Thursday, November 09, 2006

A New Twist to an Old Game


Don't know what takes the blogger mo-blog system so long. I posted this photo 3 days ago. Meanwhile, next thing you know and it's going to post my flood picture, which is, of course, very old news now!

~ Basil by the leaves

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Handle Snakes

In commemoration of this lady here:

Woman fatally bitten by snake in church

I just had to give a listen to one of my favorite CD's tonight: Tonio K's "Romeo Unchained" - and my wife had to sit and listen to me do Karioki:

From the top, boys:


it's my life
it's my decision
it's my idea of a good time
it's my religion
i don't make no sudden movements
can't afford to make mistakes
i'm a fearless man
i handle snakes (y'all)

the lord of hosts
has got to like me
else this thing here
(this one right here)
would surely strike me
the one man lays down 10 percent
another man trembles and quakes
i save my money
i handle snakes (y'all)

i handle snakes
well i hug 'em and i kiss 'em
i handle snakes
and if they kill me
i'll sure miss 'em

(i handle snakes
i love it when they listen
i handle snakes
and if they kill me
i'm sure gonna miss 'em

'cause it's my life
it's my decision
it's my idea of a good time (yes it is yes it is)
it's my religion
i don't say hallelujah
i don't even say grace
but i make my statement
i say it with snakes

* * * * * *

There's a brief demo version of the song here, in case you want to hear it:


Monday, November 06, 2006

America and Freedom

Sometimes I wonder: just what sort of freedom do we have here in the U.S.A.? Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Press?

Here's something to put it into perspective for you.

Lately, I've been wandering the Russian web. There's several good reasons for this: one of which is the fact that I'm polishing up my Russian language skills right now. Another is the fact that I'm slowly working on a russian website in the .ru domainspace.

Tonight I fell upon this little gem here:

What is particularly cool about this site is that it is the main web-portal for a city north of Moscow called Lamagrad. That's not really what's so cool. But I find the fact that they list the Saint of the day, display an icon for the day, and tell you whether or not it is a fast day, on their main city web portal, to be quite a blessing.

Is U.S.A. really the land of freedom?

God Bless the good people of Lamgrad!


Monday, October 23, 2006

A thought for the day

Since I haven't blogged in a while, and I've come upon this interesting little quote, I thought I'd spit it back to the world as a "thought for the day":

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are
always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
~ Bertrand Russell

So true.

~ basil

Friday, September 22, 2006

One Web Day

Today is One Web Day - a celebration of how the internet brings people together.

True, I've met many people all over the world that I wouldn't have through the internet. I've met folks from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, many of whom I have practially nothing in common at all, but we managed to converge around one small idea.

The world is full of ideas.

The internet, and particularly the www, now that we have so much more interactive content on the www, brings people together in ways that were unimaginable just 20 years ago.

It also brings out freedom of speech, freedom of expression, in ways never before imagined. There is so much truth out there today available to everyone.

And so much falsehood.

There is so much crime, and so much good - and all of it on the internet.

Good points:
* you can learn all about anything you ever imagined
* you can say anything you ever imagined

Bad points:
* you can learn all about anything you ever imagined
* you can say anything you ever imagined

But really, I think the good far out-balances the bad. You just have to keep perspective, and updated virus signatures.


Saturday, September 16, 2006


That's me in front of Pat's home of the original Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich.

Good stuff!



That's me in front of the Ben Franklin post office - really the FIRST U.S. Post Office where Ben Franklin (the first U.S. Postmaster) was Postmaster when the newly formed U.S. government took over the post from the British.

It is still an operational post office, and you can send mail that gets a special postmark on it.



That's me in front of Besty Ross' house in downtown Philladelphia. She lived right across the street from a building that Ben Franklin owned and let out to tennants (one of which was the old Philly post office.



That's me in front of, yes, you guessed it, Independence Hall in Philadelphia.



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Empire State Building First Shot

My first view of the Empire State Building
from the corner of 7th and 32ND.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Statue of Liberty

Here I am standing at the view point in Battery Park.
The statue of Liberty is in he background. Sept 10,

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

My day in New York, NY...

I had a great day in NYC. I would not have chosen Sept 10th or 11th or 12th to visit NYC - but I'm thankful that God gave me the opportunity anyhow. Here I was on Sept 10th, when everyone is remembering Sept 11th - the 5th year anniversary. The President, Mr. George Bush, was here laying a wreath in commemoration of 9/11. They had Time Square closed for a massive memorial celebration of some sort (not exactly sure what it was). There were police everwhere, a coast guard cutter in the harbor, numerous police boats patrolling, and thousands of police officers patroling. (I'm not exaggerating when I say thousands. Take a look at how many there were just standing around in Time Square after the celebration.

[insert photo here]

I'm going to come along after I've blogged and insert some cleaner photos. The photos below were posted from my camera phone using the moblog method, and really aren't that great a resolution.

I arrived in the morning at Penn Station by train from Trenton NJ. (I drove to Trenton once I figured out it was the same distance from where I'm staying as Philladelphia).

From there I wanted around for a whole with my mouth hanging open, and took a few photos of the Empire State Building (which isn't too far away) and took a peek at Time Square which was closed for the memorial celebration.

Then I went in the general direction toward the Empire State building, got something to eat, and embarrased - asked some guy at a bus stop where the Empire State building was ("It's right here, he said, touching the building behind him.")

And sure enough it was. The entrance was just around the corner.

The sign said it was only a 15 minute wait to get to the top, so I figured that was a pretty good deal and headded up.

I spent maybe half an hour on the top enjoying the view.

Then I went back down to the world below, and went out to flag down a cab to take me to Battery Park.

