Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Have you ever been disillusioned? Rhetorical question? Of course. We all have been disillusioned. There is a taste of it for me every day that I bike, swim, or run in an attempt to turn a 54 year old body into that of a triathlete. Should have thought of that on the third trip to the soft-serve ice cream machine at Jason's Deli. I go to the website for the race and look at last year's results. Look at the times for people in my age group! I know I can beat those times! And I envision it happening--me emerging from the water like James Bond with washboard abs, jumping on my aluminum steed to dash off, returning to dismount like Roy Rogers to continue in a full run to the finish line. Sure I can do that! Then I go out for a ride. Man, it's hot. And how can all the roads be uphill? Why won't this thing shift gears correctly? The runs are similar except my mind knows that my body once ran 10K's in sub-seven minute miles so something seems wrong now. But the biking and running are shining success stories compared to the swim training. Mostly I avoid the swimming because 1) I know I am not good at it and 2) I am afraid. There it is. I am afraid of the water. Yes, I have kayaked rivers and rafted mighty rivers. Yes, I have survived a few triathlons. Yes, I love to swim--if by that you mean splashing around in a pool with family and friends. But when I dive into my friend's pond to train for the race, I will have the same feelings I have at the lake during the race. Not so much a vision of James Bond finishing strong as of an old guy's body floating face down. I am not likely to drown because I am not likely to push myself anywhere near my physical potential in the water. I am, however, very likely to embarrass myself.

Here is why I bring it up; while reading Oswald Chambers' book "My Utmost for His Highest" this morning I found this thought "The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life." What? That seems backwards--so unamerican. On the surface, being disillusioned seems to be a bad thing. If you take the word literally, however, it means not believing an illusion (or delusion). Some of you read the first paragraph and immediately began thinking of things you could say to encourage a would-be athlete. And that is good as long as the TRUTH is told. We so often withhold the truth from people so they will feel better. In so doing, we perpetuate the illusion. They are not disillusioned...yet.

The reality is that it is fine if my muscles hurt, the equipment is less than perfect, even if I have fears. Reality is not James Bond or Roy Rogers or six-pack abs without sacrifice. Those are illusions. The sad thing is that so many have fairy tale illusions about sports, marriage, finances, and life and when reality differs, they just give up. I found a Flair button on Facebook that reads "You don't have to win, you just have to TRI!" At the top of the button is a swimmer, cyclist, and runner. I love that message. It is not an illusion. Some call those who just survive a triathlon rather than compete "Triathloids". That was me last year. This year I have made some effort, though not enough, to get better, stronger, faster. In my mind that makes me a triathlete. If facing the truth about my athletic possibilities enables me to overcome the illusions and succeed, maybe it is possible in other areas of life as well. What do you think?


I heard another silly "global warming" report today and thought about how prone we all are to group think. Any idea, repeated often enough and long enough, begins to seem plausible. There is much, much of the world I have not seen. But spending just two weeks in Alaska gave me a perspective on the millions and millions of acres that are not inhabited because the environment is just too cold and harsh. We all know that these places exist, but there is just something about seeing with your own eyes that makes you realize how complex the environment is and how silly we are to think that we control the future of the universe. Here is one of the hundreds of pictures I took during that trip.


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Is That a Camera in your Pocket?

People ask "Roxy, why do you always carry that digital camera everywhere you go?" Here is your answer;

You never know when you will be walking in Beautiful Downtown Wetumpka and happen upon a Russian-built motorcycle complete with side car and camo paint circa WWII. Does that seem unlikely? How about TWO Russian built motorcycles with side cars, one in a sporty red?

These are "Ural" motorcycles with a rich, colorful history. As the Russians prepared to defend themselves against Hitler and the invading Germans, they bought several BMW motorcycles in Sweden and took them to Russia. There they took them apart and "reverse engineered" by making dies from the engine parts and just copied the design and parts to replicate the BMW motorcycles.

The camo motorcycle in these pictures actually has "two-wheel drive". Both bikes are shaft drive and have a reverse. But the camo version has a shaft and gearing that allows the wheel outside the side car to pull also. That enables the bike to travel through snow and deep sand. These are used in remote parts of Russia and Ukraine as well as African nations where "road" is little more than a footpath.

Note that the camo bike has a map of the USA and the western and southern states colored as having been visited. The tag indicates that the owner is from Washington state. The red bike has an Alabama tag. I regret not taking the time to talk to the two riders about their adventures.

