Monday, August 21, 2006

Greek inspiration

Today was one of those days when the brain kept short-circuiting. It started in chapel, when I asked: "Today is the 21st, right?" and promptly turned the Menaion to the Kontakion and Ikos of the 22nd. It continued with me picking up the scissors to cut some index cards in two, putting it on the table and starting to put it back in its place without having cut anything. It culminated in this exchange in Greek class, upon pondering the fact that the word άτομο can mean both person and atom:

Me: So three atoms walk into a bar. The bartender says: "What will it be?" The first atom replies: "Nothing, my head is spinning." The second atom replies in kind: "Nothing for me, either, I'm already charged." I don't know what the third atom would say...

Dn. A.: "I'll have a double whiskey. I'm feeling negative."

Now this was an extemporaneous exchange... it was that kind of a day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Basketball, physics and probability

Tonight, a few of us here on campus decided to get together for a little game. I went down from the weight room to the basketball court and took a couple of balls with me, knowing that others were going to join me shortly. Now, I should mention that our gym has two hoops at the two ends (which usually remain in the normal playing position) and four more, which are usually raised up at about a 45 degree angle and somewhere in the region of 17-20 feet off the floor.

As I was waiting for people to come, I figured I'd take a couple of shots at the raised hoops. My second shot bounced off the rim, then off the backboard and then settled firmly and nonchalantly at the place where the rim joins the backboard. Of course, I did not panic. After all, I had brought two balls down. So I grabbed the second ball and shot it - I missed the other ball completely. Not one to give up easily, I shot again. The ball bounced off the front off the rim, off the top of the first ball, and very neatly came to rest to form a stack of two balls stuck 17 feet in the air.

Never mind the fact that I completely lost it and basically rolled on the floor laughing, nor that a couple of people wanted to leave the assembly up there until we could find a camera, but I think I can try for the remainder of my time at school and not do that again...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Basketball and Church

I started playing basketball when I was about five... maybe six. I can still remember trying to dribble the ball and jumping up and down as the ball bounced and having very limited success in managing to keep it under control. Over the years, I devoted as much time to basketball as I could without letting it take away from my academic endeavors. Sometimes that meant I could play two hours a day, five days a week, sometimes I'd be away from the game for two weeks, even a month. Often I would take the time to just work on little details on my own - changing the angle at which I held the elbow, releasing the ball a fraction of a second earlier, making sure my right shoulder turned just a little bit more to square off on a turnaround jumper...

A funny thing happened in over twenty years of playing and especially working over little details. The basketball court became like a home. I would step over the line and the world would disappear. It still does. As I got closer to the Church, I realized that, in a way, the basketball court is, for me, a little like a church...

(jump) Lord Jesus Christ (release) Son of God (clank) have mercy on me a sinner... (return to the same spot and repeat).

I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of a game. And yet, there is something about being in the gym, alone, putting up shot after shot, working on the litte details, that defies description. There is quiet among the sounds of the ball bouncing and swishing through the net and in that quiet there is room for prayer, for thought, for patience to wait through the missed shots until everything feels like second nature again.

(jump) Lord Jesus Christ (release) Son of God (swish) have mercy on me a sinner... (return to the same spot and repeat).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Greek Class

Just like last year, my August is taken up by an intensive Greek class. 9-4, Monday through Friday (with an hour's break for lunch) we get as close to immersion into Greek as we could without actually going to Greece. It can get a little tiring, but I think it's the best way for me to learn Greek. Sometimes, however, it does seem like it would take a superhero's level of energy to make it through the day... something like He-man: "By the power of Alpha and Beta, I have the Greekness." No special visual effects required.