Battery Park, for those who don't know, is on the tip of Manhattan Island facing the Atlantic Ocean (although it really doesn't reach the Atlantic, I think it only reaches the confluence of the East and Hudson Rivers). The main thing about Battery Park is that it is the closest point in Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty - and departure point for the Staton Island Ferry that takes you out there.

I spent maybe half an hour wandering around Battery Park and taking photos. Maybe it was an hour. Not sure.

I bought an ice cream from a guy that thought I looked like ZZTop - I got the "Hey, it's ZZ Top" thing twice while I was there. And I got the Santa Clause thing twice while I was there. New York seems to be a hyper-encapsulated segment of LIFE. Life in general takes place there. Every kind of life imaginable. And it takes place much more rapidly than it does in the ordinary world. In the ordinary world, for example, I only get the Santa Clause thing once or twice a year (usually near Christmas) and the ZZ Top thing only about 4 or 5 times per year.

In New York City, I got each of them twice in one day (really, only half a day if you consider...)

The guy went on and on about the good old days of music (when music meant ZZ Top and not this darn rap stuff they ahve now!)

After chatting for a while, I headded back up Broadway from Battery Park: destination Wall Street and then (if I had time and found it correctly) Ground Zero.

Well, I found Wall Street. Unfortunately both photos of me in front of the New York Stock Exchange didn't turn out. This photo here has me in front of the NYSE. If my camera phone was a little better you'd read "New York Stock Exchange" in stone over the door, and you'd see the name of the street is "Wall".

From Wall Street I headed back over to Broadway and up Broadway, knowing I would pass close enought to Ground Zero (GZ) to go over and see it. Well, I figured out where it was, easy enough and headed over. Just as I was arriving this huge motorcycle group arrives. I think there were at least 200 maybe 300 motorcycles. I don't know if they were all friends of some 9/11 victims, or what. It was definitely a planned thing, as the police had them all fill up one of the two remaining (out of three total) lanes of the street.

We'll it was really hard to keep back the tears at the site, so I didn't linger, but I got a few photos, and was very fortunate enought to find a cap unloading some folks at a hotel across the street from GZ.

I took the cab back up to Time Square and got some good directions on making a straight shot from Time Square down to the Penn Station, so I could leave shortly.

I spent about an hour or two wandering around Time Square. It's 7 or 8 blocks long, with the main point being where Broadway joins with 7th Avenue. All of the businesses in the district are required to have neon signs. The more flashy, the better. This requirement seems to go about 7 blocks long, and 2 blocks wide. It would be amazing to see at night - I hope I get the chance to some day. But I don't think I'd want to unless I was staying at a hotel in NYC over night.

From there I headed down 7th to Penn Station, and happened along at the exact right moment to catch the train to Trinton.

After I left Trinton I stopped at a viewpoint on the Deleware river and took a couple of photos. This is about 10 miles downstream from where George Washington crossed the Deleware, so the picture gets the same idea across. That's what it looks like.











Friday, September 08, 2006

Wierd Things about the East Coast

Well, this is my second trip to New Jersey this year and last year I had one trip to Cleveland Ohio (which, I, being from the great Pacific Northwest also consider to be on the East Coast) - and I've noticed a few little "wierd things" about the East Coast that I find interesting, wierd, and sometimes annoying.

Valley: They call places where a river runs a "valley" even when it is not framed by hills (or even a slightly perceptible incline of elevation) on either side. If a river runs there, it is a valley, no matter that it is flat as a pancake in every direction (all the way over to the next valley).

You East Coasters need to look at a map of the West Coast sometime, particulary somewhere in the Rockies or the Siera Nevadas or the Cascads: you'll notice that there are sometimes cities that are only 30 miles apart, but you have to drive 150 miles or more to get to them. That's because each city is in a VALLEY: and a valley is a place with mountains framing it in on both sides such that you cannot get from a city in one valley to a city in another valley, without driving down the valley to where multipl valleys meet (at a bigger valley) and then up the other valley. You get the picture? There are NO valleys in the United States east of the state of Colorado! (Okay, an exception: there are a couple of canyons in Texas that qualify as valley).

Mountains: They seem to call anything over 25 feet high a "mountain" out here on the east coast. I'm staying right now in a place called Mt. Laurel, NJ, and I assure you folks it is flat as a pancake as far as the eye can see in every direction.

(Note: there are some similarites between the mountain issue and the valley issue.)

I've noticed you have these great freeways here called Turnpikes. The only difference between them and the other freeways that run parallell two or three blocks away is that the turnpikes cost money. They have all the same speed limits, and all the same traffic conditions, best I can tell. FOLKS: why the heck do you drive on them when they cost money!?!?!?!

is a prime example for you. You have Interstate 295 parallel to the New Jersey turnpike. The interstate is free, but the turnpike costs 6.45 to drive on. Why the heck do you people drive on the turnpike?????

Not all that bad: Well, okay, not everything I have to say about the East Coast is all bad. The people out here are really great people: all of them seem to be friendly, courteous (except when driving - but hey that problem is universal), and kind.

It is way too humid out there, but in the evenings there is a refreshing buzz of frogs, crickets, and all sorts of other creatures singing through the night. It is beautiful and green everywhere out here. Of course, all the green is deciduous, so in the winter, presumably it isn't so green at all.

There are a lot of great steak houses, and all-purpose restaurants, and a lot of great Italian Restaurants (ate at two different ones today) - the one below is a favorite lunch stop for all the folks at the place where I'm working all week (possibly because it is the only lunch stop close by?) - Palombo's
- and I've had my semi-authentic (semi because it isn't actually in Philadelphia) Philly Cheesesteak sandwich there twice now. Good stuff!

