Birth Certificates Cost $7 More Than Death Certificates, and other things I Learned Last Thursday…

Featured

I enrolled my oldest in Pre-K today. It was much more exciting than it sounds. I started by taking what I thought was the correct paperwork to the elementary school on my lunch break. I was informed that I was missing a few key components of my son’s packet, namely his birth certificate. Apparently those are important.

So, being the proactive OCD person I am I decided that there’s no time like the present. I went back to work and devised a plan. Got off at 2:45, made it to my children’s school by 3:15, FINALLY got them in the car and buckled in by 3:40. Now here’s where it gets fun.

The Civic Center in Santa Ana closes at 4:30. I am 20 minutes away (without traffic). No such luck in Orange County.

I Google Maped my way to the Civic Center (which conveniently has NO signage). Parked. Wrangled my boys out of the car. It was now 4:10.

Holding one wriggling two-year-old and dragging my four-year-old around the building (which is in a LOVELY part of downtown Santa Ana) we made it into the building.

I find the records office and get in line. It’s 4:17.

Then as I relax (as best I can while being kicked in the gut by Lincoln as he tries to escape my grasp) and look around the room my eyes land on a hand-written sign penned in Sharpie “No Credit or Debt accepted. Cash only”. Seriously?

I had six dollars in my wallet.

Deep, slow, frustrated breath. Eye roll. And, go!

I grab Nixon’s hand and tell him we get to go for a run. I sprint to the curb and look franticllay for anywhere where I could get cash. Bodega, nope. Laundry mat, nope. Boarded up scary looking abandoned building, probably not. Oh thank The Lord… Chase.

We run (I run holding them) across the street. The homeless man with no shoes in the middle of the crosswalk yells at me. I nod.

Inside the bank my boys wait until I’m at the ATM and then execute operation “Divide and Conquer”. They go in different directions. The machine is taking longer than normal, on-purpose. I hate the machine.

I grab Nixon mid deposit-slip throw. Lincoln is army crawling in a circle nearby.

It’s 4:25.

I scoop them up. Smile and wave at the people giving me “knowing” “amused” looks and bolt out the double doors.

Homeless / shoeless tells me that the windows are dirty in a very aggressive tone. I smile and say thank you as we clip through the crosswalk.

In the doors, to the office, and the clerk has started to latch the top (This office is closed) latch. We slide in like Indy before he reaches back and grabs his whip.

No joke 4:27.

The large angry looking man behind the glass says, “Hey man, we’re closing what did you need?”

I look at him exasperated, “A babysitter.”

He looks up from his paperwork, sees my face, sees Lincoln pulling my hair, laughs and says, “Me too brother. I only get one when my Moms in town. What can I get you?”

Bless you! Dad love! 10 minutes later I had two birth certificates in hand and was headed to the parking lot.

A day later Nixon would be enrolled. We celebrated with an In-N-Out feast. God is good ya’ll!

Oh, and a record of birth is seven dollars more expensive than a record of death. Go figure.

Just a Little Patience… Yeahhhhhhh-Yeah…

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

“SaidWoman, take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine. All we need, is a little patience.”

When I heard Axel melodically whine that line in the early 90’s, twelve-year-old me was floored. It spoke to my pre-teen soul. Love struck, teen-aged me would listen to that song on repeat over the following decade when it mirrored back my most recent heartbreak. And, I would be lying if I said that as an adult, I haven’t had many a long drive with the windows down and volume up, wind in my face as Duff, Slash, and Axel switched up the tempo for the last stanza and hit me in the chest with that chunky D/F#-G acoustic progression, only to remind me that all I need, “Is a little pat-ience… yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…. Need a little pati-ence… yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…”

            I am not a patient man. I don’t wait well. Saying “patience is a virtue” to me (or anyone who suffers from anxiety) is akin to saying “you know, sobriety is good for you,” to an addict, or “you should really eat less salt and fat,” to someone with high-blood pressure.

            THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS! I’m cognoscente and aware that having and practicing a patient attitude would be the preferred mode of thinking for a happy and healthy mental state of being. I know that I would experience a great deal less stress if I learned to take a deep breath and truly give it (whatever “it” is) to God. I understand that I can’t proactively change anything, or make what I desire come to fruition by dwelling on it. Obsessing over it. Pining for it. Wishing for change. I get it, trust me.

            But…

            But, I can’t seem to help it. I can fake it. I can look like I’m cool-as-a-cucumber from the outside. James Dean and The Fonz sitting on motorcycles, sunglasses on, perfectly quaffed hair blowing in the breeze, cool. Inside, it’s a manic, frustrated different story. Inside I’m begging God to fix it. Pleading with Him to make it better. Yelling into the quiet vacuum that is my prayer life, asking why He isn’t responding. Why hasn’t He answered my prayer? Doesn’t He know that I really want it? Doesn’t He care that I’m hurting? Why is He ignoring my pain? WHY?!?!

            He whispers, “Patience.”

            I scream, “But Lord!”

            He sooths, “Wait.”

            I panic, “But what if…?”

            He calmly encourages, “Be still.”

            I frantically pace and concoct manic contingencies to play every angle of my issue, “But if I don’t do something now, look what could happen! I have to act!”

            He softly proclaims, “Know that I AM God.”

            What does that mean? Know that I am God. I know He’s God. His name is… God. Mine is Nick. Seems pretty simple to me.

            If that’s the case why do I constantly act as if I’m Him? I try to take on the responsibility for the outcome of my life. I try to control the uncontrollable. I attempt to dictate the direction of the wind to blow in my favor, then I panic when it won’t fill my sails when I want it to.

            Patience means waiting. But what are we waiting for? I can tell you what I’m waiting for. I’m waiting for my own personal Genie-Jesus to grant my wish. The way I asked, when I ask for it. Is that too much to ask? When I look at my life and how I react to things, I am struck by how many times The Lord has failed to answer my prayer in the affirmative. The truth is He answers every prayer, it’s just that sometimes the answer is, no.

            No? Wait, I thought I was supposed to be able to do all things through Christ who loves and strengthens me. I thought if I prayed for it hard enough I could get my wish granted. I know what’s best. I can see the big picture. Gimme!