If you are interested, you can own one of these beauties for 12 to 14 thousand dollars. That may be a pretty good deal. You know what they say...."The Ultimate Driving Experience". Well, that is what they say about a BMW. Would that apply to a Russian copy of a BMW? How about "A Reasonable Facsimile of The Ultimate Driving Experience"?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Regarding the Clouds

The title of this post comes from Ecclesiastes 11:4 "He who observes the wind will not sow. And he who regards the clouds will not reap." That verse is marked in my Bible as is a couple below that. In the margin is written the Nike slogan "Just Do It". I marked it because my tendency is to "regard the clouds" and attempt to predict the weather. I am better at it than most, but still miss the prediction OFTEN. Today, however, I predicted it perfectly. When I called LaWanna after finishing work, I told her I was doing my "brick" workout and it would almost certainly rain before I finished.

The "brick" is a term for combining two types of training, in this case cycling followed by running, in preparation for my fast-approaching triathlon. The plan was to bike 13 miles and change shoes quickly to run 4 miles. As I prepared to head west, the dark, dark clouds were providing an easy excuse to avoid the torture to my quads. I decided to push on, knowing I would be rained on before finishing that distance. The rain is not a big problem but I made a mental note to be flexible with my plan in case of close lightening. There was VERY close lightening. The plan was altered to include a 9 mile bike ride and 2 mile run. It is a little disappointing to cut the plan short, but I feel good about getting that much done. The run was all in HEAVY rain. Here are some things I learned;

1. Lightening can make you bike faster than you thought you could.
2. Brake levers are slippery when wet.
3. The painted white line on the road is very slippery when wet.
4. Shoes and socks weigh several pounds more when wet.
5. There are still good people in the world (Thanks, sir, for offering the ride).
6. Sticking to a plan leading to a long-term goal is very difficult.
7. With a little judgement, rain will not hurt you.
8. Cell phones apparently are not waterproof.
9. Although it seemed hopeless a short time back, I am getting stronger.
10. It is o.k. to be different.

You know, if I learn to swim this thing may work out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Family Emergency

I wonder......
Family Emergency= "Mamma, the repo man is here and he is taking all the Hooked on Phonics CD's!"


Many educated and powerful individuals loudly proclaim that the universe and all it contains are the result of an accident and countless years of aimless evolution. I offer the following evidence to the contrary;

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Bicycle Built For.....

Most of my readers have already heard stories of my tendency to crash when I can't get the cycling shoes unclipped from the pedals. So, after a little research, I have found the solution. Here is a short video of a bicycle built for.....SEVEN!

Actually, while the maker calls it a "Conference Bike" he also refers to it as a tricycle. Some versions of the bike actually 4 wheels. So you could call it a weird car. And it needs that much road space. But still--wouldn't that be fun? I am going to suggest that our church purchase one of these and rotate it between small groups. Do we really need to sit in the den and eat cookies while we study the Bible? No, we could be burning calories instead! And this is better than traditional tandem bikes because you can see if somebody is not pedaling. Another great advantage; you can use the bike lane OR the High Occupancy Vehicle lane. I wonder if this would be legal in a triathlon?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Snakes Talked and Ran

Have you ever thought about what snakes used to be like? It is obvious from the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden that they talked. Eve did not seem surprised when the serpent
spoke to her. And they were cunning--more than all other creatures. And apparently they walked and ran? Why else would God curse the serpent with crawling on his belly and eating dust? And the curse that affects me most today is "I will put enmity between you and the woman. And between your seed and her Seed: He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel." Yes, I believe there is a reference to Jesus in that curse. But I am equally convinced that the natural hate I have for snakes comes from God. Really. I hate snakes. And I have bruised the heads of many. That is why I think this guy is an idiot!

Go back and read Genesis 3. Let's see, crawl on belly, bruise head, bruise heel....nope it's not in here. Nowhere does it say "Push a snake up your sinus cavity and allow him to come out your mouth." Idiot! If I walked by at this moment and could get my hands on a pair of hedge clippers...

Friday, July 18, 2008


The word of the day is "captcha". I learned it from the August, 2008 Reader's Digest. It is an acronym (sort of) for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Alan Turing devised tests in the 1950's to tell machines from humans. This may seem technical and boring so far (and may continue to do so) but here is where it has meaning for you and me; This is the correct term for those hard-to-read word verifications many of you have on your blogs. It is designed as a hurdle to be cleared indicating that comments left were from humans and not computers generating "spam".

Thus far this has been factual information. For all you know, it may have been generated by a computer. Here is the human part. Some of us have trouble reading those swervy, faint, dot-matrix, non-sensical letters with lines through them. "Is that a "g" or a "q"? My new blogger friend, Kathryn, ( has written a beautiful explanation of the struggles she has with dyslexia and the comments on her post verify how common degrees of this condition really are. In fact, she has created questions in my mind that may lead to answers for life-long questions about myself.

