Friday, August 29, 2008
I went for a run this morning, through our old neigborhoods in Green Bay. We lived here for 7 years, and it was good to see what had changed and what had not. One thing that I noticed is that health care businesses seem to be taking over. I have been vaguely aware of this in New Hampshire as well, and I suspect it may be a universal phenomenon. While making my way up Webster Ave, I noticed a marked increase in the number of buildings that are now dedicated to various aspects of health care. In this town, they are all associated with Bellin Health, Aurora Health Care, St. Vincent's Hospital, Prevea. Now, granting that Green Bay is a regional economic center, I suppose you could make a case that 4 major hospitals (in a city of 100,000) are not overkill. Nevertheless, in the 2 mile stretch up Webster Ave it felt as though 25% of the buildings now are connected with the healthcare system in some way.
Bellin Hospital in particular stands out. My children were both born there, and we really appreciated the staff and the way they helped make it such a wonderful experience. I was surprised to note that, in my absence, they totally remodeled the front entrance. This inolved some major demolition, and the construction of a very nice driveway and entrance. I am told the lobby is also "really nice." I'm sure it is.
I am not opposed to profits, but I had to wonder, what is up with that?
And the main question this all brought to my mind is, "Are we all really healthier for all this healthcare?"
Not so sure.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
As mountains in NH go, these are modest peaks, but they make delightful hiking and they are right in my backyard. None of the trails are more than 1/2 hour drive from my house. Because of their ease of access, and moderate level of difficulty they make for an excellent introduction to hiking for almost anyone. They may not have the high drama of the Presidential Range, but they do offer some amazing views of Lake Winnipesaukee, and the surrounding area. Much of the joy of these hikes lies in the fact that they offer simply wonderful walks in the woods without exceptionally hard going.
On Sunday, I clicked off Mt Mack and Mt Klem, walking with Don and another friend our ours and a few of our kids and dogs. As yet, I don't have photos, but when they come up, I will edit this post to add them.
Of course, walking with Don, the one who conceieved of, and manages the patch program, talk inevitably comes around to superlatives. The fastest person claims to have accomplished all 12 peaks in just over 4 hours. The youngest person to have done it completed them by age 10. Of course, once you get your patch, then you will want to find other ways to execute it. One man claims to have touched every peak (on different hikes) before 7:00 in the morning. We discussed hiking them in the winter, or even barefoot. The possibilities are almost endless.
My oldest daughter came with, and she now has 4 of the 12. I would like to see if by the end of the year, she can get at least 6 as well.
Monday, August 25, 2008
That's the feeling I got when I heard that Joe Biden has been selected as the VP candidate.
I wish them luck. They will need it, I think.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I have known many who have approached their writing, or painting, or reading, or theater with intense discipline. Yet, what they do cannot be quantified in the same way. For this reason, it would be foolish to include a literature class in with the sciences. It’s simply a different deal.
I have had similar thoughts regarding Olympic sports. While I admire gymnasts, and would actually very much like to train to be one, I find any sport that must be judged is suspect. If it can’t be objectively measured – how high, how fast, how strong, how close to the target, how many points – its just lacks in a certain element of rigor.
Don’t get me wrong. I watch a gymnast work the rings, or the high bar and it is an awesome thing to behold. The only part of it I could manage to do myself right now would be the landing on the back part.
Then there is diving. You do realize that gravity is doing most of the work there.
But the competitive aspect of it is just too subjective. It occurs to me that with modern technology, the subjective aspect could be removed. Place a sensor on each joint. Video captures the movements. The software performs an analysis of the movements based on certain criteria resident in the program. Then a score could be developed that would be consistent and rigorous, not subject to human failure.
Now that would be Olympic.
Two more things. Who chooses what gets on TV? Beach volleyball I can understand. There’s an eye candy factor there. In fact, much of the fun of watching the Olympics on TV is about seeing all the different bodies of high performance athletes, beautifully displayed, so I get that they want to show sports that are nice to look at. But they aren't consistant about it. Men's beach volleyball is just a couple of tall guys in tshirts diving in the sand. Kind of fun to watch...for a little while maybe, but it seems to me that it lacks the same sort of appeal as women's beach volleyball even for people of persuasions other than mine.
