Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tour de Force


Okay...I have to admit -- I am a huge cycling fan in general...and of the Tour de France in particular. They just completed the 96th version of the marathon 21 day race. For the first time in 8 tries, Lance Armstrong was not wearing the yellow jersey (maillot jaun, for you French lovers :-). But, Lance was still on the podium...having finished third. This is pretty remarkable since Lance hasn't raced in the grueling race since 2006, when he last won. Lance, as most of the riders, have been under a lot of scrutiny, particularly in recent years, because some cyclists have been found guilty of blood doping, aka...cheating. Lance has never been guilty of such, but because he was so dominant from 1999 through 2006, winning TdF's in a row, he has been a suspect...particularly by some in French press. He has never tested positive for anything in all that time, mind you...and, he has been tested over and over leading up to and during the 2009 TdF. I believe that Lance has proven himself...and should be honored -- especially after fighting so hard and doing so well this year. Plus, he is doing this, not only to prove himself, but for his Livestrong cancer foundation. He is raising millions and millions of dollars for research -- God bless him. I am not saying he is perfect -- he has had his share of problems and made some mistakes along the way, but we need to give credit where credit is due.

I have waited this long to say...I am not a fan of this year's winner -- Alberto Contador. He and Lance were teammates on Team Astana this year. It was pretty apparent that the rivalry was alive and well this year between former winner, Lance and the 2007 winner, Alberto. The team tried to keep matters hush, hush, but too many snippets were leaking out to the press about how much angst there was on Team Astana. Alberto was going to have things his way...and he showed little respect to Lance, or to anyone else on his team during this year's race -- it was all about him. Even when he had opportunity to help teammates move up in the standings, he shirked his responsibility to the team. Lance, however, humbled himself and played the role of team servant (domestique, again for you French lovers). He stayed back with Bradley Wiggins of Britain on at least one stage, costing himself time, all so that Contador could gain ground on other riders and lengthen his lead.

So...at the end of the race, Contador had won, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was second and Lance, third. After the race, yesterday, Contador revealed his disdain for Lance and vice-versa. Today, Contador just flat through Lance under the bus...saying he had no respect for him -- ever. It has been pretty apparent for a few weeks that Lance is not going to abide by the competition with Contador on Team Astana after this summer...in short, there is not room for the both of them. Lance plans to start another U.S. cycling team next year -- Team Radio Shack. With the drama of the rivalry now in full bloom, it is going to make the 2010 Tour de France, perhaps, the most highly anticipated event of the sports summer. I guarantee you that it will be the fodder of all of the sports talking heads for weeks leading up to the race. Cycling is now alive and well again -- with the specter of the major drug issues a couple of years behind, and the Contador/Armstrong battle on separate teams next year looming, cycling is back on track and will be more popular than ever...at least, here is hoping that it is the case. :-) Blessings,


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ian & Don's Most Excellent Adventure


As I alluded to on my FB status yesterday, my son and I hade quite an excursion Friday and yesterday. Here is our story and we're sticking to it! :-)

We started our adventure a bit late on Friday evening, but made it to the head of the road to the camp about 9:30 PM. The last 15 miles was all on dirt and took about 35 minutes -- what seemed like an eon -- to travel. We were following scoutmaster and his group who had a trailer. I'm actually thankful that we were the chasers, as they dodged deer and cows on the dirt trail range into the camp. When we arrived, we decided to forgo the setting up of tents...thankfully, and slept in the lodge. It was an uneventful night until I woke about 5 PM and realized that some parasitic critter had been borrowing some of my lifeblood without my permission. It was bit unsettling, but finished off the night's sleep without further event...thankfully, once again.

