Personal: March 2004 Archives

10. You panic when you think you've run out of shallots.

9. You know precisely how many days it's been since you last sharpened your heavy European knives.

8. You refer to pre-ground black pepper as "grey dandruff."

7. You call the "parmesan cheese" in the green can "white dandruff."

6. You believe fresh garlic has sacramental qualities.

5. You can tell where an olive oil originated by tasting a single drop.

4. You have a quasi-erotic attachment to roasted pignoli.

3. You look down on people who don't know that "pignoli" is Italian for "pine nuts."

2. You think the first step for preparing "instant" mac-and-cheese is making a roux.

And the #1 way you can tell you're a food elitist...

1. You would spend more on a truffle than a car payment.

A friend asks prayers for the family of Catholic writer/speaker Johnnette Benkovic:

+ Please storm heaven for the necessary graces. He had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. Jesus, mercy.
Dear G--,
Our son, Simon, was killed today in his truck in an accident. Please pray for us...please pray for us.

Found a house

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As I mentioned in a previous post, our family was hunting for a house for the last few weeks. We just bought one today. It's about three miles south of where we live right now -- that will add maybe another 5-8 minutes to my commute. No big deal when your commute is already a bit less than an hour.

Just to add to the "praying to the saints" discussion, we have been asking for St. Joseph's intercession all along. We think he came through for us, big-time: the house is bigger than we thought we'd get, and at a very fair price. We're still going to finish our novena, though.

LtCol. Robert Zangas, RIP


I met LtCol. Robert Zangas when he was a captain and I was a mere PFC. He had a sly sense of humor and an honest demeanor, and though I did not know him well, he seemed like am excellent officer, and he was well-liked by everyone in our civil affairs unit.

His tour ended at our unit, but a decade later he returned, just in time to go to war. I was in the first detachment to go to the Mideast, and he was with the rest of the unit, but after the war we all regrouped in the city of Al Kut to run Wasit province until we could turn things over to the Army. LtCol. Zangas's professionalism and good humor was a calming influence on many Marines, and his leadership contributed greatly to our successes.

After the war, LtCol. Zangas returned to Iraq, this time as a civilian working for the Coalition Provisional Authority as a press officer. This week, two men dressed as policemen murdered him, another CPA employee, and their Iraqi translator. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Please pray for the soul of Robert Zangas, and for his widow, and his fatherless children. Also, please pray that we never abandon Iraq to the vicious thugs who prowl about that country seeking to oppress its people once again.

Break their teeth in their mouth, O God!
Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD!
Let them flow away as waters which run continually;
When he bends his bow,
Let his arrows be as if cut in pieces.

(Psalm 58:6-8)

UPDATE: There's an AP story about the attack here.

The Washington, D.C. area is built around two-income families. The second income might be part-time or full-time, but it has to be there or else you'll fall behind, because the price of everything is calibrated to households with two parents working.

We're looking for a new house, and confirming the above statement. Desirable real estate is a finite commodity, and people are willing to pour increasing amounts of money into acquiring it. Ergo, prices are rising fast. Ergo, more mothers are pressured to go to work to pay the bills; a lot of the money they earn is then devoted to real estate; and the prices rise even higher.

Today we bid on a house, and lost. That's okay -- it was the first contract we wrote, and it can take several before you get one accepted. What's crazy is not that we bid $10,000 more than the asking price, and the winning bid was $10,000 more. That is merely discouraging. The terrible thing is that of the four bids they were considering, ours was the only one that required an inspection.

"Why the italics, Eric? What is the big deal?" You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive. And you would want a trusted mechanic to look the car over, right?
These folks are willing to take their chances with something 20 times as expencive. If the house has a bad roof, cracked foundation, or extensive water damage, you aren't going to see that during an open house when the real estate agent is serving cider and cookies.

You could easily be stuck with $25,000 of damage, with no legal recourse. There are apparently a lot of kooky people out there who don't see that as a problem. Their kookiness becomes our problem, because all else being equal, if they offer the same price as we're offering, the sellers will choose the nutty no-inspection contract over ours.

This rant is not a cry for sympathy. I have confidence that God will help us find a place to live. Financially, we're doing pretty well, mainly because we made a tidy profit on our previous house. My point -- you were hoping I had one, if you've even read this far -- is that people's selfish choices make a big difference. If you choose to pursue your upscale lifestyles, it ratchets up the price for everyone else. (How the hell can a working-class family buy a house around here?) Next time you hear someone say, "What I do doesn't affect anybody else," you have my permission to smack them with a rolled-up real estate section.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personal category from March 2004.

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