Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ode to the Old Buffalo

He's not stuffed. Hailey took this one out the car window.

As I hurtle toward 48, I find that I view common place things differently. Such as the presentation by the Park Ranger in Yellowstone.

This year celebrates 20 years since the Yellowstone fires, which (for the math challenged) occurred in 1988. Throughout the park and its environs, videos have been made, books have been written and newspapers published which view the event in its historical and environmental perspective. I felt myself take a deep breath (if we’d not been in the midst of a crowd I think it would have been a gasp---followed by my own laughter) when she said, “Many of you may remember these fires. I, however, was only six at the time.” Either the Ranger’s really young or……

During our many forays into the park, we saw single buffalo (like the one pictured above) wandering the highways. Generally, buffalo hang out in packs. One of the tourists asked the Rangerette why it was that these guys were wandering alone along the highways. They are the old buffalo. They younger males are currently rutting, but these old guys have been displaced from the heard.

Buffalo are herd animals. In the wild, bulls will form separate herds or bachelor groups and join with the cow herd only during the breeding season. However, buffalo raised domestically will not separate by gender, and will remain in the same herd throughout the year. Buffalo have a highly structured social "pecking" order determined by seniority in the herd, size, and age. The pecking order is much more rigorously enforced than in domestic cattle, and ignoring the social status can result in serious injury.
Apparently, then, they go out on long walks; probably stopping at watering holes for cold beers and a listening ear---maybe talking about the good old days.

Twenty years ago I couldn’t relate to the old buffalo. This year, I feel closer to the old bison than the young rangerette.

(Happy BD GB!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yellowstone: Old Faithful, Of Course

Old Faithful; though still glorious, isn't quite faithful anymore. Due to both seismic changes over the years; and yes, the evil of men...people throwing trash down into it; Old Faithful only erupts every six to eight hours (approximately). We were fortunate enough to arrive right before she blew. We got a second show after we ate lunch.

The hat says it all!

Continental Breakfast and a Pot of Gold

Well, we're baaack! You probably didn't even miss us! Lots of stories and pictures to come. In the meantime....
Here we are getting ready to go! The car's a police magnet....

The hotel we stayed at the first night was right at the end of the rainbow! Maybe the continental breakfast lacked a little; but we got all the gold we could carry home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Goals Set and Goals Disrupted

Goals set and goals disrupted. Key components of my trip to Portland. Disrupted goals have to do with our encounter with The Foreign Order of Underground Liberty (FOUL), which I’ll post more about next week. Setting goals is what this post is about.

(Note: You may want to add, “over beer” to the end of any sentence in the following paragraphs to give the post that Portland vacation feel).

It’s one of the things friends do, and we built up to it over walks into Multnomah Village to eat breakfasts and dinners. One of the conversations brought up the question of where we planned on being, and doing, within one year. We agreed that any goals set needed to be measurable. During the daily walk, and then at my friends' house/cabin retreat, we continued the discussion.

Upon returning home, I kept coming across things having to do with goal setting. So, I dashed off the last post on the subject of discipline. Which prompted a phone call from Portland, “What are you gonna do about it?”

Iron sharpens iron, the bible says, and that process by its nature involves heat. Now the heat is on. I promised I’d wrestle with laying out some measurable goals. Said I’d post them, with the initial post done before vacation. So here are some of the goals (measurable) that I’ve come up with.

I’ve decided that each of these will need to be chronicled on a calendar (the old fashioned paper type) so that I can make check-marks, or other notations showing goal completed for that day or week. The cycling I’ll note on Excel. Following is a rough draft which I’ll have to refine over the next month.

Goals for September through November.

1) Buy a house plant. Goal date-mid September. This will also entail buying some type of stand that fits.
2) Cycling. This is the easy one. 3 rides per week (or time on Trainer). By end of November, have done at least one 60 mile ride. (Side note: I plan on buying a bike by end of the year; but it’s a loose goal).
3) Memorize Romans 6: 1-14 by end of September.
4) Calendaring. This is probably the most important goal here. I will take one chunk of time every week to lay out the week. I need to clearly delineate days that I do freelance work and days that I play. Set aside days for Sabbath rest.
5) Bible reading/Quiet time. 3 times per week. No minimum time frame for each day, the commitment is to do it, whether it takes 3 minutes or 30 minutes. I should be done with Isaiah by end of September, then moving into Jeremiah. Will continue the delightful balance between reading some scripture and reading some soul-stirring short piece of writing, such as Annie Dillard, Robert Service, Frederic Buechner.
6) Write a will. Have this done by end of November. For those of you reading this; along with the will I’ll have desires for my funeral on my desktop. Please follow accordingly (if I go before you). I’ll do that along with the will.

That’s the short list. I’m off to Yellowstone; so I may come back with more to add.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Discipline, a Common Struggle: Mark Warkentin (Olympian) Talks About Discipline and I Procrastinate

I'm supposed to be working on freelance stuff right now. I just ate, I already put in eight hours, and I really don't feel like it. Those of you who know me will find it shocking, but I'm putting off any application of self-discipline. I'm playing and proctrastinating. That is how I came across mention of a blog by Mark Warkentin, olympic Open-water Swimming contender. Warkentin writes this in one of his posts:

On the trip to Singapore I did a bit of reading. I’m currently reading two books (there’s a point to why I’m sharing this information with everyone). The first is “Disciplines of a Godly Man” by R. Kent Hughes. As one could imagine, the concept of the book is to use biblical teaching for modern application, and even if you’re not a Christian, it’s a good read. (I’m not preaching – there’s a reason I’m reading the book). The second book is “The CEO of the Sofa” by P.J. O’Rourke. The author pontificates on pop culture and politics from the comfort of his living room couch all while sipping a martini. The perspectives are essentially polar opposites.