Okay, I couldn't remain on a postive note for very long, could I? I think Palombo's actually sells espresso. If you think about it: that's a no-brainer. Espresso was invented by the Italians, NOT by Starbucks or Tullies. But, by and large, in rural-suburban New Jersey, they don't know what coffee is. They actually consider the duncan donut coffee to be the best coffee in the area. Not only to people stop at the many duncan donut places everywhere (yes, you can believe it Northwesterners, not just the cops!) - but people stop there explicitly for the coffee. Not only that, but they actually sell coffee BEANS of their coffee bagged up and ready for you to grind and brew at home. Wow: duncan donuts, who would have thought?

Mexican Food: They don't seem to have any mexican food here. Now, this may not surprise some folks, since Mexico is far, far away, but, really, think about it. This is American after all! They should have some good Mexican food here, but they don't. I actually have a feeling, that people here consider "Chilli's" mexican food. Sorry, in the Northwest, you would never consider Chilli's to be mexican food. I ordered hot peppers on my Philly Cheesteak sandwich today (because some folks here order them that way) and guess what: they call those little yellow peppercornes "hot".

Well, that's about all for today.

Reporting from the EAST:

So it isn't the statue of liberty....

... well, more on that later.

Actually, if I were anyplace "cool" tonight - the cool place to be would be in DT Philly where they dedicated the Silverster Stalone, Rocky Statue today.

If you haven't heard about that on the news... well, you really should visit the East Coast sometime.



Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Work Hard Play Hard

Lately I've had to work far too hard. In fact, I'll probably work a little bit tonight after I get finished with this post.

It has a downside, and an upside.

The downside is, well, it's obvious, isn't it: I have to work too hard! The upside is: well, fortunately I make more money. But also sometimes I have to travel.

The downside is: I'm going to be almost a week and a half in New Jersey. The upside is: if all goes well, you will see a post or two from me this Sunday in NYC. :)

I've never been there before, and having a day off (which I hope I'll get a day off in the next week and a half), only 1.5 hrs from Manhattan - we'll I'm going to try and swing it.

The only thing is: I'll be there on 9/10. A gloomy sort of prospect that I might find myself emotionally stirred up, and shed a tear or two at ground zero. I wouldn't as a mater of course probably have planned to go to G-zero, but it's right next to the park where I'll be going to see the Statue of Liberty, so I might as well.

I'm a bit excited about it. I'm also a bit nervous.

Stay tuned.


P.S. My daughter who is only 9 but dreams of traveling the world is extremely jealous. Remember my family in your prayers.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Green Gin and Ham

My dear friend, Mr. Gustav BenJava, gave me this little poem to publish on the internet. I don't know why the poor old fool can't publish his stuff himself. Or better still, find some unsuspecting New York Publishing house to publish it. But I digress. Here's "Green Gin and Ham" (sub-title appears at the very end so as not to be a "spoiler". ~ basil

Green Gin and Ham

I eat gin and ham for breakfast

though some don't think it right;

but I'm an interstellar cowboy

getting ready for his flight.

They say don't drink alone

and that I surely wouldn't do

for I drink my gin with Roses

lime cordial in it too.

And surely I'd turn an eye or two

having breakfast at 2 AM;

Don't know if that is worse, or

that after breakfast I turn in.

Gin and ham it is for me

my breakfast every time

and then I sail into the reaches of space

and I do it with a rhyme.

Green Gin and Ham

(an ode upon the Gimlet)

by Gustav BenJava, (c) 2006 Gustav BenJava

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More info on the Bog discovery:

There's some great info, and photos, on the BBC news story about this discovery.

Check it out.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Amazing Archaelogical Discovery

"For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

"For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.

"Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." Psalm 83:2-18

It is a very interesting news story:

Just this past week someone discovered in a field in Ireland, a copy of the Psalter, that got buried in the mud sometime around 800 to 1000 AD. The Psalter was open to the above passage!

Archaeologists are amazed because it has been a long time since anyone has discovered such an ancient manuscript. Nobody is mentioning their amazement at the passage that it was laying open to.

Kind of makes your spine tingle...

~ Basil


Monday, July 10, 2006

I've heard much about Tesla since I've been here in the computer industry - mainly the fact that he was the real inventor of most of the great American achievements attributed to people like Thomas Edison. You hear a lot about him from computer science students, because his fame is being renewed in America's colleges these days.


I didn't know until today that this great Inventor was a Serbian, and his father was an Orthodox Priest!

Read all about Nikola Tesla:

Today is apparently the 150th aniversary of his birth.

Basil / Kevin

Monday, June 26, 2006

Refreshing Innocence

Ira is a breath of fresh air.

It is wonderful to find such a treasure of innocence in the midst of such a cruel and harsh world.

One example for you: she had never heard of email before.

She certainly doesn't know what a blog is. But has heard of the internet before.

They have a computer at her school, and it can connect to the internet, but it is not for use by the students.

She can't use it.

She's seen glimpses of the internet here in our home. But I honestly don't want her to get too familiar with it. I the country she is from only the rich and mighty have internet access.

I'm now fully on the side of: prayer should be in the native tongue. I've learned that Slavonic, while it might be interesting to an adult who has liguistic skills: it is totally inappropriate for children. They haven't got the slightest idea what anything means in slavonic, even the Lord's prayer, short as it is: is fully non-understandable in slavonic.

Fortunatly, it is easy to find the Lord's prayer in Russian, since it is, after all, int he Bible.

I finally found a prayerbook in Russian. A special thanks goes out to Jeff-who-is-about-to-get-married (I-forget-his-last-name) for turning me on to Fr. Alexander's web site.

He's some sort of bishop, and since he doesn't insist on being called Master, and all that, I must assume he is not a canonical bishop. But, God Be Praised, he has translated the prayers of the Holy Church into Russian.

