The IM4U Blog


Installing a Vented Range Hood

posted Jul 21, 2015, 4:52 AM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Sep 26, 2015, 12:19 PM ]

It is summer here in Boston and time to catch-up with some 'homework'. We recently replaced our stove when the old one gave up after almost 25+ years of service. As we replaced the stove, we decided that it was also time to get rid of the small, crappy recirculating hood over our old range with a new better looking one. However, better looking does not make for more functional unless we vent the new hood to the outside. Our stove is against an interior wall and this makes exhausting to the outside a rather complex project, something that probably lead the previous homeowners to stick with a recirculating hood.

To do it right we would need to sacrifice some cabinet space above the stove, run new duct work across the kitchen and breakfast nook ceiling and drill an 8" hole on the side of our house to exhaust. In addition the new duct work would have to be covered with an interior soffit!

Here is a picture of the kitchen when I started this project and after replacing the old range and  removing the old hood. Basically we were thinking that the hood would exhaust approximately where the clock was. Also note that the kitchen nook has a vaulted ceiling. I will post more pictures as the project progresses.

So here it is! After a few weekends the hood is installed and the duct-work is in place!


Stewardship and Living Stones: A homily

posted Apr 1, 2015, 5:11 PM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Sep 26, 2015, 11:49 AM ]

March 15, 2015 marked the middle of the 2015 Orthodox Great Lent period. 

The St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Arlington, MA, celebrated the Sunday of the Holy Cross in combination with Stewardship Sunday. In support of this event, the parish council asked me to offer a homily on the subject of Stewardship. I spoke on 'Stewardship and Living Stones' reflecting on the Church being an institution build of 'Living Stones' representing each one of the people that offer themselves in service.

You are invited to read the complete speech here.

I explained the reason for the tittle of my speech in these final sentences:

" At the end of each year, my 5th grade students make a Church made of picture blocks displaying faces of students and people from our community. It is a project that they love making especially as it hangs in the classroom for the entire next year! We call it the living stones projects. It reminds us that our St. Athanasius Church and our community are made and held together by the lives, actions, devotion and service of person, families, and clergy that are responsible and concerned caretakers of Christ's Church.

If your personal living stone is missing from our Church, or is not cemented securely with the others, make a commitment today to add it. Make a commitment to hold up your end of the bargain for all the great things that our loving God has bestowed in your life so that when the time of accounting comes you can hear Him calling you into His Kingdom as a 'good and faithful servant'. "

Completed St. Athanasius Commemorative DVD

posted Nov 4, 2014, 4:26 AM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Nov 4, 2014, 4:28 AM ]

On November 1st, 2014 the St. Athanasius Parish gathered together to celebrate their 50th Anniversary Gala. The commemorative DVD was completed just in time and was offered as a token gift to all Gala attendees. Through the efforts and contributions of many in the community I was able to assemble some interviews, and archival photos and video material for this project. Having access to two earlier commemorative albums (from the 10th and 25th anniversary of the community) and being part of the St. Athanasius community for the past 17 years I was able to put together the historical time-line of the parish life. However, creating a story line and putting it all together within the constraints of the DVD duration time (originally targeted for 15-20 minutes) proved to be quite a challenge!

The final story revolves about what I call the 'major axes' of the community: Community History, Orthodoxy, Hellenic Heritage, Philoxenia/Hospitality, Education and the People. The final duration of the DVD is 33 minutes. Music used in the video was selected from the youtube audio library which contains a surprising amount of suitable cinematic music if you have the time to search for it. I hope to be posting a link to youtube after posting the Commemorative DVD project there.

A commemorative video project

posted Feb 17, 2014, 3:56 AM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Sep 26, 2015, 11:51 AM ]

In 2014 the St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Community in Arlington, MA celebrated its 50th anniversary. As part of the commemorative activities I suggested we prepare a commemorative video presentation. As a result, I was assigned to manage it's production. As with most projects of this type, the founding goals of the project were not clear, the material was not readily available and a single hobbyist (like myself) ended-up in a not so envious position to fulfill the responsibilities of an entire professional production team.

