Texting While Driving?

The state law concerning texting while driving went into effect today.  My reaction when I first heard that this was being bandied about by our august solons in Boston was, well, do we really need this?  If you get into an accident while texting you will most likely be found to be at fault, so I imagine the only purpose of the law is to deter people from doing it.  But will it be a deterrent?  This study says that texting-caused accidents increase when there is an anti-texting law.  The article doesn’t get into reasons, but I imagine that when people know there is a law against TWD they switch to surreptitiously texting under the dash rather than steering wheel level, where they can at least keep an eye on the road.

Obviously, texting while driving is a bad idea.  It really shows how far we have come as an impatient society that many of us cannot avoid sending or returning a text – something that we barely had ten years ago – as soon as possible.   The new law also addresses talking on the phone while driving among those under 18.  While I am of course vehemently against texting while driving, I see no problem with talking on the phone as long as one drives prudently.  There are, of course, no laws against talking with a passenger while driving.  The counter-argument is that you don’t need to take a hand off of the wheel to do that.  Again, I think prudent and cautious driving should take care of this.

I mentioned above how we are obsessed with cell phones.  I think I am more than most because as a priest I need to be accessible and responsive at all times.  I have, though, also learned that is is quite ok to let the voice mail pick up sometimes and then deal with the call.

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September 30th, 2010 by Fr. Greg


Today was a typically wild and wonderful September day at the Cathedral.   The Tuesday/Thursday preschool sessions started, and so Vaia had her first day of school.  By all accounts it was a success, and Prez and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Vaia had no first-day jitters, either – she pretty much dismissed us as soon as she entered the classroom and got down to business, and she is looking forward to Thursday.  The seniors took a bus trip to Foxwoods for a fun day.  There weren’t any big winners but all enjoyed lunch, shows, shopping and some light slot machine action.  The younger kids started Greek School today (older kids go on Monday and Wednesday) and construction continued apace.  George K. started putting in the bathroom tiles today – they are going to look fabulous.  There were some hospital visits and other runnings-around as well.  Finally, I met with our new GOYA officers and we plotted out the next three months in GOYA activities.  Pictures:

Some wood that will soon be going up – Ray, the construction manager, said there is way more on the way:

Two sides of the stage in the Church Hall (what we are now calling the area below the Cathedral) – most of it is now a Greek School/Sunday School classroom, while a small part behind the curtain allows for the altar boys to cut the prosphora, etc.

Another view of the foyer area:

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September 21st, 2010 by Fr. Greg

GOYA 2010/2011

GOYA met last night for the first time this fall, and it was a good mix of fun and service.  It was also an adjustment – our big room will all of the couches is now about half the size it was and, well, the couches are history, since they were all falling apart.  Jim V. directed the group in moving stuff around on the stage and in the church hall, and they were rewarded for their hard work with food.  We then had elections.  Everyone seems excited for a fun and busy year.  Here are our new GOYA officers:

President – Maria Parafestas

VP – Georgia Varetas

Treasurer – Helena Kiritsy

Secretary – Kostas Karamanakis

Congratulations to them all.  Here are a few photos of construction – this is a view of what you would see if you came in the back entrance with the auditorium on the right and the the bathrooms and foyer ahead to the left:

And here is the preschool classroom all set up:

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September 15th, 2010 by Fr. Greg

More Building Photos? More Building Photos

Things are coming along, especially in the church basement/school part of the project.  Here is a view of one of the new classrooms.  Note the shade of green – conducive to learning – and the countertops:

These pictures show the installation of smoke detectors in the church.  We need to have these since the church building is now also a school building.  Due to the way they work and the structure of the inside of the church they shouldn’t go off due to incense but we will see 🙂

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September 8th, 2010 by Fr. Greg

Assyrian, Greek Organizations Condemn Genocide Monument Vandalism

This is from the Assyrian International News Agency.  You can also read it there.

(AINA) — A number of Melbourne’s Assyrian and Hellenic organizations issued a joint statement today condemning recent acts of vandalism against two Sydney memorials dedicated to the Assyrian Genocide and the Assyrian Levies (AINA 8-30-2010). The six signatories included two Greek federations and a number of Assyrian political, social and cultural organizations. The six signatories to the letter affirmed their opposition to all acts of vandalism and voiced a call for worldwide recognition of the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian-Greek Genocide.

