Saturday, August 28, 2004

Jerry and Jackie

My brother-in-law, Jerry, lost his job a few months ago. It was a job he began in 1970 with Northwestern Bell as a cable splicer. It morphed over time and he spent the last few years in a supervisory position with Qwest. Qwest has been struggling for years but I don't think Jerry was overly worried about losing his job. He was always so busy with not nearly enough time in the day to do all that was expected of him. Nonetheless, he was terminated and given one years severance pay. I suppose some would say that's great but Jerry would much rather have put in another 7 years and taken his full retirement. They still have 2 kids, Kelsey and Cole at home.

Jerry didn't sit idle very long. He decided to take the leap and begin his own company wiring new construction homes. His son-in-law is working on a website for the company and he's already got one major job lined up. Jackie, who has always been a stay-at-home mom has also stepped out of her comfort zone and taken a job at Cub Foods as a cashier.

Sometimes when I'm talking with Jackie I find it hard to know what to say to encourage her. I try to tell her that there will come a day when she can look back on this time and see how God saw her through it. This is a storm in her life and it will one day be over. I know it's hard to have the necessary faith but there isn't any other option. I admire them both for taking control and moving forward no matter how humbling it can be at times. I keep them in my prayers.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ordinary Life

I've been listening to a relatively new band from Canada named, Starfield. This song is excellent...

Ordinary Life,

Take me and invade me
Make me someone new
Wake me from the dead
And break me with the truth

Move me and disturb me
Interrupt my peace
Tear open my heart
And pull me to my knees

There's a world outside
That is burning
While I'm turning blinded eyes
While I stand by

I won't survive
To live this ordinary life
I'm not alive
To live this ordinary life

And I will try
To see this world I live in
With Your eyes
To love this world You've given
With my life
To see this world I live in
With Your eyes
To love this world You've given
With my life

Tammy's Gift To Me

I knew Tammy had been working on a photo album of my bicycle ride to Babbitt in July but I had no idea how nice it would be. She gave it to me yesterday as a birthday gift to me...I think it's probably the nicest gift anyone has ever given me. She put so much time and thought into it...I had tears in my eyes as I was looking through it at the thought of her doing this for me.



Here's another photo of the album...



She used the online diary of the ride to narrate the journey and included some photos I hadn't seen before. The little doo-dads and phrases she added to the pages gives it a very nice and thoughtful touch. I've got the best wife anyone could wish for...oh, and the best daughter too. I love you guys so very, very much.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Happy Birthday To Me and What's That in the Sky?

Happy birthday to me! Wow...where is my life going so quickly. I turned 47 today but I still think my outlook on life is about 20 years younger. I went out for a 100 mile bike ride then came home and cooked some steaks on the grill with Tammy, Rachel and Mom. I'd invited Tim over but he couldn't make it. I'm sitting here with a glass of wine as my day unwinds. Oh, I also reached a milestone today when I went over 6000 miles on my bike for the year. I'm thinking that 8000 miles isn't out of the question before the snow flies...we'll see. Usually I'm glad to have 4000 miles in by my birthday so I'm running quite a bit ahead of my regular pace.

We had an interesting event happen last Thursday over the Minneapolis area. Tim called me to see if I'd seen the UFO in the sky. He'd heard about it on the news. I stepped outside off the front porch to have a look and spotted it right away. It wasn't as though you were looking at an obvious spacecraft of some sort. It was a bright light in the sky, hovering motionless. Initial reports claimed it was a weather balloon but the National Weather Service said it wasn't one of theirs. I called Mark at work and had him check the upper winds for me. From the mid levels all the way up through 60,000 ft the winds were moving from west to east at 60 knots. There's no way a balloon could have remained in the same place as this object did. I was able to observe it for several hours before the sun went down and even after dark it was still visible. Rachel and I were able to get a video of it. In the video the object looks smaller than it did in real life. To get a better feel for the actual size imagine taking a pea and holding it at arms length. The pea would be about the same size as the object in the sky. Anyway, click here for the video. Here's the YouTube version.

Friday, August 6, 2004

500 Mile Week

I think my weekly total of 517 miles is the most I've ever done in a seven day stretch. I sort of thought I'd get several good days of riding in during my week off but this is probably more than I'd hoped for. I rode 60 today, 111 yesterday and 108 the day before. My right knee is a bit sore so I think I'll go easy tomorrow. I think the only riding goal left for me this season is 6000 miles by my august 25th birthday. That's a reasonable goal and about 2000 miles more than I'd initially set when the season began. I'll need to average 40 miles per day to reach the 6000 mile goal. That's only 280 miles a week and well within reach.

We went to see Irobot last night. I think we all liked it even though I'm not one for scifi.

The media has been on my mind lately. The double standard with respect to network news programs is important for the average Joe to realize. It's one thing to tune into Rush or one of the cable programs where you have a moderator who obviously leans one way or the other but it's quite another to believe you're watching an impartial person deliver the days news only to find out that this person has his own agenda which taints the news you're watching.

