. April 2017 - Sandy-Toe

Almost The End – A Short Story by Panayotis

Almost The End

Almost the end

By Panayotis

 Almost the end. It was Sunday the fourth of September 1966 and the long Labor Day weekend was almost over. There was a fine drizzle misting down on us, just enough to make the streets slick. My buddy and I were joyriding on our friend’s motorcycle. Our friend did not know that we had borrowed his bike, but what the hell, this was not the first time we had borrowed his bike without his permission. We were going to bring it back, just like we’ve done so many times, over these last few weeks.

In the first place, this weekend was special; I was celebrating my salary raise that I had received on Friday. My salary went from $1.00 to $1.10 per hour. Life was great; I was 16 years old and on my own. I tried to forget that I had just been thrown out of my parents’ house after an argument with my father and was now living in an apartment that cost me seventy-five dollars a month. After the rent was paid there was not much left for the crucial necessities which sustain life, like cigarettes beer and food.

My buddy, Mike asks me where I wanted to go.” We can go downtown and check out the action, or we can go home.” I told him that I would like to go downtown and see what was happening.

“Okay, we’ll go by Atwater down to St Catherine St,” said Mike.

As we raced toward Atwater to make our turn we were forced to stop at a red light. I remembered thinking that it would be nice if we could turn right on a red light, but no such luck, it was not allowed. Quebec was still living in the dark ages. Sitting in the rain it seems to take an eternity for that light to change. I heard the sounds of screeching tires somewhere behind us and turned to see what was causing the commotion.

It must have stopped raining because I could not feel it on my face anymore. I opened my eyes and found myself surrounded by a bright white light. It did not hurt my eyes to look into it but I instinctively closed my eyes against it. I opened my eyes again and a women’s face slowly started to come into focus. Furthermore, she was the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was surrounded by the bright white light and her skin appeared to glow. In addition, I could not take my eyes off her. I was hypnotized by her exquisiteness.

Her long flowing fiery red hair wrapped itself around her delightful face. Her features were accented by her eyes of deep Mediterranean blue; it seemed that her stare had mystic powers penetrating every part of my soul. This beautiful Angel spoke to me but I could not understand what she was saying. I could feel a wave of serenity flow over me, I felt very much at peace with myself. I tried again to talk to her but my efforts were without success. She just smiled at me, I felt surrounded by love, and I will never forget her smile.

As suddenly as my Angel appeared she disappeared. A dark feeling slowly crept through me, I was very cold and wet, it seemed to be raining again. If what I had seen was an Angel, then I must be dead, but how? That just can’t be. I can’t be dead, I would know if I were dead, wouldn’t I?

Appearing in front of me was a jolly fat man with a blue cap. He also spoke to me, but once again I couldn’t make out what this chubby guy was saying or for that matter what he wanted from me. I tried to make out some of the features of his face but couldn’t. It looked as though he was wearing a uniform of some kind. I wasn’t sure if angels in heaven had to wear any uniforms. As far as I knew of they didn’t, at least I was almost sure they didn‘t. On his cap and on his shirt was something very shiny. I just couldn’t make it out.

Uniquely, I slowly started to hear what my jolly friend was saying, as he rattled off quickly sounds to something or someone behind me. I just couldn‘t see who it was. I concentrated very hard on understanding what the man was saying.The man was no longer looking at me; he was concentrating on whatever was behind me. He slowly looked back at me as he stretched his arm to reach beside my face as he continued to talk. The whole event came crashing down on me. I could now understand that he was talking to me in French. Then the police badges on his shirt and cap came into focus.

He was trying to explain to me that I had been in an accident and I was seriously injured. As I listened to the officer explain what had happened I realized that he was reaching beside me to grab something. It was my leg. It had been so badly broken from the impact of the car that I had landed with my left foot resting against my right ear. The officer straightened my leg everything went black.

Almost The End, Was I Dead?

Later, I found out that I had almost died that night. We had been hit so hard by a taxi that the impact had thrown me twenty yards into a field of tall grass, my buddy Mike had been pinned under the car. If he had lost consciousness that night they would never have found me. It was only after my buddy asked the officers where I was and if I was okay that they realized there had been someone else involved in the accident and they started searching for me.

I don’t consider myself a very religious man but the vision of that night still haunt me. Angels, are they real or not? Still to this day, almost 40 years later I find myself asking if, the reason that I am alive today is because of an Angel.

It was almost the end.

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What is Medicare “Observation Status” and what does it mean to me?




You wake up not feeling well, you call your primary care physician and she directs you to go to your local emergency room. So with your Medicare card in hand you present to the nearest emergency room trusting in the care you are about to receive and that the Medicare insurance that you paid for all your working years will take care of the cost.

