Category "Balance"

Category "Life"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "Writing"

September 24, 2007

A trilogy of obsession

I will be doing the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) beginning in November. 50,000 words in 30 days. Enough said. I'll blog about it here when I'm going through it, beginning November 1.

I have begun to use a cool new cataloging system online to catalog all of my books in my library. Let's see, if I catalog a book a day...over a thousand books I'm sure...I might get it done before my children have to get rid of it all when I pass away. I have a whole room full of floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with books, containing all kinds of things that I'm interested in. I'll share the link to my Library Catalog here as soon as I can.

I ran seven miles on Sunday. I don't feel like it's enough. Enough said on that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:27 PM | Balance | Life | Triathlons | Writing

Category "Balance"

January 29, 2007

So much for sleep

It's difficult to get enough sleep, I'm finding when there are project deadlines. Just like finals. Even though we study all semester, it seems like when we get to the final we don't know the material nearly well enough and have to cram. The same is true for projects. Mainly because ours are not well run yet. But I'm working on it. Maybe things will calm down later after my learning curve is past the 60% mark. For now, it's difficult to get enough sleep when I work until 10:45pm. Maybe I can take a shorter day tomorrow to balance things out and rest a little. We'll see.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

December 17, 2006

Eragon, the book

Just for a break I switched from reading biographies and non-fiction to reading some fantasy fiction. I picked up the book Eragon from the bookstore, evidently now a major motion picture and started reading it Friday night. So far so good. It's interesting reading and the author does a pretty good job of creating imagery in my mind of what's going on in the story. I especially like the bio of the author. Very young to have such a best seller book and movie. This shows if you have a passion and you work hard at it, there is no telling how far it will go. At least there is the possibility of it, whereas doing nothing also creates nothing.
Anyway, just for fun, I'm reading something fun. Good book so far.

Update:
You know I've read a lot of fantasy, sci-fi, fiction books and it seems that one of the main themes for the main characters is DESTINY. Someone is inevitably, whether seeking it or not, discovering they have some great destiny to fulfill and usually that is to overthrow some evil power.
In this book destiny finds Eragon when a dragon decides to hatch for him because he is the right one. How did she know? Then strangers come and ransack his farm and home, killing his uncle who raised him so he has no home, no job, no family. But he has the Dragon companion who communicates with him telapathically and an old story teller from the village who has a secret history with Dragons, which he is revealing slowly to Eragon. He seemed to know about Eragon's Destiny also.

Oh how many people desire for such a destiny, worth dying to achieve! Where is our passion and energy focused in life? Is it fulfilling our destiny? Is this what we are meant to do? If I don't choose my destiny, will it choose me? What if I let it choose me and it's not a cool, magical dragon, but an evil little toad that keeps me up all night with incessant croaking? Then I lose my job, my health, my sanity and my passion.
I think Destiny does find us, because we make our destiny, though we don't believe that always and can often only see that in retrospect. It's a process of discovery sometimes.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:40 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

November 22, 2006

I need to read more, evidently.

I stopped by the bookstore on the way home and came home with seven more books! As if I had finished reading the last few books. Currently I am reading a book about Leonardo di Vinci as scientist. I'm about half-way through it. So tomorrow in honor of the blog site being down, I plan on reading. That is after I run a race, eat a great Thanksgiving meal and chat with family and friends. So I'm dedicating tomorrow evening to a book. Or two, or three.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:16 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

Category "Cycle Racing"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "motivation"

October 7, 2006

Exercise as part of life

Over the past few weeks I've been struggling with having enough motivation to exercise. Part of the problem was that I was sick with a sinus infection and as the antibiotics started working I started to feel more ambitious and energetic. But also part of me was wandering around aimlessly without a goal to work toward. Since May I've been training really hard for my triathlons in August and September. I accomplished my goal and then was left with no planned events or goals to work toward. So my training kind of took a break. I was just barely maintaining my fitness level with a minimum of workouts per week.
And last year I had the same issue when the bike racing season ended in early Fall. But I'm happy that I started running again and now have swimming to work on. All of this has led me to get a Y membership and use the gym. If it weren't for the Y I probably would have let my exercise drop until I was ready to start working on a goal again. I've been using the equipment at the Y and spinning classes as low-impact, fun activities to exercise and enjoy doing it. It's easier to be motivated if there is little resistance to get going. And last weekend I ran three miles around Lake Phalen. It was absolutely beautiful outside and had company riding along side me on a bike. That was fun.
One of my main goals with starting triathlons was to develop a fit lifestyle. That means that I should not need specific race goals in order to exercise. I should be exercising to stay fit and healthy continuously. But looking ahead I feel better I also have in mind for next season... 3 sprint relays and 3 Half Ironmans plus a 10-miler running race in the Fall. I know how challenging it will be so I'd better get working on it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 AM | Balance | Cycle Racing | Triathlons | motivation

Category "Balance"

May 9, 2006

Time Management

I started to do some basic research on "Time Management." And one article I read really hit home. The author said something like, 'forget about time management! We cannot manage time. Time is the great equalizer. We all have the same amount of time in a 24 hour period.' We cannot manage or control time, because it is what it is. But we can manage our actions within our allotted time. So she said that we should instead focus on 'Task Management.'
I don't think I've ever been real good about managing time, but one reason I've been so successful at many things I've done is because I have been very task driven. When I have goals, I break them down into tasks that have to be done and I do them. I'm flexible about my time, but also have been known to diligently plan and execute tasks toward my goals. I make lists and I check things off.
I think when you plan your life around time, you are going to lose out, or miss out on something important. Tonight is a great example. My wife and my sister-in-law were having dinner together and when I called to see what was going on, they asked if I'd join them, so I dropped my plans and raced up there on my bike. I joined them for some great food at a secret little garden restaurant in St. Paul that was fantasic! The food was great and the company was even better. So, yes, I had things to do tonight. I had something planned for the time tonight, but I was not time driven. I will still get these things done, not on my original schedule, but they will get done. To me though, it's better to be task driven but be time flexible. It allows me to take advantage of special opportunities like this when they come up. The idea of 'Task Management' instead of 'Time Management' seem so simple to me. Mainly because tasks are something we can control. We cannot control time. Task management focuses on the tasks that need to be done. Time management says, 'do this now, do that tonight, do such and such tomorrow morning. That's why so many people fail at managing their time. We cannot manage time. Things come up that throw our schedules way out of order. I know I still have things that need to be done, but I'm doing them now because they have to be done. Now I'm off to bed to get some sleep. Task Management seems like something we CAN do in life, whereas 'Time Management' always seems elusive. There never seems to be enough time to do everything we want to do. But we control what we do. So Task Management is do-able.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:20 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

April 23, 2006

Art Crawl Over, moving into a new cube

It seems that life can get out of balance really quickly. I don't know if there is a way to avoid that unless we are uninvolved, unengaged in life. Once involved, there are many things that need to be done and there are deadlines. So life gets out of balance. That's one reason we are all here. With great responsibility comes the need to discover and learn what is really important and how to to the best we can with our resources, including money, time, talents, etc. Today I had to focus on the bike shop and close up my art studio because I just had to. I could not do both. But it was a good day and that was more important than showing my artwork. I think it was a good decision. So the St. Paul Art Crawl is over and I can move on to the next thing.
Speaking of 'next things,' on Thursday at 5pm I finished packing everything in my office into boxes in preparation of our move to a new building. On Monday I will be going to work in a brand-new cubicle. The moving company was moving our boxes on Friday and Saturday. I took the day off to get ready for the art crawl. I ended up working on Friday at the Bike shop because our Shop Manager had to have emergency dental work done. So it was serendipity that I already asked for Friday off and was available. I'm glad I made the right choice to run the shop instead of get ready for the Art Crawl. Those needs were more important. I'm really please with how the weekend turned out. Now I'm going into a new building, a new cubicle and a new work atmosphere. So Monday will be filled with unpacking. How fun is that!? It's a fresh start after a great weekend. Balance has a lot to do with what we let go of. What is really important in life?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:29 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

April 1, 2006

Building Stuff

Yesterday and Today, I have been building stuff. I've been working on making my own wall-hanging 21"x14" curio cabinets with mirror backs and hinged glass doors on the front and glass shelves. For now the lights are a no-go because I couldn't find suitable lights for what I want, so I'm planning on building my own with LED's later. For now they'll be unlit. This project will take me all weekend to finish. I'll end up with three boxes to display my Ukrainian Easter Eggs in. This is cool because they are small enough that they can be hung on the wall like pictures.
Then my other project this weekend is installing under-cabinet lighting. You know what I find interesting about projects, any project, is the guess-work involved. And the second-guessing-work involved. How do I do this (whatever project) so it looks good and is functional and doesn't look like a child put it in. And then there is also the problem of coming up with the right tools. Today I had to buy another miter box because I couldn't find my old one. I did not want to try to cut these box pieces without an accurate angled cut. Trips to the store have delayed these projects enough. That's one reason why it'll take me all weekend to finish these projects.
This is where the balance category of this blog entry comes in...This morning I went down to the bike shop to haul away scrap metal. But I didn't go back. Tomorrow I have to go back to the bike shop to haul away some older junk that's just taking up space for now.
Today I was discussing priorities and all of the things we get involved in. Life can get crazy sometimes. And when it gets crazy we can't do everything we want to do. So, part of our lesson here on earth in this form is learning how to prioritize and learn what is really important in life. Yeah, our families are important. Our jobs are important. School is important. Recreation is important. Art is important. It's ALL important and has meaning.
Balance in life is important. When going to extremes in one area, another area of life breaks down from neglect. But maybe that's ok in our different situations or phases in life, but maybe it's not. The answer is not to shun responsibility, but to think about our choices and conciously decide what is most important to us and understand why. Then we have to think about balance and if we really want to have another area of our lives be neglected. Balance is a life-long lesson I think.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:56 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

March 1, 2006

I feel disjointed

Today I was encouraged to write down some things I need help with, and then be open to the help that comes. I see the problems I face from a distance right now as if I am staring down at a small stream from the top of the mountain. I am so close to the source yet so far away from the solution. Today I accepted help on several occasions and am thankful for it. This is the core of the matter. Often we have trouble asking for help when we need it the most. I have taken a baby step in that direction by just listing what I needed help with and paying attention to the help that arrived and being willing to accept it. I think overall things will be good because we are functioning more as a team. The odds of failure for this effort were astronomical but now I can at least see the stream from the mountaintop. But I still feel like I'm out of balance. It is because there are some fundamental problems with the way this whole thing is operated. There are gaps that are not filled. There is a break in responsibility at several levels. There is no shared ownership of the problems and the responsibility. It's still operating on the old model that did not work. So maybe we need a different approach. The greatest vision here is to ask for help and to accept it when it arrives.