            Know that I am God. Let’s explore that. What can God do? What is He capable of? Short / Simple answer: everything. He’s God. So if that’s the case why isn’t He doing what I’ve asked? Because Daddy knows best, that’s why. A parent knows what is good for their child. Even when that child is vehement that their plan is the best course of action. A parent’s job is to look at the big picture and extrapolate out the possible outcomes of the choice the child has proposed. More often than not my answer to my own two young son’s is, No. The second most common answer they get is, “Maybe, it depends how you act”. Third on my list is, “Yes, but later.”

            Think about what God says to you when you pray for what you think you need. In my own experience I would say that very few times in my life have I asked for something from God and immediately, “SHA-ZAAM!” it has come to pass. There are lessons in the waiting. There are things to listen to in the quiet. We just have to be willing to, be still. To wait. To be patient and obedient. To trust that God has our best interests in mind and only wants what best for us, even though we may have convinced ourselves of the contrary.

            So I sit in my car. Driving. Listening to the tires kiss the pavement and the wind howl in my open window. Panicking. Fretting. Planning. Scheming.

            “Lord, please let me have it.”

            “No.”

            “Please God, let it happen the way I want it to.”

            “Maybe, it depends on how you act and how much you can grow to be ready.”

            “Jesus, please let them love me.”

            “Not yet. Have….”

My stereo pops to life and I hear the voice of an old friend backed by a trio of acoustic guitars, “a little pat-ience… yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…. Need a little pati-ence… yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…”

I look up, take a deep breath, and nod. Smooth, Lord. Smooth.

Copyright 2019: V. Nicholas Gerasimou

No portion of this work may be stored or transmitted in an electronic storage or retrieval system without the express written permission of the author.

The True Weight of Sin: The Ultimate Super-set – Pull-ups and Existential Quandaries

If I had to rank the emotions that I experience on a regular to semi-regular basis, I think I’d rate guilt a Hippo-in-the-100-meter-dash, laughable last-place.

Side-note: I was just informed that the Hippopotamus can in-fact run up to 19mph over short distances (sprints) and is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa; and that local lore postulates that Hippos kill more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined. Ok.

I amend my previous analogy. Sloth. A sloth-in-the-100-meter-dash, laughable last place. That works.

Regardless, it is a horrible feeling. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin. You internally berate yourself for being so bad, so weak, so selfish… so gross.

“What was I thinking?” you ask. “Why in the world did I do that?” you plead to the universe. Well, the universe is out of the office today. Leave a message.

So there you are. You’re left Riddled with Regret, and Simmering in Sin, maybe even cornered by condemnation because of what you’ve done, or said, or thought. But we all feel it. It hurts. We’ve all had a taste of the pain that guilt brings. Unfortunately it’s a part of the human condition. We sin. A lot; and at times it can feel like the proverbial weight of the world is on our frail human shoulders. I can personally attest to feeling what I can only describe as a pressure on my soul when I’m deep in the aftermath of the latest failure I committed (whatever it may be). A heaviness that kind of sits on my heart. It can literally feel hard to breathe sometimes.

I started to think about this at the gym. Why at the gym, you ask? I was doing pull-ups. With a bad left shoulder. It’s a blast. So, I would jump up, grab the bar, do around six, then hang there for a few seconds to give my shoulder a moment’s respite from the sharp-stabbing-knife-icepick-blender-of-death-and-hurting-cornucopia-of-agony that lives at the head of my Humerus, and then struggle through the rest of my set of 10. It was during one of my gravity defying breaks that I noticed something. It was really hard to breathe. As I hung there, arms fully extended, tension holding my chest open and the weight of my body pulling down on the rest of me, it was difficult to draw in a full satisfying breath of fresh air.

From there, my mind light-speed / pin-balled from the Bajau people who live in the waters off the islands of the Philippines and Indonesia whom can hold their breath for up to five minutes (it’s crazy, they’re genetically designed to go without oxygen for long periods of time). Then to Guantanamo Bay and how waterboarding must feel, and then, because of the position I was in, arms outstretched, my mind flew to Jesus.

Jesus. My Lord, nailed to a long wooden beam, then affixed to another to form a cross.

I finished my set and dropped to the ground.

He hung there for hours. Weak, beaten, scourged, cut, stabbed, starving, dehydrated, sleep deprived. For hours he fought for every breath. But wasn’t there more weighing him down? That thought gnawed at the back of my brain until later that night when I had to put this to keyboard to get it out of my head. We say that our Lord Jesus died for our sins, but what does that really mean? Well, let’s do some math!

Let’s look at the belief that sins weighs on us. How do you quantify that? If it had mass, how much would a sin weigh? Six ounces? A hundred Kilos? Five thousand pounds? Undoubtedly in this argument some sins would weigh more than others. Cursing at someone would weigh more than stabbing someone in the eye with a fork. Having an impure thought about a member of the opposite sex would carry less weight than having an affair and blowing up your marriage. Now that’s not how God sees it, but for the sake of the equation we’re creating, and our sanity, let’s set the weight of a sin (regardless of severity) at an arbitrary pound. A single pound per sin. Sixteen ounces of sorrow every time you go against God’s word.

The next criteria to compile would be total sins committed per person. To this point in your life how many times have you sinned? Be honest. If you can’t nail down a number, don’t feel bad. Neither can I. A BA-JILLION? (Which by-the-way the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as: “[a] huge, unspecified number: Used for emphasis”) I checked.

I sin so many times a day I don’t know that I could keep track for more than a few hours, or minutes… To be honest, my stupid brain offered up some colorful profanity which I just mumbled under my breath after I knocked my phone off the desk with my elbow. But we need a number and for the sake of our equation we’re creating. So let’s set the number of sins per human lifetime at a comically absurd fixed rate of, five.

With our two set parameters: one-pound of “weight” per sin, and a fixed rate of five sins per human lifetime, we get a grand total of (drumroll please…) five pounds of sin per person. Five pounds; doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s not. The actual sin and regret of a lifetime can prove unbearable for some. If we theorize about the actual number of times per lifetime a person may commit a sin, we are talking about hundreds-of-thousands, maybe millions of pounds per person. An unthinkable amount of burden for any one individual. Imagine turning off the light and snuggling into bed at night with the weight of three-hundred fully-loaded, four-door, Chevy Tahoe’s balanced precariously on your chest. Sometimes it’s a wonder that we get any sleep at all.