Below is a list of some of the challenges I faced working on this project. Some were of my own doing, and some somewhat unavoidable. I just mention them so that they could be of some assistance to others that perhaps will work on similar projects in the future.

Challenges

  • The initial project goals were not very clear. Given that key people were involved in their own set of activities for the 50th anniversary events I was left to develop directions and goals for the video project on my own.
  • The available time for the project was shorter than I originally anticipated. Although the project extended over about 8 months, 3 of those months overlapped summer holidays during which not much work was done.
  • After some initial unanswered requests for assistance (from people that I considered technically competent to be involved with the project), I was left to manage, research, direct, edit, narrate(!) and produce the entire project on my own.
  • Scheduling interviews with original founders of the parish was challenging. Some were deceased, some were infirm and no longer attended the community, and some now lived far away
  • No video material was available from the early days of the St. Athanasius community and even worthy photographic material was not easily accessible. Most of the early historical parish information and pictures came from two older anniversary albums for the 10th and 25th parish anniversaries.
  • One or two weeks before finalizing the video production, many of the Church organizations started flooding my inbox with random pictures of every event or fundraiser they ever hosted wanting me to 'somehow' incorporate these into the project.
  • The production equipment and software required for this project were beyond what I had immediately available. Eventually, I had to purchase or fabricate some of my own audio and lighting equipment and had to purchase some new software to complete the project.
  • I did not have adequate feedback on the project until 10 days before we were ready to go into the large scale duplication of the final DVD. This almost derailed the entire project!
Support from a few critically important people was pivotal for successfully completing the project. In retrospect, I should have had these people actively involved from the foundation of this project (but I did not). Continuous feedback and 'institutional memory' are critical for these projects. Establish an advisory group early in the project and go back to them with some project drafts at regular intervals.

Children's Liturgy Book: Edition 2013

posted Mar 16, 2013, 7:04 PM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Mar 18, 2013, 6:33 PM ]

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Children

The new edition of the children's  Liturgy book came to fruition in March 2013 after 3 months of working with the Microsoft Publisher desktop publishing software. Although the basic format of the book had materialized in my mind even before I clicked on Microsoft Publisher, much work went into the several revisions that preceded our final publication. 

The Divine Liturgy Text

The English and Greek text of St. John Chrysostom's Divine Liturgy was downloaded from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese web site. Some minor modifications were made to the English translation to better reflect our local parish idioms and usage. The Greek text was used essentially unchanged with the exception of some stylistic corrections. Our parish priest and several of our Catechetical school teachers reviewed several of the drafts and suggested additions, modifications and various stylistic improvements and changes. My daughter's godmother contributed her considerable spell-checking and desktop publishing talents to make some significant improvements to the layout and font selection. After about 5 draft versions and just over three months of constant improvements, we felt comfortable that we were ready to move forward with a small printing run. We've created a PDF file from Microsoft Publisher and gave it to the Church parish office for printing an initial 50 copies of the book.

The paper

I've selected a 28 lb ultra-bright (98 bright) white laser paper from Staples. The page size is half-letter (5.5 in x 8in) The book is a total of 108 pages so it prints on a total of 27 two-sided sheets. I'm hoping that the heavier paper will make the book more resistant to the expected weekly usage by our young students.

The Binding: Plastic Comb or Coil?

Originally I favored a plastic comb binding for the book. This was primarily for cost reasons and for the fact that I owned a small Fellows binding machine and was planning on doing the binding myself. However, once I saw a coil bound example, that Staples did for us, I was convinced that this was a better and more reliable option. The cost still remained a concern until my wife was able to identify a small local binding company that was able to do the job for 30% less than Staples. They also cut and collated the pages for us at no cost! (Staples was charging us for cutting the paper)

Elements of Design and Layout


 
The clear front cover allows the display of a water-color picture of Christ with children. The picture is taken from the third grade Religion book published by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religion (1970).