The staff in the emergency room is kind and concerned, the ER doctor orders some blood test and perhaps a chest x-ray, you can see him pondering over the results on the computer across the room. When the doctor comes to speak with you, he tells you that the test is inconclusive but you do have a fever and he believes that you should stay in the hospital at least overnight so more test can be conducted.

Registration Under Medicare

The next person to visit you is the registration person, this person presents you with “Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice” MOON for short. This person explains that you will be staying in the hospital as an outpatient for further medical observation, and you may incur higher out of pocket costs and fewer Medicare benefits related to your care.  Why are they giving you this notice, and how does it all impact you?

When hospital patients are classified as outpatients on Observation Status, they may be charged for services that Medicare would have paid if they were admitted as inpatients. For example, patients may be charged for their medications. Because Medicare part A pays for inpatient hospitalization only, Medicare part B will be charged and the patient will incur the cost of co-pays for the doctor and any tests that are performed.

Outpatient Observation Status

Outpatient Observation Status is paid by Part B, while inpatient hospital admissions are paid by Part A.  Thus, Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Part A, but not Part B, will be responsible for their entire hospital bill if they are classified as Observation Status.

Most significantly, patients will not be able to obtain any Medicare coverage if they need nursing home care after their hospital stay. Medicare only covers nursing home care for patients who have a 3-day inpatient hospital stay – Observation Status doesn’t count towards the 3-day stay.

Hospitals provide observation care for patients who are not well enough to go home but not sick enough to be admitted.  This care requires a doctor’s order and is considered an outpatient service. The hospitalization can include short-term treatment and tests to help doctors decide whether the patient meets the medical criteria for admission.

Two-Midnight Rule

Medicare officials have issued the so-called “two-midnight rule” Patients whose doctors expect them to stay in the hospital through two midnights should be admitted. Patients expected to stay for less time should be kept in observation.

By now you are asking why the hospital does not just admit you as an inpatient and save everyone a lot of trouble. The answer goes back to the “two-midnight rule”, if the hospital admits patients as inpatients and they are discharged within 48 hours, the hospital may not get reimbursed by Medicare.

Medicare reviews the hospitals discharge on a regular basis and a hospital that is found to be in violation of the “two-midnight rule” can face not only not being reimbursed for care provided but also face stiff fines.

Strict Criteria

Medicare has strict criteria for admissions as an inpatient and usually won’t pay anything for admitted patients who should have been in observation care. Partly in response to stepped up enforcement of these rules, hospitals in recent years have been placing more patients in observation.

Know your rights and to find more answers to your questions, visit www.medicare.gov.

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Lawrence Of Arabia The beginning of the Arabs As We Know Them

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia found fame in World War One for the work he did in the Middle East. He gained an almost mythical status amongst the Arabs and was titled ‘Al Auruns’ by them.Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence was born at Tremadoc in Wales in 1888. He was the son of Thomas Chapman He later changed his surname to Lawrence. T E Lawrence was born out of marriage.

He was a very able pupil and could read at the age of four. He was also reading Latin at the age of six. Lawrence won a scholarship to Oxford University and developed a passion for reading, especially military history books.

At the beginning of World War I Lawrence tried time and time again to enlist into the British Military, being rejected every time. He just did not make the minimum height of 5 feet 5inches.

Lawrence and Arabia

In the light of these drawbacks. He continued to pester the military till they decided to give him a chance and he was given a commission. Lawrence joined the intelligence branch of the general staff. His knowledge of Arabic led to a posting to Egypt where he served in the ‘Arab Bureau’ at GHQ.

When he got there the British military campaign in the Middle East had not started well. The British were able to fight back a Turkish attack on the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, the British advances against the Turks across Sinai ground came to a standstill near Gaza. The Turks were successful in other areas, such as  Aden.

The Ottoman Empire stretched from Bosnia, Moldavia, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Armenia, Iraq, Egypt, and Cyrenaica. On June 5th, 1916, the Arab Revolt started in the Hejaz.

The Revolt

The revolt had some initial successes capturing Mecca, Jidda, and Taif but was stalemated by the Tuks. In October 1916, the British sent Ronald Storrs KCMG CBE who was an official in the British Foreign and Colonial Office. He served as Oriental Secretary in Cairo and was accompanied by Lawrence.

Lawrence was sent to meet the Amir Feisal whose tribesmen had been attempting to besiege Medina. As a matter of fact, Feisal and Lawrence developed an immediate rapport. Feisal’s small army of men didn’t have the discipline of the elite forces of the British. In the light of this Lawrence saw the potential of harnessing their commitment to the cause.