Now I want to tell you about Phil. Phil was really drunk tonight when he showed up at the bike shop. I offered him a cup of coffee but he said no, but he wanted a beer. He said he used to be a member and used to come here to true up his wheels. Now his wheels are all bent out of shape. We talked for a bit and then he pointed to a guy in the shop and told me that that was the guy who kicked him out last summer. After we talked for a while Phil went on his way to another bar. As he was leaving I told him, "Take care of youself Phil." And Phil grabbed my hand and shook it, and then held onto it with his other hand and mumbled something. Then he went to the bathroom and left. He was having trouble walking a straight line and talking coherently. And off he went. I don't know if I'll see Phil around again, but I was nice to him, so probably. But Phil is destroying himself. So maybe not.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:45 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

February 15, 2006

My Life is Preoccupied with Bikes and Art

Mainly bikes right now. I'm learning a lot about how non-profits work, being the new President of one Non-profit organization. I have to learn. It's my fiduciary responsibility after all. Actually it's going really well, and I just signed up our third educational program for the year, so it's exciting and fun. Tonight was hopping and we got a lot done.

And tonightI almost finished my Art Trading Cards I plan on exchanging with other Art Nerds. The Art Crawl is approaching and I'm getting nervous about not having enough art to display. But it'll happen regardless. I have to get my display cases made soon!

Where does time go? Sleep, Work, Bikes, Art, Study, Repeat. And now it's time for more artwork, then Sleep. There is a season for everything, and this is a season for hard work and dedication. Time for rest and more balance will come as I learn and increase involvement by other volunteers.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:25 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

January 26, 2006

Blog Games

Let's not get too d... serious. Life should be fun too. Here is a blog game that Lyman started, for you bloggers, try it out:

Grab a Book -

Here are the rules:
1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences including sentence 5 (#5,6,7) on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest. No cheating.

Here is what I found in the book nearest me, which had more than 123 pages, some were shorter books:

"Now here's another surprise: The Piri Reis Map isn't the only one to have used these ancient alien schematics; instead, it seems that charts were made all over the earth at a very ancient time with uncanny precision. For example, maps have been discovered from the 14th century that show Greenland under its thick ice cap; others show a land strip that joins Alaska and Siberia, which has been covered by water since the end of the glacial period; and a cartographic document copied from an older source and carved on a rock column in China was found to date back to A.D. 1137.
All these documents boast an accuracy that couldn't have been done at the time that they were drawn, since all appear to have used spheroid trigonometry."

So there. Blog games. I'm reading some interesting things and can only guess what books they came out of.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:57 AM | Balance

Category "Balance"

Category "Blogging"

January 23, 2006

That was strange feeling

Taking a few days off from blogging was really strange feeling. I've been doing it almost daily for almost two years! can that be? Wow. Anyway, just to let you know what it feels like to NOT blog now, it's kind of like that feeling you get when you've misplaced something and know it's there somewhere. It felt like I was missing something the whole time, but couldn't quiet find it or figure out why I felt that way. It's definately habit for me to write now, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog in the first place. But not writing for a few days made me feel a little out of balance instead of bringing me more balance as I cut back on my activities. Next time I'll cut out something else. One reason is because the whole time I was not blogging, I still had things I wanted to say, and instead of blogging, I wrote thoughts in my notebook instead. So I might as well share and expand on my thoughts online if I'm going to write anyway, haha.
So, more blogging to come...

Posted by carl1236 at 10:35 PM | Balance | Blogging

Category "Balance"

January 18, 2006

I'm on blogging vacation

There is too much going on in my life right now, and I've decided to take a few days off from blogging. I'm staying up too late in an attempt to get everything done, and having to get up too early. So I need more balance in my life right now. I'll return to sharing my life with you on Sunday night. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Peace

Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

January 8, 2006

Reading and Laundry Day

Today was seriously a day off for me. I did laundry and read. I'm on book six out of seven in the Chronicles of Narnia. Next weekend I plan on being done and seeing the movie. This morning I sat and read in the coffee shop and a friend said that I should write children's books, then he gave me an idea for a story. It was 'The squirrel who ate cherry pie.' He then proceeded to tell me the story about a squirrel who somehow found a way into their house and ate the cherry pie that was sitting on the counter and how when they saw it, it had cherry pie all over it's face! It was a funny story but then he kept telling about this squirrel and how they had to figure out how it was getting in and blocked the hole. Then His story telling turned for the worse and the squirrel ended up getting hit by a car and died, flattened on the road in front of their house. Uh, yeah, like that would make a good children's story! haha, I jokingly called it 'Greg's grim farie tales' and we laughed about it. He said, 'yeah, my stories tend to end up kind of dark." But I got thinking about it and after reading C.S. Lewis, I'm not sure I could write a story for children. My mind doesn't work like that I think. My imagination is good, but I don't think like a child mostly. I'm constantly surprised at how and what kind of things C.S. Lewis describes in his books, in order to make it interesting to children to read. It's almost like he wrote a story, then read it aloud to children and told them that whenever they had any questions at all, to interrupt him and ask it. Then he explained it to their satisfaction and wrote that down and added it to the story. As I was reading his book today, I kept thinking more and more about how good this book would seem to children. I'm enjoying, because of the way the stories are written. There are some things to me that are not logical, but then again, that's part of the reason only children can go to Narnia. They are the ones with the ability to believe in such places, creatures and magic.
Overall today was relaxing and I even got a nap in and did three loads of laundry. I'm all caught up now. Tomorrow starts another day! I needed another rest day and today was it. I feel much stronger and healthier now with more energy. Amazing what a little rest will do. Now I'd better not ruin it by staying up any later. I'm off to bed.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:29 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

November 27, 2005

Taking a day off from Blogging

Since UTHINK is upgrading the software, I'll take this opportunity to take a rest from blogging for a day. Maybe the problem with posting the questionable content: 'yo-er' word will be fixed also. haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:46 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

November 24, 2005

What a beautiful day!

What a beautiful day for downtime. Rest and relaxation is important for balance. I know this and know the benefits and necessity of rest. We simply cannot be 'up' all the time. But making time for it is difficult. I do it by writing and other artwork, by taking short walks at work through the park, by riding my bike in silence, running, reading, etc. This morning I sat around talking, enjoying a cup of coffee and napping on the couch. haha. yes, napping in the morning. Now I'm off to the barber (me in front of the bathroom mirror with sharp objects) Then shower and dress for a good meal and fellowship with relatives. What a beatiful day this is turning out to be. And it will replenish my strength and motivation to work harder at the other things in life I am doing. But for today, Relax, don't do it, be free. It's a good day to breathe in and enjoy life. And of course, to realize everything we should be thankful for.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:17 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

September 10, 2005

A new headboard

We have to accomplish things at home too. That is my lesson to myself for today. I spent time last night and tonight building and mounting a very unique looking headboard on our bed. It looks like a white picket fence. Slowly our room is being transformed into a beautiful, pleasant country garden. But it all takes time. Especially if it's a big project. Time is limited I guess and it's part of finding a balance in life. This is a huge issue for most people I think. Many people devote their entire lives to their work only to find later that they missed out on their kids growing up or they lost their relationship with their spouse, and so on. But many people have a found what their priorities are. I'm still working on this thing called balance. At least I have a new headboard now and it looks cool. (very inexpensive to build also).

St. Paul Classic on Sunday. I'll be sitting at a table at St. Thomas from 7am to about 2pm or so. I love thise huge events. Kind of festive and everyone seems so happy. It's part of balance to get out and enjoy life too. That is a healthy part of life.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 18, 2005

Plogging by the light of a campfire

I'm finally getting around to typing my vacation Paper Log (PLOG) entries into the computer and posting them. It's been difficult to find the time since coming back and tonight I decided enough was enough, so I'm sacrificing my sleep for getting this done. I chose to ignore my body to document my vacation. But I'm having fun and no self-imposed rules are set in stone. Some things seem more beneficial than others. I know that sounds wishy-washy, but it's life. We all make choices every day and there is nothing wrong with that.
So, as I did last year, I posted all of my PLOG entries and the post-dated them so they appear on the correct days. This is for my own benefit, so I can look back on them years from now, if I choose to do so. However, I haven't read my last year's entries and compared them to this years. considering that I went to the same place again this year, I should have read last year's thoughts, but decided not to so it would not taint this years' experience. A very Zen-like attitude is to empty one's mind each day so that we can experience what the new day has to offer without polluting or distorting our experience. I'll go back and read the previous posts now, after posting these. It should be interesting.

This year we decided to separate our camping trip to Gilbert from our Condo stay on Madeline Island with the family, because it was just too hard to do both and haul all the gear for camping and a resort type vacation. Two different styles of vacations with too many different activities. Be forwarned that we are going to Madeline Island, WI, for 5 days over Labor-day weekend. I'll PLOG again. It's a fun way to remember a vacation.

To Gilbert and back. The Five-day camping and bicycle adventure.

Plog #1 - Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Plog #2 Ė Thursday, August 11, 2005
Plog #3 Ė Friday, August 12, 2005
Plog #4 Ė Saturday, August 13, 2005
Plog #5 Ė Sunday, August 14, 2005

And finally my PLOG entries from last year's vacation in the same places:
Getting off to a good start.

