It’s Thursday again, & I’m titling my posts after the days of the week again…

The longer I live, the more I think that the whole “coloring inside the lines” thing is over-rated. Some of the best pictures I ever did didn’t even have clear lines to color inside. Seems like life is a lot like that. Either the lines are in all the wrong places for where I think I’m supposed to color, or there’s not any lines to give a reference point.

Oh well… pass the Violet & let’s have at it.

I’ve got a spasm in my back, 1/2 way up on the left, which is turning out to be a big knot most of the time… The good Dr. G worked me over as if there were no ramifications for doing so, & then recommended a massage; esp. in light of the fact that next week is convention… er… Connection & the odds are decent that I’ll be sitting in meetings & sessions & other things quite a bit. Any recommendations on a masseuse? I’ve gone one place & decided not to go back there…

Been listening to Green Day’s newest. Interesting. Never been much of a fan, but based upon a recommendation, I thought I’d give it a spin (figuratively…) I’ve been going back & forth between it & NO LINE, & finding the combo to be very, very thought provoking…


NOTE: This is not a rant addressing the Constitutionality or lack thereof of the IRS, &/or any federal/state taxing entity. That’s a topic for the politicians to rant about in this wonderful election year that we’re only 9 months away from being done with. Barring another Florida. But I digress…

Every year, as soon as January 1 rolls around, the 1st thing I want to accomplish is to finish my taxes for the now dead & gone year. Granted, 1/1 is rather early to start on a return, so I usually aim to make myself wait until at least 1/15 before I start the deed in earnest. I don’t like taxes, so I want to get them done as soon as possible.

Another thing – because my job is what it is, there are myriad special tax-laws, forms, & ways of calculating the #’s that apply only to me… it’s led to me being semi-well informed on taxes, tax-law, self-employment taxes, housing allowances, & other things tax… so I do them myself.

There’s usually some institution (mortgage company, school, etc) that neglects to send me my info in a timely fashion – timely meaning sending it to me when I want it. It has nothing to do with meeting their 1/31 deadline to have the info out. Timely is my timely.

So, it brings me great joy to know that all of the documents I now need for my taxes to be done correctly, legally, etc can be accessed online.

And my taxes are done.

For Brint…

It’s dedicated to Brint, as I believe that he may be the one to most appreciate it. Howevuh, for those of us that need a little lift: here’s to you, sci-fi fans of the multiverse…

Food & relationship

One of the things that was a highlight of the trip was the food – the Bean took quite a few pictures to digitally capture many of the culinary masterpieces we had the good fortune of devouring.
Simply put, the presentation, color, & texture made the food look almost too pretty to eat. Almost, says I, but not quite. We found a way – though there really wasn’t any sort of “Thanksgiving ribs-fest, I’m stuffed to the gills” type of feeling. I think it was because just about every meal took such a long time to finish – the slower we ate, the full-er we felt; therefore, the less beautiful food that was consumed.

Even the cappuccino & coffee drinks looked incredible – there was even chocolate powder on top of the cappuccino’s foam that had been dispensed in the shape of a heart. Had to drink them somewhat quickly, as the temperature of the drinks was significantly lower than I am used to.

The best part about the food was that it was consumed in the context of spending time with others – the highlight of Roma for me were the leisurely meal times that the Bean & I sat across from each other, talking both about the deep things of life & the simple observations that the trip brought. Something that is easy to miss was reawoken by the time, energy, & focus given to each other – a great gift for any relationship, but especially if your love language is quality time.

Developing relationship with people seems to happen better over food – there is a principle of fellowship that is released when we spend time with others, eating. Maybe its because we’re forced to listen because our mouths are full; perhaps its because eating is something that we have in common with every other human being in the world, regardless of our country or culture of origin. The food & customs of each are sure to be different, but also provide a source of bonding. My friend Johannes, featured below in the purple shirt absolutely loves to take us to restaurants that don’t just serve authentic German food, but that serve food for real Frankfurters. He gets a special joy out of watching Americans try to choke down “Handkase mit musik” which is basically the world’s most pungeant cheese, with a hard shell on it from marinating in vinegar, smothered with onions. (the “mit musik” means that the cheese/onion/vinegar combo causes flatulence.) The cheese tastes worse than anything I have previously tasted in my life; Johannes laughed his head off, & our friendship deepened.