Even so, I would really like to see some of the other competitions. How about weight lifting, or Judo? The other day, they showed a lot of the women’s marathon. A marathon? Really. It’s a great race, but is it really that much fun to watch on TV. Is there any chance I could see wrestling or boxing – sports that actually have an ancient Olympic lineage? Apparently not.
What’s on tonight? Water polo........Water effing Polo.
For cryin’ out loud people!
And second, can somebody explain to me why, in Heaven’s name, they are cutting softball from the Olympics but keeping synchronized swimming? What kind of nutbag thinks that makes any sense at all?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Any funeral that involves flaming arrows...well, how you gonna beat that?
Of course, you would want to use ale, not cider. Perhaps mead. And you would lose the yearly aspect to it, but it still has much to recommend it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I just think it's pretty darn funny.
- The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
- The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
- The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country.
- USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
- The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave LA to do it.
- The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
- The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
- The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
- The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions: if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarves, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.
- The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
- The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Regardless of the particular incident and person in question, there is a most excellent commentary on the blog THE JESUS PARADIGM.
It asks a great question about people who are carried away by such "ministries" as Bentley's -- i.e. did anyone involved "actually READ the Gospels?"
He doesn't say it in the article, but it occurs to me that it warnt for nothin' that Jesus often healed people and then told them to keep their traps shut about it. As I mentioned earlier, I had not heard of Todd Bentley until I read about him on Jesus Shaped Spirituality. But, I know his type very well. The observations are dead on. Where is Jesus in all this, other than using his name a kind of magic incantation babbled incessantly? If you really heal like Jesus healed, then you'd be telling a lot of people to get up and walk, and don't tell anyone how you managed it. I haven't seen much of that.
Transformation is painful by nature, and usually involves enormous amounts of sweat and blood. And it is risky. In my experience one goes into a trans formative period blind and full of fear, because it seems as if it could as likely end up in your death as in new life. I recently experienced such a crisis, and it is still working itself out in my life. All I had to hold onto was Jesus and his transformative work in me and in my wife. I couldn't see the other side, but I could hope - and in the midst of it Jesus came to us and is changing us now.
Meditating on Jesus himself, and HIS transforming power helps me understand what is happening and how YHWH can still use even stupid, weak, and blind little me to advance his Kingdom.
Plant a fruit tree directly on my grave. Plant me below it in a simple pine box. The idea is that the tree’s roots should penetrate the box and assimilate me into the itself. I will be a huge organic fertilizer spike. It must be a fruit tree, preferably an apple tree. You see, when it gets to the point where it can bear fruit, lots of yummy apples, then take those apples one autumn, mash them and press them. Take the resulting juice and put it up to ferment. That’s right – Cider. Lots of it.
Then have a party. Invite people from all over. Drink all the cider. Tell ridiculous stories. Stay up very late. Sing loud songs. And Dance a lot to wild music, preferably by live musician playing stringed instruments and drums. If you wish, repeat the ritual yearly until the tree is too old to bear fruit any longer. Then cut it down and burn it at the last party. Roast a pig over the coals and have a really great final shindig. Then forget about me.
Burn my body. Scatter the ash over a plot earth. Till the plot and grow a garden fertilized by my ashes. Grow vegetables of all kinds. Especially grow cabbage, carrots, hot peppers, tomatoes, onions, Take whatever gets thinned out or that you can’t eat and feed it to a pig.. Take the veggies and make cole slaw, salsa, soup, and whatever else you can think of that is good. Kill the pig and roast it over a hardwood fire. Serve it with cider, barbecue sauce, cole slaw and salsa from the garden. Have a barrel of cider on hand. Eat it all, drink it all, laugh a lot…you know the drill.
I prefer Option A, but let me suggest that if you cut my body in half, burn one half and bury the other, then you can have it both ways. It has a certain symmetry to it really.
And…after the Resurrection, we all get to do it all again, forever, but without the whole dying part. I'll be able to join in directly. I figure these little rituals can me my way of helping the descendants practice for the Eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We better start practicing now…it’s a real endurance event. We’re gonna need to get ready.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I have just found a good supply of free pallets. A local building supply company says if I just drive around down back, I can pick up as many as I want. Then of course, I get to strap them to the top of my car with my ratcheting straps. Note I also have 4 pallets INSIDE my car. These will be used to keep my wood out of the mud so it can dry. Later, I will get some more to break up and use as kindling.