I printed up a whole Molitvoslav (prayerbook) in Russian, and while she (like any kid) doesn't really enjoy going to Church, she is excited about her new prayer book. We picked out one morning prayer, and one evening prayer, and she's typing them up (right now at the other computer around the corner from he, God be praised!) on a separate sheet of paper so she can have them when we say our prayers.

It took us several days, after she arrived, to find The Lord's Prayer in Russian - and that, I only set out to do when I discovered she couldn't understand peep of the slavonic version.

Then it has taken me nearly a week to actually find some prayers in Russian. Fortunately I found this great web site: about St. Philaret of Moscow (and it just turns out that he has written several prayers in Russian, and they are quite good - good enought to be put into most prayer books).

So, I found her prayers by St. Philaret a couple days ago.

But, last night, thankfully, I found the whole prayer book, translated by Fr. Alexander. Ira picked out a morning prayer and an evening prayer and is typing them up. She loves typing in Russian so much that I didn't want to tell her she could just cut-and-paste. Myabe that's naught of me. But there's something simply wonderful about a little girl that would rather sit at a computer and write than play computer games.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Blogging in Russian

Well, that last post was my first attempt to blog something in Russian. The character set doesn't work right inside the blog. When I paste that into a web page I can view it. Not sure what the problem is - but I've read that at least some people are able to blog in alternate character sets.

Anyway, I attempted to invent a new Russian word (all you slavophiles will appreciate it) "blogopisat" = to blog - I've appended the word blog to the word for write. But my new word ?????????? will probably never catch on because I can't seem to display it.

Meanwhile: while searching for prayers in Russian (it turns out that Slavonic is more of a foreign language to my new Russian-speaking daughter than English is) I came across this really cool web site:

It is actually an Orthodox summer camp for Children in Russia! Hoorah, that they have such a thing now! God bless the Motherland!

Anyway, that's what life's been all about lately, speaking in Russian. For some reason I don't get a head ache like I do when my wife is trying to make me speak Russian. Xenia doesn't find herself as frustrated either.

We are learning all sorts of new words (or at least I am) plus we are discovering ways in which the Belorussians pronounce their Russian words completely different from the way the Russians do. Also: learned a few strictly Belorussian words.


a.k.a. ????
?.?.?. ????

????? ??? ?
????????? ?? ???????.

? ?? ????? ????

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Being one who is fond of multiple meanings behind words and phrases I have great fun with names. Particularly names for things that are my own, or names that point to myself, and my own view of the world.

Many people know me by Kevin. They are mostly relatives and co-workers, and institutions and organizations. Many people also know me by Basil. They are mostly friends, brothers and sisters, from Church. Some people know me by both. Some people know me by other names, and they are mostly writers, and editors - people in the fiction industry. But they are a fairly insignificant lot of people by and large. Most know me by Basil or Kevin.

Kevin is an interesting name: it means "kind one." There was also a famous Kevin, a holy man in the Orthodox Church, at a time before the Roman Catholic Church romanicized England, when the Christian Church in England still had a distinctly local flavor. Some refer to him as a Catholic Saint, some refer to him as a Anglican Saint, but I prefer to think of him as an Orthodox Saint: because he lived his holy life in a time when the Church of England was a local Church, just as the Christian Church is in every place - something that the Orthodox today still prize highly in their Ecclesiology.

When I became an Orthodox Christian, I could have chosen St. Kevin as a patron (someone to whom I look for inspiration and someone who, like a guardian angel, will watch over and pray for me). There is much to like about him. But, instead, I chose to add another name:


There are many good reasons I chose the name Basil. For one thing, one of the greatest saints in the Orthodox Church (St. Basil The Great) and one of the most unusual saints in the Orthodox Church (St. Basil the Blessed) had this name. What's more, one of the wierdest, and coolest Churches on the planet is named after St. Basil the Holy Fool. For another thing, I knew from my Greek that basil derives from the Greek word for king. And, third, basil is a delicious and fragrant herb.

What's not to like about such a name!

So, I felt like a miracle had happened when I discovered that the domains and were available, and registered them both several years ago. Here you can go to snatch up a sprig of basil at any time. My random thoughts, my musings, my photos. I keep some things well rooted there and established so you can refer back to them at any time. I keep other things there, enshrouded in mist.

One such things is this notion I've presented: growing green from the cross. It is all about St. Helen's (my wife's patron, by the way) discovery of the cross of Christ, and the legend associated with it: that the King's Herb (basil) was growing from that cross.

There are many other legends and traditions associated with the Holy Cross of Christ. (How can it not be Holy when it has had the blood of God himself splattered on it?) I will not debate them. But they are "pious legends" - that is, they are legends that tell truths that inspires us, help us in some way, and may benefit our spiritual growth (if we are willing). They do this whether they are just stories, or historical fact: so it matters not, their historical accuracy.

That's what basilsprig is all about. I hope you will come to enjoy it. Put a bit in your tea, or in your salad, or just bask in the sunshine along with the king's herb.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Lubbock TX

Why am I in Lubbock TX?

I'm here for a family reunion of sorts, although it is most decidedly not a family reunion. Two of my aunts and uncles, one from Dallas, and the other from southern Georgia, are having their 50th wedding anniversary this June. Their kids decided to thrown them a party-to-beat-all-parties.

First, they sent them to a mountain resort for a few days in New Mexico. To follow that up, they've been sent here to Lubbock, to a very nice hotel to stay for three nights and enjoy two parties - one each day. Friday is the family BBQ at one of their churches. Saturday is a formal ball at the hotel.

The "kids" (my cousins - six in number plus spouses for a total of 11 - with 17 children between them) decided to invite everyone in the family - plus the personal friends of each family. It turns out that most of my cousins and all of my aunts and uncles except for perhaps 2, are present.