In a couple of weeks I will be doing back flips off the cliffs into Lake Superior and photographically documenting Madeline Island. And biking/running it every day. This should make my experience of it different and I will learn a lot.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 14, 2005

Plog #5 Ė Sunday, August 14, 2005

I went for a approximately six-mile run this morning from the campsite down to Lake Ore-Be-Gone where I saw a fox, who unhurredly trotted off the road while keeping an eye on me, then I painfully ran back up the hill, along the bike trail almost to Eveleth, then south on an ATV trail to a pit lake owned and fenced off by a GGG Land and Mining or something like that. Someone had pried the fence back and made a path down to the lake, so I ran down to check it out. There was a rope swing hanging from a tree over the water and a pile of beer and soda cans in a pile by the shore. I discovered someoneís hangout. It was a very cool, secluded place. When I was a kid we had a rope swing over the water too. It brought back good memories.
After my run I sat and had a cup of coffee, showered and changed. Then we packed up and left for home at 10:30am. On the way home we stopped at my mom and dadís and had lunch with them. I looked at their bikes and my brotherís bike to see if I could do anything with them. yes, but not there. They needed new parts to replace the old, broken, corroded and dry-rotted. Itíll have to wait until September now unfortunately, since Iím out of time this month already with too many activities.

Coming home was a little bit of a relief and sad. Itís like this I think when you take a vacation that totally takes your mind off the life and struggles you face back home. Itís like living a different life even for a brief moment. This is why we need a day of rest. If all of our struggles are relentless, there is no time to regroup, meet new people like Mark and gain new hope for the future.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:01 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

To Gilbert and Back

We arrived safely back home after 5 days of camping in the Sherwod Forest, Gilbert MN and riding the Mesabi Trail
Full report starting tomorrow. ;-) It was extremely fun and enjoyable!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:37 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 13, 2005

Plog #4 Ė Saturday, August 13, 2005

This was a great day! My wife drove me to Giants Ridge Ski Resort to start the ride then went back to the campsite to wait for a couple of hours until her start time in Buhl. When I was first starting out I spotted this guy who looked like he was about to begin his ride. I waited to see what kind of a pace he was riding and decided Iíd ride with him. He was going at a fairly decent pace so I was in for a good workout. Actually it was no problem until I neared the end of the ride where the hills became just a little more tiring. Mark was a nice guy and as we rode and talked we discovered that he grew up with one of the guys I know from the bike shop! I was amazed. Very interesting, small world. Next year though, Iím going to put on skinnier slicks for my mountain bike so I can ride a little faster.
After the ride we checked in our bikes and got a bus ride back to our car at the starting point. Then we went back to Iron World for the BBQ dinner and entertainment. Mark, his wife and their two children were there and we had a nice dinner. Mark invited me to look him up next year to go mountain biking with him. He said there are thousands of great trails to ride off-road. He gave me his email address and Iím thinking of taking a whole week next year. Weíll see how vacation plans work out. One thing that gives me hope is when I come all this way and find a guy who owns a pickup truck, but still commutes by bicycle all Spring, Summer and Fall 20 miles each way to work. He is the same age as me and told me how great he feels. I was able to share the same feeling with him.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 12, 2005

Plog #3 Ė Friday, August 12, 2005

This morning I got up at about 7:30AM. Yesterday I had asked the park ranger if I could ride my mountain bike in the Off-road-vehicle park and they said yes, there was no problem with that. So this morning I was intent on abusing myself with some heavy exercise. At 8AM the park ranger lady was a little surprised to see me and my bicycle, and with a sparkle in her eye and a smile, checked me in and told me to have fun. I think I was the only bicycle rider to come through there in a long time. I checked out their website once and they said they have special BMX events there, but other than that, the park is targeted toward off-road motorized vehicles.
I rode through the trails for about an hour and a half and had a blast! Some parts were easy, and some very technical and dangerous. Note to self: Donít take that swampy motorcycle-only trail again! During my ride I wiped out twice; Once on that motorcycle trail when my front tire went into a hole and stopped me immediately, sending me over the handlebars. I let out a yell, but when I got up I realized that I was the only one there and no-one would have heard that. The other time I wiped out I was on a muddy road, trying to avoid a rut full of water when my back tire slid into the rut and I went down on my side. I had no injuries bus was plenty dirty. When I left the park I washed off my bike the best I could then told the park Rangers that I was out of the park. I had so much fun, that I plan on doing other mountain biking in the future.
Back at the campsite I ate breakfast, drank some coffee then packed up and moved from campsite 38 to 46. Later I was changing my wheels out for Saturdayís Mesabi Trail Tour when I discovered my rear wheel was wobbling. I tried tightening the skewer but it didnít help. On further inspection I discovered that my axel was broken! I was really happy that I had two sets of wheels with me because at that time of day I would not have found an open bike shop. I looked at my options. 1. I had a useable mountain bike wheel with knobby tires on it, but it had a broken spoke from my earlier ride and was a little out of true. I didnít have any replacement spokes with me either. I could put the slick tire on that wheel and take a spoke from the wheel with the broken axel. Or, 2. I could take the axel from the knobby-tired wheel and put it into the wheel with the broken axel and not have to deal with the changing of tires or spoke replacement. Simple right? No. I managed to change out the axel but somehow got the centering wrong so my wheel was too far to the left and was rubbing on my left break pad. Too late. It was all together and it was getting late. I disconnected my back break and I was back in business for the bike ride. Not the best solution but it worked. We hurried off then to find my wifeís starting point in Buhl and the check-in/registration point in Virginia. They had very poor directions so it took us a while to find it. Once we got our starting packet and T-shirts, we retreated to our campsite again, had a fire, ate some campfire stew and baked apples with cinamon again. Today it was hot and sunny and we were able to wear shorts. Tonight itís very cool so the fire feels good.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:40 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 11, 2005

Plog #2 Ė Thursday, August 11, 2005

This morning we woke up as the sun came up but layed around in the tent dozing off and on. Finally at 7:30 AM we got up. I went for a nice run through the town of Gilbert, MN. I ran from the Sherwood Forest Campgrounds up Wisconsin Avenue all the way to the top of the hill. In 1908 when the streets of Gilbert were layed out, all of the cross-streets to the main one, Broadway, were the names of states. There is an interesting history behind the formation of this town. Between 1908 and 1910 residents and businesses from the town of Sparta were being relocated to the new town of Gilbert so the mining company could strip-mine the land under the town. I intend to learn more about this, but there is a story of one man who refused to move and they mined all around his house. The story goes that he was eventually removed by force when he fired his gun at the excevators. At that time Sparta had a population of over a thousand people. Gilbert today has about 1800 residents.
Then, after I ran all the way to the top of the hill I ran East to Highway 135, then back down to Broadway. I ran straight West Along downtown Gilbert, which to me looks very similar to the original photos of Gilbert, except for their modern upgrades of power, lighting and international flags lining the streets. I ran up the hill again to the catholic church, which has a beautiful stained-glass window centered at the end of the street, which you can see from the bottom of the hill on Broadway. It was kind of beautiful and motivating running up toward it. I ran West again to the cemetary at the edge of town. There were a lot of graves there. I wondered how many were from mining accidents.
I ran down the hill, back toward town on the highway, turned off on the first side street, then along the southern edge of town back to the campground. I have no idea how far I ran, but I was sweating and breathing hard.
Gilbert is a beautiful, well-kept town. There were no trash houses I could see. Running down the main street, Broadway, I counted eight bars. In contrast, around 1910 Gilbert had about 25 saloons in the same number of city blocks. They were all quiet in the morning hours. I only saw a few people, mostly old people out walking their dogs or trimming their yards. These few people are the morning people here. They smiled and waved and said good morning to me.
At the campsite we had some of Marleneís freshed baked muffins we brought with us, some orange juice and coffee. I sat around for the rest of the mornign with my legs up, writing, while my wife read her book. After lunch we went to the 4-wheel drive park, then returned to our campsite to make foil dinners and baked apples over the coals.
This night was marked by severely strong winds, whipping our tent around, keeping us from getting very sound sleep. I remembered the story of my younger brother getting blown tent and all into a tree on one camping trip many years ago, but thankfully our tent stayed up.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:28 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 10, 2005

Plog #1 - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This morning I was getting ready to go while my wife was at work. I had some laundry to do (last minute packing panic) and I had to pack up my clothes and other things that she couldnít find the night before, like some of the camping gear.
It was kind of a downer because we are short on cash this month and this morning we almost decided not to go. We have another, more expensive vacation coming up in a couple weeks. We already paid for the bike ride this weekend on the Mesabi Trail http://www.mesabitrail.com and we already had the groceries bought, but gas is so expensive and we had not yet paid for the campsites. We knew we would have to pay a cancellation fee. In the end we would not have had to pay that cancellation fee, as Iíll explain in a minute. But we would have lost the money on the bike ride, which was 75 dollars for our family. The proceeds went to help public radio. Anyway, after checking our bank account I went to the coffee shop to discuss our options with my wife. She wasnít very happy. I went back home to think about our options. Skipping the family vacation in a couple of weeks is not a good option, considering we already paid for half of the cottage rental. Itís no fun losing money deposited, but even less fun not having the money to pay for even more expenses.
So I transferred 170 dollars from our savings into our checking. I cashed in our piggy bank for another 38 dollars. Our daughter loaned us 30 dollars, and I returned a sleeping bag we did not need to Kmart for 17 dollars. We determined that would be enough to do the camping trip so I continued packing. This made me remember why we put money into a savings in the first place. Itís nice to have a buffer for emergencies. A long time ago we were told to do this to help manage our bills. A small savings acts like a buffer for bills also, when the dryer goes out or when the fridge stops working or the heating bills are incredibly high for the month.
We arrived in Gilbert at about 7:30pm and went to check in. They did not have our reservation and told us they were booked up for the weekend! They had changed the email address on their website but the old email messages got lost. He looked us up in the computer and discovered that we were Ďregularsí and this was our third year coming in August. So he gave us a tent site for two nights, the same site that we stayed in for the past 2 years. We love site 38 because it has a spectacular view of Lake Ore-be-gone and has a few trees for a little more privacy. Then on Friday night we are moving to an RV site because one RV family is leaving early because of a death in their family. We paid the 28 dollars for Wednesday and Thursday nightsí tent camping and then pay the rest when we move to the other site. I canít help but see the miracle in how this all happened. My wife gets paid on Monday so paying the second half of our bill at check-out was perfect.
This gave my wife and I a lot to talk about on the drive up there. We do need to plan further ahead and be more responsible with managing our money. Itís a constant theme in life and something we can continuously work on.
We set up our tent, filled up our air mattress and had a late dinner but no campfire, because we were exhausted. We were just happy to be there and have a place to stay.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 9, 2005