Back to what our Lord did for us. We have the weight of sin per lifetime, but Jesus didn’t just take my sin, he took ALL sin. Ever. We have to address the question of people. According to the “2017 Revision of the United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects”, there are roughly 7.68 Billion human beings on planet Earth (give or take a few). That number increases by around 1.2% per year which equates to about Eighty-Eight million new passengers on this big blue floating rock we call home every twelve months.

If the reproductive rate of increase stays constant over the next 30 years, we can expect to be fighting for elbow room (and food, and water, and clean air) with just over 9.3 Billion (low variant) to 11.1 Billion (high variant) other people by 2050. There are many out there who speculate that we will never hit those numbers for a number of reasons. Some of these include war (nuclear and / or biological), famine, lack of clean drinking water, declining birth rates in developed countries (i.e. the United States) for social and economic reasons, and diseases (like Malaria, E-bola, AIDS, H1N1-2-&3, the host of once thought-to-be eradicated viruses that are making a comeback due to the anti-vaccine movement, a mass extinction event like a meteorite the size of Texas smashing into Canada, or a maybe yet unknown mutated global pandemic virus that will in the near future kill us all or kick off the real-life version of the Walking Dead).

Regardless, that a lot of people. But that’s today; how many people have there EVER been? Ever? Total? How many souls have played their part in the cosmic play before taking their final bow?

According to many researchers who’ve dedicated their studies to population demographics, one being Carl Haub, who was a senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), a U.S.-based nonprofit focused on global population, health, and environmental issues, the human species as we know it today began roughly 50,000 years ago. This secular theory begins with what is called the “Adam & Eve” starting point. Bearing no theological connection for the people it was named for, the theory states that around 50,000 years ago (many would like to, and have pushed that date further back) two mysterious people were the genesis of the human race we know today. There is no data to draw upon to prove the theory so a fixed number and date were set to facilitate the mathematical equation.

The theory holds to three bench marks. One being the genesis of two individuals, or the nameless “Adam and Eve”; Two being around the year 8000B.C. when the we reached five million people; and lastly around the time Jesus Christ was born when humans numbered a little over 300,000,000. Using these three benchmark points, The U.S Census Bureau, The United Nations, and PRB puts the total number of people to have ever lived on Earth to be at around 109,947,781,641 (One Hundred-Nine Billion, Nine Hundred-Forty-Seven Million, Seven Hundred-Eighty-One Thousand, Six Hundred-Forty-One, give or take a few) in the year 2017. Presently you would have to add another 2 years of population growth to that number to be accurate.

To explore the topic from a faith based point of view (which was not as easy to find) I found some information on a Christian perspective of human population. The Institute of Creation Research, and Physicist and Bible Scholar Lambert Dolphin each had a take on the sum total of world population from creation.

In his paper “World Population since Creation” Dolphin speculates that from the time of Adam and Eve to the flood there could have been (at the low end of the spectrum); over 3 billion people living, to the high in upwards of 10’s of billions. Some factors that allowed for these numbers to be plausible are named in the Bible. One was the lifespan of the average person. Pre flood and for some time after the human lifespan was upwards of 800 years. It’s postulated that the lack of pollutants in the air, water and food, and the atmosphere being more rich in oxygen and better equipped to keep most, if not all ultraviolet radiation from reaching the surface were all major contributors. Adam lived for 930 years, and if you average the lifespans of the nine antediluvian patriarchs you get a lifetime of about 912 years. That’s almost a millennia to live, marry and breed.

Post flood, Noah and his family numbered 8 and the life expectancy drops off dramatically to close to what it is today. After this time the numbers seem to stick roughly to the previous benchmarks set by the US Census Bureau. Dolphin puts the “world population at the time of Abraham at 5 million,” and “the world population at the time of Christ, between 200 and 300 million” (Dolphin, 2007). By the best guesstimates, estimates, and calculations, all told the number of souls that the Lord has allowed to live on Earth totals around 140,000,000,000…give or take a few.

If we average the secular and Biblical totals we get 134,973,890,820. Let’s call it 135,000,000,000 to clean it up.

Now we have the total number of people that have lived on Earth, the average number of sins a person commits per lifetime, and the arbitrary “weight” of a sin. But we need to address the heart of the matter. Let’s push our calculations off to the side for a moment and look at what our Lord did for us.

The Lord of all creation chose to, of His own accord, by His own free will, under no other pretense than the fact that He unconditionally loved (loves) me…pay for my sins with His own human life. He chose to take on human form. Leave the wonders of heaven, set aside his Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience to slump through the muddy drudgery of what is everyday life here on Earth.

He chose to be beaten, broken, humiliated, scourged until the pearl white of His bones shone through the holes in His back; struck until He was no longer recognizable as the man He once was. He was twisted, scorned, torn, and mutilated. He chose to be tortured. Mocked by his creations. Cursed. Spat on. Laughed at. He chose to be pushed past the point of physical exertion, where every muscle in His failing body screamed at Him to stop, He chose to walk up that hill. He let the men He created drive spikes through His wrists and through the long bones of His feet. He stayed on the cross. He didn’t have to. He chose to. He wanted to. For a little over six hours Jesus drank in every vibrant, horrible tidbit of pain the human nervous system could process.

He could have ended it all with a thought. All He had to do was wish for it to stop and it would have. In the garden He hinted at that fact. When the mob came to arrest Him Jesus rebuked His followers when they raised swords and struck out to save Him by saying,

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will not at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew26:53, NIV)

Our Lord wanted to go through that day. To willingly suffer…for me…for us. It is staggering when you think about the depth of His love. But now to my idea. The single thought that so unceremoniously interrupted my back workout. The fact that has led us through this rather lengthy (and I must apologize) and possibly boring, half math, half history lesson. There is a moment on the cross when out Lord looked up to heaven and cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46-NIV) Jesus felt alone. Disconnected from God the father. In Habakkuk 1:13 it says:

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (KJV)

It was at that moment that many believe Jesus took on the sin of the world. God the father cannot look upon sin so at that moment when the inequities of the eons settled on our Lord’s shoulders, God the father severed holy the connection of The Trinity, and The Son was pushed out into the cold. To put it in human terms we can understand, God The-Father turned His back. In essence he completed Jesus’ punishment.

