June 2009

Cayuse/Chinook Pass

Starting from Mather Parkway, 62 miles, 5600 feet elevation gain, 4 hours, with Russ and Luc Andersen. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the visibility of the mountain was 100%. We couldn’t have picked a better day. It was the debut of my Steelman bicycle, and it was everything I expected; it was handled well, the gearing was superb, and the ride comfortable. The only problem that I had was a terrible seat. Fortunately, the seat was on trial, so I am trying out another seat for my next ride. We are getting ready for a one-day STP, and getting as much riding in as possible. Stay in touch.

Moses und Aron

Moses und Aron, by Arnold Schönberg, Wiener Oper ★★
This is an unfinished opera by Arnold Schönberg, the inventor of 12-tone music, and staged at the Vienna Opera. It was not a really likable opera and I honestly could not wait until the end of the opera. The music was the most bearable part of the opera, though quite cacophonic, seemed to fix the sets. The staging was bizarre-I weary with the use of trench coats and suitcases, as it seems like it is a worn-out idea in the minimalist operatic regimen. Can’t set designers to be a little more creative? The philosophy and theology of Schönberg is a mix of Karl Barth and the Tübingen school, in Jewish clothing-a god completely incomprehensible, and completely other and thus not communicable. This is a good reference DVD to show exactly why Schönberg is not more popular on the operatic circuits.

l’Histore d’Adele H

l’Histore d’Adele H., by François Truffaut ★★★★
This is actually a true story of the daughter of Victor Hugo, driven mad out of love for a soldier in the British army, and moving to Halifax, Canada, then later to the Caribbean, to be with him. The acting was superb, and the storyline engaging, the filming was outstanding, as fitting for one of the greatest film directors of France, F. Truffaut. This is a rather clean film, no violence, no sex, nothing offensive for children, but better connected with real-life (it was real life!) than the fictional stories of Jane Austin, thus, making it a believable love (hate?) story. Highly recommended. Not really a guy film, but good to watch when one is learning French. Oui, oui! There are English subtitles so that even Betsy enjoyed the film.


I had no idea that this month would go so quickly. I’ve spent much of my time doing a number of things…

