their foothills.

Once we got to WV, we stayed the rest of the day and the first night with my aunt Sharon and her husband Jack.  They are wonderful people, and we had a wonderful, relaxing time!

They own several acres on top of a mountain near Rainelle, WV.  This includes two houses, a barn/shed area, a garage, a garden, and lots of grass.  We stayed in the guest house, which is the "old house", having been built in the early 1900's.

The next morning, we left to go to my uncle Tom's place, which is about 30 minutes from Sharon and Jack's.  What that means, in WV distances, is about 10 or 15 miles as the crow flies.  He lives on about three acres pretty far back in the sticks.  He loves it, and frankly, I'm not so sure I wouldn't either. :)

He fed us some venison from a deer that he had shot (there's always plenty of meat, for those who are willing to shoot it), which was absolutely delicious.  We stayed there with him and his girlfriend all that day, and that night as well.

Late in the day, we went about 20 minutes (actually 2 miles as the crow flies) up a nearby mountain to see the wind farm at the top of it.  We got very lucky, in that for whatever reason, while we were up there, they went through the shut-down process.

Tom thinks it's because of some EPA regulation about bats (we were up there just before sunset), but I think it may have been because of the approaching storm.  Or maybe both?  Either way, it was neat to see (and hear) them shut them down.

Apparently, they don't lock them, they just adjust the angle of the blades to not catch the wind, and they put some limited braking on them.  Also, they constantly turn the angle of the whole assembly to not catch the wind as well.

As we came back down off the mountain, it started raining in fits and spurts.  We got back to Tom's trailer, and put on some Two and A Half Men and some Family Guy in the background, while we all got pretty sauced on some whiskey and beer and just shot the breeze for a while.

Then we went to bed (I went first...I have no idea when the rest of them did), and when we got up in the morning, Dad and I had some breakfast, then said our goodbyes.

We left from there and went to Aunt Norma's.  (She's my great-aunt.)  She's always a blast to be around, and we stayed and chatted with her for an hour or two, while I had some shots of moonshine.  (1/2 a shot straight, followed by 3 shots mixed with some soda, all in the course of about 15 minutes.)

I didn't get drunk (I could still think, walk, and talk just fine), but I did get powerfully tired.  Once we left Norma's to go back to Frederick, I slept for probably an hour in the car, in spite of the fact that it's not really a good car for sleeping in!

After that, I had to pee mightily, and so since there were no towns anywhere near, we stopped and I went on the side of the road, like a real man.  :P

The rest of the trip back to the MD was pretty uneventful.  We took the back roads instead of the freeway, so that added about an hour to the trip.

On the way back, we stopped at a Hardee's somewhere in VA.  I looked around me and declared: This is Carl's Jr.!   See, I had thought that Hardee's went out of business (I remember when I was young we went there all the time), or that at the very least there were none on the West Coast.  But as soon as I saw their milkshake offerings, and the six-dollar burger, I put 2 and 2 together.  Turns out we do have Hardee's, and they are still going strong -- they're just named Carl's Jr. out here.  So I never really did stop eating at Hardee's....Go figure! :)

Anyway, we got back to Frederick, and Dad and I went over to a place on 40 and played some pool.  He beat me 4-1.  This was totally expected, as he's always been pretty good, and he plays all the time, whereas I've played (other than that night) maybe 4 or 5 times in as many years.  I was happy to beat him that one.

And no, he didn't throw that game.  I was just on a roll for some reason.  He was rather incredulous, and thought I had been sharking him; but nope: I was just in a really good groove. :)

So that night I stayed at his house in Frederick, and he took me back to the BWI airport the next morning, from whence I departed and returned to San Francisco.  At SFO, I got on the BART system, and made my way to Concord, where Dave Henderson picked me up and drove me the mile back to his place where my car was parked.  Thanks, Dave, for letting me store my car there, instead of having to pay daily parking fees! :)

And that's the story of my trip.  A couple of weeks later, my car got hit, but it all turned out OK.  I'll tell you about that in Part 3.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Life Update...Part 1

So...it's been quite some since I posted anything, let alone a life update. As I mentioned in my last post, I went on vacation recently. The first half I took for the first year residency at Antiochian Village for the Antiochian House of Studies' St. Stephen's Course. (Note: The Course is really great, but I am taking a year off of it for personal reasons, and will re-evaluate next summer whether I want to continue it or not. This is not the fault of the Course, but is simply due to the circumstances of my life at the moment.) The flight -- on Southwest, of course :) -- across the country was beautiful, if predictably and happily boring. It was interesting to see the clouds hugging the ground, and the sharp division between the Bay Area, which was covered, and the central valley, which was decidedly not.