Road to Medina

He quickly realized that Feisal’s men had no chance of capturing Medina. Lawrence believed that while the Turks controlled the rail line they would always have the opportunity to supply Medina. He, therefore, believed that Feisal’s best chance lay in a form of guerilla warfare against the Turk.

He realizes that their weakness was their rail line to Medina. The rail line was a single track affair that linked Medina to Damascus. Lawrence did not want to destroy the line as it would be needed after the Turks had been defeated. Lawrence wanted to move their campaign north.

He also realized that he could bottleneck them through their rail line to Medina. The rail line was a single track affair that linked Medina to Damascus. Lawrence did not want to destroy the line as it would be needed after the Turks had been defeated. In addition, Lawrence wanted to move their campaign north.

So Lawrence advanced with his strategy. He wanted to harass the Turks along the route of the rail line so that they would have to use more and more troops to guard it along its length.

Equally important he wanted to harass the Turks so much that they would be forced to commit more soldiers to protect the rail line which would remove the forces from the front line.


Some of the main accomplishment Lawrence was able to do in a short time.

  1.  Get the Hejaz Arabs to move further and further north where they linked up with Trans-Jordan tribes. Trans-Jordan tribes joined his campaign.
  2. July 6th, 1917, Lawrence and his Arab forces captured Aqaba from the rear after defeating a whole Turkish battalion.
  3. This allowed  Feisal to move his headquarters to Aqaba. Where he placed himself and his men under the command of General Allenby, a British commander in Palestine.
  4. He was able to get the Arab forces more guns, more ammunition, and more gold.
  5. On December 9th, 1917, Allenby’s forces entered Jerusalem.
  6. In January 1918, Lawrence led an attack on the Turks at Tafila in which a whole battalion was destroyed.
  7. Lawrence with his Arab forces launched a diversionary attack on the Turks at an important rail junction at Deraa on September 17th.
  8. At Deraa, he had a force of 3,000 Arabs but they tied down 50,000 Turks who could not help their comrades against Allenby.
  9. The Turkish High Command also spread their forces (150,000 men in total) thinly across the region making the British campaign that much easier.
  10. Feisal entered Damascus in triumph and Lawrence took charge of civil and military order for several weeks.
  11. On October 31st, 1918, an armistice was concluded with the Turks. The war was over.
After The War

Though the war had come to end Lawrence continued living with the Arabs. Living a Bedouin life. Coupled with the diet that he was forced to have as a Bedouin he developed a number of debilitating stomach ailments. Furthermore, he realized that he had no choice to change his life.

Lawrence accompanied the Arab delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference where they fully expected their reward for helping the Allies in the war – full independence. Conversely, it was not going to happen. Behind Lawrence and Feisal back Britain and France has already decided to carve up the Middle East to their liking. The French even ejected Feisal from Damascus.

After Versailles had finished, Lawrence resigned from the army.It was time for him to go back home, England. There he spent his time writing “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. Here joined the RAF in 1925.  Lawrence served in India from 1927 to 1929 before returning to Britain. He stayed in the RAF until 1935.

Retired enjoying his favorite pastime which was driving his Lawrence’s last Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle at high speeds he lost control of his bike avoiding some young boys crossing a county backroad and crashed. He was only 45 years old.


Lawrence of Arabia
lieutenant colonel T.E Lawrence






The movie Lawrence of Arabia was released in 1962


Lawrence- Actor Peter O'Toole
Actor Peter O’Toole







C N Trueman “Lawrence of Arabia” April 2017 <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-one/lawrence-of-arabia/>

“T. E. Lawrence”  April 2017 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence>

Scott Anderson”True Story Of Lawrence of Arabia”<http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-lawrence-arabia-180951857/>

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Virtual Prison, The Game Of No Rerurn

Virtual Prison

Virtual Prison“Hey Jesse, guess what?”
“They got that new awesome video game Virtual Prison at the mall”
“Serious! I am going there right now and I’ll have that game beaten in no time, you’ll see.” Jesse knew he could beat the game; he had been waiting for weeks for it to get to town. Furthermore, Jesse sometimes felt that he lived at the outer of the universe.

The game was all the talk of the chat rooms on the internet, which he frequented. Jesse was the king of the video games at the Game Palace store at the mall and if anyone could beat this game, it would be him.

Within minutes, he was racing down the driveway on his bike. His brother
Andrew watched through the living-room window as Jesse raced down the street. Andrew wanted to get to the mall first, but couldn‘t. He had to stay home until he was finished cleaning the basement. There was no way he could get out of it.

