September 30, 2006
Blessed are the peacemakers
God is Love. Sometimes I wonder at how easy it is to get so far away from God, and how quickly it happens. So far away from Loving other human beings. Many of our modern ideas about peacemaking don't get at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is a lack of love for each other. Which means a lack of God. We need the application of God. Blessed are the real peacemakers. The one's who love in the face of modern ideas that look more like hate than love. Maybe not so modern, but re-hashed, over and over the centuries. Ideas that look more like a lack of love than love. The bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." because it's a good thing. It's how we love each other. That's God.
September 29, 2006
I found some Hwa-Tu Cards, let's play!
I now have a set of Korean Hwa-Tu cards (Japanese Hanafuda, or flower cards)! I found them at Kim's Market on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul for $2.49.
So tonight I bought some Kimchi, Jasmine rice and Hwa-tu cards and learned to play the game. It was a bit confusing at first, but the instructions I found online were pretty extensive so we were able to figure it out. And they were right, it is an easy game once you learn the scoring combinations.
Either I didn't catch on quick enough to the strategies of the game or I had really bad luck, because I got whooped, ending the game with zero points! But now I have my first taste of a common Korean game. I can also play it with my friends who are studying Japanese, with a few slight variations in scoring.
If anyone wants to meet for coffee and a game of Hwa-Tu just let me know! It would be fun.
September 28, 2006
A few days ago I was introduced to the the Japanese game of Hanafuda. I found out that Hanafuda, or Flower Cards, is an old Japanese game that was a mainstay of the Nintendo company before computer games came along. The card game is older than that I think, and was brought to Korea during the Japanese occupation of Korea around 1905. The game, called Hwa-tu or a version of it called Go-Stop in Korean basically became very popular in Korea and follows the basic structure and strategy of the original game with the exception of 6 added cards and slight variations in scoring. It looks pretty interesting and fun so now I have to locate a set of cards and someone who can play with me. Anyone around the Twin Cities have a deck? I'd love to try it out!
You can see beautiful, home-made Japanese Hanafuda cards here from Sui Generis. It's been fun and inspiring watching his progress:
Now we just need to get a game going.
September 27, 2006
A new Job on the way
I am looking forward to a new sense of purpose and a refocusing of my job skills after a long, strange drought in job happiness. I do like what I'm doing but my new position will help me enjoy it more and do more with my skills. That translates to more challenge and increased skills. I'm looking forward to all the new possibilities. Big changes on the way.
One thing for sure: Increase of bike commute by about 10 miles each way. hahahaha. Better for my training. My winter bike is almost ready. I had some issues with it this morning, but fixed those up tonight. My back wheel torqued to the side and I had to put in better lock washers and crank it tighter. Single speed. that will also take care of my chain falling off I hope.
September 26, 2006
Why do we need usless things like this?
One commenter on SENSELIST asked why we need museums like those listed here and called them useless. At some point there was a statement that implied these people don't have a "life." Haha, define "Life." Why do we have any kind of collecting? Many people can't see the point in stamp collecting or bug / butterfly collecting. I can see the point. Someone gets a fascination with something and becomes an expert on that one micro-facet of life. Isn't a museum some sort of collection, but open to the public? Art Musueum. There is certainly some really weird art in some of those collections. But it's still called art. Some whole art museums are dedicated to really weird art. I'm sure there is a Hocky museum and plenty of baseball museums around. What if I don't like baseball or hocky. I probably wouldn't go there. But If I did I'm sure it would be fascinating to me, because any kind of highly focused exhibit like in a museum is bound to go into way more depth than my general education would provide about these subjects. One commenter pointed out that it was definately worth 20 minutes of his time to visit the "antique washing machine museum."
I thought it was interesting that while almost all of the other commenters were jumping in with names of other museums they thought were weird, one commenter felt it necessary to critizice the need for these museums and critize the people involved in them. It's not exactly a loving attitude toward other people who have found something fascinating to occupy their time. It seems to me they are living life they way they wish. Aren't they?
Hey, Andy, Wilbur, did you see comment number 30? There is a Mushroom museum in the U.S!
September 25, 2006
Tonight I went to my third band practice, which went better than the first two times. Little by little I will get better at playing the trumpet. I am looking forward to that and know it's inevitable if I practice. But due to sinus infections and allergies and asthma, oh my, I haven't done much horn blowing in the past few weeks. Now, tonight with meds, I Finally am feeling energy come back to me. Tomorrow I will try to get back on the practice track so my learning goes faster.