One of my aunts is in the Islands north of Scottland visiting distant family at the moment and I don't think she'll be here.

To put it all together, I'll have cousins from Georgia, Texas, California, and more (I don't even know where yet) many of whom I've never met, and the rest whom I haven't seen since I was 11 or in some cases in my early 20s.

Last night I got acquainted with my cousin Tim and his family. He has two boys and a girl age 9 who is blond and and about the same size as Xenia. I showed them photos of my family and Libby swears that Xenia has her nose. So, it goes, there is a "family nose" shared by my daughter and he second cousin. :)

I also met his brother Peter and his sister Sonya for the first time. They each have families, some here and some on their way. 10 kids between them.

So, it turns out that my daughter, who has been distraught that she has no cousins, actually has 17 second cousins - and at least two of them (Libby and one other) are little girls aproximately the same age as Xenia. Xenia was very pleased to hear about this - but of course, sad that she isn't here.

It turns out that the kids in Texas and Georgia are out of school already. They start school in August, however, so there's that.

Well, I'm going to go for now. I expect some family will be down for breakfast sometime soon. I'm currently in the hotel lobby, a vast indoor courtyard wiht exotic shrubbery, fountains, a stream and pond - eating breakfast at the deluxe Continental Breakfast bar.


Basil - Kevin
A Comparison of U.S. Cities

As many of you know, latesly I've had the opportunity to travel quite a bit. Mostly because of work, but also a couple of personal trips (such as my current visit to Lubock TX.)

I've noticed interesting differences in place that I've been,and I think sometimes these differences tell tales of the cultural attitudes in each place. Read on and you'll see...

Seattle -vs -Dallas:
I've noticed several differences between the way things are at Sea-Tac -vs- Dallas:

There are soldiers everywhere. How can I tell? Well, they are wearing plain clothes, but they all have the same hair-cut and they are hauling around mounds of military issue duffle-bags.

There are soldiers everywhere. How can I tell? They are in uniform - desert fatigue, with standard issue combat boots, and a little patch on their left lapel with things like "PVT FST CLS JENSON" and that sort of thing on them.

What do I derive from this?
Option 1:
In Seattle the soldiers are afraid to appear in uniform because they might be mugged by protesters?
Option 2:
(I hope more likely) In Seattle the soldiers were inbound and in Dallas outbound.

The airport intercom:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are having some technical difficulties with flight 2454. Please stand by for further information." Sometime later: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you are on flight 2454, please be advised that that flight has moved over to terminal B 64. You will begin boarding in 15 minutes at B 64."

The airport intercom:
"Those of you who are on the flight to Lubbock. We've got problems with the aircraft right now, so that flight will most likely be delayed a few minutes." Sometime later: "About that flight to Lubbock. Folks, they can't get the aircraft fixed right away, so they've given us another aircraft right over at terminal B 64. So, you folks will need to board over at B 64. That's the 11:30 flight to Lubbock. Thank you!"

This difference really fascintates me. Dallas is a much bigger airport, but from what I understand much more efficiently run that Seattle, in spite of the fact that the airport personnel are less formal. In Seattle, on the other hand, while we are (demon?) possessed with a nagging sense of "Everything must by orderly and politically correct" - they are much more formal over the innercom - they only say the flight number (not even mentioning the city name, and so you have to dig out your boarding pass and check it even if it isn't the same city.)

Well, well, more differences to come...

(and more soon on the family get-together...)


Thursday, June 01, 2006


Kevin Basil
in Dallas

Here I am zipping along in the skytram at the Dallas airport where I spent several hours yesterday.



Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Keval Basilbald the Hoary

Well, Keval Basilbald the Hoary is off to the great Republic of Texas.

I've never been to Texas before, and I decided to set out in such a manner as to discover what they do there when confronted with a Viking!

It shall be interesting to see.

A special thanks goes out to our little friend Naomi, who gave me a Viking beard.

I'll try to report as often as I can on how life is down in the Republic of Texas.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Growing Green From the Cross...

I suppose some may wonder what I mean by using a silly slogan on my main web site Well, I'm blogging today to tell you about the legend.

This coming weekend, Sunday, is the saints day for Constantine and Helen. What is particularly important about St. Helen is that she, in addition to being the mother of Constantine, found the True Cross of Christ.

The legend is that there was basil, the "king's herb", growing from where the cross lay buried in the earth. To this day, on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross in most Greek Churches they decorate the cross with sprigs of basil in remembrance of this tradition.

Well, so I've taken that great tradition and morphed it into a "silly slogan" for my web site. But, there's more too it than that. Years ago I always felt I had a childlike wonder at the world, in a word, I considered myself "green." Then one day I was attending a Christian Writer's conference, and I met a poet, Lucy Shaw, and when I purchased her book, she autographed it (for now particular reason): "To Kevin, who is Green..." I also believe the title of her book had "green" in it.

Well, bringing you to the present. When I became Orthodox I took the name "Basil" - not after the herb, but after St. Basil the Blessed, Fool for Christ of Moscow. Now that these years of being Orthodox have gone by, I've begun to see myself as "green" again. I am just a kid at heart, struggling, longing, striving to love God, and follow Him. I'm green, through and through.

Sometimes as Orthodox we begin to think too highly of ourselves, to distance ourselves from our protestant pasts. The older I grow, the more I understand how connected I am with my own past. And what's more important, the Orthodox consistently re-iterate the truth of the Gospel: "Unless you become as little Children you shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

So, this little slogan of mine is a reminder of the historic moment of our faith, when St. Helen found the precious cross, and it is a reminder of my own youthfulness. Of how, no matter how far I'd like to think I am getting down that road, I'm still only a child. And it is a reminder of how, I must daily, take up the Cross of Christ and deny myself and follow Him.