Plog Week

Today I spent most of my day, from 8am to 9pm working in some form for the bikeshop. I'm dead tired, but it's ok because I was off work today and have the rest of the week off too. Tomorrow I'm going to Gilbert, MN for a nice vacation on the Iron Range and the Mesabi Trail. The Mesabi Trail is a great paved bike trail that will be 250 miles when it's completed within the next few years. It goes far enough right now to take more than one day to ride it. Anyway, It'll be fun and refreshing to get out camping for almost a week, do some scenic bicycling and generally relax.
As I did last year, I plan on keeping a Paper Log (PLOG) and then posting my daily experiences when I return on Sunday night/Monday. Rest and Relaxation is an important part of balance. We can't always get a way for a week or more, but it's good to incorporate some fun, relaxing things in our daily diet.

I'm sorry I can't beam my blog entries electronically from my campfire. I hope you all have a great week and see you next week when I return.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:28 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

Category "CHANGE"

August 2, 2005

Early to Bed, Early to Rise?

Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise? Last night I went to bed at about 9:15 PM. Wow, that's early. I couldn't sleep at first so I read for a little while and finally just put the book down and began some breathing/relaxing techniques, like yoga, to calm myself down enough to fall asleep. The last time I saw on the clock was 9:39 PM.
This morning my alarm rang at 5 AM but I couldn't get up. I finally woke up at 6AM. That's about 8 hours of sleep! I have to admit I feel pretty good right now! But it just doesn't seem right to go to bed so early! haha. Now I'm going for a bike ride and then to work by 7:45.
I guess the wisdom part comes in when I realize the importance of getting enough sleep, regardless of whether I'm a morning person or night person. I see it as shifting my internal clock, which may not be easy. Regardless, I still need to get the right amount of sleep for proper health and balance in my life. We'll see how it goes. Today is a good second day of conversion.
Have a great day!!!

Posted by carl1236 at 6:44 AM | Balance | CHANGE

Category "Balance"

Category "CHANGE"

August 1, 2005

Becoming a morning person

Yesterday I said that I was going to turn myself into a morning person. Last night I went to bed at about 10:00pm and got up this morning at about 6:30 AM, left the house for a 13 mile training ride with an average speed of 19 MPH. That was very difficult to get up that early and muster up enough energy to ride my bike hard. It didn't feel good until after I showered and had something (more) to eat after getting to my desk at work. And everyone was surprised to see me at work earlier than usual.

All in all, today was a successful first day of becoming a morning person. Is a drastic change like this possible? Ever since I can remember I used to be a morning person when I was younger, but after getting out of the Army I changed into a night person, staying up late and getting up late in the morning. I even changed my working hours to start at 8:30 AM so I wouldn't have to get up so early.

We'll see how it goes. I think I can do it because I really want to do it, for various reasons. Day one is a success.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:46 PM | Balance | CHANGE

Category "Balance"

July 15, 2005

Couldn't sleep

For some reason I went to bed and woke up around midnight. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. So I came online and did some reading and posting a few comments on blogs. One thing I found interesting was this statement at the bottom of a "Dear Abbey" column (not because it's a different person writing the Dear Abbey column, but because they post this statement at the end of the column):

"Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069."

I think when I decide to stop writing this blog, I'll find another author to take over and put a statement like this on my blog:

"The Daily Spirit Human is written by John, also known as (New author's name), and was founded by his/her friend John."

(I'm joking)

Now I'm going to bed again, hopefully to recover some balance in my sleep/awake patterns.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:39 AM | Balance

Category "Balance"

June 1, 2005

Peace

What brings us peace inside? Sometimes we are in a very agitated state and nothing seems to help. We fly around like a tornado, trying to occupy ourselves so we don't have time to think too deeply. On Monday night my neighbor and I rode our bikes around the neighborhood and talked. Before that he was going a little bonkers. After taking a break and chatting together for a half hour while riding around, he felt at peace and could rest. I think just having someone to talk to can alleviate a lot of the agitation in our minds. This is getting it off our chest, and not letting it eat us up inside.
Unfinished business can cause a lot of stress for us also and peace inside comes when we finish it with a job well done. Tonight at the bike shop I was working on an old 3-Speed bike for sale, cleaning it up and adjusting the gears. At the end of the evening all I had left to do was put a couple of cable clips on the frame to hold the cables in place. The other people in the shop wanted to close down and go for a bike ride, but I wanted to finish this bike before leaving. If I didn't, who knows when I would have gotten in there to do it. I was not at peace while looking for the cable clips and thinking about what would happen to this bike the next day if it wasn't done. So I made them wait for me while I finished the bike. It brought me great peace knowing that it was done. I put a price tag on it and walked out the door. The ride was peaceful and I didn't think about that 3-Speed bike I was working on. Getting that ONE job done was enough to bring me peace.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:27 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

January 10, 2005

Last night

Last night at this time I was trying to post my blog entry but couldn't log in. I tried three times and each time my computer crashed. My computer is sick I think. But tonight I didn't have any problems. In any case, If you were looking for me last night, I gave up and went to bed. Some things took higher precedence than writing, like meeting with my Russian friends, exercise and sleep. By the time I got to this I was already exhausted.
Tonight I met with my Korean Language partner and it was very helpful. We talked about some common expressions in Korean about asking for help and expressing that want something. I biked to and from work today, so I really got a good workout coming home. It's all uphill.
Tomorrow night I'm watching a special on Lance Armstong on Cable TV, the Biography channel 115. That will be interesting. During the Tour de France this year I saw a lot of clips and interviews with Lance so I learned quite a bit about him already.
Thursday night I'm meeting with my Korean Language partner again, then Friday night I'm going to relax. wow, what a week. It seems that I am just as busy now as I was when I was in class. I always seem to fill up my time though. But every once in a while, just to maintain some balance I need to take a break from something. Since exercising is becoming a bigger priority for me now, I had to let go of something else and this was it.
So many things are a matter of priority. If some things are a high enough priority in our lives, they get more attention. The one thing I have worked on in the past is how to make something I don't want to do a high enough priority so I get it done. I can't say any more that I can't do something, because If I really want to I know I could. I'm making choices all the time, and prioritizing all the time, whether I know it or not. So I might as well do it conciously. Priority is related to balance in life. We choose what to give priority to and our balance is affected by our choices.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

January 1, 2005

What I learned today

I just discovered that my post from last night got sent to the year 0000. Some kind of a technical glitch, so I changed the date and saved it. Happy New Year!
Today was a great day, with little activity. We watched the Tournament of Roses Parade on TV today and I marched around the living room with one of the consumers at the group home blowing pretend horns likie we were in the marching band. He loves marching bands and always watches for them at half-time at the football games. He always pretends heís marching in the band playing a horn. It was very fun.
After teaching sign language to another guy he got all agitated at me and started stomping his feet and making his yelling sound (the only sound he can make). Then I discovered from my coworker that he usually gets something to drink as a treat after he does a good job. Well, Iíve never followed that routine before with him, but I gave him something to drink this time and he was happy. He knows the sign for drink so we told him that he has to use it in order for us to understand what he wants.
Other than that it was a quiet day and I got some laundry done, log entries, finally a little reading while the parade was on. I read some more in my book, The Cyclistís Training Bible, and a Menís Fitness Magazine. Here are the things I found most interesting so far, which are good things to add to the New Years Resolution list:
1. ďStaying fit while youíre young may protect you heart during middle age. A new Northwestern University study reports that regular workouts may help reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and even diabetes by as much as 50% as you age.Ē Wow! I like the odds on this one.
2. Natural things that fight off infection and helps the immune system: Baked Sweet Potatoes contain a lot of beta-carotene. Tea helps get our T cells going. Turkey is a good source of protein and glutamine, an amino acid. Salmon has omega-3 fatty acids which balance out our intake of omega-6. Garlic has at least 13 compounds that help boost immunity. Almonds have a high magnesium content. Raisin Bran has zinc, which helps keep our thymus gland running at its peak. Vitamin E helps reduce the severety of our cold and the sicktime by up to 20%
3. Training harder is not necessarily better. We need plenty of rest and proper nutrition. Over training may make it harder for our muscles to recover. I havenít had that problem yet this year. ;-)

I also took some photos today, but canít wait until tomorrow when I can retake some of those I missed by not loading the film properly on New Years Eve.

One of my goals for my lifestyle is to get enough sleep to help my muscles recover from working out. Starting tonight My blog entries will be posted much earlier. Better nutrition, smarter training, proper rest. Canít beat that.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

December 31, 2004

time to dream

As the New Year approaches and the old year is ending itís a good opportunity for me to take a little time to talk about time. Iíve been thinking about this topic for a week now and havenít been able to put it into words. It seems like every time Iíve tried to write about this, I was stuck. But now that Iíve taken care of those things and the year is almost over, my mind is back to the issue of time.

This is very interesting for me because I have been living life with hardly any free time in the last year. Oh there were occasions, like when I went on vacation, but even then my time was well taken up from morning to night. Even after the Semester ended, I started filling up my available time with other things, like finishing 3 books since classes ended. All of it is by choice of course, and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have been doing.

I work seven days per week at two different jobs, take classes, exercise, read, study, write, meet with friends, spend time with my family and our pets, etc. Iím not saying this to say that Iím super man or anything, just to illustrate the level of involvment I have in life. Iím very active. I have also given up many things. I rarely watch TV for instance and movies only occasionally.

