August 2009

Obama Cares

My best friend kindly rebuked me for my absence of propriety in discussing issues sensitive to race. He is correct. But, it is a hard balance. Any political commentary against the reigning Führer is deemed to be racial, as evidenced by Jimmy Carters‘ comment about Wilson’s inappropriate (though true) epithet in the joint (congress).

As Pat Buchanan said regarding Carter’s comment, “Carter’s contribution to the national debate represents a truly rare blend of malevolence, ignorance and moral arrogance.” (click here for reference)…  Unfortunately, race is being used as a witch-hunt accusation against anybody who seems to be strongly opinionated in a non-liberal fashion. Similar accusations happened recently with sexual orientation. I can’t wait until we get a cross-dressing gay/lesbian for president—my comments will then be delivered in an unrestrained though personally detrimental fashion.
ObamaCare!!!!. . . I would really like to obtain a Medizinmann outfit like Obama is wearing as pictured above. Maybe I’ll be able to purchase one while in Cameroon. I think that my patients would love that. We must not act judgmentally against those who hate the AMA/Big Pharma/Medical Industrial complex. After all, there is a dominant role for the chiropractic, naturopathic, transcendental meditation, Christian Science practitioner, Voodoo, alternative medicine, Medizinmann health care provider within general medical practice. Just ask my brother Dennis!
We reflect back on the Obamaphilia the nation experienced a half year ago. Schoolchildren sang in solemn reverential worship about Obama. People displayed their ecstasy over Obama now being able to rescue their bank accounts, put food on the table, clothe them and give them comfortable shelter, regardless of their ability or desire to work for those things. He was even likened to a saint that we could pray to.

may not have come through yet with providing those material items of sustenance, yet, like God in heaven, he watches over our very thoughts, and will hold us accountable if we rise in rebellion against him. Thus, we are no longer policed just for our actions, but also what we might perhaps, perchance, vielleicht, peut-être, possibly, could have been thinking.
In terms of commenting on the virtues and failures of ObamaCare, I believe that I have said more than enough.  So, now I’ll tell you what I really think of Obama. He is a corrupt, dishonest racial bigot hell-bent on an agenda that is polar opposites of the beliefs and philosophies of the founding fathers of America. He is a traitor to the state that has doubtful constitutional credentials to serve as our president, speaks with forked-tongue, smooth and slick, yet works toward philosophic ends that when embraced by other nations has always led to their inevitable ruin. Though he shows signs of intelligence, he lacks any sort of true wisdom to adequately guide a nation, and instead will dupe the masses with his worm-wooded tongue. In spite of that, the masses voted him into office, and they deserve what they will get, so I wish Obama total success with two to four or more terms in office as president. The only regret is for those who wish to maintain honest quiet lives with a separate morality from our Obamination-in-chief, like my children and grandchildren. So, to our new national anthem, needing just a few substitutions of words….
The Mickey Mouse Club March
Enough of that! The last month was quite event-filled.  Most of it was filled with bicycling and reading. I attempted to backpack the Wonderland Trail for a second time, with Jon and Russ, but was heavily rained out the first night. We drove home, dried out, and headed down to Crater Lake for two fantastic rides. The weather has remained quite desultory, with rain constantly threatening, but with weather breaks leaving us wishing that we were in the mountains.
Other events… Alex, Rachel’s fiancé, came to visit. I was able to take him around Mt. Rainier. It was nice having him here, and I am very proud to be able to call him a son-in-law. The wedding is on 02JAN10.

I learned to do Panorama shots, using a tripod and then stitching together various panned shots using photoshop. Here is a view of Rainier that I did on top of the first Burroughs Mountain Summit…