This is what struck me. This is what did, does and will always leave me slack jawed. Jesus took on the sins of the world for all time. Just kind of rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? The sins of the world. We say it without really understanding what that means. Now really think about that statement, the sins of the world. How about the sins of the last five minutes…in South Dakota? Still astronomical. The last two minutes? The last thirty seconds? How many atrocities occurred on Earth today? With roughly 7.68 billion people on Earth, how many sins, from envy to genocide were committed? (You might want to go back now to the meat of this chapter and review the material, were about to use it) How many in one day? A week? A year? Mind-blowing.

In that moment our Lord took on every sin from swearing to rape, from greed to molesting a child, from Mother Teresa to Jeffery Dahmer, from the beginning of time to the end. Millennia into the future. The sick feeling of guilt you feel when you lie, or steal, or hurt someone. The demons that must plague murderers, the sickness of the damned; It didn’t fall on Jesus. It wasn’t placed on Him; He reached out and took it. He fought for it. He placed it on His shoulders like a man puts on a coat. For us, He accepted responsibility for every sick, horrible, depraved, vengeful, hateful, lustful, violent, deliberate, sadistic, selfish thought, word and deed. For all time.

Let that sink in. The next time you sin (or are about to sin) think about that. Every sin you’ve done to this point, Christ paid for, and every sin you will commit in the future is taken care of as well. Kind of puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

There he hung. The weight of His body being willed toward the ground putting an unnatural amount of torque on His shoulders, almost assuredly dislocating them. The anatomical position gravity forced Jesus into made it impossible to breathe because the lungs were compressed, so our Lord had to push up on the nail that was lodged between the metatarsal bones in His feet, and pull down on the spikes in between the radius and ulna bones of His wrists to draw in air. Prolonged torture. Agony. Pain.

But there was more than gravity at work. What is the weight of sin? We came up with a ridiculously low 5lbs of sin per person. Let’s do some math. At 5lbs of sin per person, with roughly 135,000,000,000 people having lived on earth so far that gives us a grand total of 675,000,000,000 (Six-Hundred-Seventy-Five Billion) lbs. of sin that Christ took upon Himself (leaving out the constant rate of population growth and new sins being committed every second that compound that number exponentially); it’s still a cortex melting number.

That’s the equivalent of 2,934,782 blue whales of sin resting on Jesus’ shoulders. Now think about how sick you feel when you have to get something off of your chest. How heavy does it weigh on you? Can you feel it? Imagine…imagine what our Lord did for us. Imagine what He felt. The worst part is I am responsible for it. Well, at least some of it. But there are days when I feel like I’m there, at Calvary, deliberately pushing down on His shoulders while He struggles for breath on the cross.

What is the weight of sin? All I know is that it’s more than I can bear by myself. I struggle fighting gravity to wrestle away a pullup. Sin pulling down on my soul is a whole other story. That’s why I am so eternally grateful that we have a God that is so loving, long-suffering, and forgiving. Otherwise I fear I’d be crushed under the weight. I’m glad the Lord has broad shoulders.

Copyright 2019 V. Nicholas Gerasimou

No portion of this work may be stored in an electronic device or reproduced without the authors express permission.

Angels, Demons, and the Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled. — V. Nicholas Gerasimou’s Side of the Fence

The Bible says that at some point in time, there was a civil war in heaven. It was waged between two opposing factions spawned out of an eternal race of spiritual beings that The Lord God created before He breathed life into His ultimate creation… humans. These angelic beings were divided by a violation of […]

via Angels, Demons, and the Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled. — V. Nicholas Gerasimou’s Side of the Fence

DIY: Backyard Bar

Tags

, , , ,

So this summer as I was going through my wallet I noticed that my man-card had expired. When did that happen?

Not being okay with that I decided to get my man on. I took apart the dryer, annndd, put it back together. Did outdoor solar lighting, hung pictures, TV’s, started making beer mugs out of old craft beer bottles, and then I got really ambitious and decided I wanted a rustic backyard cooler/bar.

Well, my journey was as follows.


I went to Home Depot and bought a cooler, what I thought was enough wood (so very, very wrong), a T-Square, a Circular Saw, Orbital Sander, Jigsaw, nails, and Wood Glue.

I then sketched out the basic design I wanted (which I later flipped and altered as I progressed).

First I set the cooler on the 3/4 inch thick plywood sheet I had and measured out how wide I wanted the cooler compartment to be. I didn’t want the cooler to be permanently fixed into the bar so I left about and inch and quarter clearance on all sides.

Once I had the measurements set I cut the plywood and started to frame the cooler.


I kept the cooler side about two inches below the top of the box.


My carpenters appreciate operated by the tried and true axiom, “Measure 32 times, hit things with a hammer, and unplug everything.


Once the frame was done I cut 5.25 x 0.75 inch boards to cover the outside.


With the cooler done I moved onto the bar.


I was going to add an upper level to the bar per my original design, but I then realized that I am not 7 feet tall and it would be extremely inconvenient to try to do anything except hang from the top and do pull ups. So I nixed the second level. I made the bar top two inches lower than the cooler top for some aesthetic contrast.

Same procedure. Once framed, I covered the outside.


Mind you no nail gun here folks. I’d say about 200 nails were hammered into this bad-boy by Your’s Truly. I did put liquid nails between each connection as I went as well.

I put a flat-top edge around the cooler so that people could set drinks on it, and I just thought it looked cool. After that I framed and built the lid.



Legs. Oh the legs. Stupid… Stupid legs. Finding the right height was a process that required setting the now 100 pound bar on anything I could find to get a sense of where I wanted it to rest. I am also very OCD and indecisive/second guessy so it took a while for me to feel satisfied.


Cut the legs to the height I wanted and attached one side then used the workout bench (which was the height I agreed on) to prop up the other side to attach the other two.


