Thursday, November 26, 2020

Being Thankful in 2020


As we are approaching the end of 2020, I have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. There have been many ups and downs and all arounds in 2020 for all of us, and this year unlike most years the world has collectively suffered in ways that for most of us seemed unimaginable in our days. What we have gone through in 2020 is what we would normally read about in history books and say, "Wow, crazy stuff went on the world in such and such a year." And though there are many people in the world who have suffered things far worse than me in 2020, personally I would rate this year as being more positive than negative. Basically, I've had worse. Some highlights for which I'm thankful for in 2020 were the following: 

Monday, November 2, 2020

My History of Voting for the President of the United States


Since I started voting, I have always been an Independent.  I have voted for both Democrat and Republican nominees for President. No matter who I voted for, I have always voted 50% Democrat and 50% Republican down the ballot. This is because I believe in government accountability. No party should have all the power. My two main determinations on how I vote for President have to do with the economy and foreign policy. I don't care about social issues, at least when it comes to voting. With this being said, below is an outline of the history of my voting record. Something has now happened where everything I once believed no longer applies as of 2020.
According to my parents, of which I have absolutely no recollection, the first time I voted for the President of the United States was for the 1984 election between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. The reason I have no recollection of this is because I was eight years old. Apparently, because my father was nervous about it or not able to read the ballot and understand it properly, since his primary language and education was Greek, my mother had him take me along with him to fill out the ballot. I was told to vote for Reagan. Because of this, I like to say that the first President I voted for was Ronald Reagan in 1984, even though I was born in 1976. The only thing I do remember from this time, is that 1984 was the first year I began to give special attention to the election process and cycle for the United States President, and I remember being really happy and relieved that Reagan won by a landslide, and I stayed up late to follow the outcome.

Friday, October 30, 2020

My Top 21 Favorite Cemeteries


Anyone that knows me knows that I love cemeteries. When I travel somewhere, a cemetery will often be included as part of my destination. Cemeteries are a place of beauty, a place of history, a place of tranquility, a place of solemnity, a place of rest, a place of mystery, a place of contemplation, a place filled with the stories of those who have passed on before us. I have visited dozens upon dozens of cemeteries, and below I will list my favorite twenty-one that I have personally visited and spent time in, and I hope to visit many more before I am finally buried in one. I love all these cemeteries almost equally, so the listing of them was difficult and could easily be up for debate; and I left many out I would have loved to include. I encourage everyone to look them up and visit them all when they get a chance. I will provide a short one sentence summary of why I listed each cemetery below.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Without a Doubt, James Randi is Dead


A few hours ago I read in the New York Times:
"James Randi, a MacArthur award-winning magician who turned his formidable savvy to investigating claims of spoon bending, mind reading, fortunetelling, ghost whispering, water dowsing, faith healing, U.F.O. spotting and sundry varieties of bamboozlement, bunco, chicanery, flimflam, flummery, humbuggery, mountebankery, pettifoggery and out-and-out quacksalvery, as he quite often saw fit to call them, died on Tuesday at his home in Plantation, Fla. He was 92."

Friday, October 9, 2020

Four Years Ago in Paris with Saint Denis

With today being the feast day of Saint Denis the first Bishop of Paris, I was reminded of where I was four years ago this day. Being in Paris myself, I was considering whether or not I would visit the Basilica of Saint Denis on his feast day. I decided not to visit, figuring it would probably be very busy and prevent me from exploring the basilica to my satisfaction, so I put it off for the next day. The next day I took a cab from my hotel, which was right across the street from Sorbonne University in the Latin Quarter, and finally arrived at the Basilica of Saint Denis nearly an hour later, being in a northern suburb of the city.

The Basilica of Saint Denis was one of my favorite places to visit in Paris. This basilica was the first to use all the elements of gothic architecture. It is an absolutely beautiful medieval building. As you walk through this basilica, it is as if you are walking through the long history of Paris, in all its glory. Forty-two kings, 32 queens, 63 princes and princesses and 10 great men of the realm lay there, both in the crypt below and the main part of the church above. It is truly a space for the living and the dead, where the reposed sleep under a heavenly glow. Most fascinating is the imagery of Saint Denis, who is often depicted carrying his decapitated head. The basilica remains a vivid example of the beginnings of the Gothic movement and a laboratory to study the careful and brilliant transition from late Romanesque to Gothic style.