Band practice was really fun tonight and all of these old guys are funny and nice to me. So it makes me feel more relaxed, which helps me play a little better. I've decided I'm in this for the long haul and for the pressure to make me practice more often.
September 24, 2006
The Dumpster Bike gets a makover - One Year Later
Tonight in my living room I gave my dumpster bike a makover for my winter commuting experience. I did it in my living room so I could socialize with my family while working on it. My daughter thought it was kind of wierd and geeky, but it's done and I wasn't out in the garage. Hey, I kept it clean and cleaned up after myself! It's all good. haha. Here is a link to the first re-cycling of my dumpster bike. I can't believe I've been riding this bike off and on for over a year hardly putting any money into it. I purposefully got creative and used things that were thrown out to fix it. For instance, I put patches on my tubes and boots in the tires where there were holes and I wired old fenders on and so on.
But thinking about winter, I thought I'd prepare a strategy for dealing with my commute. It's better to do it now than when I have to roll out at 5am at 20 below zero. So I finally replaced the dumpster tires with brand new knobby 27" tires. Yes, new tires with traction! woo hoo!
I was also lacking handlebar tape, so here I got creative. In the garage I was looking around for some tape when I spotted some old tape laying on the workbench that I was too lazy to throw out. No, not enough of it and it was torn up. That's why I took that off my racing bike in the first place. It was in an accident and had road rash. I had a flash of inspiration when I was feeling the texture of it. It felt a lot like an old innertube. YES! If an old innertube was cut just right, it would act just like handlebar tape. Perfect for the added grip needed during the winter I thought. So I sliced the tube exactly in half. One 27" innertube covered both sides just like true handlebar tape would have. Oh yes, I did need a couple of snips from another tube to go over the brake levers. So I did it and it seems to work very well. Let's see how well it holds up compared to handlebar tape. I bet it will work very well this winter and it did not cost me anything.
I'm going to ride it into work in the morning just to make sure it's ready. My strategy this winter is to have two bikes ready to go as commuters all the time and alternate so I can maintain them and have a backup. Both bikes are going to have skinny knobby tires. My current commuter bike already has one on the rear so I just need a second one. Why did I come up with this strategy? Several reasons: My mountain bike got really beat up with the salt and sand this last winter. So I wanted an older, heavier bike to ride in the winter. I rode my dumpster bike last winter and I really liked the way it handled with skinny tires verses my fat mountain bike tires. Every time it snowed I was floating over the snow on my mountain bike. With the dumpster bike I was cutting through it, even with slick tires! So I put my mountain bike away for the winter. Now I have just upgraded my mountain bike to a lighter, faster bike for racing so I don't want to muck it all up. It's expensive to replace components! Also last year, my derailer froze up many times and got stuck in an inconvenient gear. The dumpster bike is essential a single speed freewheel, since I removed the derailer from it originally. There is only one gear and no shifting to get mucked up. My second commuter bike will probably get ridden on the nicer days this winter. We'll see how my strategy works. I think it will be good to have a backup in case I can't fix one right away. Especially if I'm running late for work, haha. I can just grab one and go. I'm hoping for more flexibility. I'll let you know how it goes.
September 23, 2006
How do I overcome Fear?
Sometimes I don't. It depends on the situation. We've all been taught that fear is a naturally occuring emotion that protects us from danger. Instinctually, or biologically we get a rush of adrenaline and our muscles tense up, getting ready for action. We get into self-protection mode. But often our fears are not responding to physical danger and our fears actually interfere with the solution to our problem. For instance if I am performing on the trumpet, tense muscles and adrenaline rushes don't help. It makes the playing worse.
My fear of a new job is also real, but there is no physical threat. I'm very close to starting a whole new job at a different company. At least I hope so. I really feel like it will be good for my soul to do this. The job would be more challenging and I would be putting my skills to a better use. But I'm going into unchartered territory for me and I would have to do some things I'm not real comfortable with. I was reminded by a friend, that I have done very well in situations like this so I should relax. She was right, I should relax, because fear is not going to help me in this case. Coming up with a plan will.