This photo can be blown up to a huge photo, since it is about 7 photographs put together, with 12 megaPx definitions, taken on a tripod, so it is a sharp image even at huge magnifications.
With Diane’s help, we also mastered the art of making Pico de Gallo. Here is the top secret recipe…
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2-3 Jalapeno peppers
1-2 Serrano peppers
1 Green pepper
8 cloves garlic
Clean them all out, wash out the seeds, and chop them VERY fine in a food processor. Add…
1-large Walla Walla sweet onion
1 large bunch of fresh Cilantro, with the stems, removed
This time, chop them moderately fine in the food processor. Then, remove all the ingredients from the food processor, and add the juice of two fresh limes, and two tbsp. of salt. Finally, take 12 Roma tomatoes, wash out the juicy innards, chop by hand modestly fine, and fold into the pepper concoction. This makes a great Pico de Gallo, that is not too spicy. Please do not give away this recipe to anybody, as it is TOP SECRET!!!!! It is the mixture of the various types of peppers with lots of lime juice that creates a pleasant taste. But, beware when cleaning the peppers, as they are highly toxic!

Liam was baptized, our fourth grandchild. That was a wonderful experience, and Pastor Scott did a nice job of officiating the event. That same day in the evening, Resurrection Presbyterian church became a real church, losing its mission status. Thus, we elected elders and had Pastor Scott appointed as the official minister. I feel very good about both the choice of elders and David Scott’s ability to serve as a pastor. Scott seems to have grown in pastoral skills by leaps and bounds since we first met several years ago, and we have deeply appreciated his ministry in Puyallup.

As you can see, we had the kids over for ice cream afterward. They also got to experience our new deck, built since the old deck was rotting out and actually becoming dangerous. We found a carpenter with a good price, and so was able to follow up on a project that I started 10 years ago. It seemed like forever to finish this deck. Here are some photos, though it is not quite finished, including getting a roof on the gazebo…

I was able to do one last bicycle ride with Russ. We rode from the top of Chinook Pass down 27+ miles, and then back. Later, we stopped at our favorite ice cream stop, Wapiti Woolies, famous, since they make the cap that every great contemporary climber from the US has worn in the Himalaya expeditions, including Ed Viesturs… They have photos from a smorgasbord of the hall of fame of American climbers on their wall, showing themselves on the Summit of Everest or Annapurna or wherever in Wapiti Woolie hats…

The last photo is Russ on the right with Bob, who owns Wapiti Woolies.
Meanwhile, we need to pack for Cameroon. We leave on the 26th of September and will be in Cameroon for two months. I must learn French. I prefer to talk German as my second language. French has too many silly grammar rules. French used to be the language of the self-acclaimed intellectual snobs in college. I took Russian instead. I tried to talk Russian with a German accent. My Russian teacher always needed to correct me. Except for the articles, German seems the closest of any foreign language to English. I’ve finished Part I of French in Action, which is the most entertaining language program I know, but I still feel most comfortable sitting down and listening to a German podcast or reading Der Spiegel online. German just kind of clicks in my brain, even though I don’t understand all of what is being said. I’ve also just finished a book written by a missionary surgeon in Nepal titled “Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees”. It was an enjoyable read and certainly seemed to reflect what I’ve seen in Bangladesh more than any other book that I’ve read so far. You can see the full review in the books section.
Unless the internet connection in Cameroon is fantastic, you will probably not see any more posts on this site until we return to the US, which is thanksgiving time. Expect to see a lengthy post at that time. Remember to keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we serve in Cameroon, and e-mail us if you think of it. We fly into N’Djamena, Chad, and travel to the Maroua, Cameroon area, where we will be staying.

Adobe Illustrator CS4 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Illustrator CS4 Classroom in a Book, by the staff of Adobe Systems ★★★★
I had worked through the same book for Adobe Illustrator CS, and found the book to be poorly written, often confusing, and rarely ever instructive as to the full usage of Illustrator. Rather, it simply gave you a set of instructions on how to make a certain piece of art, never telling you why you were doing what it was telling you, and never explaining all the other options on the menu. This edition has corrected most of those mistakes, and was actually informative, leaving me a feeling that I had mastered the basics of Illustrator. It provides ample opportunity to experiment with the system, and encourages one to play since the full use of Illustrator takes time and much practice. It left me feeling that I would be better served with a Wacom tablet, which I’ll probably get soon. Perhaps it was the second exposure, but I now feel much more comfortable with the use of Illustrator. All the same, there were a number of times when I could not make Illustrator do as the instructions were telling me, and sometimes could figure out what was wrong, other times not. Perhaps new editions should also include more sidebars to the text detailing where one might get into trouble, or not end up with the same result—this is especially true when working with layers and masks, which was one great deficit of both the Illustrator and Photoshop Classroom texts.