Once the legs were on I got to sanding. I used my orbital sander and course grain paper and went to town. Evened out the rough spots (and to be honest the spots where my measurements mayyyy have been a little bit off). I also added accent pieces to completely frame the bar top and sides.

Then I started the polyurethane varnish process. 4 coats for me. I liked the natural color of the wood so I didn’t stain it.


Finally I put on my hardware, knobs, hinges, etc. Lightly sanded it with fine grain paper, put one more UV protectant coat of varnish, and that’s a bar.


1.5 weeks, three smashed fingers, 20 splinters, about $150 in, and four trips to Home Depot. But I have a cool bar that is sturdy, quality made, and a conversation piece.

Hope you like it. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Also feel free to share this post.

Cheers!

http://www.vnicholasgerasimou.com

Get out of the boat: Faith, Courage, & Belief.

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

In the Bible, the Apostle Peter walked on water. Most people automatically connect that talent with Jesus Christ, but in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, we read about how Jesus was out for a leisurely stroll on the Sea of Galilee, in a gale no less, and told Peter to walk out to him. No big deal. We read that Peter got out of the boat and started to walk on water toward The Lord. But then poor Peter falters. He takes his eyes off of Jesus and begins focusing on the wind, and the waves, and the fact that he is, oh… I don’t know, WALKING ON WATER! Fear and doubt overtake him and he begins to sink. He cries out to Jesus for help and The Lord reaches out and catches his hand. Poor Peter. He failed. He floundered. He almost fell flat.

They look at each other, Peter trying to catch his breath, blinking away the sea-spray, and Jesus patiently waiting for him to collect himself. With chaos all around them and a boat full of onlookers marveling in wonder from behind them, Jesus calmly leans in and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

What did Peter feel in that moment? Guilt? Shame? Relief he didn’t drown? Maybe gratitude for being saved? What we do know for sure is that he had just proved his lack of faith in God. He fell. Jesus had to lift him up. How embarrassing. And in front of his friends too.

I fear some of us may be missing an important point about this event. What I mean is there is more than one message to learn from this passage.

What does it mean to have faith? I guess that would be dependent on what you have faith in. For example, I had faith that the chair I’m sitting in would support my weight. I didn’t even think about it. I just sat down. No debate or fear. I had faith. It’s easy to have faith in things I can see. Things I can test. Things that can empirically prove to me over a protracted duration of trial and error that they won’t let me down.

What about things I can’t see? How about… air? I can’t see it (that’s not entirely true, high pressure system, Southern-California smog begs to differ). I can’t hold it in my hand. I can’t smell it (I refer back to my aside on smog). But I know it’s there. I trust it will keep me alive, nourish my tissues, and I can feel it caress my skin when the Santa Ana’s whip it out to sea. I believe in air.

Faith is typically defined as a complete trust or confidence in something or someone. Faith in love, humanity, in God. Faith in the hope that everything is going to work out. Faith in faith. Even atheists have faith. They have faith and believe that there is no God.

But I think that people paint Old Peter with a very broad stroke. What we are missing is that faith can ebb and flow. Faith can be dented, or hidden, or momentarily overshadowed by tragedy or trauma. We can get lost and take our eyes off the prize.

Peter took his eyes off of God and started focusing on the storm around him. He let the chaos he found himself in get in the way of his faith in the Lord, who happened to be standing directly in front of him. He was human, and like all of us flawed, weak, and afraid.

Yes Peter failed one test of faith, but what many miss is that moments prior he passed a test that I personally admire and hold in very high esteem.

He got out of the boat.

Peter got out of the boat. He did something that went against every rational impulse that a mortal, person governed by the laws of physics should have done.

He took his faith in God and put it into practical action, He had faith that God would support him on the water. He got out of the boat! That’s crazy when you really think about it.

We just accept it all because it’s in the Bible but really take a minute and think about it. You’re Peter. You’ve had a really long day. It was hot. Muggy. Dusty. You just received word that Jesus’s cousin John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod. Throngs of people from across Judea flocked to Jesus for healing and blessing and prayer and encouragement. You did your best to facilitate some type of order.

Crowd control was a lost cause. You were pushed, stepped on, shoved, bumped, complained to, and possibly yelled at. People get grumpy when they’re hungry. Later that evening you tell Jesus, “Hey Lord, it’s getting late and we’re kind of out in the middle of nowhere. We should probably send these people home to get a bite to eat and get some shuteye.” The Lord shakes His head and says (I’m paraphrasing), “No, we’ll feed them, bring me what we have.” You look around at the thousands of people and then down at the measly five loaves of bread and two scrawny fish you’ve managed to scrounge up. “Uhh, Lord. I think we may have a problem.” Jesus smiles a knowing smile and blesses the food, hands it to you and your companions and tells you to feed the crowd. The bread is never ending. It simply regenerates out of the basket as do the fish. You watch in amazement as a feast is seemingly created from nothing. Is there nothing this guy can’t do?

It’s night. Jesus tells you and the other disciples to go ahead of him on the boat and he’ll catch up. Catch up? Is he going to swim over? But you do as you’re told. As soon as you cast off the beach a storm picks up. Wind gusts whip up seven foot swells. Waves crash against the hull of your small fishing boat. Worry tugs at your heart. This is bad. Where is God when you need Him? Hours pass. Maybe you doze off, maybe not. Then someone sees a ghost. A cry goes out on the boat and everyone looks port. A hazy form looks to be approaching where you’re floating. Cries of fear escape your lips.

Then from the water you hear a familiar voice, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” It can’t be. Could it? Is that Jesus? Walking on the water? Am I hallucinating? Well, I have seen him do some pretty amazing things, you think to yourself. I have faith in him. I trust him. So when he tells you to get out of the boat and defy every natural, rational survival impulse you have… you do it.

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make all that much sense to us at the time. Things that scare us. Things that push us out of our comfort zone. Things we could get ridiculed for, or looked down at for, or lose Earthly position or possessions for.

He asks us to do these things with no more than His word, and a promise that He is in control and has our best interests in mind.

Share the gospel with that stranger (What if they don’t listen?). Share the gospel with your family (What if they reject me?). Give your money to the poor (What if I don’t have enough left for me?). Volunteer, serve, and help (What if I don’t have the time or don’t get compensated?) Give that up (But I like it.) Stop spending time with them (But I’ll miss them.)