Something happens when we eat together that is unique. The meals & the people interactions are always the highlight of our time in Germany – & have resulted in life-long friendships starting & growing. And it doesn’t hurt that Germany makes the world’s greatest Hefeweizen – something that I’ve never found the equal of here in the States. More on the Hefe…

I’m inspired to eat with others more – & to make my meals something that aren’t just consumed as fast as possible on-the-way-to-somewhere. Rather, I want to utilize the time to invest in the lives of the people that God has put in my life. Especially the Bean.

St. Peter’s Basilica…

One of the things that we really wanted to see on our visit to Roma was the Vatican City – & in it, the Sistene Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica. We went on Sunday afternoon & found out that everything in the Vatican City closes in the early afternoon, because there is very little (if any) electrical lights used in the buildings – everything is lit by natural light… which wanes in the afternoon, splaining why the buildings close…

This is an overview of the St. Peter’s Complex – I didn’t take the picture, obviously, but I thought it was important to show the size & scope of the Basilica Courtyard. It truly is monstrous. It was built over a 126 year period (1500-1625-ish) & was financed largely by the sale of indulgences (see my Travel Blog
for more detail on this…)

The massive courtyard allowed us to get lost in it – there were so many people in the courtyard, it still seemed like just a few; the only crowded spot was the ever growing line leading into the Basilica.

It was while we were standing in line to get into the church that one of Roma’s finest pigeons flew overhead and dropped a load on my black Eintracht Frankfurt jacket. Joni thought it was incredibly funny that this flying rat had deposited its doo on me, though I was not nearly as amused as she was. She later made up for her amusement by helping me to clean my jacket in our hotel room. (Translation: she did it for me. I attempted to clean it & evidently don’t know the first thing about dealing with pigeon poo. It also didn’t help because I was using Euro TP to clean the jacket, which actually ended up falling apart & just spreading the poo-stain all over my left shoulder.) Standing in line to get into the church was interesting – I counted at least 7 different languages being spoken around me: Portuguese, French, Spanish, American, Italian, & a couple that were definitely former Soviet-bloc… it made the experience that much more surreal – kinda like standing in line for a ride at Disneyland. There were several people that kept trying to jump into the line & take cuts. I had fun watching how the people from other places handled the “cutters” – some simply ignored the people; others made quiet comments that were still very obviously about the people doing the cutting; one couple observed the people cutting in front of them & then walked right past them & stood in front of them in the line. In case you’re wondering, I just chanted “Cutters!” & pointed my finger until embarrassment caused my wife to make me stop.

The Basilica itself was absolutely extravagant. It was all gold or gilded, with the pungent smell of incense permeating the huge room, (that can hold 60,000 people in the building that spans almost 6 acres.) I can completely understand why Luther was so concerned with how this cathedral was financed – it is so amazing, even now in the 21st century. I can only imagine how jaw-dropping this must have been back in the day, especially when compared with the abject suffering & extreme poverty of the majority of society.

The most impacting site I saw this day was the tomb of Pope John Paul Deux, located under the Basilica itself. Not because of how the tomb looked – it was simple, yet elegant, using the “Chi-Rho” symbol that I personally like so much I got it tattooed on my left shoulder… (The attached picture is of the tomb of Pope Paul VI, which was a dead ringer for PP2’s.) What stood out to me was the crowd of about 25 people that had gathered outside the tomb – they were mourning JP2 – crying, wailing, burning candles, writing notes… it was like he had just passed & the grief was still fresh. It was a sad moment to witness – sad, & also very hopeless feeling. It was awkward to witness, & felt darkly spiritual & eerie. We prayed through it. I wanted to take a picture of the tomb & the mourners, but thought better of it.

Il Colosseo…

One of the regrets that I have from our trip is that we didn’t have the cord needed to upload photos. So, I’m going to be posting some of my favorites from our trip. Beings as I’m a history buff, it should be no surprise-ah that I am starting in Roma. Please bear with my insistence on using the names I learned for these places in Italia – I am merely entertaining my very own self with that.