I'm not very good at it, but I like to think I'm trying.


New Look

Welcome to the new FLY...

... a whole new look, designed to fit nicely inside



Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Wake up and smell the...

Chicken? Turkey?

I rode my bike to work today.

I started out my morning at Bothell Landing, a little park in downtown Bothell. I decided to ride my bike to work today. I decided to start out at the point I've been too tired to start out at in previous years.

There is a nice bike trail going from nearly 8/10ths of the way to my house, all the way to work. In the past I've driven down to a nice little park almost 2/3 of the way to work, and biked from there. But today I started out at a nice little park nearly the whole 8/10ths of the way home.

I can't actually ride in from the full 8/10ths, because there isn't anyplace to park that close to my home.

So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is I'm still a kid. I ride a bike like a kid rides a bike. I probably always will. Everybody else zips past me doing 25, 30 mph, and I think I'm doing about 10 mph max. Maybe only 5.

I think partially the problem is I have a crummy bike: it's meant to be a dirt bike, so it has big fat tires with mud-treads on them. It makes so much noice from the treads that it sounds like it is motorized, but it isn't (unfortunately).

Another part of the problem is that I don't know how to use the !#@$@#$ gears. There's a set of four buttons I'm supposed to push to change gears, but none of the four buttons seem to do anything consistent. At one point I think I figured out that the buttons on the right shifted into lower gears. The big fat one seems to do the majors, and the little tiny one seems to do the minors. So, I tested out the assumption that the buttons on the left would therefore shift into higher gears. Well, it only works about 50 percent of the time. Sometimes the left buttons DO seem to shift me into a higher gear, and sometimes they seem to shift me into a lower gear. Sometimes the left buttons don't do anything at all.

I think what it is, is that I really need a new bike. I bought this one used, and it was good to get me started biking once again, but it really doesn't cut the mustard.

But there's one more thing. I'm just not in a big freaking hurry like everybody else. I mean, what's the point in riding your bike if you are going to go zipping down the bike trail at 30 mph? Maybe there is a certain irony it all: these folks are trying to proove a point: they can get to work faster riding a bike than they can driving their cars, because of all the traffic we have here.

My point is not their point. I have a different idea in mind altogether, namely:
(a) do something different
(b) see some places I just don't get to see when I'm commuting in my car
(c) get a little exercise too

But, still, even if I'm not on a professional workout schedule, or trying to get ready for a big cycle race, I probably do need a better bike if I'm going to do this more often.


Friday, May 12, 2006


I believe I've felt disinterested in ordinary life my whole life. I've always been something of a closet rebel. Day by day participating in the ordinary, but deep inside always looking for an out.

You couple that with the latest trend in my life: travel, and then double it with a book I just read "Veronika Decides to Die" (a poignant book all about life and suicide) – you add, multiply, compile it all together, and you start to get something interesting.

At least you start to get introspection.

I've always had a sort of semi-morbid fear of travel. What I mean is this: I'm putting myself at risk here – trusting my life in the hands of an airplane or a car – and so "this could be it" – and so "am I ready to die?"

Each time I go on vacation I get all my affairs in order first: go to confession and dump out all the skeletons from my closets, make sure I've left behind some trace of myself that will be meaningful to others. I begin my vacation full of introspection: if these were my final days, how would I spend them? What would I think? What would I write? How would I interact with others?

But now, my life has taken the travel spin. With the death of my grandfather a month ago, a business trip to the East Coast, the death of my grandmother this past weekend and a flight to southern Oregon, and finally a trip to Texas planned for the end of the month… Well, it turns out that I'm doing my fair share of morbidity-induced introspection these days.

Then last week on my flight to Philadelphia, I brought with me a book I've been intending to read for several years: Paul Coehlo's "Veronika Decides to Die." It is a beautifully written story about mental illness, suicide, and the struggle for survival. Veronika starts out attempting to kill herself, failing, and waking up in a mental hospital. The story is all about her adventures at the mental hospital, but more particularly about her discovering how much she loves life, and wants to live. In fact it is the story about numerous mentally ill people discovering how much they love life and wanting to live. In fact, it is the story of mental illness in general – and what sets apart the mentally ill from everyone else.

It is a beautiful story, and masterfully written. It is the sort of story that underscores my ordinary thought processes: namely, that I am here to LIVE. That going through life simply meeting regular obligations, simply doing the routine – is not at all what it is about. What is it about? Yes, that is always the question.

Last week when my grandmother died, I was faced with the question: whether or not to spend a hunk of money in order to spend time with my family and attend the funeral. I could either drive down, spend a day driving, a day there, and a day driving back (since I only get three days off for bereavement, and the funeral was on a Wednesday) or I could fly down the same day as the funeral, have the rest of the week there with my family – extended into the weekend – and fly back late Saturday or early Sunday.

Well, after struggling with it all evening: in the morning it came to me like a blinding light: you have to do what is important (sometimes even at great expense) – spend time with your loved ones. So, I bit the bullet and arranged the trip. I knew I made the right decision when I called my mother and told her. I could hear the relief in her voice.

So, here I am… undergoing my moments of ordinary life… but I ask: is it really so ordinary? I have relatives all over the map. They all have interesting stories and interesting lives. Some of them I've not seen in years and years – many of them I don't even remember.

I'm doing the same thing again at the end of the month: going to Texas to a semi-family reunion.

I have all these relatives – cousins and aunts and uncles. We've gone our separate ways and lived our lives. But when I see them again, in spite of the chasm between us – a multitude of differences – there is something about family, and the way family accepts one another, that is truly meaningful in all of the multitude of life's many facets.