The next morning we awoke and had a nice breakfast of pancakes and bacon made by one of the campers. Then, shortly afterward, we began our journey in search of a place to go spelunking, aka...cave exploring. There is a cave a ways north of the camp that we came to and the seven of us decided to decend. Thankfully, one of the campers was something of an expert at such ventures, having been to this place before...as well as the scoutmaster. It was a vertical cavern, so we had to lower ourselves down into a relatively narrow crevice using a rope. We had to drop the last four or so feet to a ledge. From there, we traversed down to a landing where we would then go well underground. There was a lot of CO2 and minimal oxygen, so we had to breathe easy -- easier said than done. It was probably about 60 feet down total...but very cool -- the temperature and the experience. The scoutmaster said the easiest part would be getting ourselves up and out the vertical side of the cavern -- he lied. :-) It was a good challenge to pull ourselves up and out of the cavern with the rope, but twas done and we all lived to tell about it. Once on top, a few of us were waiting on a couple of the others to come out and Ian, sitting on a rock, was visited nearby by a couple of giant black millipedes (8-10 inches long) with yellow legs and red antennae -- they were very stunning in appearance. Needless to say, Ian, when he saw them, bolted away and we watched them awhile from a distance.

After we arrived back and had a recovery time from the cave trek, we went down to the water and, with life preservers on, embarked in canoes and a rowboat. There is a dam at the camp that holds back Brady Creek, which is then as wide as a river for about a mile upstream. We canoed up the water way to a spot where we could briefly look into a couple of other caves. While on shore, with canoes beached, we headed out into the inviting clear water. We could walk on underwater shelves that were only 1-2 feet deep, but would come to pockets that were 3-5 feet deep. Here, we spent some heavenly time floating and enjoying the ultra-refreshing water on the 100 degree day. During this time, we saw a fire spring up briefly a few miles to the East. It burned quickly and we questioned whether we needed to get back and vacate the camp. We watched it for about 30 minutes, but it either burned itself out or was put out by someone(s). We hiked on up the creek and saw many frogs, several species of fish and a foot long bearded lizard that one of the campers wanted me to catch. I said..."you got a leash?" He said -- "no joke, they make lizard leashes." We enjoyed a chuckle, but I told him if he wanted the lizard, he was on his own.

On the way back down the mile or so stretch we had some canoe/rowboat races. We also had some canoe capsizing shenanigans. In fact, Ian and I -- Ian particularly -- had to be part of a crew that would capsize a canoe out in the water and then tip it over and climb back in. We tried to do so out in 10 feet of water, unsuccessfully, but turned the canoe upside down and had an air pocket where we could breathe. We paddled over to where we could stand and then successfully flipped it over without any water in it. Then we had to climb in...I was able to help Ian get in, but...still recovering from the cave climb, I just stayed in the nice, refreshing water. :-)

We pulled the water craft ashore and then swam over to the dam. There was a spillway on the south side of the lake/creek. We went and sat underneath the spillway and let the powerful water pressure pound us...best massage I have ever had. If only I could bottle that power up in a jacuzzi and sell it... :-) We rescued a baby catfish, about 6 inches long, stranded in a puddle...and tossed him over the top of the dam so he could be on his way. We saw other fish climbing up the spillway -- it is truly remarkable that fish have the strength to navigate upstream in the face of such a force of water. This pretty much concluded our day of extreme fun and then we needed to be on our way. But, in a brief amount of time, dad and son had a maximum amount of adventure with the five other campers.

We packed everything up and were on our way. We got some up close and personal pictures of cows along side of the road on our 15 mile dirt road journey out of the camp, which we knew would please Emily, the cow lover. :-) We stopped for dinner at KFC (there was no Chick-fil-a)on the way home...which we knew would please the cows...then finished our journey -- a refreshingly excellent time! We look forward to the next opportunity... Blessings,


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thanks, Tim, For A Good Example


So...tell me -- is it really now news (AOL headline) when a person WAITS to get married before having sex? This is an amazingly bold headline that minimizes and marginalizes Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow's position at best and ridicules him at worst; he is a good person and devout Christian, and he should be held up as the ultimate good in a culture where anything goes and only the "abnormal" is glamorized. Yet, he is now the target of criticism for taking such a stand as to abstain from sexual activity before marriage. This is an unfortunate, although not really surprising, statement by "the media" and reveals just how far society and culture have gone toward a universal hedonism that further demeans that which is moral in general and Christian in particular. Blessings,


