Feb 28

Jonny and I went cross-country skiing twice together. The first was up to Snoqualmie Pass, on a groomed trail, for about 14 miles.

The second was into Reflection Lake on Mt. Rainier, much of the way through steep forest with about 18 inches of powder snow. This made the possibility of easy skiing quite difficult, and only once we got to the road were we able to get some speed to our skiing. The snow was quite soft, but also very cold, which meant that it balled up underneath our skis, making the going quite difficult. Both photos were showing Reflection Lake.

On 26FEB, Dale R. and I did something that I never tried before, which was night downhill skiing. This was accomplished at Snoqualmie Pass, and was a rather pleasant venture. Photographs were impossible.

 

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Feb 28

Hymns of Worship and Precious Memories, sung by Prairie Choristers ???

First of all, I love these songs. I grew  up with them.  The Zion’s Harp is the song book of the Apostolic Christian Church, a small Amish-Mennonite type church that was my church for the first 25 years of life. The hymns that are sung are absolutely beautiful and taken from mostly the German heritage of the church fathers. The ACC split in the early 20th century, and these songs are performed a mid-west group by the split side that I attended before at 13, which was when my parents then switched to the other “side”. In that side, church singing was entirely accapella, though they often used the piano in their homes. These songs are technically well performed. The recordings do not have a good balance, and the men’s voices are very difficult to hear, even when they are soloing. Another nuance that is disturbing about these performances is their overt technical accuracy, while entirely missing the emotion or spirit of what they are singing about. They rarely ever change their volume or tempo, and one could perform them to a metronome. I realize that the performers probably feel very strongly about the words of these songs, and yet these recordings show a complete absence of that warmth or love for the object of their song. So, only three stars.

 

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Feb 21

This is my first ride of the season. I just got back my Element, which I’m turning into a touring bike. They installed new gears on the bike, to facilitate a better touring experience. I thought I’d give the bike a spin. It is definitely heavier than by Trionfo, and the fatter tires make for a touch more resistance, but otherwise, the bike worked well. The greatest difficulty is the last 3 miles, which has hills (Bellmonte Dr.) up to about 14% grade. The bike handled well, even though I was just a slight bit tired. I followed the Orting trail, but once I get past Orting, I get off the standard trail and onto a back road that is considerably more hilly, but also more scenic. I’m ready for more. I’ll soon have to take my Trionfo off of the trainer and get some better distance rides in.

 

 

 

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Feb 21

Das Leben der Andern (The Lives of Others) ? ? ? ? ?

A German made film that has English subtitles, this extremely well done movie won not only international acclaim, with the winner of the Academy Award for best foreign language film of 2006, but also considered the top conservative film of the last 25 years, according to National Review. It is the moving story of a artist being held under surveillance by the Stasi in the former DDR (East Germany). It is a witness of the realities of state control of one’s life, and even one’s thought. I fear that telling the plot would ruin the film for subsequent viewers. I must say that this is a must film, especially in the US as we have increasing state surveillance all intended on protecting us from Terrorists and the like. Though the film is rated R, there is minimal scenes that one would find even remotely offensive. Bill Buckley Jr. shows good taste in calling this one of his favorite films of all time.

 

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Feb 20

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Tim Keller ????

I typically don’t read recently published books, but many people recommended this book, and so I felt it deserved a quick read. It is an argument for belief in God, written by a pastor, and thus has a very pastoral feel to it, rather than a seasoned and sealed argument that one might find from the pen of a philosopher, such as Francis Schaeffer. Keller is the Pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in NYC, and much of the book entails conversations and questions asked by members of his congregation. Keller quotes CS Lewis in every chapter, and his argument has a strong flavor of CS Lewis. The book is divided into two parts, the first being an argument for the existence of God against the common accusations, such as, science has disproved God, the Bible could not possibly be accurate, aren’t all relgions correct and lead to God, how could Christianity be true and yet the Christian church so evil, how could God and evil both exist, etc., etc. The second part is more an appeal to the reasonableness of faith, including reasons why Christianity offers the best answers to the dilemmas of man, such as sin, evil, value, morality, and meaning in life. The books’ strongest chapter is the last and is not even titled a chapter, but Epilogue-Where do We Go from Here, where Keller argues for a move of each individual, Christian and skeptic alike, to the call of the Cross and resurrection  of Christ.

 

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