But after thinking about this for a while it came to me why I found this so difficult to put into words. It is because along with everything I am doing, which I donít regret at all, is something important that I have also given up. One of the important ingredients that I missed by being too active is time to dream. Over the last year I have not had time to dream. That was the missing piece of the puzzle.

This is the time we allow ourselves to dream of the future, to have hope, to think about things deeply, to make plans that may never come to fruition, to dream up new things and to create. I have realized that we need time to dream.

Since classes ended, Iíve read, Iíve written a few things, spent time with my family, started playing with my camera and drew up some architectural remodelling ideas. I started planning for my bike racing in the spring and I started setting up a Ďrealí winter bicycle. This is the time to dream.

Today as I was out riding my bike, I brought my 35mm camera with me to take some photos. I was inspired by my studies over the past few months of Leonardo da Vinci and Frank Lloyd Wright and an inspiration came to me. Combined with Jimís taking pictures of interesting things along his bicycle commuting route, I was inspired to ride my bike with my camera and take pictures of architectural details that really move me. I decided I would assemble a collage of these things that I find appealing so I could see a larger picture. What would that picture look like? This is the time to dream.

When I got home from the bike ride, I was looking at my camera and the book, then taking a few more pictures and realized that even though I was snapping pictures, the film was not advancing. I opened the back and rethreaded the film and this time watched the left-side spindle turning. ouch. Then I realized that my architectural pictures were never really taken. But thatís ok. I learned an important lesson I will not forget. Now my dream is more solidified in my brain. I can start over with purpose and determination and a log. I also found a community education class on beginning photography. I asked my wife to take it with me and she said yes. This is the time to dream.

Now itís midnight, Happy New Year and pleasant dreams. May you all have time to dream.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

December 25, 2004

Christmas Festivities

I can see why so many people get stressed out at this time of year. There are a lot of demands and expectations of people around the holidays. Families and friends plan get-togethers and expect us to be there. We go. But Iím tired. Last night I intended on writing a blog entry but I fell asleep in my chair. I read a little online and made a few comments then began to write. I think I woke up somewhere around 1:00am, started to write again, then woke up again at 5:00am, then went to bed, only to get up again at 7:00am. I did sleep, but it wasnít a very good sleep.
This morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast with my family at my sisterís house and a few friends of the family. It was very nice. At around noon we came home, got ready and went to my wifeís fatherís house for the day. We ate a lot of food and played some card games. It was fun, but I opted out of the last half hour of games and took a catnap on the couch. That felt good!
Then after dinner we came home and itís time to relax. I posted my blog entry, helped my wife make some ice cream in her new ice-cream maker. :-) So far so good. I plan on having some tomorrow night.
Tomorrow will be a busy day for all of us also. Iím going to work in the morning, for four hours, and then going right to my auntís house for a huge family gathering. Iím excited about it, because we only get together like this once per year. Iím sure it will be a late evening, so Monday Iíll be tired and have to recuperate.
I think in our case, we do this because Christmas is an excuse to get together at least once per year and catch up on whatís been happening in each otherís lives. And of course there is a lot of food involved. Everyone is expected to bring something to these gatherings. Itís all good, but many of the foods, like Christmas cookies and other sweets, are not things Iíd normally consume in large quantities.

Now itís 10:15pm and Iím going to work on my winter bike for a diversion from all of the festivities and so itís ready to go on Monday morning when I ride it to work.

Oh, I finally got a replacement lense for my 23 year old Cannon AE-1 35mm camera, so I will take some pictures this week and scan a few in for posting here. I canít wait to see how they turn out. I put that camera to a lot of use back when I first bought it. Now I have to re-learn what an aperture is and f-stop, etc. Haha. Itíll be fun.

Have a great night!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:21 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

December 21, 2004

Haiku Reality Check

As Iíve been so busily studying, going to class, working, writing blog entries, working more, cycling, reading, helping other people, spending time with my friends and family, and so on, I have irresponsibly ignored a few basic things in my life. Before it was my health being ignored, but now itís some of my bills. It should not surprise me that I have a problem, but it did take me by surprise. Circumstances came up, like buying new batteries for the cars, helping my son pay 500 dollars for his college that he was short and insuring my daughters car, among other things. Bills are a challenge even when I am paying attention to them!
More specifically, somehow I did not pay my trash bill. Now I have no trash service. I suspect Iíll clear it up after Christmas, since I donít have enough money now. But itís still disturbing. I find myself caught with my pants down. Haha, it would be nice to say I have perfected the function of existing, but this proves Iím just like everyone else, trying to make it the best way I know how. I will learn from this no doubt and it will be painful. Something like a trash bill is easy to pay if itís paid right away, but when added up over several months, itís a lot of money. I donít know how I let this slide by. But I did. The trash company is not happy with me either.
So here I am like this person in the Haiku, getting a reality check. I realize that itís late, I've been wandering around, the moonlight that Iíve been following went quickly and now Iím standing far away from home in the dark. And it stinks. They stopped picking up my trash! To make matters worse, I donít have the money now to pay for it until next week. Iíve been too busy to notice some of the details in my life or think it significant enough to worry about. Now I have to walk in the dark back home, to a place where there is light and warmth. Thank God I paid my mortgage payment.

From Haiku, Seasons of Japanese Poetry,

Iíve wandered on to-night,
Till now I see the summer moon
Sink sideways out of sight.

- Bukaku

Posted by carl1236 at 8:38 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

November 7, 2004

Time together

What do Cycling, Mongolian food, Speaking German, Enya, Leonardo DaVinci, VocabuLearn, Monet, and Annie have in common? They were all part of my weekend getaway with my wife. The last couple of days have been refreshing and really romantic!
Friday after work I took off on my bicycle and rode 23 miles to meet my wife at a hotel. That was really strange not going home, but it added to the mood of the getaway. After I showered and changed, we went out to one of our favorite restaurants, Kahnís Mongolian Barbeque, in Bloomington. The food there is great and the service is also very good. Tip the cooks and they all stop what they are doing, bow and say, ďThank you, thank you!Ē My wife and I shared a pot of really flavorful orange, ginger and mint tea. And we ate, talked and enjoyed just being out together.
After dinner we did another one of our favorite activities together; going to a bookstore. We went to Borders Books and looked around for a while. As I was looking over the books I overheard some older ladies talking in german about some of the books on the table by me. I was just standing there and it dawned on me that I had just understood a conversation in another language. If you are a language learner you probably know that sensation. All of the women left except one who was still intent on looking at those books, so I struck up a conversation in german with her. She was thrilled that an American was speaking german with her and I found out that they were here visiting their daughterís friend who comes to stay with them in Germany frequently. After about ten minutes of talking, she excused herself to rejoin her company. I had a definite glow after that interaction. Communicating with someone in their native language is not the same as hearing it in our language. I think there are things are lost in the translation. I then walked around the store feeling great inside as I picked out some more reading material and other things.
As is our custom together, my wife and I pick out things to buy then go to the coffee shop and show each other what we found and enjoy hearing about them. I picked out an Enya CD with a few really nice songs on it. Though I didnít get a chance to listen to it before buying it, it turned out to be really good. I also found some new Korean language material for enhancing and supplementing my language learning. Then came Leonardo DaVinci. I found the Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci, Definitive Edition in one Volume, Edited by Edward MacCurdy. This is a fascinating book! Itís 1180 pages of insight into the life of Leonardo DaVinci. I had no idea what kind of a scholar he was not to mention his artwork.
We drank our coffee and talked, then it was time to go back to the hotel for the night. We tried the whirlpool but there was too much chlorine in it and it was burning our eyes just being in the room. Then soon enough, the day was over and we rested. In the morning we talked, laid around and enjoyed the continental breakfast. Our plans for the day were taking shape and it looked like it was going to be great!
Our first stop for Saturday was the Minneapolis Institute of Art. That place is always amazing to me. I can always find something that inspires me there. We looked around the first floor until we were tired and hungry and decided that we needed to eat some lunch. Their sign in the restaurant didnít specify what kind, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was handed a bowl of Tomato Basil soup. It was really flavorful, thick and creamy like my wife usually makes it. I loved it.
After lunch we determined that we had about two more hours to look around so we headed to the third floor. There they had an excellent photography display. They were all black and white photos, which I like anyway. Also on the third floor they have a few Rodin sculptures and a painting by Van Gogh and a few by Monet. I love seeing these paintings in person because you can see the texture and the actual brush strokes. And the colors are more vibrant in person.
After looking at the art, we stopped in the gift shop. They have an interesting gift shop, with some great art-related things. It was along those isles that a book jumped out at me. It was related to my earlier purchase so I bought it: Leonardo DaVinci on the Human Body, The most complete collection of the Anatomical, Physiological, and Embryological drawings Ė More than 1200 illustrations. This combined with his notebooks, provides me with a greater picture of who Leonardo DaVinci is. When it was time to go we went outside and realized what a beautiful day it was. It was nice walking hand in hand along the street talking about what we saw and liked in the museum. This is when we started to think about the end of our little vacation.
But there was one more event for the day. We went to a musical, Annie that was being put on by Woodbury High School. The acting and singing were very good and we were happy to see it. It was amazing. The auditorium was sold out and they are doing 12 performances! That seems like a lot more than when I was in high school. But it was quite an elaborate production. This version had about 94 parts in it, but several people played multiple parts. The play was good. We really enjoyed it.
As we were sitting there though, an odd sensation crept over me. I became aware of something. There were only a couple minorities in the cast. Then I looked around the auditorium and I could only see two families that were not Caucasian. One was Asian, and another was African American. I think I became aware of this because both of my children went to school in St. Paul where Caucasian students actually numbered fewer than the other ethnic groups combined. I was used to seeing plays that were much more mixed. Here it was like looking at those black and white photos; there was a big contrast between this school and other schools Iíve seen. So during intermission I looked around more to see if I wasnít just making a big deal in my head over nothing. But I saw the same thing. 1 African American and one Asian Family, and one family that looked like they were Hispanic. The rest were Caucasian. There were about 500 people there I think.
Is that weird of me to think like this? To notice this? Then to drive this into my head deeper, I saw a big poster on the wall of the school cafeteria (which was right outside of the auditorium) that read, ďWoodbury High School Students Appreciate Diversity.Ē I pointed that out to my wife and she joked, ďYeah, the students appreciate diversity, they just havenít seen it.Ē I wondered then if people can really appreciate diversity without being diverse.
Today I went to work at the group home and it was a very nice day. I enjoyed talking to them and helping them. I took one of the guys out to Kmart for a little shopping and exercise. He was excited to go and was cooperative and in a good mood. So we had a good day!
After work tonight we had our discussion group meeting, which I had just found out was being held at Sawatdee! I was just there with my friend this week! To my great joy, I was able to say hello in proper Thai language! The food was absolutely fabulous. I had chicken in a curry paste and rice and we all shared a number of different appetizers. Our discussion for the evening was mostly focused on food from different nationalities and cultures. We discovered that we all love to try new things and most of us enjoy Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese food.
Now Iím here typing my blog. I know for sure my adventure is over for the weekend and tomorrow I go back to work. I have a quiz Tuesday night, and I have most of my words memorized. Tomorrow night Iím meeting with my language partner to practice more Korean. So itís back to being busy. haha. But itís ok, Iím recharged. Iím ready for it.
One thing I was reminded of from this whole experience is that relationships with other people require time together. Not just saying hello, good morning, good night, how was your day, etc, but also really connecting and spending time together. Many people call this ďQuality Time.Ē I know that in our marriage over the last 21 years, this is a proven necessity for our relationships with ourselves and others.

