March 2011

United Bicycle Institute

United Bicycle Institute- Ashland, Oregon 21-25MAR2011
Back to school! This time, it was bicycle repair school. The drive was 7 hours each way. I had heard about the UBI from the General during the Adventure Cycling Association Introduction to Touring class and wanted to learn more about bicycle repair. This introduction was very well done, the instructors were not only very knowledgeable but very patient and superb at teaching. It was a most enjoyable week of not only getting away from work but of actually learning something useful.
I drove down to Ashland from Puyallup on Sunday. I stayed about 3 km from the Institute at Cedarwood Inn, an inexpensive but nice motel. Monday was focused on wheels. We first learned how to change a tire and the different types of tires. We learned about taking the hub apart, removing the gears, re-packing the bearings, and getting everything back together. A short discussion on truing wheels was made, but little hands-on.
Nathan (instructor) tells a joke and Dan loses control!
Bryce works on his mountain bike
Tuesday was pedals, cranksets, and bottom brackets. I completely disassembled my bottom bracket and put it back together. We also learned about removing, inspecting, and changing chains.
Tom was my bench partner
Matt (instructor) helps Jose
Dan the Canadian, not laughing this time
Wednesday was derailleur day, starting with the rear derailleur, and then the front. Oddly, the front derailleur is more touchy to tune up than the rear derailleur. In the evening, I went for a bicycle ride. I went up route 66 headed for Klamath Falls, but got only about 14 km before the weather became a little concerning, and it started to get dark.
Route 66
More Route 66
Lake on Route 66
Gnarly trees on Route 66- Mirkwood
Thursday was brake day. We had to completely dis-assemble caliper brakes, and then re-install them on the bicycle correctly. The instructors were a bit fussy about doing things correctly, since a bad setting for brakes could have serious consequences on the road. The weather was horrible today, with a mixture of rain and snow, so no thought of riding was possible.
Rich helps Tom
Matt shows us how to really wash a bicycle
The framebuilding shop with Robert (student) on right
Friday entailed pulling off the handlebars, headset, and removing the stem from the bike. This was fairly straight forward. We learned the correct method of washing and oiling a bicycle. After getting a tour of the frame building shop, we were handed certificates of completion and “graduated”. There was no test, since the true measure of success was in how well the bicycle worked.Bryce needed a lift up to Portland which provided me a delightful companion to keep me awake on the road, and then I was able to get home by 2300 Friday night.
To Matt, Rich, and Nathan I say “Thank You”. To everybody else who enjoys riding bicycles, this is a class very much worth taking. It’s fun. Matt, Rich and Nate are delightful characters that add a tremendous enthusiasm to not only cycle repair, but to cycle riding in general. A class like this could someday save your life, if you are out and away, with a broken bicycle. It has my highest recommendation.
The workbench
Our class – from top left clockwise – Michael, Bryce, George, Ryan, Jordan, Rico, me, Bridget, Don, Tom, Rebecca and Dan.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, by Gary Rendsburg (The Teaching Company) ★★★★
This lecture series was a fairly comprehensive introduction to the history of the discovery and research on the Dead Sea scrolls, but also a lengthy discussion of the various factions in Jewish society around the 200BC to 100AD time period in Palestine. Rendsburg was delightful to listen to, and remained fairly even in his discussion, always being willing to admit and to discuss alternative interpretations and division in the field of Dead Sea scroll research. It is believed that the scrolls were the product of the Qumram community, who lived in a small community (about 200-300 people) on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. Rendsburg removes much of the mystery as to why it took so long for many of the scrolls to be published, as well as the actual contents of the scrolls. Besides numerous copies of the OT scriptures, many scrolls detail the rules of life within the (presumed) Qumram community and various other writings of the community. Interestingly, one scroll was even a so-called treasure map, describing the various location of vast amounts of gold and silver, none of which has been found. Unlike many of the religious lecture series from the Teaching Company where the lecturer presents a single opinion on any subject, Rendsburg was quite engaging in discussing the Dead Sea scroll subject with true academic humility, often admitting that many questions remained unanswered.

The Rage Against God

The Rage Against God, by Peter Hitchens ★★★★★
This book was loaned to me by Jonny (son) as a “must-read”. Jonny was correct, in that the book is excellent. Hitchens dialogues his adventures from growing up in a nominally Christian home and school system and deciding to become an atheist at the young age of 13. Over time, he pursued his personal ideology, spending time in the former Soviet Union as a reporter. Slowly, Peter was able to see the inevitable consequences of a militant atheistic ideology, compelling him to move back into the realms of being a Christian. Much of this book engages the reader in exploring the consequences of atheism, particularly as Peter saw it in the communist countries that he visited. He also discusses encounters with his brother Christopher, who is an outspoken atheist and well known in the liberal press. Peter Hitchens offers valuable insights into the consequences of atheistic thinking. He discusses at length the fall of the west from Christianity to atheism and shows that it has served us no good. The middle segment of the book addresses particular questions that are raised against Christianity, such as the issue that religion tends to create wars and not peace, that religion tends to be very harmful to children, especially in regard to sexuality and the lust of pedophile priests, and that faith in God tends to breed gullibility. Each of these charges and others is capably answered by showing that atheism has a far greater challenge of answering these same charges. The book is a wonderful read, I appreciated much of what he had to say about politics and religion, and appreciate Jonny for introducing me to the book.