The statement follows:

We the undersigned Melbourne-based Assyrian and Greek organizations express our deep concern at recent events which have seen two Assyrian memorial sites vandalised. Sydney’s Assyrian Genocide Monument (recently dedicated by the Assyrian Universal Alliance) and the Assyrian Levies Plaque (dedicated by the Assyrian Levies Association) were both vandalised with physical damage and the painting of anti-Assyrian profanities in the preceding week.

Both the mentioned monuments stand in tribute to millions of Assyrians, Armenians and Pontian-Greeks who were ruthlessly murdered in a calculated campaign of extermination by the Ottoman Empire. Historians have termed this the first genocide of the twentieth century. The Assyrian-Australian community, like other communities residing in Australia, is entitled to remember these victims of genocide with dignity and without hindrance from vandals. We explicitly condemn the vandalism of the monument and memorial plaque and call upon the relevant authorities to investigate the matter hastily.

While the perpetrators of both these incidents are as yet unknown, and police investigations are continuing, it is clear from the content of the vandalism, on the Assyrian Genocide Monument in particular, that those involved hold a strong level of enmity towards the Assyrian people.

The struggle for the recognition of the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian-Greek Genocide is a continuing one. The historical truth of the genocide is not in question, as suggested by the forces of genocide denial. The school of scholarly evidence is overwhelming. In fact, the world’s leading group of genocide scholars, the International Association of Genocide Scholars has affirmed that the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian-Greek was indeed perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during its dying days. This recognition is in addition to dozens of federal, state and local governments around the world who have also recognized the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian- Greek genocide.

We renew our call for worldwide recognition of the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian-Greek Genocide. In particular, we call upon the Australian federal government, in addition to state governments, to join their counterparts around the world and add their voice to truth and justice by recognising the genocide.

We the undersigned organisations extend our support to all organizations that have contributed to the Assyrian Genocide recognition movement, affirm our rejection of acts designed to insult the memories of those who were murdered and condemn any attempt to distort the truth of the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontian Greek Genocide.

Australian Assyrian Arts and Literature Foundation
Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia
Panepirotic Federation of Australia
Assyrian Democratic Movement
The Popular Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Council
Beth-Nahrin Cultural Club

By Joseph Haweil

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September 4th, 2010 by Fr. Greg

Sherlock Holmes: The Man

I just finished reading all of the canonical Sherlock Holmes stories, and finishing them was, I admit, bittersweet.  I had never read them nor even seen the movies – all I knew of Holmes was just pop culture stuff – the deerstalker cap (which he is never said to wear in the stories), “Elementary, my dear Watson” (again, never said in that order in the books) and so forth.  So reading each of the four novels and 56 short stories was a new thrill, and the bittersweet thing kicked in towards the end when I realized that soon there would be no more…

I first had the idea to finally read the stories when we got a membership at BJs and I rolled the cart by the book section.  Everything was so cheap that I was like “I want this one!  I’ll buy that one!”.  You can imagine.  Well, I did see The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which contained 12 short stories.  I bought it, read it, and was hooked.  I was pleased to find these two complete volumes on Amazon for $6.95 each, ordered them, and began devouring the stories in between all my other readings.

The mysteries are very entertaining but not really the kind where you can anticipate the villain or the solution, which is often bizarre.  They are set in Victorian England but seem very fresh except for the ones involving mistaken identity such as A Case Of Identity, which strikes me as being ridiculous.  Then again, at one point I guess things like this did happen – I remember reading the true story of The Return of Martin Guerre in college.

The dialogue is outstanding and frequently more entertaining than the story itself.  Some examples of the Holmes wit:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

(from Silver Blaze)

“It was all very confused.  Sir Charles had evidently stood there for five or ten minutes.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because the ash had twice dropped from his cigar”

“Excellent!  This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart.”

(from The Hound of the Baskervilles)

“How do you know that?”

“I followed you.”

“I saw no one.”

“That is what you may expect to see when I follow you.”

(from The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot)

Holmes is also a man (as is Watson).  He smokes a pipe, has a drink socially, is a true gentleman yet capable of great feats of physical activity and courage.  He is comfortable with firearms and knows how to use them (and always with strong judgment).  He is heroic yet shuns fame and publicity and is modest about his gifts.  Holmes is equally at home in the bustling metropolis of London as well as the deepest countryside.  He is not after fortune but making his world (and the whole world, for some of his adventures involve foreign sovereigns) a better and safer place.

Great stuff.  The stories are the perfect length to read one here and another another night.  Again, it is bittersweet that I have finished them.  Perhaps on to Solar Pons?

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September 3rd, 2010 by Fr. Greg