May 2012


The RAMROD is a well-known ride held every year in the state of Washington, known as the Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day. Well, we did it in two days, thus RAMRTD. Ramrod riders will use the sleekest and lightest bicycles, light clothing, and utilize supply stations. We utilized larger, heavier touring bicycles, and carried all of our necessities plus with us.
We headed out from our house at 8:30 on Friday morning. Russ was the main pacesetter, with me tagging behind at my own pace. We headed down to the Orting Valley, and then out to Kapowsin and Eatonville. Taking the Eatonville Cutoff Road, we stopped by good friends of mine, B & N Lindsey, who lives on the highway going up to Mt. Rainier. They took some photos of us, which they e-mailed to me. Here is the Russ & Ken show!

We then rode through Elbe, stopping at Scale Burgers for the best burgers in the state of Washington, and run by an old patient of mine, whom I always need to say hello to. When in Elbe, there is only one place to eat and say “hi” to Cora. From there, we rode up to Ashford, got on the Skate Creek Road, and dropped down in Packwood. While in Ashford, we visited the Visitor’s Center and were informed that there was a MAJOR swap meet occurring in Packwood and that it was unlikely that we would ever find a hotel. The nice lady at the visitor’s center was able to call and find us one last room. The scenery on the way to Packwood was incredible, and one stand of trees really caught my attention.

Here is Russ coming up on me on the summit of the Skate Creek Road…

We made it to the very packed city of Packwood. It was interesting to see how everybody had tattoos, and ate the worst greasy food imaginable. Definitely not our crowd. I was unable to make a connection with AT&T on my iPhone in Packwood, and the hotel had Wi-Fi, but it didn’t work. So, we remained out of communication in Packwood. Packwood was an interesting phenomenon. According to my bicycle computer, we rode 75 miles, burned up 5545 calories, and climbed 2600 feet. We went to sleep early.

The next day, we headed north, aiming for Mt. Rainier Park, and Cayuse pass. It was a lengthy climb. The summit had up to 10-12 feet or more of snow in spots, though the road was clear. From the photo, we don’t look tired, but we were faking it.

The descent was fast and freezing cold, but fun. We had to stop and get photos at the park entrance.

The remainder of the ride was mostly downhill to the Orting Valley through familiar territory. I had Betsy pick me up at VanLierops not wishing one last awful grunt up to the top of South Hill. Russ did it (to his regret) without his panniers. Saturday was 82 miles, 5800 feet elevation gain, and 6800 calories burned. Was it worth it? Absolutely… I’m ready to do it again. We just need a little more care at limiting the extent of riding when we are mostly climbing, like of Saturday. On multi-day rides, it is perhaps not wise to push yourself too hard on your first few days of riding. We knew that we’d have rest on Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day), so, it didn’t matter.
Bicycling has got to be the best geriatric sport that there is. Jogging beats up the bones. Backpacking is hard on the back. Swimming is flopping around in somebody else’s pee. Cycle touring is an adventure, meeting people, seeing the world, and going places you’d otherwise never go at a leisurely pace, slow enough to really see where you are, and feel the environment around you. It’s great exercise, and a nice way to spend time with a friend.

Adobe Acrobat Classroom in a Book

Adobe Acrobat Classroom in a Book, by the Adobe Press Team ★★★★
So you want to learn Adobe Acrobat X. There is the matter of learning about why one would use Adobe Acrobat to create .pdf files, and then the matter of learning about all the functionality of Acrobat. What started as a simple and lame (but expensive) program to create simple flat .pdf files has emerged into .pdfs that can read themselves, play movies, act in a secure fashion to limit access, and provide output for production printing facilities. This book has come under criticism for being a bit simplistic. The intended function of the book was not to provide a comprehensive manual of Acrobat function, but rather to get the reader up to speed with the main functions of Acrobat, and to that it does a superb job. A few of the exercises get a touch tedious, but the book is easy to finish in several nights, leaving the reader a global feel of the possibilities with this program. Because the book forces you to do hands-on actions, you learn much better than just reading a description of all the functions that Acrobat offers.

Art of Public Speaking

The Art of Public Speaking, by John Hale ★★
The Art of Public Speaking is a 12 – 1/2 hour series produced by the Teaching Company, using one of their regular lecturers, an archeologist John Hale. Hale’s style is to call up noteworthy public speeches throughout history, showing how they were effective as public speeches. Hale selects a specific theme for each lecture and will use a historical example followed by other historical examples reflective of the same theme to drive his point home. Much of his advice is sound and worth considering when speaking in public. My only gripe with the lecture series is that he tends to use choice speeches as soapboxes. Thus, there were lectures on speaking in public, plus the undercurrent of socio-philosophical ideology. I suppose Hale didn’t intend that, but it still comes out strong.

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov, ★★★★★
Having just read the Brothers Karamazov, I found this film to be quite rewarding. These are 12 – 45 minute episodes, I presume made for television. Spectacular is an understatement. The acting, the filming, and the scriptwriting were all superb. For the scriptwriter, reducing a lengthy novel and yet retaining the substance of the book would have been challenging and yet done flawlessly in this series. The filming is most outstanding, with the beauty of old Russia coming out with each scene. There was no hint of soap opera or cheap acting in this film, and all the actors were very convincing in their roles. Too bad they couldn’t be included in the choice for the countless Hollywood screen awards since this film would definitely win. The subtitles often had misspellings, and grammatical errors were rampant, yet it was still easy to figure out what was being said. If one loves Dostoevski, then this movie (series) is an absolute must.

The Broadway Musical

Great American Art: The Broadway Musical, by Bill Messenger (Teaching Company) ★★★
Bill Messenger did another Teaching Company series on the history of jazz, which I liked considerably. Though I was not terribly interested in the broadway musical (far preferring “classical” music), I thought this would be an interesting series to hear out. Messenger starts with the minstrel format, showing how it was a parody of whites imitating negroes imitating whites. This evolved eventually into ragtime, vaudeville, and tin pan alley, now considered to define American music. Eventually, through the work of various greats as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, and Oscar Hammerstein, the full-blown American musical emerged. Messenger follows the broadway musical all the way up to the turn of the century, showing how the genre has changed over time. He offers many musical examples, often performing himself on the piano. This is a fun and informative series, even for a person not terribly interested in Broadway.

The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance, by D.A. Carson ★★★★
It takes no brilliance to figure out what this book is about, and Carson does a masterful job of showing how the new definition of tolerance is truly anything but tolerant. Carson starts by showing that tolerance has changed meaning. The historical meaning of tolerance was to endure, bear, or put up with the differing beliefs of others. The new definition means to accept as equally right or true the differing positions of others. Carson shows how this change has evolved historically, and what it has meant in the destruction of morality, public discourse, and the very fabric of society. Finally, he offers a Christian response in ten points, several including using the new “intolerance” as an opportunity for evangelism, remaining entirely civil in public discourse, and finally, being willing to suffer while trusting God for standing up for the truth. The book is a thought-provoking read and shows a cultural grasp of what Christians might expect if they wish to engage the world in the public square. I’ve always enjoyed the books of DA Carson that I’ve read, and this text certainly maintains his high standard as a premier Christian author.