The point I’m trying to make is Peter deserves more credit for this story than he gets. God ultimately gets all the glory, but from a human standpoint wherein we can take a valuable lesson away from an event, I feel that taking that first step was courageous.

God calls us to step away from this world and into what He has planned for us. We will all falter. We will all fail. We will all constantly sin (unfortunately). Those facts are a given. What’s most important is that we stay faithful and step out in faith toward what God has called us to do.

Get out of the boat.

Nick Gerasimou is a father of two, author, blogger, and educator based out of South Orange County, Ca.

http://www.vnicholasgerasimou.com

What do you think is happening here? Finish his story… Or at least tell me what you think is going on.

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I wrote this a while back as a beginning to a story. I liked the imagery. What do you think is happening here because I still have no idea? Let me know what you think about it.

The screaming made his teeth burn. It was an odd sensation. They actually felt like they were on fire, and he could have sworn he tasted metal. He registered this input in a deep, rarely used part of his brain that was somehow removed from the frantic terror that had jumped into the driver’s seat. Nothing mattered except breaking free. Nothing. Not the sting of stomach acid biting at the inside of his nostrils. Or the way the vomit had made the front of his shirt feel thick and heavy like wet plaster as he ran. Nothing.

The fact that he still couldn’t breathe, or see very well for that matter didn’t concern him in the least. He had to get away. Everything had gone white. The world was running away. His mouth clapped shut when his knees hit the ground. A coughing spasm forced it back open moments later. It was hard to breathe. Fat ropes of spittle and mucus hung from his lips and nose, and the dust in the air had combined with his tears to create a crusty paste that had effectively sealed his eyes shut.

Chest heaving. Everything was still white. There was nothing but now. No reason he could consciously articulate for the fear, there was just fear. That’s all there was. Pure animal-brain fear.

Sensations chipped away at the adrenaline like a pick-axe through thin ice. Beams of light broke through his lashes. His eyelids were made of sandpaper. Falling forward. His right hand began screaming at him. It rolled sideways off the rock pile it had landed on leaving a thin blood spot where his wrist buckled. His shirt was cold against his skin. There were flashes of purple and red. The ringing in his ears was beginning to make his nose run again. There were voices. Now hands. Hands grabbing him. Holding him. Turning him. It had all gone from white to clear. The world was clear, non-existent. Then there was nothing.”

Nick Gerasimou is an author and educator. His works are available on AMAZON. Take a moment and visit his website:

http://www.nicholasgerasimou.com

Purchase his latest novel on AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Steps-Behind-The-Veil/dp/0692235159/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1YJ03XJJ5TD85M99NE05

Angels, Demons, and the Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled.

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

51rAeFzc0WL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

The Bible says that at some point in time, there was a civil war in heaven. It was waged between two opposing factions spawned out of an eternal race of spiritual beings that The Lord God created before He breathed life into His ultimate creation… humans. These angelic beings were divided by a violation of a loyalty ideology which ultimately tore them apart.

There was a particular angelic being whom we have a number of names for. Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the Great Dragon, the Crafty Serpent, the Deceiver, the Father of Lies, the Destroyer… the list goes on and on. What we do know based on scripture is that he was an angel of light. God created him to be one of the leaders of the angelic forces. He was powerful and beautiful; on par with Michael the general of God’s armies. God elevated him to a lofty position in heaven and unfortunately it began to go to his head.

Then one day back in time immemorial, Lucifer made a proclamation. He declared that he was his own god. He bought into his own hype and demanded the same praise and worship that he was originally created to give to God. He was apparently also a gifted motivational speaker, much in the way Hitler was gifted at getting people to think what he wanted them to (I’m assuming Lucifer had something to do with that). He convinced one third of the angelic beings to adhere to his new personal life philosophy and doom themselves to damnation by rebelling against the One True God who created them.

So they fought. How fierce the battle was, how long it raged, the actual violence or literal logistical combat that occurred we unfortunately aren’t privy to. The Bible is silent on this epic event. What we do know is that Lucifer and his rebels were cast out of heaven and now roam the Earth. Again, the literal, day-to-day logistics of this existence is a mystery to us. But we are told that they are here.

We also know that God’s holy angelic forces are among us, working on His behalf for the benefit of His kingdom. The word angel loosely translates to messenger. Those holy beings have appeared to humans in physical form over the eons. We have a number of documented accounts in the Bible. They have delivered messages, given prophecy, and even supernaturally and physically saved people from harm or death.

This reality has always fascinated me. The fact that an unseen world is thriving in a plane of existence that we aren’t able to see, but which we are at the same time intimately involved in hurts my head. The fact that a legion of powerful spiritual beings that literally hate the fact I exist are locked in combat with others who are dedicated to my protection and salvation through Jesus Christ captivates my imagination.

As I write this, could there be an angelic protector standing behind me, looking over my shoulder? Could there be another being, filled with hate and rage at the fact that God loves me and chose me over him, standing on the other side of my desk screaming blasphemies and lies at me that I perceive as doubt, or negative thoughts, or sinful desires? Does the evil voice flying out of that ancient mouth sound like my own in my head? Can they cause my anxiety? Throw me into depression? I’m confident my emotional issues are chemically driven, but is there a spiritual component as well? Do they fight over me? What does that look like? Do they have swords? Armor? I don’t know but I’d sure love to.

Now, today in 2016, in the era of instant access to information from every corner of the planet, we have become a bit desensitized. As a culture we are inundated with dramatic images, horrific stories, and as Americans, reports of strife and war from the other side of the world. We are culturally numb to pain, and crime, and death. It’s tragic.

But I have at times wondered why Satan, who is the general of the fallen army, hasn’t made his grand appearance. I know the Bible foretells why. There is a time and place for him to do this in the last seven years before The Lord comes back. The script has been written. But I wonder why If Satan knows the end of the story and his ultimate fate, why he doesn’t break role and try to change it up?