Now for a quote from the Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci:
ďMan has great power of speech, but the greater part thereof is empty and deceitful. The animals have little, but that little is useful and true; and better is a small and certain thing than a great falsehood.Ē

I do not know yet whether this quote applies to Woodbury High School diversity or not. But thatís what I thought of first when I read this. In fairness to the students of that school though, they did not create the level of diversity in their school by their own free will. They only receive the consequences of it.
Don't all relationships benefit from spending Quality Time together?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

November 4, 2004

The way we complicate things

I live a very busy life. It wasnít always like this, but sometimes it gets like this when I over-commit myself. It creeps up on me. It seems that I am a person that will fill up any and all available time. I do like to be active.
So it starts like this. I work all day, sitting in front of a computer so I decided I need to exercise more. So I get into cycling and pretty soon Iím committed to cycling. Physical exercise is kind of addicting and the better shape I get into, the more miles I can handle and the more fun it gets. This leads to greater commitments in order to challenge myself. Thatís about 5 hours per week.
Then it continues to creep up on me. I start looking at a project to see if I can help someone edit their manuscript, and itís fun, so I commit to doing the whole book. I start by spending one half hour per day on it, but it ends up being a major rewrite and I end up spending many more hours than planned. I decide that I canít let the errors in the manuscript go and try harder to make it work. This adds about 5 hours per week to my schedule.
I start a class at the University at nights. Itís two nights per week, but the way the class is structured, itís a huge amount of work. It requires a lot of my free time to study and do homework. Thatís about 10 hours per week.
All of these are commitments I made, but it gets worse. So far, beyond my day job, I have added about 20 hours of work to my schedule. If I divide that between available evenings per week, thatís about 3 hours per night. Letís say I get home from work at about 6pm, that makes it 9:00pm before Iím done. That doesnít leave much time for other things, but there is a lot more.
All of these things are important to me, but there comes an overflowing point when I have too many things to do and not enough time. This is the way I complicate things. Then I have to start digging out of my commitment hole. To do so, Iíve had to cut back on some things to allow adequate time for others. Iíve also had to learn how to say no and how to schedule some things for another time. As much as I want to do some things, in the interests of maintaining a healthy balance in life, I just have to let some things go.
Itís really easy to over-commit and to fill up all of our available time. It all adds up. The difficult thing is to find that balance between work and rest. We do need both and we discover that finding balance is a recurring challenge in our lives.
Friday night and Saturday Iím taking a break from my normally busy schedule. You might catch me at the bookstore, going to a play and just laying around. :-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

October 11, 2004

Repeal the USA Patriot Act

I was told about this issue from a Librarian friend. She said that with the USA Patriot Act, the U.S. Government can demand to see library records for who checked out what books and when, without notifying the library patrons. Interesting isn't it?
Isn't there a balance between protecting liberties and catching and holding someone accountable for their actions when they violate the law? From one point of view, there is a need to protect us from Terrorists, and from another point of view there is a need to protect us from a corrupt government that has too much power that could be used against it's citizens.
I am wondering where the checks and balances are also. The following set of links has a good overview of the issues and the implications.

Repeal the USA Patriot Act
by Jennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t | April 1, 2002

http://www.truthout.com/docs_02/04.02A.JVB.Patriot.htm

EPIC site with a good overview, information and news related to the USA Patriot Act:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/

U.S. Government site: Preserving Life & Liberty
Talks about the benefits of the Patriot Act from the Governments perspective:

WARNING: The following site explicity states that it is tracking every computer that accesses it, including the links clicked on, the computer's ID and it's hosting service. I find it interesting that they say this is done to 'improve their services.'

http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/

Governments Field Report promoting and justifying the Use of the Patriot Act so far:

http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/docs/071304_report_from_the_field.pdf

The Patriot Act:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

Balance in life is a good thing. Freedom is good. With freedom comes responsibility to not abuse our freedom or positions of responsibility. With power comes responsibility to rule justly and wisely.
The war on Terror continues but some day it will be over. Will our government be willing to give up power once granted?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:37 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

September 1, 2004

Two Vacations in One!

Wednesday, September 1, 2004 PLOG Entry Three.

Highlights of the day:

Bike Ride to McKinley and back to Gilbert in the early morning when everyone was asleep.
Managing to get everything to fit back into the trailer and Jeep after camping! We did have to unpack and reload the trailer once because we forgot a camping box.
The drive to Bayfield, Wisconsin with my wife and daughter. Talking in the car.
Molly on the Ferry ride to Madeline Island, looking through the drain holes at the waves.
Checking into a nice place.
Molly claiming her own bed.
Making dinner myself. Each of us are taking a turn at it throughout the week.
Having dinner with my daughter, wife and her father.
My daughter, wife and her father playing cards while I sat by the fire in the fireplace writing and drinking tea.

Two Vacations in One!

This morning I went for a bike ride to McKinley and back, ate breakfast and then started to pack up the camping gear. This is the first time we have tried mixing two types of vacation; Camping and spending time in a cottage with our family. We camped for two nights and now we are staying in a very nice cottage with showers and soft, poofy beds.
As I write these words, the fire in the fireplace slowly fades into the memories of another vacation before this one.
It made me think of how many transitions we go through in life: As children in school, college life, military duty, having children and family life, career changes, becoming empty nesters, retirement, old age and passing on. Each phase in life requires a different set of tools and attitudes.
I discovered itís a pain to carry all of the things necessary along for each other phase. Even camping for two days requires all the necessary camping gear; tent, sleeping bags, camp stove, cooler, etc. When we grow up and make the transition to adulthood we need to put away some of our childish ways and learn responsibility and other skills necessary for the smooth operation of life.
As we look back itís nice to remember previous phases in our life. And we have many phases in our lives. Each has itís unique memories and joys. But like vacations they fade into the fire as a new phase begins. What is our next phase? Rebirth? Change? Continuation? No matter what it is we have to let go of the previous phase and move on to be fully present in the current one. Sometimes we have to let go of our previous notions and beliefs as we mature and our understanding of life becomes more complete.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:24 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 30, 2004

Taking Inventory is the first step

Monday, August 30, 2004 PLOG Entry One

Highlights of the day:

Getting everything packed into the car and trailer.
Lunch with my mom and dad and brother.
Our dog Molly running around my parents Farm. She ran in and out of the tall weeds at the edge of the field. At first she was a little afraid of the tall weeds, but once my daughter ran through she had fun charging through over and over.
Arriving at the Sherwood Forest campsite in Gilbert and meeting Rusty, his wife and the little dog Ditto who they sometimes call ďThe old womanĒ because of her gray hair.
The moon was really interesting looking. It was a full moon with an orange color.
Our first campfire and making s'mores.
My bicycle ride from Gilbert to Eveleth and back. Eveleth has a wonderful trail system around the lake. I saw families rollerblading and biking together on this evening.
Taking a walk with my wife, daughter and Molly.
My daughter and wife playing cards in the tent before going to sleep.
Molly trying to sleep on our sleeping bags right between us and on us. We told her to move and she would move a few inches, then look at us like, ďIs that ok?Ē

Taking Inventory is the first step

This morning packing was an engineering feat! Whenever we go on a trip like this, we lay everything out by the vehicle before we start loading anything. We have to be able to see what we have to work with..
It appeared that our pile was much bigger than the available space. Standing there looking over the situation I tried to think about what we would have to leave behind. Then I decided Iíd better try to see what I could fit. I filled every available space! I still canít believe I got everything in there! Itís so hard to plan for a vacation because so much depends on the weather and what we can do. We plan for possibilities.
Sometimes our lives are like taking a trip also. Often we have too much baggage to carry with us. When our baggage pile seems larger than the available space, we need to see what we can really use moving forward and what will not be necessary. Itís hard to let go and hard to think about sometimes, but taking inventory is the first step to see what we have to work with.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:49 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 29, 2004

Seven Days and one suitcase

For the next Seven days I'll be taking a break from the computer. Starting Monday morning I'll be on vacation until September 6th. It's a much needed rest. haha.
I laugh because leading up to this moment, I've been trying to decide what to bring with me for seven days. All of it couldn't fit in my one suitcase! Ok, do you think 11 books is excessive? ;-)
In the morning when I load up the car, it all has to fit so between now and then I have to remind myself it's only 7 days! Which reminds me that I need to learn how to rest.