Monday, July 20, 2009

Turn Back the Clock


I don't care what most of the sports talking heads were saying today..., like Rome, I will not use the "c" word in relationship to Tom Watson's failure to win the British Open. If he had won, it would have been the greatest golf story ever. At 59 years of age, Tom Watson was not ever supposed to be in it. Okay...some folks would give him one round, like Greg Norman last year --but, to be front running after days two and three was unthinkable. This is taking away nothing from this man who had previously won 6 British opens...the last one 23 years ago. But, at 59, one is simply not supposed to be putting a whupping on all of the "youngsters" on the PGA tour. After all, this man has been on the Senior Tour for nearly a decade. So, here he was with a one stroke lead going into the 72nd hole of the final round...and he gets a bogey to fall into a playoff with Stewart Cink. Unfortunately for Cink, everybody on the planet outside of his family was rooting for Watson. Unfortunately for Watson, he was out of gas. Cink won easily in the playoff, which was good for him. For Mr. Watson...he has nothing to be ashamed of or to hang his head about -- he has been a hall of famer for a long time. He may hate it as a competitor...but, the entire golf world and beyond is proud of him. Blessings,


Friday, July 17, 2009

Material Shopping -- Ugh!


A perfect example of me (or my father) in a fabric store... :-)

Blessings, Don

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Endeavour to the Space Station


The space shuttle lifted off, albeit a month late, due to some hydrogen leaks in the fuel tanks, but it was on its way earlier today. I hope that friends Brandon and Goldie, on vacation in Florida, were able to position themselves to be able to see the launch today. Unfortunately, more foam insulation (8 or 9 pieces) came off the external fuel tanks and struck the shuttle on the leading edge of the wing. This is precisely what happened to the Columbia before its ill-fated re-entry in 2003. It is nearly impossible to keep this type of thing from happening, but they have managed to put many safeguards in place in order to protect the astronauts, so that they will be kept as safe as possible. They have many tools at their disposal in order to effect repairs on the shuttle. If all else fails and they are unable to repair the shuttle, the astronauts can stay on the space station for a few months until another could be launched to rescue them.

This will be a sixteen day mission with the typical seven member crew. During their two weeks there, the astronauts will continue to piece together the space station, working toward its completion date of 2011. When this crew reaches the space station, it will be the first time that as many as 13 people will be on board...and it will have a multi-national "Star Trek" appearance. Besides the seven Americans, there will be two Russians, two Canadians, one Japanese, and one Belgian. It is so good that we are able to work together with scientists and astronauts from many different countries to make the space station a reality. Gene Roddenberry would be proud!

Oh...and did I mention that it is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo launch that put man on the moon for the first time? I do not remember much on the television from 1969 (I was 5), but I do remember the Apollo event and the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III. Blessings,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Heal or Not To Heal -- There Is No Question


We’re not certain which feast Jesus was observing when He comes to Jerusalem (John 5:1ff)…and it is not really important. What is important is that His main purpose is to heal a lame man and use the miracle as the basis for a message to the people. John describes the people at this pool as sick, blind, lame, paralyzed. We come to understand is that this pool has healing qualities, so people would come to this place in order to be healed. He also gives us further information about the pool itself. Some manuscripts leave out the end of verse 3 and all of verse 4, but we would be missing some important information about this pool itself if we did not have it.

Jesus comes up to a man who has been by the pool…not for 38 days, or weeks, but for 38 years! This may very well be the individual who has been there the longest, but we can’t know this for certain. Nevertheless, He asks the man what would seem to be a nonsensical question – “Do you wish to get well?” Now, you would think that the man would respond with an enthusiastic – “Yes, I want to be healed!” Instead, he begins to give excuses. He has been in this sad condition for so long, that his will is as paralyzed as his body. Jesus heals this man through the power of the spoken word…and the way He does it also makes a point. He asks the man to do the very thing that he has been unable to do – get up and walk. The cure is immediate, and there are certainly many people at the pool who witness it.