You have to just LIVE. And living takes sometimes-extraordinary risk. You have to go out there and be yourself, and enjoy life and love others. You have to share your love with others, because as we all know, everyone these days is in great need of a little love and attention.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Me, standing in front of Independence Hall...

... well, it was 10:00 PM by the time we got to downtown Phily - mostly because we couldn't find our hotel (they rented us a car that was about 2 miles from the airport - and we had directions to the hotel from the airport, but not from the car rental place)...

... so this actually IS a picture of me next to Independence Hall - only it is dark, and you can't see the ME part of the picture.



This is a test...

Hi everyone! I'm back from Philly.

It was a quick trip, and I'm still recovering from the quickness.

I had the opportunity to spend one evening in Philadelphia (the most patriotic city in the U.S.A.) and it was quite an amazing place.

The happening place is CHESTNUT street. You start with the Independence Hall between 4th and 5th on Chestnut, with the Liberty Bell on display across the street (they have it all lined up so when you are on the other side of the Independence Hall and looking at it from the perfect distance, you can see the Liberty Bell through one of the arched walkways of the Independence Hall). Going both North and South on Chestnut are a ton of great restaurants, bars, clubs, bistros, and so on... you name it. There's a Ben Franklin sort of museum across the street from Indendence Square, and the block and block of buidlings are all from that vintage - the homes of our founding fathers. A very popular tourist attraction is the home of Betsy Ross.

Well, it was a cool place, I must say. I wish I could actually go there on a vacation-like trip and SEE THINGS. But, alas, I was there on business and only had but the one evening to visit DT Phily.

I did get the opportunity to eat an official Phily Chessesteak - although I didn't get the opportunity to eat it in one of the great, famous, and historic "joints" where they were invented in Philadelphia, but across the river (Deleware) in New Jersy where I was working.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Well, so what do you know.

Blogger actually supports moblogging. It is a little bit of work to set it up, but Here's the proof:

Tomorrow, I'll be in Philladelphia, and I hope to post a pix of myself in front of the famous Independence Hall!


Monday, May 01, 2006

My new moblog!

Hey Everyone,

Check out my new moblog:

A "moblog" for those of you who don't know is a moble phone blog. You take pictures on your camera-phone and upload them directly from your phone, with or without text.

That makes it much easier to post something than actually having to log on somewhere, and upload your image to a web site and all that.

Well, anyway, when I'm going through periods and times of [{<(SILENCE)>}] on this blog here, perhaps I can post photos...

after all, sometimes a pictures is worth a thousand words.


Thursday, March 23, 2006


I am so tired, so dull

Do you ever become?
so dull...

this night, this long night...

so dull...

I am so tired, what gives?
Do you ever know?
to know...

this night, this long night...

to know...

This is the end, the end
Do we ever go?
to go...

this night, this day

do we ever know?

sometimes I feel
my heart as steele
to know
to go

this long day....

our launch away...

(c) 2006 Gustav BenJAva

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Lenten Reading

Well, for my lenten reading, I'm taking up a double-edged sword:
Dostoyevsky and St. Theophan the Recluse.

I've log been a fan of Dostoyevsky. I belive I've read all of his fiction at least once through all ready and important works like Brother's Karamazov and The Idiot I've read at least twice. Through my lenten Pilgrimage this year I plan to take in "Byessi" (which means "Demons" but is usually translated into English for some reason as "The Possessed") and then start The Idiot - my favorite Dostoyevskyian work.

St. Theophan, I'm reading "The Path to Salvation" - something I've read bits and pieces of before, but this will be my first time through it.

I remember that I promised to post something here to the tune of "What would an Christian (Orthodox) Country look like?" - and I really cannot do that without looking one more time into Russia, because I really and truly believe that, for all it's faults, Russia remains the sole example after the 13th century of an Christian Country.

There are aspects of Russian culture that are so in tune to Christian living that even to this day, the Russian Peasant (even when he is an atheist) remains one of the most Christian of peoples in the world.

Well, all of this with a particular twist: I am dabbling in bits and pieces of Dostoyevsky in the original for my own mental stimulation, and also to try to re-activate the Russian tongue prior to the arrival of our exchange student this summer.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

So, it's not okay for us unbelievers to so much as get a speck of dust on their "holy" book, but it's okay for them to blow them up...


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Freedom of Speech

God Bless Denmark!

Flags courtesy of ITA's
Flags of All Countries used with permission.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Struggle against the Devil

I have some difficulty coming to grips with some philosophical concepts about the struggle over evil. I read the article at GOARC:
about our spiritual struggle against the Devil, and I must say I agree with the article 100%.

Furthermore I concur that I myself am constantly facing struggle against "the devil" - but my main question (stemming from my "concern" which I will address momentarily) is "what do I mean when I say 'the devil'?" I think that when I say I'm "struggling against the Devil" I mean that I am struggling against the things of evil, the demons, the temptations, the spiritual forces of darkness.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places," (Eph. 6:12).

It is not Lucifer himself that I'm struggling against but merely the forces of evil in this world that I can't even quite describe or understand.

Well, now let me state my concern, and you'll see what I mean by asking this question.

It is my own personal opinion and belief that it is a matter of pride (the sin of pride) for anyone to think so highly of himself that he claims that Satan (a.k.a. Lucifer, The Devil, Beelzibub, etc") is tempting him or struggling against him personally. Now, when I say "The Devil" there, I'm talking about a single individual, a fallen angel named Lucifer, and NOT speaking an a generic sense about "devils" or "demons."