My highlight, (besides the food and vino rossa, of course) was il Colosseo. All of the pictures in this post are from various points in, near, outside, over, by Roma’s most recognizable landmark.

Il Colosseo was built starting in 70-72 AD, & took about 10 years to build. It was named the Flavian Amphitheatre after Emperor Flavius. The name, Il Colosseo was taken from a large statue, il Colossus, a statue thought to be of Nero, that had stood outside of the entrance to the amphitheatre. One of the things that I didn’t know about il Colosseo was that a good portion of the building materials for this monstrous (esp. for its time) edifice came from the sacking & destruction of Jerusalem. Of course, it only makes sense that quality building materials would be reused. But learning that it came from Jerusalem, & its destruction, which Jesus had prophesied, had a profound impact on me.

The Flavian amphitheatre seated between 50 & 80K people, & was built on the site of Nero’s palace with the intent of removing his memory. It was a part of the Roman elite’s attempt to keep the commoners pacified through the usage of the “Bread & Circuses” strategy. This means: they gave away free bread & held gladiatorial contests & other spectacles to entertain people. This was based on the idea that people that weren’t hungry or bored wouldn’t revolt against the government. Worked. “Other spectacles” used to entertain people often meant the public execution of Christians – official enemies of the Roman Empire because of their claiming Jesus Christ, a defacto refusal to claim “no other King but Caesar.” Christians were “creatively killed,” used as gladiator fodder, meal attractions for wild animals (by wrapping people inside recently slaughtered animal carcasses, then turning lions, tigers, & bears loose on them.)

It was very emotional for me to be here. I couldn’t help but think of the men, women, & children who were led to the slaughter here; people who died terribly tortuous deaths because they refused to renounce Christ. They counted that the sufferings in this world didn’t compare with the promised glory revealed in us (Romans 8:18.) Seeing the remains of cells & holding areas that still dot the Colosseo grounds took me to consider those that were held inside.

Il Colosseo was used for approximately 500 years, with the last official games held there well after the documented fall of the Roman Empire. It stands as a 2000 year old monument, but is much more than that. It’s a powerful symbol, almost like the cross. What I mean is that Christ died on the cross & forever it has become the symbol of His victory over death & hell – a stark implement of death that has become a reminder of life to Christ-followers. Il Colosseo is a symbol for me – a symbol of what it means to not “love this life.” To be faithful “even unto death.” To endure. To hold fast faith. A testimony of the faith of our fathers & mothers. A challenge to me to live a life worthy of the calling I’ve been called with, & also worthy of those of the family of faith I belong to.

Musings of a blogger

The pic is of baby Inka – the 2nd daughter of our hosts Martin & Sandra… providing eye-candy & a point of interest to distract you from the musings of a jet-lagged scoeyd…

Bloggers to the left of me. Bloggers to the right. In front. Behind. Stopping their blogging – temporarily. Or permanently. I understand why. Time. Priorities. Demands. Life. No inspiriation. No material.

Still, I want to keep going & push through. To consciously spend precious time on a computer recording thoughts, happenings, & epiphanies, mundane & fantastic. To push my brain to grow, my thoughts to go deeper, more detailed, & creative. Past the point where I’ve stopped before because it was too hard for me & something new or nothing was easier to give myself to.

I think it is a part of my life-mission to blog.

It sounds a little silly when I read the sentence back to myself, silently at first, but then out loud. Not that my life is defined by the act of blogging, but there is a sharpening of me, a growth that gets primed by the act of intentionally doing this. And for other reasons that I really don’t want to say right now.

So I will keep going.

day 1

we are off to a good day, having spent it with Johannes, eating breakfast with our host Sandra, & of course great bread & rolls. Its absolutely beautiful outside, a little chilly for the Bean’s taste, but hey, what isn’t…

I hope to touch base soon. now we’re off to market. Hooray! Shopping!

Woohoo. Off to a smashing start!

Delayed in Reno :)
We’re ending up on the 3 p.m. Reno to SF, then 6:30 p.m. SF to London, with a London to Frankfurt, arriving at 7:40 p.m. Deutschland time… about 10 hours extra of waiting. Fortunately, I’m with my girlfriend…

No, no time in London to find English muffins.