Once I got to Pittsburgh, PA, there was a bit of a wait while the rest of the people who were taking the shuttle from the airport to the Village. Then we took a two hour drive, with one stop for snacks, to the Village. Once we got there, we registered, and they also served pizza. It was pretty good pizza; nevertheless, it was still the worst food we had all week. (In other words, it was good, but it only got even better from there. :) ) For example, here's a picture of lunch the next day:


Apparently, the gazebo in the backyard is somewhat of a landmark there....I had a friend of mine from St. Timothy's ask me to take a picture of it. So here you go, Jon (taken through the screen of my hotel-like, well-appointed room):

Anyhow, in the mornings we had an abridged version of Orthros.  The iconography in the chapel is all hand-done (probably by the iconography students, if I had to guess, although I never confirmed that), and is rather unique.  The figures are all strictly canonical, in the Greek style.  But the backgrounds and decorative work are airbrushed gradients and other items.  They are incredibly beautiful, if not entirely mainstream.


After Orthros, we had breakfast every day, then class.  All the main track classes were held in the same room,


after which lunch, more classes, dinner, more classes (except Wed., when there was a social, involving cheese, veggie platters, chips, and beer, wine, and harder liquors, including rum, whiskey, vodka, and gin), then bed.

There was no curfew per se, but rest assured that we weren't all up partying all night.  With a schedule like that, and myself being among the youngest in attendance (26 yrs. old [at the time]), we were all more than willing to hit the sack after that last class, around 11 p.m.

Come Friday morning, we had Liturgy for the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.  Then off to the airport.

I left Pittsburgh and went to Baltimore.  What I did after that, I'll relay in Part 2.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Better than expected...

Well that turned out better than expected!

Not the PayPal button...that got me nothing(Edit 10/6/2012: there was one generous fellow who was able to contribute; may he be blessed).  No, I'm talking about the whole car thing.

I'm not going to say much here yet, because I'm working on a "major life update" series of posts, which will include the car drama.  But suffice it to say that I'm no longer hurting for cash.

Of course, if you want to give me money, I'll still take it -- haha -- but no rush now.

Look for the first post of the life update series this weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Button

EDIT; UPDATE (10/06/2012): As per my latest post, I am no longer in need.  God has provided.  Many thanks to the one who did contribute -- and out of your own lack to boot, like the churches of Macedonia; may God bless you out of Zion, and remember you in His Kingdom always.
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You may notice the new PayPal Donate button on the right column.

Basically, due to some rather unusual circumstances, I'm a bit strapped financially right now.  If you want to give me money, you can use the button at right! :)

This will be used to keep me afloat for the next two weeks until I get my regular paycheck.

I find myself in an unusual situation at this time, and just need a few dollars to get me through the next two weeks.


I am usually good with my money, and I work a full-time job making a decent wage.  Recently, I saved up to go on a vacation (half of which was not really a vacation, but attendance at a theological school residency).

Everything would have been fine, except that when I got back, my (parked) car got hit.

The other party is refusing to pay for it, in spite of the fact that both insurance companies and the police said that it was the other party's fault (they were drunk, and I wasn't even IN my car -- it was parked).

So now I have to use my own insurance to pay for it, and wait for them to go after the other insurance for the deductible, which I have to pay up front.

Normally, even this would not be a problem.

However, having it happen immediately after coming off of a two-week unpaid vacation -- well, I now, after paying rent and my bills, have $93.30 to my name, to get me through the next two weeks until I get paid again.

If it were just me needing food, that would not be a problem.  I've had to tighten my belt before, and have no problem doing so now.

However, because the other party is refusing to pay, I'm having to pay for a rental car in the meanwhile, which is $20/day.

Obviously, I don't have money for both the car and food and any other expenses that might come up in the interim.

So I'm here, begging for a few hundred dollars total to get me through to the next paycheck.  I make enough that I most likely won't need anything after that.  (I hope not, anyway!)

I'm going to do whatever odd jobs I can find in the mean while to try to earn some immediate cash.  But anything helps!

Can you spare a few dollars?