Defiance? Maybe. I think the more likely answer is pride. Stubbornness. He must be so defiant and filled with rage that he will fight to the end out of duty to his narcissism. Anger can blind. Why doesn’t he appear to us? Why doesn’t he command his soldiers to take physical form and wreak havoc on the Earth?

The answer to that question has to be strategy. He is an expert on human nature. He has been studying us for eons. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our flaws. He knows how our brains work, literally. He is the father of lies.

If they appeared to us and made a public declaration that was then instantly broadcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, the globe would no longer question the validity of the Bible. Millions, if not Billions of people would instantly turn to Jesus out of fear and the reality of the spiritual realm. Satan wants to rule us, and ultimately destroy as many of us as he can in the time he has left on Earth.

As I said, he knows how the story ends. He has to know deep down that he loses in the end. He is condemned. An analogy involving a lack of peripheral vision and a swimming pool comes to mind when I ponder this truth.

When someone’s hands suddenly meet you squarely in the back between the shoulder blades, and your center of gravity is violently propelled forward over the open expanse of blue chlorinated water, what is the first thing you do? You reach out and try to pull as many people as you can in with you as you go down. Misery loves company.

Satan wants to take as many people down with him as he can. He hates us. In the movie The Usual Suspects, Verbal Kint played masterfully by Kevin Spacy says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.” It’s a masterful strategy. To let the sinful nature that resides in each of us to simply win out. Maybe with some subtle coaxing and subversive suggestions to do what he did. To be our own gods. To follow our own paths. To get what’s owed us. To focus on the world and our sinful flesh, rather than on our God who loves us.

What can I say… it’s worked pretty well so far. There’s a quote in the 2014 film “God’s Not Dead” that I think encapsulates this paradigm perfectly. In it a man named Mark is yelling at his live-in girlfriend’s mother who suffers from Dementia and Alzheimer’s. He says, “You prayed and believed your whole life. Never done anything wrong. And here you are. You’re the nicest person I know. I am the meanest. You have dementia. My life is perfect. Explain that to me!” She sits silently in her comatose state then suddenly as if supernaturally the woman’s eyes clear and she turns to him and says, “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it’s too late.”

Think about it. In a battle for the mind and soul that revolves around people choosing of their own free will to acknowledge and accept a truth about the One True God, and His Sacrifice for our sins through His son, the God incarnate person of Jesus Christ, how would you stop people from traveling down the path to salvation?

Would you manifest yourself in all of your horrible, terrifying, rage-filled, supernatural glory? No. That would polarize people. It would crystallize a binary truth and force a choice.

No, instead you would subtlety lead people astray. Satan is playing the long game.

You would influence people and play on their selfish desires. You would take eons to slowly chip away at the concept of absolute truth. If there is but one way to salvation and to God, you would introduce doctrines over the millennia that run contrary to that belief.

You would appear to groups of people across the globe and do what you do best… lie. You would sell the idea that there are an infinite number of paths to Heaven and to God. Chi. Shakra. Reincarnation. Nature worship.

You would set up entire religions based on worshiping legions of your minions who profess to be gods. Polytheism. You would set up your minions and lead them through thousands of years of foundational, traditional religious establishment. Generations would be indoctrinated with your lies. You would become legend and lore.

You would appear to a man in a cave in 610.AD and tell him you are the Archangel Gabriel. You would then dictate a new holy book to him denying Jesus. You would tell him that he is God’s final prophet. Maybe you supernaturally give him the ability to spread his message to the world. Keep pulling people down into the pool.

Maybe you appear to a young, gullible, struggling man in Vermont in the early 1800’s. Maybe you appear as angel of light calling yourself Moroni and indoctrinate him with a new revelation of God that runs contrary to the simple truth of who Jesus Christ is and His sacrifice for our sins. Maybe you give him a supernatural boost to help him spread the new message? More people down into the pool.

Look at every Semi-Christian or Bible-Based cult or group and you will find threads of commonality. The denial of Jesus Christ as God incarnate and a member of the Holy trinity. The denial of the authenticity of scripture and the need to add to it. The need to break the ties to Jesus’s sacrifice as the only means of salvation.

Sound familiar? Maybe you slowly influence global society to fight against absolute truth, and accept an all-inclusive do what is right in your own eyes mentality. Slowly the lines between right and wrong, good and bad, moral and not, truth and lie are erased. The value of life, gender, sexuality, freedom, choice, expression all become fluid concepts.

All from behind the scenes. Brilliant strategy.

Splash. Splash. Splash. More people plunge into the pool.

Like I said at the outset, I am endlessly curious of what is actually happening behind the scenes. Literally. I want to know how it actually works. Nuts and bolts.

To that end, I attacked this concept and wrote a book about it. In 2015 I published “Hidden Steps: Behind the Veil”. It is a fictional story about a young man named Conner. Conner lives the typical college life of a sinful non-believing twenty year old. He feels the tug of Jesus on his heart but fights it with everything he has. During the book we are privy to four snapshots of his life at pivotal moments in his spiritual journey. They test his faith, strength, and sanity. He escapes death, blindly stumbles onto the path The Lord has set before him, and ultimately accepts Jesus before he is faced with a monumental choice where more than one life hangs in the balance. In it you get to experience how I see God’s master plan play out in the life of one young man, and how things that seem a lot like luck or random chance can be much, much more.

I then retell each chapter from the viewpoint of the angelic and demonic beings that the Bible teaches are all around us. I tried to show how I believe the battle for our souls rage beyond what we can perceive. The prospect simultaneously fills me with dread and wonder. Security and fear.

I believe in God and Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for my sins. That means I believe in the Bible. That means I believe in angels, which also means I have to believe in fallen angels or demons.

If you want a unique perspective on the spiritual world, and are intrigued by my viewpoints (and writing style) I hope you will consider grabbing a copy of my latest book. On sale right now for $9.34 on Amazon.

Thank you so much and God Bless!

Nick

51rAeFzc0WL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Steps-Behind-Nicholas-Gerasimou/dp/0692235159/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=1MRE8DTKXRXD1Z7TEEE9

Why Everyone Should Train Jiu-Jitsu at Least once in Their Life: (Part 4) When the wheels fall off. Getting Hurt vs. Getting Injured and how not to lose your mind when you do.