The book 
pages (size is 5.5 in x 8 in) are spiral coil bound.

 
Front and back view of the Liturgy book.
The front cover page is transparent to let the beautiful illustration show through. The back is a Designer style poly navy blue sheet.
 
 The book opens easily to its intended 'two-page spread' reading format, and can be folded 360 without damage.
 
 The general layout style has the English Liturgy text on the left side, followed by two columns of relevant explanations, graphics and photos. The last column on the right is the Greek Liturgy text.

Occasionally we have varied this format to improve layout in areas where there are not many illustrations or comments.

Children's Liturgy Book: Remaking a classic

posted Feb 21, 2013, 4:37 AM by Ioannis Moutsatsos   [ updated Mar 17, 2013, 5:54 AM ]

The Orthodox Divine Liturgy has been celebrated for almost two thousand yeas, mostly unchanged. The Divine Liturgy is a central part of an Orthodox Christian's religious identity and experience. A main focus of our Catechetical schools has been to be able to engage our students in the Divine Liturgy in a way that is participatory, spiritual and educational. There are many challenges to this goal stemming from the length (a typical Orthodox Divine Liturgy can last up to 2 hours), language (many of our Orthodox Churches still use their main ethnic language in worship services) and the lack of Divine Liturgy resources targeted towards young children and teenagers. 

Recently, I have attempted to recompile a Divine Liturgy booklet for use in our Catechetical Sunday School at St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church in Arlington, MA. We had been using a Divine Liturgy booklet mostly copied from a 1970's publication by the Archdiocese department of Religious Education. This booklet itself had experienced at least two different 'editions' when we went from a photocopied 'cut-pasted' version of it to a scanned PDF.  

The original


The original black and white publication contained both the English and Greek text of the Divine Liturgy and was formatted in a 8x6 soft bound format with a glued spine. The layout of the book was rather good, and was designed to be viewed in a two page spread. The left hand page of each spread contained a black and white illustration  while the right hand side contained the Greek and English texts of the Liturgy in a two column format. The illustrations were clear and instructive and the layout clean and concise. The entire Liturgy including the memorial service fit in just under 50 pages. However, not many copies of the original books remained and the English translation used in the 70's has evolved considerably in the last 40 years of Liturgical life.



A Custom Copy: Edition #1

We assembled a first edition of a Children's Liturgy book by copying the English text of the liturgy from another book and physically 'cutting-pasting' it in place of the original's English translation. All of this was accomplished with paper, scissors and glue stick (pre desktop publishing era). As you can imagine it was functional but not necessarily pretty. The first edition was printed at Staples in a size similar to the original, but due to expense considerations the book was stapled in the center. These books fell apart after a few months of use in the hands of our young students. After discovering a few missing pages (don't ask me how) we abandoned them and went to the second edition of the same material printed and bound in a different format.

A Custom Copy: Edition #2

All 'cut-copied' original pages were scanned and were arranged into a PDF file. We printed the second edition books directly from this file also at Staples. However, this time we used a standard letter format (8.5x11) page size.  Furthermore, we bound these books with a 3/8 standard plastic comb binding. Most of these books lasted in weekly use for almost 3-4 years before we started encountering problems with their binding. The books were 60 pages (30 sheets) long and we had used the recommended size binding comb. However, we noticed that this size book was too large for our students. While using it, they tended to fold it in half so that they could hold it easier. In effect they viewed just a single letter size page (usually the one containing the text) thus missing the accompanying illustrations on the opposing page and also putting unexpected stress on the binding comb. After 6 years of weekly use, now most of the books display considerable 'distress' on the binding comb, with some pages clearly off their binding. It's time for a new printing! Thus we started thinking what improvements we might do this time around.

The 2013 Edition

Observing how our Catechetical School students used their Liturgy books in the past, and incorporating some of the ideas we had seen in other Liturgy books for children, we envisioned a new edition that could be easier to use, more robust in children's hands and more appealing to their tastes. The major new design elements will be explained in a follow-up blog entry.


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