About a mile and half in I noticed that I was really kind of dragging. I wasn’t going fast, even for me, but it just felt tough. I had gotten a good night’s sleep the previous night but felt a bit like I do when I am running low on sleep. What gives?
Then it hit me. Altitude. I was a mile high in the air running with no oxygen. OK, not really NO oxygen, but apparently a lot less. So…I decided to start doing wind sprints. I figured that with the reduced air resistance I would break even. Yeah. Not so much really.
I did a couple of weight workouts over the next two days. Oof dah! Swings. Snatches. Clean and jerks. 400 reps overall the first time. The second workout I went easier only totaling 300 reps. Both times just blasted me. I am still sore. Oh but it is such a gooood pain.
I also noticed that altitude seems to affect my body’s metabolism of alcohol. I had one beer on Thursday night, and got a little buzz off of that. I’m 200 lbs, and that has never happened before. Not with just one. The good news is that I figure I got 3 to 5 times the benefit out of each rep at 5000 feet than I’m getting here. Let’s hear it for efficiency!
Friday, August 8, 2008
Nevertheless, I can’t escape the feeling that using Latin words and phrases is really cool. I know. It’s pretentious, really. It’s an affectation, a pompous conceit. I guess we all have our vices. At least mine has not been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. Yet.
I especially love to peruse Latin mottos. I’m looking for one to adopt as my own, that I would place on my own family crest if I had one. But none have struck me so forcefully as to impress itself on me as THE MOTTO. There are so many really good ones. Here are some of my favorites so far.
Said and Done
By endurance we conquer
Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo
Resolutely in action, gently in manner.
Esto quo audes.
Be what you dare
Nec hostium timete, nec amicum reusate.
Fear no enemy, deny no friend.
Vincit, qui se vincit.
He conquers who conquers himself
In libris libertas.
In books (there is) freedom.
Otium sine litteris mors est.
Leisure without literature is death.
Vive ut vivas.
Live that you may live
Fortis et liber.
Strong and free.
Esse quam videre.
To be rather than to seem.
Fortes acquirit eundo.
It gathers strength as it goes.
Fluctuat nec mergitur.
It is tossed by waves but doesn't sink.
Nil sine numine.
Nothing without providence.
Sic semper tyrannis.
Thus ever to tyrants.
Montani semper liberi.
Mountaineers are always free.
I noticed today that this sort of thing is not limited to clothing. When someone shares their email address with me, and it is an @aol address, I also react emotionally. I find myself involuntarily assuming, with no other evidence or facts, that this person is in essence electronically illiterate, and really should not be allowed near a computer without a chaperone.
It may be that none of these assumptions are valid. But, then again…
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
My work is mostly sitting on my can, or standing and talking. My business does not involve hard (or even moderate) physical labor. The problem is that I really like having a body that is capable of doing things – lots of things. To make that possible, I must train my body.
Exercise is not a drudgery for me. I actually enjoy it in it’s own right. The sweat, the discomfort, the exertion, even the pain. It’s good. I know it makes me stronger. I enjoy my body, and making it do things.
And that is one of the pillars of my philosophy of physical training. It’s about DOING THINGS, more than it is about looking good. Don’t get me wrong…I like looking good. Moreover it also pleases me that my appearance pleases others – especially my bride. I would say that for a 45 year old guy, I'm in better shape than most men my age. Yet I see this as a side benefit.
What are the real benefits?
I can tumble with my kids without fear of injury.
I can put up wood to heat our house for the winter.
I can walk among the mountains and enjoy it.
I rarely have to go to the doctor.
I can eat healthy without being a food nazi
I can DO things.
I appreciate anything that gets someone off their can and moving around. I’m not a big fan of bodybuilding (I thinks it’s focus is all wrong) but it’s way better than not exercising. I’m not a huge fan of “fitness” workouts like you see on TV (I think most people don’t do them with enough focus and intensity to get real results), but again, if you enjoy it and you actually DO it, I support you completely. I think gyms are mostly a waste of money, and most exercise equipment is silly and over rated. The more complex it is, the sillier and more over rated it is.