I do use logic to help me overcome fear. For instance in the job situation, I know that logically there is always a learning curve in every job. And if I work hard, as I have in the past, I will quickly get through the learning curve. The harder I work at the beginning, the faster that learning curve is over. After six months I know I will feel like I've been working there for a long time and I will be comfortable. Logically I know I am capable of learning new things. So what makes this job any different? I start classes In subjects I know nothing about, yet I do well in them.
I also don't beat myself up with negative affirmations, like "I never do well in math." or "I never do well in new situations." Sometimes I still get afraid of new situations, but that fear is because it's an unknown. I start to talk to myself almost immediately to logically work out my fears. Why would I want to counteract my own success at overcoming my fears?
Now what about my fear of losing my mother to cancer? This is a different kind of fear I think. In this case the fear is far removed from the reaction to danger. It's more a feeling of helplessness against an unknown, and a feeling of loss. Of course death is an unknown for all of us until we experience it. We can read about experiences all we want and pretend we know, we can even understand it's meaning, but until we go through it we have not experienced it. So it's an unknown experience for us. But I have a certain detachment to life in general. I am not owed anything by this life, so there is no loss to me if I were to go. I do not need to hold on to anything here. But at the same time I feel sorrow for people who are suffering pain and fear of death, the great unknown. No I don't want to lose my mother and I encourage her to fight for her life. I would do the same thing. I want her to live. Just like I want people to be successful and happy in life. I love my mother and will be sad when she does go. But I don't feel like it's her time yet. She's handling the treatments well so far and it seems like her cancer is being diminished. Time will tell. I feel positive about it. My mom is scared but after making it though three treatments, she's gaining confidence in the process. My detachment from life is not denouncing the things of life, but it's more a letting go of the attitude that life somehow owes me anything. Whatever happens is happening and I have make choices as they happen. Right now my mom needs some comfort and encouragement. You know? Sitting there while someone else is getting chemo makes a person think about life a little more. My mom told me today that it really makes her think about what is really important in life. She's doing more painting now and she's working on her family tree and she's enjoying her gardening. She's also doing the best she can to fight this cancer. I think my fear and hers are both helped by talking about it and being encouraged by how she's handling it.
As things go along in life, I have fears, and sometimes I don't overcome them. But often I can come to grips with it. Another way I do this is by taking action. It seems like an opposite thing to do, but I learned a long time ago that action replaces fear. The action may be as simple as calling my mom and talking it out. Or calling my brother to talk to him about how he feels about all of this. Also, in the case of fear of a class I am taking, action in the form of making a study plan and doing it, or talking to the professor to see how to do well in the class replaces my fear. I do much better when I am actually doing something about it instead of just being afraid of it and doing nothing, which would lead to failing the class. Very counterproductive.
Death is a natural occurance, and we are usually afraid of it but just having fear and doing nothing about it is not helpful to anyone. Even feeling helpless against cancer, I can still take action to replace my fear.
Fear of not doing well in a running event is not helped by not running for practice. Taking the action of trainning for the event helps. For me action replaces my fear. When I'm in the midst of taking action I'm not afraid because I'm too busy working on the solution. Same with my mom. She's working on taking her pills and eating the right foods to help her regain her strength and getting enough protein, etc. She's also doing some things she loves to do, that she feels are important in life. And she takes it all as just something she has to do in order to overcome this disease.
Driving in the Rain
I'm not sure when it happened, but now I know I do not like driving in cars. I drove a couple hours to my parents house in the dark and rain on Thursday night. Then I went to Duluth and back with them on Friday. I spent Saturday morning helping my brother with a bike project, then since we didn't want to go for a leisure ride in the rain, I packed it up and came home after lunch. It rained the whole way home. It's still raining. I did not enjoy driving in the rain at all. Everytime someone passed me I could hardly see where I was driving. And then there was the semi trucks that create a wall of water when they pass. I'm glad to be back and look forward to riding my bike to the shop tomorrow morning. Even running in the rain is going to be more fun I think than driving in it. That's my plan for tonight. Rain running.
September 19, 2006
Asthma and Allergies, Oh my!
Today I went to the doctor, twice, in order to get to the bottom of all of my recent health problems. I found out I am allergic to Ragweed and dust mites and that I have asthma. That explains a lot. Now I understand what I've been feeling. And like a stereotypical guy, I didn't bother going to a doctor until my friends and family got tough on me. So today I took some time to look into it by seeking professional help. And I'm glad I did. Now I have an inhaler I'm going to test and some nasal stuff for the allergies. And I have to vaccuum with a dust mask on.