The mall was not far from where the boys lived so it didn’t take Jesse long to get there and park his bike. He found himself standing in front of a locked store, it wasn’t opened yet. He watched through the glass as the manager counted his cash and got ready to open. The manager switched on the lights and came to the front as he recognized Jesse standing there.

The manager knew Jesse well, and he knew why Jesse was there this early. As the door were unlocked the manager escorted Jesse to the Eagles Nest.
The game was larger than anything Jesse had ever seen. He was shown into a boxlike structure. The room’s dimensions were twelve feet by eight feet. There was a curved screen that covered his total peripheral vision. He in the leather chair; he could feel his excitement building.

“All the action will be in front of you on this special screen Jesse. There are lasers in the ceiling and the surrounding walls to give you a 3-dimensional effect. Ready?” He nodded yes. Jesse had to place a helmet type gear that not only covered his head but also his eyes with specials lenses that distorted his vision but would help him with the special screen. Jesse also had to wear a vest that had circuitry that would light up if he should take a hit or be killed by a virtual bullet.

“Okay, Jesse, the game will last till you either die or you are captured,
understood?” Jesse nodded yes, as the owner gave him a smile. He was passed a virtual rifle that came with the game so that he could kill the Nazis that were out to get him in the game.

“Good luck Jesse, let us see how long you last.” said the owner as he closed the door.

It was totally dark in the room. Jesse wasn’t able to see his hand in front of his face suddenly the screen lit up. He suddenly heard, “Achtung, Achtung Halt, Halt!” Then he heard a gunshot and grabbed his right shoulder, pain shot through it. He looked at his vest; he saw the circuits flashing where the circuit had shocked him, imitating a gunshot wound.

Suddenly, he realized that the whole room had taken the impression of a
mountainous terrain with the infamous Eagle’s Nest in the background. Jesse knew that it was located in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden and that Hitler had never seen it, due to Hitler’s fear of heights.

There wasn’t anything Jesse didn’t know about the history of Hitler and his Nazi hordes. He enjoyed playing games that gave him the chance to destroy them. He slowly lifted his head as he saw some soldiers moving toward to his position. Jesse took a couple of quick shots. He saw the soldiers collapse in a heap grasping their chests. He heard some other soldiers screaming to their comrades “Das Schwein,” and charged.

Jesse spent the next hour exchanging gunfire with the advancing soldiers. Killing them at every turn. As the body count mounted, Jesse reached new levels in the game. His virtual rifles changed to encompass the ability of first a machine gun, then a bazooka. He knew that it would soon become a grenades launcher. Jesse first didn’t notice, but his view of the Eagle’s Nest was becoming closer as the game gave the impression that he was slowly advancing on the castle.

The Nazis kept coming. There didn’t seem to be any end to them. All Jesse could do was to keep killing them. He was determined to get to the Eagle’s Nest and win the game; he had a reputation to uphold.

Jesse reached the gates to the compound that encircled the Eagle’s Nest. Using the scope on his virtual rifle that now had a silencer on it, he was able to spot two soldiers that were guarding the entrance to Eagle‘s Nest. There didn’t seem to be any other soldiers around. Jesse became suspicious about the tranquility of the scene. He quickly scanned the area surrounding the compound and couldn’t see anyone except the two
guards. The game slowly moved him closer to the compound till he was no further than

The game slowly moved him closer to the compound till he was no further than thirty yards from the guards. Slowly he took aim and before the guards realized what happened, two silent shots were fired and the guards collapsed into a heap. Jesse quickly looked around and saw neither the guards nor anything else moving.

Suddenly, Jesse found himself standing beside a door that was partially open. The game seemed to understand exactly at what part of the game that Jesse needed to be. Jesse slowly pushed the door of the compound. He entered and saw nothing, but heard the shot. Pain shot through his chest as he collapsed.

Andrew finally finished his chores; his mother checked and nodded her approval as she lectured Andrew again on his habits of procrastination. Andrew had heard this lecture before and he mimicked his mother’s lecture literally word for word in his mind as he nodded his agreement.

When the lecture finished, Andrew rushed out to his bicycle and was racing down to the mall as fast as legs could pedal to see if his brother Jesse had succeeded beating the game. A few minutes later Andrew got to the mall as he saw his brother’s bike still locked up at the main bicycle rack at the mall’s entrance. He was glad because that meant
his brother hadn’t beaten the game yet, so he rushed into the mall and went into the video store. As he walked in, he could see the manager sitting in his office as he looked up, recognized Andrew and waved to him as he pointed towards the box that held the new game the Eagle’s Nest.

