Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cadillac Sky

For those of you that actually visit this page (as opposed to those who might read via Google Reader, or similar), you might have noticed music. This is the kind of music some of us out here on the Denton County prairie like to hear. It's acoustic, creative, has clever and/or meaningful lyrics, and it includes highly-skilled musicians.

This band also holds a special place in our hearts because of the bass player, Andy "Panda" Moritz. Andy gave private lessons to our daughter Lisa a few years ago. He helped her achieve her music goals in high school. The two of them amazed me. Andy was able to help Lisa do incredible things in a short time. He had a way of encouraging her to work hard. She wanted to acheive, but she wanted also (I believe) to please him.

My family attended one of his recitals at the University of Houston and we were blown away. I had no idea anyone could do what he did with the double bass. He mentioned to us back in those days that, in addition to his classical music, he was playing with a bluegrass band. If this is the same band, I was an idiot for not demanding to hear them back then.

We have both of their albums and think that they have an optimum blend of traditional acoustic bluegrass with many refreshing new features. Apparently, my opinion isn't overly clouded by the fact that I know one of the band members. Check out their website for more details and other gushing reviews by more objective and knowledgeable people than me.

They are coming to Fort Worth soon and I think we might need to shine up our boots and make a trip to town.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Commute Perspective

In keeping with the recognition of the need for more saddle time, I rode the bike to work on Monday. I really need to do this more often. This is one of those great blessings in life one should take advantage of. My job does not lend itself to commuting full time, but my route is really nice. Who wouldn't want to trade a 30-minute drive for 90-minute bike ride? To put my situation in even better perspective, here is what the roads look like after about 60 minutes...

...which is similar to how they look at the start (except that there is light by this time). Yessir, my commute involves about 75 minutes of very low traffic roads and about 15 minutes of wide shoulders or bike lanes. Just think, I have about 3 hours of great cycling with every commute to work.

Go ahead and admit it, you wish you were me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Seasonal Stupor

Some of my bicycling blog brothers (and sisters) have been describing the transition to winter riding. They've detailed accounts of sub-freezing rides, including photos of recent snowfall, and raving about the benefits of studded tires. These accounts are interesting to me not because they apply to my situation, but because of the stark contrast with my little patch on the prairie.

The cycling out here in Denton County, Texas (right about now) is ideal. The weather is cool, but not harsh. Winter is coming, but we are still enjoying the rapidly changing of colors. In fact, the refreshment of cooler air is, in a way, intoxicating to us Texans. I've been slipping into a kind of stupor of short, lazy rides with my mind on the surroundings. Because the weather is so nice and the sunsets so spectacular, I sit on the back porch in the cool breeze when I should be riding. My fitness has suffered and I need to slap myself awake.

I need to make a conscious decision to ride more frequently and go longer. It is time to get up out of the chair and see how far away from home I can get before the sun sets. The time has come to add a little more purpose to my ramblings in the country. I just wish the lazy lure to stop, look around, and soak it all in was a little less appealing.

It soon will be, I suppose, but for now, it's really nice out there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Deer Blind Pondering

I went deer hunting yesterday. More precisely, I went deer "scouting". My brother and his son, the deer hunters, called and invited me to join them for an afternoon hunt. My job was to sit in the elevated blind, downwind of their more strategic location, and let them know when the deer cautiously crept out of forest cover. This job doesn't require much except quiet watchfulness. My mind was free to wander other territory. So it went to topics covered in recent news stories associated with the presidential election and other ballot issues.

The stories were related to abortion and same sex marriages. With plenty of time on my hands, I extracted these topics out of the election context, out of the news stories, and pondered them. In other words, in my thinking, they were isolated from anything else; isolated from religious organizational zeal and isolated from political activist ferver. I wanted to simply examine them there in my hands for what they are in a common sense way. The result was a very odd sensation.

It is odd to me that there is any controversy at all over these issues. It is odd that so many highy educated and wordly wise folks disagree on the obvious. These issues didn't always cause such heated discussion. Now that we have the advances in science and technology, more and more are college educated, and communication and information is literally at our fingertips, we are collectively more confused than ever. As someone wiser than me said, it appears that some "have educated themselves into imbecility".

The fact that our country is so sharply divided on something so fundamental is frightening. These issues are the most basic of societal building blocks; life and family. It doesn't get any more elementary. If we continue to have such a large disagreement about what constitutes taking human life and what marriage is, we will (mark my words) rip ourselves apart.

There were no deer that afternoon, but the time went quickly. As the sun set over my right shoulder, the wind died down, and a chill came to the night air. I remembered that we should pray for our leaders, and especially the president. I shuddered in the cold (or was it fear?). I will be praying passionately for our new president and I sincerely hope that he will do the same.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Review

I just finished reading a book. I was so impressed that I thought it should be mentioned here. The purpose of the book, to refute objections to christianity, doesn't apply to me. I am a christian. I almost didn't read it.

I picked it up out of curiosity and was surprised at the simplicity and organization. The authors begin with reasoning and science to make their initial points and build on that evidence, layer upon layer, until atheism appears impractical and unbelievable. Thus the title, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist".

They go beyond the mere establishment of the existence of God to making the case for christianity as described in the Bible. I thought it was compelling. These guys bring up every objection that I have ever raised myself or heard uttered by others. Then they overwhelmingly refute them.

You might point out that my reaction is predictable for someone already convinced. I agree. When it comes to the Bible, I'm biased. To my mind, there is plenty of evidence in the world around me and the words of the Bible alone to be convincing.

The thing that haunts me, however, is that I was so totally convinced that I can not imagine that anyone could read the book honestly and formulate a substantive argument. I'll admit that I might be limited in my perspective in this case, but I'd really be interested in hearing a alternative view of the information presented. Can a reasonable argument be made?

Finally, I wonder if those that aren't convinced about the existence of the God of the Bible will read this book and investigate. If not, then one of the central messages of the authors seems to apply. Lingering doubt or scepticism is not a matter of evidence, it is a matter of will.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

S24O Solo

It took longer than I would have preferred, but the second S24O is now bagged. My patience was rewarded with perfect conditions (leaving work early on a Friday, clear skies, low wind, cool temperatures, and so on). This time the short campout was solo. I didn't have the social advantages of the previous outing, but was able to spend more time admiring the small amount of fall color we have in north central Texas.

The camping spot was very near the last one, but better protected from the notably cooler northwest wind. In addition, the panniers that I was not able to use on the last trip arrived just in time for this outing.

When we live our lives trying to get more done, optimizing efficiency, being more productive, and improving profitability, these are the things we miss.

When we carve out a few hours of solitude outdoors, we can soak up some of God's greatest blessings.

Like fresh camp coffee on a chilly fall morning...