My day was good overall. After my morning doctor's appointment, I got to go to the coffee shop and play a game of chess with a regular who I've only heard about. It was fun playing again! Then I picked up my prescriptions, ate some lunch and went to my next appointment. Then I ate dinner and went to a job interview. That felt really good. It's my third interview and it lasted two hours! The funny part is, I have a fourth interview with the same company! haha. Now I'm getting excited! And I feel like I really want to work there. It will be good for me I think. (for myself and others) For a while I thought I would do more good by staying, but now feel I'll do more good by leaving. make sense?
September 10, 2006
Square Lake Triathlon
Yesterday I did my first solo Triathlon. I did two others in the past month as part of a relay team, but this time I did all three parts of the race; swim, bike and run. I'm happy that I did it. It was challenging but I knew I'd finish it because I have been training for this race. I came in 77th out of 339 people. I was pretty happy with my times also because I haven't really been training that long, only a few months really. I know that if I continue my fitness plan, I'll push my limits even more next season.
1/2 mile Swim: 21:08
18 mile Bike: 50:08
5 mile Run: 36:50
for biking I calculated my average time to be 21.54 miles per hour and for the run I did 7:22 miles. Now I don't have any goals set, except a general idea that I want to work on my swimming this winter and stay in shape so I can be ready for the Spring triathlons. I'd like to do more events next year and go faster. That doesn't constitute a real plan but I know I have to keep trainign to get there. Honestly, I'd really love to run sub-seven minute miles for a seven-mile run during a triathlon. I know I can do it, but I first need better conditioning. I'm already running a lot better than when I started in the Spring. Actually I'm doing a lot better than I did last year in the few running races I did. It must be the cross-training and the more consistent training plan this year. A 5-K doesn't even seem like a problem for me anymore. And I don't feel bad after yesterday's Triathlon, so I know the training is working.
Now where do I go from here? This is new territory for my athletic training. I have no specific targets set.
September 7, 2006
And the loss of motivation probably is going to help me
In some strange way, I think my loss of training motivation this week will help me in my triathlon on Saturday. Or is that simply justification for not going out to run. I did a good, hard workout on Saturday, then ran for a few miles at a slow pace on Wednesday at lunchtime and here it is Thursday. I'm not going to run tomorrow, because that would not be smart. But I think I will run for a mile or so to warm up before the swim start. I'll run, set up my transition area again for running, put on my wet suit and then go to the start. Or maybe just warm up in the lake. That's a better idea. But anyway, I've trained hard all summer and now I have no motivation. I'll be motivated to do my best during the race I think. And I know I'll be fully recovered from any previous exercise. So why did I lose motivation after my big race on the 26th? It was fun but I was incredibly exhausted afterwards. Not sore, but exhausted. I think that threw me off balance and I've been having a hard time getting going on exercise since then. Maybe I need to focus more on my recovery nutrition and exercises. Maybe shorter, smaller easier workouts or something would help. I'll try that next week. So, my big race is Saturday morning at the Square Lake Triathlon: 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 5 mile run. Be there, be square. hehe.
September 6, 2006
Fifty Things I want the world to know - 3
Everyone has heard the expression that "Life is short." And the advice goes something like, "Live it," or "So don't waste it..." It's true, our physical lifespan IS short relative to eternity, but we are each given an unknown amount of time and when it's gone it's gone. Generally when it's our time to go we go.
In this light, look at ambition, wealth and power. Why is it we work so hard for these when it's all going to vanish on us in a heartbeat? I think we forget our mortality. Like when we are children we think we are invincible. We think we will live forever and we can't wait to grow up to be like the adults we respect.
My great Aunt just passed away and my mom has cancer. As we get older we start to realize what is important, like our families. And we realize that these bodies are all going to become obsolete. Life is not really short, but exactly as long as we have. And that could be tomorrow. So today should stand on it's own merits. As I set my goals and plans for the future I'm always thinking, 'why am I doing this?,' what's most important in life?' I'd like to see everyone take a breather, slow down, think about what is really important in life. Ambition, wealth and power seem shallow and hollow when compared to losing my greart aunt and my mother.