What does this have to do with you? We would respectfully request that you consider canning the CAPTCHA. Not only are you keeping out the occasional spam, you make commenter's reluctant to go to the trouble. If it kicks back twice on me, I figure what I had to say is not really that important. "But," you say, "what if the spammers get through?" So what? If you occasionally get "I like your blog. Please visit my site and buy vitamins that make your nose smaller", just delete it. Or leave it. I have gotten less than half a dozen in all the time I have been blogging. Sometimes they are on old posts, but I get a notification via e-mail and just go delete it. It is so rare I have to stop and think through the process each time (may be dyslexia). The result; the author of the blog does a little extra work to eradicate spammers, rather than requiring extra work by the commenter's.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Know that Feeling?

I enjoy blogging. It is a great release and I wish I could devote more time to it. Sometimes I capture a great picture and want to share it. Sometimes the desire is to share an original thought. Today I hope to share a feeling. This feeling is a flashback that hit me when I read Judy's post ( about her trip to Honduras and the visit to the city dump there. Judy's story reminded me of feelings that hit me at the end of my first backpacking adventure on the Appalachian Trail.

I had talked Joe McClary and Jim Naylor into joining my brother, his son, and me as we attempted to hike the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail in a week. We were all novice backpackers and did not know if we were capable of the goal we had set. This story would take you two hours to read if I tried to tell every challenge and the accompanying fears and feelings. But a couple of highlights are needed to help you "feel" the experience a little.

One vivid memory was the night before we were to hit the trail. We had rented a cabin for the night and arrived there about the time we should be getting to sleep. Unfortunately, we were undecided about SO many things that we had the contents of 5 backpacks scattered over the living room floor until after midnight as we discarded many pounds of food, rope, and assorted items you might take camping but not want to carry in a pack for 80 miles. The uncertainty about equipment, fitness, safety skills, and sanity was greatly amplified by the raging thunderstorm battering the cabin. The lightning and thunder were jarring and reminded us that there were MANY things we had not considered.

Skipping details, we got started close to the appointed time and it was HARD. It seemed that we were always going straight up. It was particularly difficult for my nephew, Russ, who had been sick in the days before the hike and was very young for a strenuous hike. The first day we did not make it as far as we had planned and were exhausted. The next morning sore muscles were abundant. By mid-morning the thought was gnawing at me that we could not make the destination at the pace we were going. A decision had to be made and I was in the middle of it. See the goal of hiking the Georgia section of the A.T. was my brother's dream and I was there because it was something he wanted to accomplish. But I had invited the two friends from Montgomery and felt a responsibility to them as well. I got my brother to drop behind the others a little and we talked. It was a heart-wrenching talk for me. We decided that he and his son would cut their hike short and hike to the nearest road and hitch a ride to attempt to catch up with their van (another long story). My two friends and I left my brother and his son on a trail in the middle of the woods to find their way back to a vehicle that was in transit to where we were supposed to be in a week. I cried. As I walked, I cried several times. Was I doing the right thing?

Again, I have to skip thousands of details involving rain, bears, trail side surgery on Jim's big toe, and body odor. We did see Keith and Russ about mid-way and were greatly relieved to find that they got to the van with relative ease and enjoyed the relaxed pace after we parted. We left them, however, in heavy rain. We hiked--it rained. We hiked--it rained. We had more difficult decisions in the remaining days. We got tired and wet and began to be very direct and honest with each other. There is a sermon there, but I press on.

Eventually, we realized we were getting better at climbing mountains and had made up lost time and that we were going to make it. When we arrived at the top of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the A.T., there were many emotions. We had made it! We had endured a lot and accomplished what we set out to do. But my brother whose dream it was to make this hike was not there to enjoy it. And I cried again. Here is the problem; after you hike so far and endure the struggle and rain and body odor and reach this milestone--you are still about 8 miles from Amicalola Falls where the vehicle is located. That means more than half a day of hiking remains. But here is where the feelings begin that all this post is about. As you near the state park, you are not hiking on a trail in the woods anymore. Now you are hiking on a gravel jeep trail in the open Sun with no canopy. It feels so different to be out of the deep woods. But that is not the shocking part. The shock comes from the people. You begin to meet people walking from the lower parking lot in the park to the upper section of the falls. The hike for them is a little over a mile-uphill--and most of them have not walked a mile in....well ever. So there you are--sweaty, dirty, stinky, and feeling like a mountain man in touch with creation and the Creator. And there they are--a steady stream of fat, spoiled, complaining people who can't believe they are walking A MILE! And at that moment, after the week's experience, you see these people in a completely different light. I could not believe how bright and noticeable they all are. Probably 80% of them are wearing a bright shirt with something written on it, screaming their message to all within sight. The feelings surprised me. I first felt that these people did not belong here--didn't deserve to be here. How could somebody who woke up this morning, turned on lights and a TV before taking a hot shower have anything to complain about? How can you walk ONE MILE with no pack and think that is difficult? Could you please turn down the brightness on that novelty shirt and plaid shorts? Can't you see that WE have done so much more than you? Still we hike on and met the steady stream of clean, perfumed folks. Until it hit me. One week ago that was me. I have lots of those shirts (not the plaid shorts, though). I like to point how difficult my journey is. I forget to count my blessings and say thank you.