On that note, thank you for reading my blog up to this point, and don't worry, I'm going to blog every day on real paper, then back-post for all seven days! But I can't call that a blog then can I?
WEB-LOG -> PAPER-LOG
haha. PLOG!!! I'll be plogging along with my pen and paper. ;-)

Have a great week everyone!!! See you in September.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 9, 2004

CLIF BAR, ENERGY BAR

Itís interesting to actually read the back of the package sometimes to see what it is we are eating. In the case of Clif bars, all the nutritional information is there but there is also a fun little story. It reads:
ďClif Bar is named after my father, Clifford, my childhood hero and companion throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains. In 1990, I lived in a garage with my dog, skis, climbing gear, bicycle and two trumpets. The inspiration to create an energy bar occurred during a day-long, 175 mile ride with my buddy, Jay. Weíd been gnawing on some ďotherĒ energy bars. Suddenly, despite my hunger, I couldnít take another bite. Thatís the moment I now call ďthe epiphany.Ē Two years later, after countless hours in Momís kitchen, Clif Bar became a reality. And the mission to create a better-tasting energy bar was accomplished. thanks, Mom!
Clif bar has grown since 1990, and still the spirit of adventure that began on that ride continues to thrive each day. As the company evolves, we face many choices, yet we always do our best to take care of our people, our community and our environment.
- Gary, Owner of Clif Bar Inc.Ē
The package says ďTo learn more... visit http://www.clifbar.com ď

Itís an interesting story, which may or may not be entirely true or even relevant. There are several energy bars and drinks on the market. And the ingredients and Nutrition facts listed are confusing to the novice athlete like me. I have learned by experience what it feels like to run out of energy on a bike ride. I know that athletes eat energy bars and drink energy drinks to give them the energy to perform their best.
From talking to many people, I discovered that a lot of us are doing what I started doing: Throwing things at our bodies to compensate for our exercise, without really understanding our needs and the nutritional value of things. As an example, I now eat an energy bar about a half hour before I go on any ride that will be over 20 miles. Now Iím reading about sports nutrition and Iím finding out about carbohydrates and protein and how they effect our energy use, and how they help rebuild our muscles.
In life we are bombarded with a lot of choices. We know that we need to take better care of ourselves but are not technically fluent in the intricacies of how it works. We start throwing things at it that we have heard are good for us.
Spiritually we are also faced with a lot of choices. We often take the Ďprepackagedí energy bar approach to our spiritual health without really understanding the inner workings of our soul. We start throwing things at our spirits to see what happens, in the hope that it will renew our strength and help us reach our full potential. Then somewhere along the ride after we have gnawed on some energy bars we canít take another bite. We then become disillusioned with the product. Then we look for something more palatable. That doesnít mean we can stop caring about our well-being, it means we really need to understand what it is we are throwing at our spirits and why. Then we have the power to create proper balance in our lives.
Iím still trying to figure out what my body really needs and when. But spiritually, I know that one ingredient we all need is love. This is like a palatable energy bar that we never get tired of. Unlike the many choices we have for nutrition, like the energy bars and drinks, fruits and vegetables, protein, carbohydrates, etc., the more love thrown at our souls, the better we perform. Then we discover that for maximum fulfillment the more we give to others , the more we get in return.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:27 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

August 6, 2004

Water-quality Engineering

Yesterday I received an engineering industry newsletter from Bentley that was announcing their recent acquisition of Haestad Methods, Inc. Thatís interesting enough but something struck me as odd when I was reading it:

ďAs water quality has become a critical issue worldwide, water-quality engineering is now a significant growth area in AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction). According to infrastructure industry management consultant Alan Farkas of Farkas Berkowitz & Company, the growth rate of water-quality engineering has increased just over 10 percent per year on a compounded basis for the last six years. ďWater-quality engineering has been and should continue to be the most attractive engineering market segment in the U.S.,Ē noted Alan Farkas.Ē

Why has water quality become a critical issue worldwide? Isnít this situation created by the activities of human beings on the earth? Because of it being a critical issue worldwide, now itís become a growth area for people to fix the problem. So that means that people will profit from fixing the problems created by themselves. Engineering is a process of creation and we are creating solutions, we are making something. I ask why we should have to recreate something we have already had?

In todayís paper there was an article about plans to spend 850,000 dollars to increase the water quality of Como Lake. One of the problems listed was fertilizer runoff, which is creating uncontrollable algae growth which in turn is choking the lake and killing the fish population. The project is a nice idea though, because it will help the lake by reducing sand, salt, fertilizer and other chemical runoff to the lake. See information about this project at the Capitol Region Watershed District Site:

The slideshow presentation given at a June 30th meeting with photos. (pdf format)
http://www.ramseyconservation.org/crwd/projects/arlingtonpascal/6%2030_Presentation.pdf

Before and after pictures of the proposed rain gardens.
http://www.ramseyconservation.org/crwd/projects/arlingtonpascal/6-30%20Rain.pdf

Before and after pictures of the proposed ponds. Cool aerial photos of the neighborhoods and Como golf course.
http://www.ramseyconservation.org/crwd/projects/arlingtonpascal/6-30%20PONDS.pdf

I know it gets complicated to fix things once they are a problem, but yet itís simple if prevented before they are a problem. We as human beings have to learn to be more conscious of our environment, and get back to the simple idea that we have to live in balance with nature and not destroy it. Itís a mindset. For instance, instead of manufacturing disposable items because itís convenient for the consumer, and more profitable to produce, we should think about where that waste is going first. Instead of having a green lawn at the expense of our lakes and rivers, we can change our priorities and methods. Did you know that boiling water kills weeds?

As consumers, we should become more aware of what we are buying, how we are using it, how it effects our environment and how we are treating the waste. All of the engineering after-the-fact to correct a problem seems like such a waste of time and money when pollution is something that could be avoided in the first place. We canít stop trying to fix the problems we create, but we can stop creating problems to fix, if we care enough to do so.

ďWe do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.Ē
http://members.aol.com/danlady99/ForTheChildren.html

Posted by carl1236 at 10:45 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

July 26, 2004

Endless Needs

Early in life all of our needs are taken care of. Our parents provide food, shelter, clothing, attention, love. Other people provide these for us as well. We have our friends, siblings, cousins, neighbors and schoolmates to play with. We have school to educate us and teach us about the world beyond our neighborhood and playground. We learn to dream about what weíll be when we grow up.
There in the early years of our lives our needs are to play, to eat when we are hungry, to experience and have adventures and to imagine. As we grow, somehow we forget what our needs are and blur the distinction between needs and desires. We crave things. A new skateboard, a new bike, a new car. We crave sexual pleasures, power, recognition or position. Many of the things we desire are not bad or evil in themselves, even though some people have made them out to be. But they can be endless needs, unsatisfying once we have obtained them. When we satisfy our cravings we need to keep fueling it to keep it alive and to make us feel alive. Thatís why many relationships based on sex donít last. Itís not enough.
Itís not enough because we crave more of what we are taking. When we are taking all the time, we are bound to be disappointed at some point when someone or something fails to deliver what we need. As I said earlier, itís not evil or bad to have desires. Thatís part of our human nature it seems. But we are causing ourselves suffering when we confuse desire with need. We also cause ourselves suffering when we are only taking. There is never enough to satisfy our ever expanding and endless needs when we are only taking.
When we learn to give and fulfill otherís needs and desires, whether itís our loverís, our friendís or societyís then we are creating something and not taking and consuming something. We are in balance and our needs are not endless. We often find out that we need very little and that we have a lot to offer.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:41 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

July 21, 2004

Cycling on a hot day

Today I rode my bike 20 miles after work, which included two of the toughest hills in the metro area. It was really hot outside! At least the wind was blowing to help cool me down as I rode. This wasnít just any ride though. I truly got a good workout because I was riding with my friend Dan again.
Dan is like Lance Armstrong. When he goes up hills, he makes it look so easy and his normal riding pace is faster than mine. I did really good keeping up with Dan for the first 10 miles of my ride, then we split up to go our own routes home. So with the heat, the heavy pace and the killer hills, I probably should have had heat stroke or something. But I didnít. I was ok, and I actually enjoyed this ride.
One of the dangers of exercising in the heat with the wind blowing is that we donít always feel like we need to drink water. We are still sweating our fluids out, but the wind evaporates the water and cools us down. We donít feel as hot, but we are still losing water at a fast rate, which leads to dehydration. We need to balance our intake of water with the fluid we are losing.
I went through almost two bottles of water, and then had a power drink when I got home to replenish my bodily fluids. without it, I might have severely hurt myself. Our bodies are made up of a high percentage of water. Water is a life sustaining thing to our bodies. In heat or cold we need it to survive.
Water is to our bodies like Godís spirit is to our souls. We are made of God and whether we believe it or not, we cannot live without it. When the wind blows on us we might not think we need to drink but we still need to replenish ourselves. To keep ourselves functioning properly while going through lifeís exercises, through times of abundance or times of hell, we need our source of strength and life continuously. Without it, we still go through life, but we suffer and risk dehydrating ourselves. Then life is without joy. No matter what the conditions in life, when we have a continuous supply of God we can work hard and still enjoy the ride.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:02 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