There is a common heresy that is widely accepted in Protestant, Catholic, and (I fear) even Orthodox circles: namely, the heresy is to ascribe some of the same powers to "The Devil" that we ascribe to God. I think most people believe that The Devil is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent just like God. Well, people would only claim that the Devil is Omnipotent in as much as God allows him to be. But in terms of Omniscient (knowing everything) and Omnipresent (being everywhere) most people (and I fear, most Orthodox too) widely ascribe these attributes to the Devil. And this, I believe is heresy.

The Devil is only one single individual, and not Omnioptent like God. He can only be in one place at one time, whereas God can be in all places at all times. Look at the Holy Book of Job and you see that Satan "came from wandering the earth" and presented himself to God and made an accusation against Job.

And Omnisicent? Knowing everything? Again, I believe with my whole heart that it is heretical to believe that the Devil himself can hear and interact with all of your thoughts. I do not believe that the Devil knows everything that is inside your head, but he knows enough to nudge you in what he feels is the right direction. Now, I won't be so strong about Omniscience as I am about Omnipresence, but it occurs to me that the Devil doesn't know everything, and he certainly doesn't understand everything, because if he understood anything at all he would repent and crawl back to God in repentance and be accepted by Him once again as a beloved child.

No, he has his own stubborn ideas about things, and his own stubborn way about what he thinks is right and wrong. I expect he has justified his existence by feeling sorry for God, and by imagining that God has fallen into error, an error that he wishes to correct in his own mischievous ways.

Now back to my main point. I know that many Saints are famous for their struggles against the devil. But I do not take that to mean that the Saints believed that Lucifer himself was appearing to them and arguing with them, or trying to get them to do things, etc. There are plenty of fallen angels in the legions of the Devil's army, there are demons and spiritual forces and powers that we cannot understand or explain. So the devil and his hoard get around and stir up the evils in people's hearts and try to make some ground against perfect Truth of God by distortions and temptations.

This brings me back to my original point: what does it mean when a person is struggling against the devil? Well, I think it means he/she is struggling against the things of the devil.

Why do I even ask?

Well, there is this overly romanticised concept that many people have today, that they are personally struggling against Lucifer himself. They like to imagine themselves wielding the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God) in a battle that is similar to one of the great Star War's Light saber battles. But, personally, I do not thing it is a concept to be encouraged. I think the root of this concept is pride: we think so highly of ourselves that we rate a struggle with the Devil himself, when what actually you are most likely struggling against your own lurid thoughts that you formed of your own accord from the passing inspiration of one of Lucifer's lowest minions that happened to be flying past you several months ago.

If anyone is bragging to me that they are struggling against The Devil I am the first one to point out their pride. (Then of course, a savvy person will always point out to me my own pride at having said such a thing... And indeed, I expect they should!)

So much to say, however, that I find too many people in the Orthodox Church, people who are respected as Elders and Teachers of the Faith (yes, perhaps even clergy) constantly encouraging this romanticised concept of "struggle with the devil." By encouraging someone to "Struggle with the Devil" and not elaborating that this means to struggle to overcome your own passions, your own temptations, your own evil desires, your own arrogant presumption that you are a glorious enough Christian that the Devil himself would attend to tempting you - are we not teaching heresy?

Now, I have been asked to find supporting evidence for my notion in the lives of the Fathers. I do not know if I can, but I suspect there must be saints out there who recognized that they were but worms and that Lucifer himself didn't have time for the likes of them. I also suspect that most of the Saints who struggled actively against the devil, may have actually encountered the real Lucifer once or twice in their lives - but it is sheer presumption on our parts to think that we are arguing with and/or personally battling Lucifer every time we have an evil thought.

The problem is particularly acute with mentally ill people. Many of you, my friends, are aware that I have intimate familiarity with several people who have schizophrenia. Well, it is a common problem among people who suffer from this illness to think that the voices in their head are demons. I do not believe that to be the case. If the voices in their heads where demons, then they would be, technically speaking, demon possessed, and should be given an exorcism. Rather, the voices in their heads are exactly what the doctors are telling them that they are: thoughts and feelings, bits and pieces of things that because of their illnesses make themselves seem real to the person. Indeed, a very acute case of schizophrenia and the person completely loses touch with reality and begins to think that the universe in their heads is the real one rather than the one they can detect with their senses. In fact, it can get even worse, and they can actually sense things with their senses that are not there. I have known many suffering from this illness who have at times hallucinated: visual, tactile, olfactory, and auditory.

These things are hallucinations, and not demons. The mentally ill person may very well have a greater struggle in life with the devil (in the generic sense) because of the harsh difficulty of their lives and their illness, in EXACTLY the same way that a physically ill person has these same struggles and difficulties. But the person suffering from illnesses of the mind is NOT experiencing some sort of interaction with the Devil first hand any more than anybody else: no matter how real to them that it seems they are. Unfortunately, there is the propensity amongst Orthodox Christians suffering from illnesses of the mind to believe so, and even more unfortunately there is propensity among many of the clergy to re-enforce this concept by not being specific with such people about what their struggle with the Devil really entails.

The struggle with the devil is all about those reactionary feelings that we have, or the way that we judge and criticize others, or the lust and greed that we feel in our hearts for some particular object of desire, or for self gratification. That's what the struggle with the Devil is. If you are having arguments with demons in your head, that's all good and well, but you need to recognize that your spiritual struggle is the struggle against pride: against thinking so highly of yourself that Lucifer himself would be interested in you. The Devil (in the generic sense) is winning the struggle if you are distracted from your actual sins and made to believe you are fighting demons on a "much higher level."

Well... I think I've said enough.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Finally, a Robot...

I was randomly exploring msnbc technology and came across this fellow:

Rather cool when you go watch the videos at:

My favorite is "Receiving and Delivering a Tray" - especially the way they have programmed him to bow when being bowed to. Hey, I bet you could program Asimo to perform perfectly in an Orthodox Church!