Over a short period of time, I became one of THOSE people again. Only not completely. That experience and those feelings are part of me now. And that is part of why I put a week's groceries, my house, bed, and stove in a pack and drag it up a mountain over and over--day after day. Because it makes it a blessing to pay a water bill, an electric bill, and a gas bill. You know what? Four dollars per gallon? Have you ever spent a month without an automobile? A week? A day? Thank you, God, that there is a station on many corners where for only $4 I can buy enough gasoline to take me 20 or 30 miles in a half hour. Otherwise that would take me a couple of days and I would not smell nice when I arrived.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Like Barack

I really do. B.O. is a cool guy and would be great to have over for a cookout. He looks you in the eye and tilts his head slightly to indicate that he is not only listening but also really cares about your opinion. He is intelligent, articulate, and laughs easily. I could hang with him. It is easy to envision Barack and me exchanging playful banter, showing off and testing which of us has the quicker wit. He seems like an easy choice for president. His state of the union speeches would sound sincere and be sprinkled with humor to prevent fatal dryness. There is just something I can't quite get past though. It was illustrated at a fundraiser where Bernie Mac "warmed" the crowd with his foul language and crude jokes. A few minutes after Bernie's comedy routine, Barack attempted to smooth the overall impression on the donors ($2300 apiece). Here is a quote;

"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," Obama said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."

Is he smooth or what? Do you see it? He states the principle we all have to agree on; we can not afford to be divided. Then he appeases those in the audience with enough intelligence to realize the conflicting messages by castigating Bernie Mac in public. Good so far. But what comes next? "I'm just messing with you, man."

What? You are going to appease my sense of morality by upbraiding the crude comic and think I don't hear or understand the following disclaimer for the boys in the hood? Is this what you mean when you say you will "talk" to renegade regimes in countries that desire to destroy the United States? "Hey, you guys have to stop building nuclear weapons and long range missles or we will come over here and stop it for you. Awww, I'm just messing with you, man."

And they all lived happily ever after.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Then I Think to Myself....

.....what a beautiful world.

I planned to share 6 or 8 pictures of interesting things I saw today but the upload time to blogger is killing my bedtime. Here are two;

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How I Roll

Well, here I am--FINALLY showing off my keys next to the sleek, black Dodge Viper. This is one cool car. Heads really turn when it passes by. How does it look?

Of course, the keys are to my Toyota truck and I have no idea whose Viper this is. But I had a pleasant conversation with the nice lady I stopped to take my pic next to the sexy car.

Jesse Jackson

"Did I say that out loud?"

Memo to Jesse and other politicians; if you just tell the truth, you do not have to worry about whether the microphone is on or not.

Has anyone else noticed what a legalistic society we have become?
"You can't count that because it was a private conversation, not part of a speech!"
People's real motives are apparent if you look carefully enough. We had better look carefully between now and November.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Whew! One more day. For the past two days, there has been a deluge of news reports about the suggestion of providing cholesterol medicine to overweight kids. Almost every report is accompanied by footage of fat kids walking around and fat adults in various locations with their heads just out of the frame. So far, I have not been spotted.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4--How Was Yours?

What did you do over the July 4th weekend? Cook out? Go to the lake? Yard work? How about you, Kent Couch? You went flying? In a what?

It seems that Kent had a few friends meet him at his Stop and Go Mini Mart in Bend Oregon to help him fill some party balloons with helium and attach them to a lawn chair. Kent lifted off early this morning (7/5) and flew about 9 hours, covering more than 200 miles to land in Idaho. Kent is not the first and will not be the last to try cluster balloon flight. And this is not his first flight. Now, I do not recommend cluster balloons as a means to travel and I could not justify the $6000 for balloons, helium, and other gear (parachute, BB gun, 15-gallon containers of Koolaid for ballast). However, I have to admire the courage and ingenuity of a guy that goes into the back yard and builds an apparatus to soar through the sky unaided.

I wonder if he wore a seat-belt? I wonder how that would work in the southeast where there is always a 20% chance of afternoon thunderstorms? I wonder if his wife bought a new pair of shoes today?