July 19, 2004

Managing Multiple Priorities

A long time ago I took this class called, Managing Multiple Priorities. I thought it might help me get more organized and equip me to deal with the increasing work load I was facing. It was an interesting class and I did learn some things.
The class did not reduce my work load. I still had a ton of work to do and it kept coming. Each person that gave me work to do, wanted it right away, or sooner. The class also did not help me wade through the office politics to prioritize each personís work.
There was one exercise in the class that was interesting. It was called Ďspotting your interruptions.í The idea was to have a timeline of each day, like in a daily planner, and place a mark on the time whenever there was an interruption to your work. This was helpful to me to see when I was being interrupted the most, and made me aware of everything that was distracting me as it happened.
The exercise of spotting our interruptions is based on the idea that we can be more productive if we are not interrupted and can focus. Understanding and eliminating some of my interruptions during the day did help me get some of my work done faster. Setting aside a specific time for more detailed work that required more concentration for a time when I typically had fewer interruptions also helped.
Tonight I was talking to a friend online and she said that one thing that helps her is to watch less TV. She cancelled the cable because she wasnít watching it enough. Eliminating some of the things that take up our time is another way to manage multiple priorities. Simplifying our lives can be a great stress reliever.
Itís easy to fill up our time. There a million things we could be doing but our time is limited. Sometimes itís easy to get out of balance in life and feel stressed out. I learned that managing multiple priorities really doesnít mean we can do everything we want to do at once. Everything in our lives is prioritized anyway, whether we are choosing consciously or not.
The month of August is coming up soon, and Iíll be taking a vacation. At the end of the vacation classes will be starting and my priorities will have to change again. I know itís coming and Iím looking forward to it. Iím already digging out those old tools to make sure itís a smooth transition. When we have too much to do with too little time, we rob ourselves of part of the joy in life and thatís precisely when we need more balance in our lives, not less.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:36 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

July 9, 2004

The things of God and the things of human beings

Sometimes our focus is on trying to survive or gain some ground in what seems like a losing battle. We work to gain position, to gain possessions, and to gain territory. None of them last.
Being concerned more about the things of this life than the things of God can be a curse though. We often get what we want but then what? Eventually weíll have to give it up. We lose our health, we lose our money, we lose our hair, and everything else we came to appreciate.
When I was walking home tonight I had a thought that what we are seeking after is comfort. We donít like things to change. We donít like to change. So we collect things and people around us and we worry about losing them. Change is inevitable, and life is full of changes. Just look at how our bodies change.
The irony in life is that when we resist change, we struggle more. When we look for comfort in things that donít last, we canít find it, at least not for long. We keep trying to save this life we have created and cling to our notions of what we are supposed to have in life, and we lose our purpose and meaning in life. We lose sight of life itself. But when we let go of it, we gain the ability to live free.
What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our own soul? What are we willing to give up in exchange for life? In our struggle to gather around us every comfort and material thing we can, we often forget about the things that make life livable. These are loving others, being loved, truth, peace, etc. These are the things of God. When we are focusing on the things of God, then lifeís struggles donít seem quite as bad, and we are not alone.
One of my friends today told me he was going into the hospital next week for bypass surgery. He was lamenting on everything he had worked for going down the tubes. I pray that heíll be ok. Itís another change in life for him. Things will change, and heíll have to slow down for a while.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:55 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

July 1, 2004

A new bike

A very wise saying is, ďA personís life does not consist of possessions.Ē Wanting something so bad that we have to have it, that we think about it all the time, is robbing us of being able to live fully right now in this moment. We can use words like, Ďcovet,í Ďlust,í and Ďcrave,í to describe this feeling.
No matter how many material things we accumulate, it doesnít change our basic bodily function of living. Possessions also do not alleviate the wounds of our hearts. Too often we think that getting things will make us happy. But happiness is something that comes from the inside out
Last week I got a new bike that is lighter and faster. But it did not help me ride with my friend Dan, a.k.a. Lance Armstrong, today. The new bike did not alleviate the need for better training and more of it. Dan led me on a 15 mile ride at a brisk pace and up one of the toughest hills I have seen. The bottom line is that the bike doesnít make the athlete. The athlete uses the bike to increase performance, but the athlete still has to build up endurance and strength and speed.
Too often in our society we are looking for the immediate fix.. Itís a demand for instant gratification. We want everything now, and want the easy solution. We want pills that make us skinny without exercise or a better diet. We want diets that make us lose 50 pounds instantly and we want a body that makes heads turn without putting in an effort. Our society seems to be promoting, ďwhatever it is you want, you can buy it now and tomorrow your problems will be gone.Ē
When I got on my bike for the first time this year, I had no idea what kind of a commitment daily bike riding would be. Itís difficult sometimes, downright hard! But itís not a new bike that drives me on. Itís knowing that Iím improving my physical condition and decreasing the chances that Iíll die prematurely of my own neglect and abuse.
A personís life does not consist of possessions. It is much greater. Possessions can be stolen, they rust, they wear out, they break, we get tired of them, and they falsely give us a sense that we are somehow immune from pain and suffering. Yet when we base our happiness on what we can get, we have to keep getting to feed ourselves or risk being unhappy again. And how much is enough. Itís illusive.
I like my new bike but I like my friend Dan even more for taking the time to ride with me and push me a little. Too often we are hung up on getting something quickly. But like cycling, fitness doesnít come from the machine, it comes from our commitment and continuous exercise and diet. Itís in the process. Life is in the process not the possessions.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

June 29, 2004

Drafting

Today I learned a lesson in cycling about drafting. My friend Dan who is an avid bike racer said that he would leave work at the same time as me to show me a nice biking trail. We started out riding down along the river against a headwind. He must have seen me struggling to keep my speed up, so he passed me and I fell in behind him.
I had heard about drafting by reading Lance Armstrongís two books, but had never experienced it for myself. Today with the headwind I could feel the difference. When I was riding directly behind Dan with our wheels about a foot apart, there was much less resistance. When I pulled out to one side I felt the resistance increase by about 30 percent. It felt like a lot. Moving back in line with Dan, the resistance diminished again.
I took my turn at the front after a while and I did my best to keep a fast steady pace so Dan could draft behind me. Sometimes itís nice to draft behind someone else for a while so we have the energy to ride harder later.
I donít know enough about cycling to know the rest of the secrets involved in that sport, but I do know that drafting works. In life we can draft behind people we love and trust. I remember having my dad help me with things that I didnít have the courage or strength to do myself. But with his attitude and experience he handled it easily. I learned some valuable lessons from my dad, including how to put my fears aside to get something done.
One time my mom went to my younger brotherís apartment, which was totally trashed. When my mom told him she was coming over, he tried to stall. My mom went anyway and when she walked in, she said, ďWell, letís get to it.Ē She went to work and he fell in behind and started cleaning. When they were done cleaning the whole apartment, my brother wanted to invite everyone over for dinner. He was embarrassed about his apartment before but was stuck in a rut.
Sometimes life is not easy, but itís nice to have friends and family who are willing to dig in and get to it. Sometimes we need to draft behind someone who can get the job done. Eventually we will have our turn in the lead and we need to learn how to be strong and fit for that role.

As a side note, Crosby Park and Hidden Falls park along the River are very nice parks. If you havenít been there, itís worth checking out. Crosby park is off Shepard road, and Hidden Falls park is off East River Road.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

June 26, 2004

Preparation

Tonight I worked on my bike and got it ready for the bike tour tomorrow. Itíll be a nice 50 mile ride with about 1500 other people. I thought of several things as I was cleaning my bike up and greasing the chain. . I have a toolkit, I have a spare inner tube and patches, I have water and snacks and I have a camera. I think Iím set. There are many things in life we have to prepare for: A final exam, our driverís test, having someone over for dinner, a trip, etc. They always go better when we do a little work up front and prepare for them.
Each day we can prepare to have a good day. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually we can prepare ourselves. We can clear out the old, drop our fears, stop worrying, pray, meditate, contemplate and be ready for the day.
Preparation is good for all the other events of our lives, and itís not really different for our spirituality each day. Preparation makes it go better. With a little effort up front, we can be more aware and alive and live the day with intention and purpose.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

June 25, 2004

Samadhi

Samadhi is union, becoming one with the object of meditation. It is Oneness. Itís also the title of one of the songs on his new CD, June Generation. Bringing together sounds from a wide range of traditions with mental concentration, flying fingers and everyone who listens, Jeff Rayís performance is brilliant and clear.
Listening to Jeff perform could be a liberating experience in itself. With a steel guitar, a microphone, a friendly smile, easy laugh and a heart of gold, Jeff banishes Samsara and liberates the soul in the process. We can search a lifetime for answers, and practice methods of meditation and still miss something that is obvious. Life is living.
I really enjoyed your performance tonight Jeff, and I hope others can hear and see you play sometime.

Jeff Ray posted his performance schedule online and information about his two CDís:

http://www.jeffraymusic.com/

and

http://www.junegeneration.com/


Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Balance

Category "Balance"

June 19, 2004

When the spirits are low

Recently I got a flyer for the twenty-fourth annual Tour of the Saints bike tour. According to the flyer there will be about Fifteen hundred cyclists in a ten-mile ribbon of bikes wending itís way along a verdant, rolling landscape on beautiful country roads. How could I pass all of that up? This will be my first ever bike tour and it's 50 miles long. It should be fun.
On the registration form there was a good quote by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who said in 1896,

ďWhen the spirits are low,
when the day appears dark,
when work becomes monotonous,
when hope hardly seems worth having,
just mount a bicycle and go out
for a spin down the road,
without thought on anything
but the ride you are taking.Ē

I was never a cyclist until this year, but I remember the same feeling when I was younger as a runner. I used to run about seven and a half miles every other day. I was living in California at the time and running along the beach was one of my favorite things to do. At times I felt like the runner in the movie, Chariots of Fire. I was soaring like the seagulls dodging in and out as the endless waves poured onto the shore. Whenever I would get out there alone and feel the beating of my heart and the rhythmic breathing, I would forget all about the troubles and worries I left behind.
The longest distance Iíve done in one bike ride so far is twenty miles. Normally I ride thirteen miles at a time. And it feels good. When Iím riding my bike I am not focusing on worries, bills, house repairs, school or work. I am focusing on the ride, the scenery and my body. Itís stress relieving and gives me have more energy for everything else I do throughout the day. I come out of these rides stronger, fresher and ready to tackle other challenges in life.
To me physical activity is good for more than just our bodies. I think an exercise bike, a treadmill, aerobics, a good long walk or whatever gets our heart going and blood flowing can do wonders for our attitudes, stress levels, and overall well-being. Physical exertion has a way of clearing our minds and improving our circulation. Itís important to our physical and mental health.
So when the spirits are lowÖget up and go.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM | Balance