I prefer simple direct forms of exercise, closely related to the fundamental types of work that mankind has done for millenia -- basically running and lifting. Therefore, I’m more inclined toward things like powerlifting, Olympic style lifting, Kettlebell workouts, body weight training (calisthenics), martial arts training or gymnastics. If it involves compound movement that recruits your whole body, I like it. If it involves isolation and focuses on size rather than strength, endurance, flexibility or agility, I tend to stay away. Even Yoga or dance is great stuff IF you do it with focus and intensity. It’s not that any of these is wrong or right, it’s more about will it get you the results you want – and are you doing it properly to get those results?
I like to read the blog over at Ross Training. This guy is a former boxer, now personal trainer. He uses a variety of conventional, old school, and unconventional approaches to physical training. I’m thinking this guy can do pretty much whatever he wants to do with his body. When it comes to a strong healthy body, this is where I would like to go.
I’m especially impressed by the 1 arm rollouts, the 1leg squats, and the ballistic pull-ups where he lets go of the bar. As they say in Wisconsin, “OOF-DAH!”
He was not the pilot that took the photos, but kudos to the guy who did.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
At 18, I moved away. I did not intend to be away for long. I expected to go to college, get my egdeykayshun, and then move back to New Hampshire. As I said, I love it here, and knew that I always wanted to live here. It is good, though, for a young man to strike out for parts unknown, to get away from home to make his way in the world, and that is what I did. To my surprise, it took my 21 years to find my way back. I didn’t exactly get lost. I know pretty much where I was the whole time. The most surprising thing about the whole escapade is where I spent the time.
Given my interests and inclinations, one would have thought that I might have gone to…Colorado or Wyoming. Perhaps Idaho, or maybe even Alaska. Nope. I went Midwestern. 5 years in Indiana. 9 Years in Michigan, and 7 more in Wisconsin. I was not trapped, nor held hostage. No. My time there was by choice and to a certain degree a matter of expedience. A man has to make a living, and sometimes it just makes sense to take what’s offered.
Now there is an assumption that easterners look down on folks from the Midwest as parochial, excessively nice and not too bright. It’s a myth borne out by television, which seems to be mostly written by people who actually feel that way. Folks in the Midwest, who seem to function under the general misapprehension that the entire east coast is New York City, reciprocate the feelings. My upbringing was culturally half a continent away from New York City, even though geographically I spent my childhood a only a good day’s drive from the Big Apple. So when I moved to the Midwest, I actually found the culture generally to my liking. The landscape grew on me.
I grew up among forested hills and mountains. I drove 2 lane roads, and played in streams and wooded glades. Agriculture in New England has been a fairly limited institution for many years now. Most farmers left long ago for Wisconsin. A few hardy souls remained and so occasionally, I would get to play on farms with cows, horses, pastures and barns. Still, I knew nothing of straight roads, soybean fields, and long low straight horizons.
The landscape of the Midwest tends toward the simple, pastoral and orderly. It has little of the wild messiness of the northern woods. Of course, this changes, as you move up into northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Those areas actually share many similarities to the woods of northern New England. Below those areas, though, the countryside is dominated by agriculture. You can see it from an airplane. Fields tilled and orderly in their patchwork quilt layout. Roads set in Cartesian order, east by west and north by south. The countryside is mostly composed of fields dotted with patches of woodland or brushstrokes of forest where a river or stream may cut through. It tends to roll gently, except in places where the glaciers left drumlins, moraines and other features that make for more abrupt elevation changes. They are small by the standards of both east and west, but large when compared to the surrounding landscape, which makes my point. There are not much in the way of mountains.
I came to love it though. For itself. It is what it is, and it has it’s own beauty, if you are willing to look for it. It is not wild. It is settled land, cared for and used by generations. That use is good. There is a tendency to romanticize wilderness, as if that is the only form of landscape that deserves to be though beautiful. But the world is made for humanity, and humans live in it, and when it is used well, it is beautiful. I learned to see that during my time in the Midwest. This ability to see the terrain for what it is, and accept it, and appreciate it – this ability is one of the things that made all that time away from my home more than bearable. For I always that whole time, still considered New Hampshire my home. It has always been my first love. Yet, I opened my eyes and my heart and came to appreciate the Midwest for itself, and I am glad for my time there.
And, you see, it’s not just the shape of the soil and the rocks. It is also the people and the culture. My upbringing was shaped first by Puritans, then by English merchants classes, and then by French immigrants, and all their descendants. There is an odd combination of assumed sophistication (The Puritan institutions ironically gave birth to the Universal Unitarians, for instance – to me the supreme example of people who are just way to smart for their own good) and bedrock flinty self-sufficiency (Local democracy still rules supreme through the town meeting – a form of government notoriously cumbersome, but very entertaining).