  1. 1.Recovering from jetlag. I did not think that it would take about two weeks to return to reality. Every day after return from Bangladesh was like being a Zombie. My internal time-clock persistently woke me at 2 am, and I was ready to go to bed every day at noon. Pitiful.
  2. 2.Learning French. I prefer to learn German. German is more fun to learn, and more useful. Except, when someone is going to Cameroon, which used to be a German colony, but taken over by the French. The area where we will be uses French as the immediate second language. So, I will re-learn French. I’m using French in Action, which is the best language study method that I’ve ever seen. You never are given English equivalents, but must always think in French. It is similar to how things were at the Goethe Institut learning German. I’m still trying to stay on top of my German, and you are all welcome to communicate with me in German whenever! Ich liebe Deutschland.
  3. 3.Preparing for the STP in one day. This is a 203 mile (320 km) one day affair. I’ll be doing it with some friends from church, Russ and Luc Andersen. They happen to be a bit stronger bike riders than I am, but, I suspect that I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting in the mileage. I’ve already done one century this year, and am doing at least one 70-80 mile ride per week, riding at least 3x/week. I’m now registering only the more significant rides in my Bikeblog, and will eventually merge that with my Hike-Ski blog.
  4. 4.Learning photoshop – reworking some instruction books to better master the art of connecting my camera to the computer to produce compelling prints.
  5. 5.Installing a new computer. My Power Mac was 5 years old, not Intel, and getting a touch slow. It was at last time to upgrade. So, I now have a new Mac Pro.I suspect this one will also last about 5 years. The old computer will be put to work performing other tasks. When I was using PCs with Billy Gates’ Windows, I’d essentially trash the computer every 3 years. All in all, it was a savings to be on an Apple computer, as it is a little more expensive up front, but you don’t have the crashes and problems that a PC gives you, and upgrading tends to be less expensive as on a PC.
  6. 6.Reading/ listening to music – I’m reading mostly larger texts, so, the book reports won’t be so plentiful. I’m re-working much of my old music, gaining a familiarity with more obscure pieces. iTunes lets me set to hear only “unheard” pieces, so that I am able to work through the entirety of my collection. I enjoy classical proper as well as twentieth century music, such as that of Korngold or Shostakovich or Goreki. There is too much good stuff to listen to. There are also too many good books that remain unread by me, and my library shelves sit full of books read or waiting to be read. “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” Eccl. 12:12.
  7. 7.Ripping all of my movies. It’s easier and safer to use your movies from the computer than from the original disc. So, I am putting all the house movies onto several large hard drives. It doesn’t take up much personal time, as I can do other things on the computer while the computer rips a film.
  8. 8.Preparing for Cameroon. This will be another adventure, and am spending time thinking about how to make things go well in Cameroon, and how we might be of the best help to the missionaries who we will be staying with. Cameroon and Bangladesh are not countries that are high on the tourist list, and unfortunately, too many people go expecting some sort of adventure. We are going to be servants. It’s the least thing we could do. With that attitude, we could not have had a better time in BD. Hopefully, Cameroon will be the same. If I wanted a vacation, I’d go to the Caribbean or to Deutschland.
  9. 9.Backpacking? I hope. Jonny and I are signed up to do the Wonderland Trail counterclockwise starting 28 AUG. You’ll hear more about that once we are done. It is 93 miles, 20,000 feet elevation gain total, and usually takes 7-14 days. We will be doing it in 8 days. You have to schedule and reserve all of your campsites, so that you can’t just wander in and do the trail. It’s about 12-15 miles/day, which on this trail, can be rather demanding. You’ll get a full report in September.
  10. 10. Family. We visited Rachel and Diane. Rachel is now engaged to be married. We are delighted. She has found a good man.
  11. 11.Trails class – I did this one weekend, learning how to design, build, and maintain hiking trails. There is actually a science to this. Going to this class was an inexpensive luxury, that I could have never done outside of a Sabbatical.

While bicycle riding with the Andersens, it occurred to me that people do this activity as a fund-raising activity. And, why not? If people will pay me to have fun riding my bicycle, or hiking, or running, or picking my nose, or chewing gum, of course, I’ll do that for a good cause. But, haven’t things gotten out of hand. How does a physical activity actually help somebody dying of cancer, or prevent poor starving children in China? In reality, it does nothing. This year, I will be engaged in two fund-raising activities, the Courage Classic, which is for the prevention of child abuse (you’ve got to be kidding me, no amount of money will prevent a moral problem!), and another ride4US, which is to purchase ultrasound machines for CareNet clinics. But really! Why these activities? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have me work for a day or week, and then donate the revenues to the cause? Of course, it would, but it doesn’t get press. Actually, it was a Tacoma surgeon, Dr. G. Klatt, who started the whole run/walk/swim/pick a booger for some cause movement. He was quite well-intentioned, and raised much money for cancer. It was a great idea, but, now, there are people arbitrarily asking for money for every mile of something that they do? Should I support this madness? I don’t think so.
Aber, was ist schließlich? Ich habe mein neues Fahrrad abgeholt! Hier ist es! Ein Foto! Ist es nicht wirklich schön? Es ist aus Stahl gebaut, dunn aber sehr streng, und ohne Gewicht! Nur 8.3 kg. Die Farbe sind gelb und rot und schwarz, und es fahrt wohl. Die erste Fahrt war über Cayuse und Chinook Pass, 1600+ km Anhöhe und 87km weit.  Es war sehr schön. Siehe “Bikeblog”.

Die Hard Trilogy

Die Hard, Die Hard II, Die Hard with a Vengeance, starring Bruce Willis ★★★
This series is well done, though the style of the plot remains similar with each of the three movies, so that, once you’ve seen one, you get the idea. Each movie centers around a bad guy, using terrorist tactics of mass killing, in order to steal large amounts of money, while secondarily, trying to kill John McClean (Bruce Willis), a cop from NY. Bruce gets beat up fairly badly, while ultimately getting the bad guy. The graphics are quite good as well as the action scenes. The language is quite foul, and often excessive at that. The final plot is a touch fantastic, outside of the realm of reality. Thus, three stars.