An Old Testament Theology

An Old Testament Theology, by Bruce K. Waltke ★★★★
This book was a heavy read taking me several months and a number of interruptions to complete the entire text of 969 pages. It was a very rewarding read, as Dr. Waltke was able to impart insights into the Old Testament text that few scholars would be capable of. Every chapter was a treasure house of a new understanding of old and familiar texts. Dr. Waltke is truly regarded as one of the pre-eminent scholars of the Hebrew language and Old Testament theology and is regarded as such by both conservatives and liberals alike. Yet, there is a dark shadow cast over this text. It seems like Waltke, in trying to appease all camps, will often give unnecessary ground to the liberal school of redaction criticism. For example, his discussion of creation is superb, yet he lapses into the theistic evolution interpretation of creation for no compelling textual reason. Throughout the book, he hedges. For Isaiah, he admits that Isaiah I, II, and III were possibly written by the same person, yet allows for a liberal interpretation that each book of Isaiah was written hundreds of years apart. His arguments against Solomon being the author of Ecclesiastes seems a touch weak. I could point out many other examples if I could have remembered them. This should not discourage anybody from reading this text as it is a goldmine of Scripture truth. One must only read the text with caution and discernment.

San Antonio SSO Meeting

The Society of Surgical Oncology Meeting in San Antonio, 01-06MARCH2011
Dr. Tate is pictured in the photograph trying to remember the Alamo. We remembered it for several minutes, then paused to enjoy a cigar while sitting on park benches just across from the Alamo. We inquired of the status of PeeWee’s bicycle in the basement of the Alamo and learned that the Alamo actually has two small basements, large enough to hold a bicycle. You can’t believe everything that you see in the movies. The meetings were long and arduous, but we were able to get 34 CME credits for this venture. The conference literally went from dawn until dusk, and so we did not have a lot of time to spend reflecting on the Alamo, but we did get around a little bit. The conference was at the large conference facility just next to the river walk. We’d go down to the river to eat our lunch.

You can see that we were dressed up to the hilt. This is sort of a snobby conference, as most surgical meetings usually occur in more casual attire. The pathologists were having their meeting next door to us, where I was able to encounter one of the Puyallup pathologists. Notice his more casual attire.

We were able to see the San Antonio imitation of the Seattle Space Needle.

It was one of the better conferences that I’ve gone to as of late. Most notably, it was announced that we must stop doing so many axillary dissections and that while it would have been malpractice a week before to not complete an axillary dissection when the sentinel lymph node was grossly positive, we are now committing malpractice to do the same. The Surgical Oncology gods have spoken and we must obey. NCCN guidelines will be slow to correct the new change in practice recommendations, but we will be patient. So, I return to Puyallup full of vim and vigor and will be plagiarizing one of the talks I heard in presenting to the other surgeons and oncology doctors the new revelations from the randomized trials.
p.s. too much academia becomes hard to endure…

Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, taught by Glenn Holland ★
This is an audio lecture offered by the Teaching Company. Its focus is the ancient religions of the Mediterranean basin, including the ancient religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Canaan, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as Israel. The entire set is not what I had hoped it to be. I don’t give a very good feel for the development and structure of religions outside of the Judeo-Christian realm. Coverage of important texts, like the Gilgamesh epic, leaves much to be desired. Holland offers very little analysis of these non-Israelite religions until the very end of the series when he offers the pathetic statement of how they all have a unifying notion of our search for the divine. I don’t need to suffer through a 48 lecture course for that conclusion. There is no serious comparison and contrast of the various religions and typically minimal insight into how these religions and their differences affected the various cultures. There were many religions that Holland mostly glosses over, such as the religions of the Ammonites and Edomites, which have substantial source material to work with. Meanwhile, he is quite ready to offer inane criticisms of the Bible, falling into the confusion of the higher school redaction criticism of the texts. Even here, Holland is not up to date on his facts or critical of his assessments, as I would expect of a university professor. As an example, his disagreement with the dating of Abraham simply shows misguided and uninformed criticism. He seems to be most critical of the Judeo-Christian texts since they are endowed with a certain reverence in the Western world. I don’t expect him to manifest a similar enthusiastic reverence, but I do hold him accountable for providing a critical review free of personal bias and as eager to prove as well as to disprove the veracity of the sacred texts at hand. It was difficult to endure to the end this series because of the absence of true scholarship.

Digital Landscape Photography

Digital Landscape Photography, by Michael Frye ★★★★★
The subtitle offers a good summary of this text “In the footsteps of Ansel Adams and the great masters”. Frye apparently studied under Ansel Adams, and has brought Adams Zone system into the digital arena. This book is a delight to read for a number of reasons. 1. His photography is stupendous. 2. He has a superb balance between art and technique. Frye has top mastery of not only the art of visualizing light and composing a photograph but also in taking it to Photoshop/Lightroom to make it a presentation print. 3. I appreciate examples where he shows his “not so good” photographs next to his final photo, to see what he was good for in order to make a prize-winning print. My only minor complaint is that I wish he would have included camera settings on the photographs that he took. This book is a “must-read” for any aspiring nature photographer. I hope that Frye will write further books on this same topic.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, by Robert Spencer ★★★
This book is supposed to offer the perspective on the religion of Islam that one would not encounter within the standard news media for the supposed sake of not offending anybody or of being tolerant. Yet, the religion of Islam is itself entirely intolerant of Christianity, and though not overtly offensive to Christians in that they do make sport of the Christian “icons”, yet they still reserve notions of the Christian faith as the equivalent of the secular. Most of the discussion in this book is quite factual, and they do make clear that the religion of Islam is not a religion of peace. Nowhere does the author imply that most Muslims are violent, and indeed, most are not. The author often puts up quotes of Mohammed next to quotes of Jesus. This is not a deeply informative book, and I’m sure most Muslims would take offense at the Christian interpretation of their Koran. The book is a good read to gain balance with what is constantly heard on American media.