In the regions of the Midwest where I lived, I experienced heavy influence of German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch culture. The people are mostly openly social and communitarian (as opposed to independent) and religious (as opposed to intellectual). It’s not that they don’t believe in self-sufficiency or that they aren’t smart. It’s just that the emphasis lies in a different place. We're all American, so the words we use still come from the same books. It's just that the accent of the culture falls on different syllables. And, I must say, my wife and I came to love it very much. We made so many good good friends, and got used to the warmth and open easy hospitality that seemed so common there.
So now, after steeping in that brew for so long, I find that I am a hybrid. I am still 100% Yankee (in all the good and bad things that that means, I guess) but I have also absorbed the flavors of the Midwest. What does that mean? I think a song called Hopelessly Midwestern sums it up beautifully. I am most familiar with the version performed by Mustard’s Retreat, a Michigan folk duo. But, Youtube only offers a version done by the original writer of the song. It’s good too. Take a listen, and I think you will hear some of what I came to love about living in the Midwest.
Friday, August 1, 2008
We heard sirens, and a fire truck and police car sped by heading up the road. Then another. Then a few more. Something had obviously happened, but I just figured the first responders had it under control. My cell phone rang, but I let it go to voice mail, as I needed to leave right away and figured I’d catch the message in the car and call back.
It was now a little after 12:00, and as I drove I began to hear reports on the radio about a windstorm or tornado that struck some nearby towns. I got about halfway to my destination, and had to turn back due to downed trees and lines at the top of Catamount Hill. I tried getting to Route 4 via Old Orchard Road, but found it also blocked and backed up for miles. I gave up that part of my quest, and turned right instead of left to work on a few other items on my list. By this time, I was getting a bigger picture. The storm line stretched from Ossipee to Deerfield, about 40 miles, and the storm snapped trees, downed power lines and smashed houses along the entire pathway. The list of towns included my home town. I checked my phone messages, and found that my friend Dan, who lives about 2 miles from my house, was calling to see if we were OK. He had gotten reports that his house had been hit. My brother also called. At that point, I know we were OK, but I didn’t know how bad the rest of it had been. I was starting to get the picture though.
I tried to get to my friend’s house, but the police had barricaded all roads leading into their neighborhood until the downed lines were check and the houses were cleared. He suggested I check in at the fire station where the command post had been established if I wanted to volunteer. I drove over there, and put my name in and hung around for 2 hours. After a while 2 things became clear. First, this was a pretty major event. We had mutual aid fire and rescue companies responding from miles around. Lots and lots of first responders coming in to help. Second, they didn’t really know what to do with a general volunteer, not a trained responder, who simply wanted to help. Eventually I left and went home.
The next day I made contact with my friends by cell phone. We made arrangements to take their kids, and for me to come in to begin helping with clean up. When I got there, much had already been done, but the place was truly a mess. It was an amazing sight. Huge pines snapped in half. Mature oaks, maples, beeches, poplars knocked over. Power lines down. Holes in rooftops, some houses smashed. Boats lifted out of the marina and dropped a third of a mile away. I spent the day helping cut and haul brush and logs, working around power crews and insurance contractors and tree companies. The music of diesel engines, chain saws and generators blocking out the birds and the breeze. I spent much of the next two days helping out. Power was mostly restored to the area I was in by Friday night. By Friday the roads were pretty clear of trees, though clogged with trucks and equipment. By Sunday, the most urgent cleanup was done and some repairs were started on some houses.
Homes formerly shaded by woods were now exposed, surrounded by dirt and rocks and stumps. My friends home have a new lake view, and a gorgeous western outlook for lovely sunsets on the porch. Of course, you still have to look past the snapped of trunks and the straggly that managed to bend without toppling.
It took 4 days to restore cable/internet/phone to my house. Only then did I get on Youtube and find out the extent of the storm.
More about playing with chain saws, splitting wood, and how God used a disaster to meet our needs coming up.
I've already written about Good News/Bad News. Here is the new deck, replacing the old one crushed by the snow that plunged off my roof in March. Should be done in a few days. If the tornado had struck us, I believe the new deck would have anchored our house down to prevent it from being blown away. It is built like a freakin' tank. I love it.