Photoshop CS3 for Nature Photographers

Photoshop CS3 for Nature Photographers, by Ellen Anon and Tim Grey ★★★★
This is a well-written book on using Photoshop when taking scenic photos, like, most of what I do. It starts out rather slow, belaboring the use of Adobe RAW and Adobe Bridge, before getting into details of how to make nature photographs look better. There is an accompanying CD (which I did not use) that allows you to practice your skills on some provided nature photographs. This book is very well written and provides sage advice both for the photographer in the field, as well as the photographer at the computer, trying to improve on the “excellent” field techniques that were used. It has convinced me to take all my photographs in RAW format, as well as to use a tripod almost always. Unfortunately, that means that backpacking will not be my main source for prize photos, but rather, when I cycle tour, since only then can I lug along a wealth of photography supplies.

The Digital Photography Book

The Digital Photography Book, by Scott Kelby ★★★★
Kelby is a fairly well-known photographer, author, and personality in the digital photography circuit, having not only written several books on digital photography, but he also has published books on photoshop techniques and is found on AdobeTV and in numerous podcasts from the Apple site. Kelby is more a hands-on author, describing how he does things, rather than why he does things. Thus, he offers much concrete advice, mostly all good, regarding practical aspects of how to take a good photo, and then process it for publication or personal use. Reviewing other books in this series, there tend to be many repetitions, thus, I will probably not purchase those books.

Fahrraden im Himmel

The big event of the last few weeks has been the class I took in bicycle touring. It was sponsored by the Adventure Cycling Association ( ) and lasted for 5-½ days, including a day of instruction, and four days on the road. The riding was really very simple, with very short days, and lots of eating, but the camaraderie was delightful, getting to know a number of very interesting people.  It was also instructive to be with other people to learn in a safe environment how to really do distance cycle touring. It is like driving a Freightliner truck as compared to the Ferrari of Gelbvögel (yellow bird). I find that I can easily mix photography with riding, and will be using the handlebar bag mostly as a camera bag. I need to figure out how to bring along my tripod in order to obtain crisper photographs, plus photographs that include everybody including the photographer in the group. My panniers were always half empty, so, I think I can devise a way to get a tripod on board. I’ve become addicted to my Canon XSi camera. I use  18-55 mm and 55-250 mm lenses, as well as an accessory flash. It is tough lugging that stuff along, but it is worth it. While I learn more about digital photography, I’ve realized the importance of taking primarily RAW photos. I did that on this trip in the RAW+jpeg format, and neither iPhoto, Photoshop, nor Aperture was able to properly handle this format. While experimenting with all possible variants, I learned that I need to photograph in the Adobe RGB colorspace, and should only take RAW photos without the jpeg, as all three of the above programs will immediately convert the RAW files to .tif files once I edit them, saving the original .cr2 (raw) file. So, I get the best of all worlds, except that I need to edit all of my photos. All three programs will convert the photo to any size jpeg file that I wish for publishing on the internet or sending to friends and fiends.
Someday, I’d like to be the first person to do “The Box” in one sitting, assuming it has not been done already, which is both the Pacific and Atlantic coast, combined with the Southern and Northern Tier routes. It can be done, probably starting from home on the Pacific coast in February, hitting the Southern Tier in March/April, the Atlantic Coast in May/June, and the Northern Tier in July/August/Sept. My guess is that by traveling light (except for my camera), I could average 80-100 miles/day, and still include 1 day/week for rest.
Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
Blessed is the man who … keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” Isa. 56:1,2
That assumes that Betsy will start riding, or that I can talk some looney tune into coming with me. I’d do it alone, but Betsy would throw a fit. But, I need to think short-term first, perhaps doing the Rainier loop next week and the Washington Parks loop in mid-September. I’m running out of time. My most formidable task that remains is in getting my dear wife to take up cycling, as it would do her much good, and get her away from the house, doing useful activities. I also need to do some bicycle modifications, including revising my front racks, since I cannot remove my front wheel because of the racks. It would make fixing a front flat very difficult.
On another note, I have included the ability to make comments on my other blog pages, including the book, movie, and music blogs. If you have read any of those books, heard any of that music, or seen those movies, please feel free to comment. Also, I welcome comments on the other blogs, including if you have done any of the bike trips that I have done, hikes, or adventures. And, if you say something really stupid or offensive, I will hold nothing against you that I don’t already hold against you. Also, if you are new to this site, don’t panic! The German that I use is for my Deutsche Freunden. The title means “Bicycling in Heaven”. If anybody receives blog announcements and doesn’t wish to, please e-mail me and I’ll take you off the list.
On yet another note, the countdown until 14DEC at 0700 when I formally restart work…