So, everyone rides off into the sunset and lives happily ever after, right? Not so fast, my friends. This healing takes place on the Sabbath. Could Jesus have come a day earlier, or waited a day? Yes. But, He wants to get the attention of the religious leaders. The Scribes listed 39 tasks that were prohibited on the Sabbath, and carrying a burden was one of them. Instead of rejoicing at the wonderful deliverance of the man, the religious leaders condemn the former lame man for carrying his bed, and therefore, breaking the law. It’s not easy to understand the relationship between this man and Jesus. There is no evidence that he believes in Christ or was converted. In fact, he does not even know who it is that has healed him until Jesus meets him in the temple. It is here that Jesus tells him, “Sin no more that nothing worse befall you.” Jesus’ words indicate that he man’s physical problems are the result of sin. Now, if this wouldn’t save you, what would? Still, the man informs the Jewish leaders that it is Jesus who did these things. Why? Fear, most likely – amazing how that works…and not in a good way.

So, predictably, the Jews turn away from the lame man and focus their attention on and aim their accusations at Jesus. Jesus has challenged their legalistic traditions…and they are calling Him on it. The Jews had taken the Sabbath – God’s gift to man – and had transformed it into a prison house of regulations and restrictions. Jesus makes Himself equal with God by telling the Scribes and Pharisees that He and His Father are working. They instantly recognize this and change their “Sabbath” accusation to “blasphemy,” which is punishable by death…and so it goes.
Know that by doing what is right, there can and will be opposition by some who do not understand or have been hardened in some way. We need to help as Jesus helped, even though there may be persecution for it. We need to continue to be opportunistic in seeking and sharing the Lord with those around us.

British writer George McDonald points out that the end of this passage gives us profound insight into our Lord’s miracles. Jesus did instantly what the Father is always doing slowly. In nature, the Father slowly heals broken bones, but Jesus healed immediately. Nature repeatedly multiplies bread, from sowing to harvest, but Jesus has it multiplied instantly in His own hands. Jesus had tremendous power. By far the most important thing He accomplished, that the Father accomplished through him, was to willingly die on a cross to take away our sins and set us free. Praise be to God! Blessings,


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pitching Giants


Even as little as a year ago, I would not have been able to conceive of writing the message I am about to write. I have never been a fan of the San Francisco Giants major league baseball team...especially when BB was on board -- not too hot on the city itself, either. But...everything changed throughout the course of last season and in the off-season. The Giants picked up my all-time favorite pitcher in the off season...Randy Johnson -- he of Mariners fame. They needed him to go along with stalwart, if not slow starter, Barry Zito, young Matt Cain...and the Freak -- Tim Lincecum. You absolutely have to love this young man from Washington. He has been nothing short of spectacular since vaulting to the big leagues a couple of years ago. He is under 6 feet tall and probably 160 pounds, soaking wet...but, boy can he bring it. He won the Cy Young award as the National League's best pitcher last season. Johnson has been around since shortly after the parting of the Red Sea...and has won a handful of Cy Youngs over the years. He is a cinch first ballot hall-of-famer. He can help give some advice to this young pitching staff...sans Zito. In fact, he was replaced in the starting rotation recently by Jonathan Sanchez, because he had to go on the 15 day disabled list with a sore shoulder. I mean, the guy is 45 years old, which is Methuselah for a mlb starting pitcher...or, make that Noah -- Jamie Moyer of the Phillies, who will be 47 this year, is Methuselah. :-) Sanchez had been sent to the bullpen recently because of starting struggles this year, going 2-8 and a high ERA. So, when he came back to start for the first time in awhile last night, all he did was settle in and pitch a no-hitter! Pretty amazing. It was the first Giants no no since 1976 with John "the Count" Montefusco (and I remember him well...guess that certainly dates me, eh?). So...as hard as I hate to admit it, I guess I have become something of a Giants fan this year...at least of the pitching staff. Here's hoping they finish well. And don't ever get this confused with the New York football Giants...never...NEVER will I root for them. :-) Blessings,