William Carey

William Carey, by Basil Miller ★★★★
I actually enjoyed reading this book, though it has its serious literary flaws. The book is a story of the life of William Carey. Such a man is a story worth telling, leaving England as a poor laborer, though even then, quite skilled in languages, to become a world-famous linguist and expert on the Indian languages, especially Bangla. His perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is a testimony of faith and love for God that is not commonly seen. It was also a reflection of exactly the problems that we were seeing when we were in Bangladesh, including the continually insincere converts, integrity problems with the converts, serious problems with understanding and commitment from the home mission boards, etc. I felt like nothing had changed over the last 200 years. I was also surprised at how vigorously the British government acted to prevent missions from occurring in India–Great Britain is often thought of as the great evangelical enterprise but it was just the opposite, in that evangelization of the world happened in spite of the British crown. So, what were my problems with the book? I never like hyperbole or extrapolation in a biography. Here are two examples. 1) The title “the father of modern missions”. Now I know that Carey played a huge role in modern missions and probably was more influential than most at getting the work started of translation of the Scriptures into various tongues. I’d be hesitant to call him the grounding father of missions. 2) Frequent statements, like found on page 72, talking about God’s work in settling Carey into the city of Serampore, saying “Truly this was the leading of God”. Indeed it certainly was God’s leading, but even hindsight betrays our ability to know God’s thoughts and intentions, outside of direct revelation from him or through Scripture. It is the same mistake that the Pentecostals make when they speak of God “telling them” something. These criticisms do not diminish the book as a tome worth reading.

Vertical Limit

Vertical Limit ★
This is a movie about the climbing of K2 by a young brash group of climbers, accompanied by a film crew from National Geographic. The main characters are a brother and sister whose father and other family members perished in a family rock climb, which demanded that one of the family members cut the rope to save their life, but lead to the death of the other members of the family. All in all, the only value to this film was nice cinemaphotography. Its deficits are plentiful. There are multiple serious climbing inaccuracies, including a) people don’t climb 5-6 people per rope on rock b) people don’t have major amounts of flesh exposed with light garments high on K2 c) people don’t breath easily for long periods of time in the death zone, d) steroids are not the magic fix for HAPE, e) nobody survives for more than an hour deep in a crevasse, as it’s just too cold, etc., etc. The film was produced mostly in New Zealand, which was also quite easy to detect. The plot of the story was quite crazy. Subplots, such as the necessity of carrying large quantities of nitroglycerine to the top of K2 in order to rescue their comrades was stupid. The historic climbing ethic was that you go down with your party, and not that you cut yourself loose in order to kill your rope members and save your own skin. I am not sure why such a quality climber like Ed Viesturs would allow himself to have multiple cameos in the film with so many gross inadequacies. This film is not worth watching.


Intermezzo, by Richard Strauss, dir. John Cox, starring Felicity Lott ★★★
This is a well-performed opera, and Felicity Lott is absolutely delightful, both with her voice and in her acting. It is somewhat autobiographical, reflecting an incident somewhat early on in the marriage of Richard and Pauline Strauss. This is one of Strauss’s last operas and reflects the music that is most wonderful, but the singing tends to border on Sprachstimme, (sing-song voice) rather than real singing. It’s not an opera that one would tend to watch many times over, or produce musical excerpts. But, it does reflect creative genius manifest by R. Strauss, and thus worth watching at least once.

Flying Wheels 2009

I am now trying to prepare for the STP in one day, and so am doing a number of rides. This was my first century of the year, which was a little concerning for me since I had had a 3-month interlude off of the bicycle while we were in Bangladesh. It felt good to be back on a cycle. The entire event was notable for the hills hitting me a little harder than my last ride, the absence of flats, and that I cut at least an hour off of my riding time, feeling a moderate amount of energy at the conclusion of the ride. Thus, it was a good ride, all in all. Meanwhile, I continue to ride with Russ and Luc Andersen, who truly are superb cyclists, learning much about endurance and techniques for better riding.