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me

As Far as my Feet will Carry Me, starring B. Bettermann ★★★★★
This is an excellent story, apparently based on the true account (though it appears to have a few Hollywood-style changes) of a German soldier after world war II held captive in a Gulag in the far reaches of Siberia. The first half of the film chronicles the conditions of the Gulag system and the second half of his harrowing escape to freedom. You are always left on the edge of your chair, with excellent filmography as well as superlative acting. The film was made in German with burned-in English subtitles, something that should never be in the age of DVDs, where subtitles should be able to be turned on or off.  When Russian is spoken (often), no translation is given.
One of the reviewers of this film on made note that Hollywood tends to predominate in Nazi films, yet completely overlook the Soviet gulag system. Knowing that the Soviets murdered at least 3x as many Jews as Hitler and that their span of terror lasted 50 years, compared to the 2-3 years of Hitler, you are left to conclude that Stalin and the Soviet system was a far greater evil than Hitler, yet Stalin was an “ally” of the west. Germany felt sorry for their “mistake”, but Russia continues in their arrogance of having done nothing wrong. Why doesn’t Hollywood figure this out? Perhaps this is why I enjoy foreign films, as they don’t have the ideological base of Hollywood.

Adventure Cycle Introductory Course

Adventure Cycling Intro to Cycle Touring  09-14AUG2009 ★★★★★
The rating is not intended to rank this ride with the other rides that I have done, but simply to make note that as a course, it deserved five stars. We met in a park just outside of Eugene, and then have 1.5 days of instruction in how to do cycle touring. On 11AUG, we all drove to the Eugene airport, hopped on our cycles, and headed in one giant loop, down to the beach, and back and forth across the Coast range. All in all, it was very negotiable, with quite easy riding, save for a bit of sweat making it up the hill on the first day.
Here we are getting together on the first day. Much of the event was centered around eating, and one of the first chores was to eat. It was fajitas the first day…

Then, there were hours of instruction by our fearless professorin, Joyce, with eager students paying close attention…

We learned how to pack our bicycles, with Joyce showing us her personal inventory.

Here’s our route

Finally, we’re all together and ready to ride…

Not even an hour into the ride, we were already stopping for something to eat…

I didn’t take any photographs of the hill on the first day. It was the hardest. Here are the first troopers, arriving on the other side of the hill….

Ben  takes a firm command of the road

The General eager for a  break after Heartbreak Hill

Instructor Pete is in good form

The Doc was not sure where the hill was

At the end of the day, our tents went up, and we ate again. The camp host was a little grouchy, so we had to be real nice… Here is Q, happy to be camping, and ready to prepare his garbanzo bean salad…

The next day, we hit the beach…

The Doc

The General

Sabrina rolls in a bit later, followed by Nancy and Joyce…

We learned how to wash our stinky clothes…

and had a chance to watch the sunset…

The General is off for another day of riding. The ride along the coast through the Cape Perpetua Recreational area from Waldport to Florence was most stunning, and far better appreciated on a bicycle than in a car.

We stopped at Mo’s in Florence to eat. You might notice that the only photos are of Pat (the General) and myself. That is because we were a touch ahead of everybody else for most of the trip. The last day, we let Ben lead, and he took off like a jackrabbit.

Heil Hitler??????