He goes on to talk about the struggle he faces as an olympic athlete; the struggle of discipline.

The problem is that we all live a fairly disciplined life at home, in fact our discipline at home is one of the main reasons we made it to the Olympics in the first place. Those that can avoid the beer and the pastries typically find more success than those that cannot. Swimming is about discipline and routines and patterns, and we’ve just put a bunch of athletes in a beautiful tropical location where our discipline is going to be tested. (There’s a “no alcohol” protocol, but there isn’t a “no 10 pastries” protocol.)


I became self-aware of the situation while I nearly sank to the bottom of the pool this morning. I have to discipline myself in two ways. First, I need to keep the diet under control. Some people think that swimmers can eat whatever we want in any quantity, but the reality is that we have all become very efficient at swimming and an 8,000 meter workout doesn’t burn as many calories as you might think. Second, because I swim the 10K at the end of the Olympics, I have to train hard for the entire time here in Singapore. While the other swimmers do 3,000 meter warm-up practices and 15 meter sprints for main sets, I have to continue 8,000 to 9,000 meter workouts with a pretty high intensity. I’m going to be doing a lot of swimming on my own while the other swimmers arrive after me and leave before me.

The discipline required to fulfill both of these objectives is not unattainable, but often times we set out to discipline ourselves under the assumption that something is easy and quickly find out that it’s more than we bargained for. I’ve been pretty disciplined in my life and I’m self-aware enough to recognize when I’m being tempted, so it’s a winnable contest, but that’s not to say I can snap my fingers and have complete self-control. The pastries look good, and doing 8x800 on 9 minutes is not really all that enjoyable.

He throws out a good challenge to us all. Whereas he writes that "I've been pretty disciplined in my life," I'd have to say the opposite of myself. This next season I've committed to make some changes in my personal life. Excercising discipline will be necessary if I'm to achieve ANY success. Success in consistent excercise, success in maintaining relationship with Christ, success in work, success in writing. Currently, I'm hardly going at my life with a broadax. Going at my life with a handful of Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Raisins more like.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one recieves the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Everyone who competes in the games excercises self control in all things. They then do it to recieve a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."-1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Quote of the Month/Summer: Holy the Firm

"And that is why I believe those hollow crisps on the bathroom floor are moths. I think I know moths, and fragments of moths, and chips and tatters of utterly empty moths, in any state. How many of you, I asked the people in my class, which of you want to give your lives and be writers? I was trembling from coffee, or cigarettes, or the closeness of faces all around me. (Is this what we live for? I thought: is light, and living, human eyes?) All hands rose to the question. (You, Nick? Will you? Margaret? Randy? Why do I want them to mean it?) And then I tried to tell them what the choice must mean: you can't be anything else. You must go at your life with a broadax....They had no idea what I was saying. (I have two hands, don't I? And all this energy, for as long as I can remember. I'll do it in the evenings, after skiing, or on the way home from the bank, or after the children are asleep.....)They thought I was raving again. It's just as well."

Panorama City-My Early Childhood House

The house is still in the family. Mom's been renting it to the same people since I was old enough to have facial hair. The people finally moved out; the facial hair's still there. The man living in it was like Tim the Tool Man and could fix anything, he said. Truth is; he could rig anything so that it worked at least half-as-well as it worked before it was broken. In other words, we have some work to do on it before we are able to rent it again.

All of this led me to drive back over to the house to see how it looked, and to check for Squattters, as there was some indication that people were using the house; gates not closed, doors not locked-that type of thing.

I'm still having trouble breathing, and my skin is still crawling. The carpet was there since the renters originally moved in; somewhere around 1985. It's a dirty, brown, stained, flat and trampled piece of material. How they lived with it is beyond me. The white fiberglass shower has a yellow patch on the floor; where a hole used to be. Not sure how you gouge out your shower; but they did. And sure enough, Mr. Fixit repaired it. Can you say 'dry rot?' Did I mention that there were spider webs in every corner? There is also a militant ant patrol marching around the perimeter of the house expecting that if Joshua could make those walls fall down then so could a million ants!

Aside from all that; its the main house I lived in through kindergarten. Specters of neighbors, Kirk, Vinnie (Popodopoulis) and Shawn haunt the lawn and the houses next door. The palm trees are there too; but the hedge under it that acted as fort, castle and cool hangout is gone. And somebody stole the stove and the fridge!

I spare you pictures of the carpet and shower stall, spiders and ants.
I love the lamp! I must have blocked the bathroom out of my mind though. The toilet is green too!

I bet your house had a vent like this one!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Oregon Brewers Festival

While visiting my friend ( I was going to say "Bud," but I don't think one can use "Bud" and real beer in the same context) in Portland, we attended the Oregon Brewers Festival. I'll post more about that shortly. Here are some pictures to help you get the flavor of the event. Sorry that the smell of hops and the taste of a cold beer can't be conveyed well in this one-dimensional format!

Portland-Historical Downtown

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bridges, Tunnels and Stuff: The Leaburg Project

There's a cool little bridge that covers a dam at the Leaburg Project (sounds like a great SciFi movie, doesn't it?) in Oregon. It's only wide enough for one vehicle. Across the bridge is this cool little park. I'm including the signage too; not that it makes a great photo, but it tells you a little about Leaburg. Nice little stop on my road trip. Thanks, Glenn, for the tip--and the trip!

In my mind's eye, I thought this looked better in something like Sepia tones, something that feels older. The original photo appears below.

Here are a couple views of the park; and the signage I mentioned.