He went to the box and he tried to open the door, but it was locked. Therefore, he went and asked the manager if he had seen his brother Jesse because no one answered the door to the game. So the manager with Andrew a few steps behind went to the game and opened the door with his key. They both entered the room to find no one inside, the manager was surprised as he told Andrew that he didn’t know where Jesse was, he never saw him leave.

Virtual Prison

Andrew at first was worried about his brother and wondered where he had gone. His thoughts quickly changed as he realized that he could play the game. So he told the manager that he was going to try and beat the game before his brother comes back to continue the game. The manager smiled as he remembered the competitive spirit the boys had among them. So once again, he explained how the game worked and watched Andrew putting on the equipment that he needed to play the game and left the room as he closed the door leaving Andrew to play the game.

The lasers came on as the game started. Andrew with his virtual gun used his abilities to kill the onslaught of Nazis. He soon was getting closer to the Eagle’s Nest. He felt that he was must better than his brother Jesse and he was going to beat the game before Jesse got back. As Andrew fought the Virtual Nazis, the sounds of rifle and machine gun shots echoed loudly.

He was unable to hear the screams for help. Hidden deep inside the Eagle’s Nest, in a cell in one of the turrets of the castle was a prisoner looking out through the bars of his cell watching the battle raging below. The prisoner could see Andrew moving closer. The game slowly started to pan the outer walls of the castle as it looked at the cell’s window. Jesse could be seen through the bars looking out, he was now imprisoned in the game.

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The Service Of The Lamentation (Good Friday)

Easter Orthodox
The Service, Good Froday
The dome at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

Service of Good Friday starts the weekend of Easter. The celebration of Easter for the Orthodox Christians is the most important religious holiday of the year. Good Friday service is with the service of the Lamentations.

The most common estimate of the number of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide is 225–300 million. Forming a single communion, making it the second largest, single Christian denomination behind the Catholic Church. The Orthodox Christian throughout the world is celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

The Orthodox Christian throughout the world is celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

The Seven Last Words

The Seven last words of Christ remembered in sermons during the Easter season. In addition the theme of a famous choral cantata rendered by choirs.

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”Spoken by Christ at the time he was crucified and the Roman soldiers were casting lots for his robe. ( Luke 23:34)
  2. ” Verify I say unto thee, today thou shall be with Me in paradise.”Spoken to the repentant thief who hung on a cross beside Christ (Luke 34:43)
  3. “Women,  Behold thy Son! Son Behold thy mother.”Spoken to His mother and to the disciple John who was charged with taking care of Christ’s mother. (John 19:26-27)
  4. “My God, my God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me.” Spoken by Christ during His agony on the cross.(Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)
  5. Ï thirst” Spoken by Christ on the Cross in His final hour. Vinegar on a sponge was administered to Him at the time. (John 19:28)
  6.  “Father, Into Thy hands I commend My spirit,” Spoken by Christ just before His death after six hours of crucifixion. (Luke 23:46)
  7.  Ït is finished.”The final words of Christ as He died on the Cross. (John 19:30)
The Service of The Lamentations

In John 19:25 we read ” …standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene” Mary the Theotokos stood by and watched her son die. During the Lamentations service, we sing during the evening of Good Friday. This is when Jesus’s mother expresses her feeling of her son’s death.

The Service, Good Froday

Passing Under The Tomb

Has been an old tradition in some of the churches to have the children go under the tomb. not to mention as a young lad, I was an altar boy with my uncle Reverend Theophilos Theophilopoulos in Montreal. There, a set of altar boys would help the children and the aged to get under the tomb. Equally important this act was supposed to represent the renewal of our baptismal commitment.

The Service, Good Froday

The Procession

Holy Friday in the Orthodox Church commemorates not only the death and the burial of Jesus Christ but also his descent into Hades. In addition, he preached to all the souls in Hades. All the ones that died in the past.

As the hymn says, “Thou hast come down to earth to save Adam and having not found him on earth, Thou hast descended, searching for him, even into Hades…” The last part of the service is the procession.  Together with the Epitaphio (the coffin) the parishioners following the priests and their helpers into the evening as they walked around the church. As a matter of fact, this procession represents Jesus Christ carrying the cross.

Once the procession re-enters the church the priest prepare to finalize the service. Furthermore, it is the custom to remove the flowers from the Epitaphio and give them to the worshippers. With this in mind, the parishioners take the flower and it is then preserved before their home icon.


“List of Christian denominations by number of members” April 2017 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members>

N.Takis “Modern English Translation and metered” <http://www.newbyz.org/lamentations_sisters.pdf>

“Greek Orthodox Services in Sarasota”<http://sarasotaorthodox.com/>

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