Here is tent city, the last day. We went out to eat at Franks.


You might notice that the last photo shows some poor soul we found who was starving, so decided to feed him. He was quite happy afterward! After a misty breakfast and Lisa getting her obligatory coffee, we were off again, today, re-crossing the coast range to back home…

Ben and Ken

Even instructors get happy on summits

Ben and Pat trying to hold up a logging truck

Happy climbers

The ending… here are the four dudes, responsible for setting the pace, and making sure the road was clear for the rest of the cyclists.
What did I learn? Joyce would ask if we learned anything. Ja Wohl! I learned that I really like bicycle touring. I’m ready to do it again, asap! I learned a lot of dos and don’ts. It is nicer to learn in a group, than out totally on your own. And, Adventure Cycle Association does an awesome job of putting things together for such a venture. My only complaint about the trip is that there is too much emphasis on food. When I am out camping, I like to leave the food as a minimal activity, and not as a major center of activity. Thus, it would have been nice to not have to have somebody preoccupied with the next day’s meals.

Get on their website and sign up for a tour. Lose a little blubber. See the world in a fashion much nicer than in an automobile. Have the time of your life.

Total stats for this ride…
10AUG 10 miles, 500 cal, 200 ft ascent, 40 minutes
11AUG 49.4 miles, 3427 cal, 1432 ft ascent 4:10 minutes
12AUG 37.2 miles, 2602 cal, 787 ft ascent, 3:10 minutes
13AUG 46.4 miles 2940 cal, 1288 ft ascent, 3:50 minutes
14AUG 53.6 miles 3500 cal, 1420 ft. ascent, 4:40 minutes
Total  196.6 miles 12969 cal, 5127 ft ascent  15:50 minutes pedaling

Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a Book, by Adobe Systems ★★★
This is an introductory text and workbook for learning Adobe Photoshop. It intends to take the beginner and provide a variety of possibilities as to what Photoshop can do for you. It is easy to read, and with few mistakes. The book provides a very broad spectrum of the functionality of Photoshop, including such things as publishing issues, 3D modeling, vector drawing, and working with scientific drawings, as well as working with usual landscape, portrait, and street photography. This is the strength of the book, in that one finishes this book realizing that there is a vast amount of possibility in the manipulation that one could do to a certain photo, and provides a wonderful artistic tool to express the imagination. The book is very weak in making one competent at Photoshop. One is directed through a number of projects, but rarely ever given an explanation as to why you are doing that or given an explanation as to how you plan out a project to accomplish your tasks. On the many tools, you are simply given the settings, without being told what all the various settings do. They lead you quickly through channels, layers, masking, etc., without giving you a clue as to how to use these modalities for your own projects. Thus, the book falls seriously short of instilling basic Photoshop competence and acts more like a Photoshop showcase. Coming from Adobe, they should be ashamed of what they have published, especially for the high price that they charge for this book. You will definitely need to read another text in order to gain Photoshop competence.

Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle ★★★★
This is a moving story, supposedly based on factual accounts, of a hotel manager during the Rwandan civil war and near genocide. The movie tale symbolized the insanity of genocide in a most Hollywood fashion, portraying heroes and villains and total pandemonium during the civil war. Even still, the film is well done with a low cheesiness factor, thus making it worthwhile to watch on a lonely Friday night when you have nothing else to watch.

Obama Will Save Us

I’ve written often regarding the new health care system under our national clown – Obama. Whether or not the health care agenda of Obama goes through remains to be seen. Yet, it really doesn’t matter, since any failure of the democratic agenda only means that it will take just several more years for all the facets of his plan to settle into place. The greatest disappointment was receiving an e-mail from Dr. Lunzy Britt, who I know quite well, who as the director of the American College of Surgeons Board of Regents, informed us that our college is siding with the Obama agenda. I presume that skin color may be playing a small role since both the Lunz and Barack originate from a race with innately darker skin than the pilgrims that settled this land. We wait with bated breath. The American College of Surgeons has almost no private practice surgeons in its leadership, and so increasingly don’t speak for the surgeon in the trenches. Maybe it’s time to drop out of the ACS?