Friday, July 10, 2009

Swimming Pools


Ahhh, summer time – hot weather, pop sickles, long days and swimming pools. Over the years, we have had our share of swimming pools for the cooling off of the family. I believe we have gone through 3 of the 12-14 foot variety of pools that expand as you fill them. :-) At our home in Grandview, we would set up the pools on the patio below, down by the basement of our tri-level house. One such pool we had set up had worked for a few months, which was a record, I believe. One day, I was sitting in the family room downstairs while the kids were swimming, when all of the sudden, a two foot wall of water comes right at the French doors. Emily had been doing one of our favorite pool past times…running around making a whirlpool, when her foot went right through the horizontal seam at the bottom. This wall of water wasted no time in finding its way into the basement and was roaring out of our yard toward our neighbor, Mrs. Green’s yard, and would soon inundate her basement. We quickly set up some barriers from our yard through the fence and into her yard with some wooden beams and foam floaters from the pool...and funneled the water around her house and down her driveway. Whew! Well…what are you gonna do? Nothing like a little panic to get the old blood pressure up a bit. ;-) We turned that pool into the company, and they gave us the obligatory aplogy a new pool and away we would go again! Such fun! Just thought this would be a good story to share, as it is 105 degrees outside...in the shade. Blessings,


Monday, July 6, 2009

Who's #1?


I have to say that it is Roger Federer...in tennis -- all time. There are some who would diminish his accomplishments, saying that he has beaten inferior competition compared to Borg or Sampras. How can one discern this? I am not smart enough to do so. All I know is that he had an epic battle that he lost by a sliver to Nadal at Wimbledon last year -- his first finals defeat after winning five men's championships. We can't take away from Federer the fact the Nadal got hurt and was unable to play in this Wimbledon. These things happen...they are a part of the game. Federer just won another huge, all-time type of a battle with an exceptionally game Andy Roddick of the USA at this year's Wimbledon for his 15th major championship. (It was great to see Roddick play so well, by the way). Fifteen gives Federer one more than Sampras, and four more than Borg or Laver. I know that nostalgia buffs are going to say Laver or Borg..and an excellent case could be made for either of these champions...or Sampras, for that matter. It was very cool that all three -- Laver, Borg and Sampras -- were on hand for Roger's triumph...a very nice gesture.

There can be no doubt that Serena and Venus Williams are the number 1 and 2 women's players in the world at this point in time. I don't know what the deal is with tennis rankings, but it must be worse than the NCAA's BCS...which would be hard to believe. The women's rankings have had Dinara Safina #1 -- she who has never won a major championship...and who was just annihilated one and luv by Venus in the Wimbledon semis. It's time for a new points system. If the Williams sisters ladies continue to play at this level for a few more years, they may very well be spoken of in the same breath as Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and (ugh) Martina Navratilova -- in fact, they probably already should be. Congrats to Serena and Venus! Blessings,


Friday, July 3, 2009

Sports Dynasties...Thumbs Down


And this is why, in large part, I will always prefer the NFL over MLB or the NBA. God bless parity! Ron Artest to the Lakers...Shaq-n'-roll to the Cavaliers. We know who is going to reign over the NBA next year...count 'em on 1 hand -- Lakers, Cavaliers, Spurs, Magic and Celtics... and the Yanks, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Mets in the majors. Do we sense a theme here? Mostly large markets, for sure, but it these are the teams that the NBA and MLB market to succeed.

This is what makes the NFL so interesting...we can have the Cardinals, yes, THE CARDINALS (not St. Louie, but the NFL Phoenix, AZ variety) in the Super Bowl. While it is true that the Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles and Giants will all be tough, again, we never know when a team like the Bears, Saints, Dolphins or some such could get hot and make a run for the Super Bowl. Such is not likely going to happen for the KC Royals, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, or Milwaukee Brewers. Can't wait for the NFL...just around the corner. Oh, and yes, I hope Favre comes back and plays for the Vikings. I know that I am seriously in the minority, but he is such a gamer and a future first ballot hall-of-famer. We may never see another player like him for a generation or more. I like the guy...will always be a fan and root for any team he plays for. In addition...bring on fantasy football! :-) Blessings,