Tags

, , , , , ,

411Death and taxes, picking the slowest line to checkout at the supermarket, and getting banged up when you train are all things in life that are pretty much guaranteed. Growing up on the football field as I did, playing though pain was a way of life. Our coaches used to ask us if we were hurt, or injured when we limped off the field. There was a difference. If you were hurt, you were advised to rub some fairy dust on your feelings, take off your dress, and end your little tea party. Hurt meant you were just being mentally weak, and you should persevere through your ouchie and continue to perform. However if you were injured, it meant you should probably go to the hospital because a shiny white bone was broken and protruding through your skin somewhere where it shouldn’t be.

Those were your two options. Feast or famine. For us or against us. Simple binary. If you chose to sit out due to being “hurt”, you were put on a short list of “Those guys” by your coaches. “Those guys” were not guys you wanted to be associated with. They were dispensable, and weak, and couldn’t be counted on. So I played. Through a number of concussions (which, as an aside, as an adult living in the current climate of football culture being scrutinized due to CTE issues, kind of freaks me out), broken bones, torn ligaments, dislocations, and lacerations; I plowed ahead. I’m paying for that mindset today… let me tell you.

Now that I’m fifteen years removed from wearing a helmet I can see the culture for what it was, and what it is. Its indoctrination at its finest. Designed to instill the overtly masculine values of toughness, teamwork, selflessness, dedication, and working toward a common goal where individual needs take a backseat to the collective good. They’re the same values instilled in military boot camp but to a much lesser degree.

In Jiu-Jitsu, getting hurt, and even injured are a way of life. It is a combat sport. Combat is brutal at times. The goals are to A) manipulate your opponents joints in such a way that they must submit by tapping or risk dislocation or breakage of their body, or B) cause them to submit by applying adequate pressure to the neck by way of a series of creative and inventive chokes which restrict the air and blood flow to the brain which will ultimately result in unconsciousness.

I guess what you have to ask yourself is: Why am I training? What is your purpose? Are you gifted enough to be an Open Division Black-Belt National Champion? Abu-Dabi? Mundials? Main stage at Metamoris? Get sponsors? Make a living at being a professional submission fighter? Chances are slim, but if you are, you’re going to push through a great deal of pain with little regard for your overall health and your ability to walk later in life. You are living in the NOW because you have a small window of time to be at the TOP of your game.

Are you just a really competitive person? Young? Aggressive? Something to Prove? Full of testosterone and youthful spongy cartilage inside your knees? If so then you may push yourself pretty darn hard. You may fight, and train, and spar at 100%. All the time. All. The. Time. The older guys in your gym look at you and wince. They watch you attempt cartwheel passes, blast through full-speed driving double-legs across the mat to take your training partner down, and arch unnaturally with adrenaline and explosive strength to escape bad positions you find yourself in. Well, God bless you. But just know that, that looks horrific from our point of view. So, so very painful. Or are you a hobbyist like me? Are you training for the great workout, the comradery, and the challenge of learning as much as you can for as long as your body lasts?

Whatever your reason, one is not any better or worse than another. I feel that you just need to understand your paradigm to know when to say enough is enough. You need to know your limits. Here is a list of things I have learned over the past 8 years. They may work for you or not, but they have allowed me to stay consistent through 2 surgeries, herniated disks, countless strains, a frightening lack of healthy cartilage in my shoulders and knees, finger and toe dislocations, and a veritable cornucopia of ouchies.

  1. When you get hurt, protect yourself. Change the way you train. Cater your rolling to adapt to your new limitation.
  2. Tell your training partner about your issue so that they’re aware of it. But don’t rely on them to take care of you. Especially if you’re training with a lower belt. During a roll, there is movement, adrenaline, and people fall into a routine where they focus on their favorite moves. If your partner only passes to their right and attacks the left shoulder with a Kimora once they get side-control, it’s your job to protect your arm or tap EXTREMELY EARLY (even before they start the submission) to avoid injury.
  3. Don’t be afraid to tell your instructor that you won’t be live-rolling. Ask him to pair you with a lower belt so you can roll light and control the pace.
  4. Give up bad positions. Let people pass if need be. Don’t fight submissions.
  5. Leave your pride at the door. I refer back to numbers 2 and 4.
  6. This one is tough. If you get injured, really injured… Stop Training. Let your body heal. When is an injury, not an injury? When it’s a chronic condition that requires surgery because you kept aggravating it and wouldn’t listen to your body. That’s when…
  7. Fight the irrational fear that all of your technique is melting away because you have been off the mats for two weeks and just stay home. Watch videos on YouTube to get your BJJ fix when you’re Jonesing. Or come to class, watch, and if you’re able to, drill some light technique, and then when rolling starts, go home.
  8. Live to fight another day. Let the little stuff go. You’ll have bad days on the mat when it feels like you’re a fish out of water. Like there’s concrete in your joints and your limbs are made of lead. People who you usually do very well against will smash you. They will cut through your guard like a hot knife through butter and to add insult to injury (no pun intended) catch you in your favorite submission. You’re endurance is non-existent. Nothing works. Everything hurts, and you seriously consider hanging up your belt. Don’t. As you drive home reflect on why you’re training. Look at the big picture and realize even though you got smashed, you got a great workout and you still learned something.
  9. Take sage advice with a grain of salt. Realize that some things won’t work for you. Realize that sometimes people are only speaking to their own experiences and what a 37 year old hobbyist Brown-Belt has to say may not directly apply to the entirety of your Jiu-Jitsu journey.

Then again you may be a superhuman, incredibly gifted and blessed athlete who can train at a maximum level of effort and strength for the duration of your Jiu-Jitsu career and be none the worse for it. If that’s you know that I admire your God-given ability, and that I wince in perceived phantom pain every time I watch you bridge high enough to drive a semi-truck under the small of your back.

Nick Gerasimou is currently a Brown Belt under Juliano Prado at ‘Total MMA Studios’ in Tustin, CA.

He is an author and educator and his works are available on AMAZON. Take a moment and visit his website:

http://www.nicholasgerasimou.com

Purchase his latest novel on AMAZON:

http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Steps-Behind-The-Veil/dp/0692235159/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1YJ03XJJ5TD85M99NE05