Do you remember when Bob Dole was running for president 8 years ago and he fell off a stage? They replayed that incident over and over again for all to see. Do you recall a couple months ago when Kerry fell off his bicycle on a city street with news cameras all around? Why then weren't we treated to footage of him falling down the same way we were with Dole? I think the major news programs are doing all they can to cast Kerry in the best light possible and this little incident would best be ignored.

How about the time when Bush called some news reporter a 'major asshole' and again we all heard about it time and time again...we still do. Why then don't we see footage of the time just a few weeks ago when Kerry shot the finger to a protester at the Vietnam Memorial who was heckling Kerry? I mean, here's the democrats' presumed presidential candidate flipping some guy off and there are cameras all around to capture it but the whole thing is stifled. Why is that?

There was also the incident in March where Kerry took a tumble while skiing and swore at the secret service agent who he bumped into saying 'I don't fall down.' He then used an expletive to describe the officer who 'knocked me over.' Pick either of these examples and imagine if it were Bush in the place of Kerry. Do you imagine for a moment that the press wouldn't have it all over the papers and television? That's the double standard which frustrates me.

Actually, I'd like to see all of these gaffes eliminated from the evening news as I think they're best ignored. But, if the media is going to continue to fixate on them I'd like to see them spread them embarrassment around a bit more evenly. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Musings

I was out on my bike today and without even realizing it I had reached that surreal state where the endorphins take you where the fast paced world is all around you but you’re really not aware of much other than some obscure thoughts and the sun on your back. I’d just finished climbing out of the Minnesota River bottom and I was coming up on the approach path for runway 29L, east of the MSP airport. Coming into view from the right I noticed a 747 with its wheels extended on final approach. At first glance it looked to be a KLM flight arriving from Amsterdam but then I noticed the American flag on the tail. As I got directly off to its side from about a quarter mile away I could see the word ‘United’ and I thought that maybe United Airlines had a new paint scheme I wasn't aware of. I watched as it descended off in the distance and then it struck me that it was Air Force One. It did seem odd that there was very little air traffic in the area and now I understood why. President Bush was in town today and I’d just watched him pass by.

I got to thinking about an interview I’d seen earlier in the day with Laura Bush and how gracious she was when the reporter asked her to comment on Theresa Kerry’s remark about ‘four more years of hell’. I got to thinking about what a phony Kerry is and how the left have gotten so ugly in the last few years and how mislead people have become. I thought about how Kerry, during the convention said absolutely nothing about his 20 years in the Senate while he couldn’t seem to say enough about his 4 months in Vietnam. I thought it was odd that a guy who detested the war and all it stood for would now want to wrap himself in the American flag and memories of that war.

I thought about the half dozen or so men who served with him in Vietnam who dispute all he said and I wondered if they’ll be interviewed on 60 Minutes this next week as there is a book coming out titled, Unfit For Command, which details their claims. I seriously doubt they’ll get any coverage on any of the network news programs and I felt disappointed at the double standard. Is this a double standard?

I thought about Tommy Franks and his book, American Soldier, which is more supportive than critical of President Bush and I wondered if 60 Minutes will be interested to hear what he has to say…I doubted that they would. Again, I felt disappointment at the obvious double standard.

I thought about the debates which will take place and I remembered how four years ago nobody thought Bush would have a chance against such an intellect as Al Gore. I remembered how Gore made a complete ass of himself and I wondered what people saw in the man that I didn’t which would lead them to cast a vote for him. You only needed to look to his own state of Tennessee to see that they didn’t want him either. He lost there.

I think the left is again underestimating Bush and that will be their downfall as he will handily defeat Kerry in the debates and the small amount of undecided votes will begin to lean right. The small bump Kerry got from the convention should have those on the left worried. We’ll see…I could be all wrong and the liberal media will bring this one home.

Just one question…is my thinking there is a double standard unfair?

Monday, August 2, 2004

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

I found a wallet on my ride yesterday. It was a red, woman's wallet with all her important stuff but no money...a credit card but no cash. I put it in my saddle bag and continued on my ride. I gave it to Tammy when I got home and she tried to locate the owner...no luck. Her phone was disconnected and the only link we found was a card for a doctor's appointment. Tammy called the doctor's office this morning and gave them our number so they could relay it to the woman.

I found it on Hwy3, across the road from a bar out in the country. I was thinking that someone lifted it from the woman's purse while they were in the bar and threw it out once they took the money and left the bar. As it turned out, the woman's fiancé called our home shortly after Tammy called the doctors office and said it's possible that the woman's 3 year old son threw it out the car window. Anyway, we were glad to find the owner.

When I spoke with her fiancé, Ron Collins, on the phone I mentioned that there was no money in it and he said that he would expect that as she doesn't have much extra cash now with a wedding in the near future. I got an idea and found Tammy to run it by her. I thought it would be nice to put some money in her wallet with maybe a bit of scripture. I wanted her to be able to say that not only did she lose her wallet but it was returned to her with more money than when she lost it. Tammy found a small card with some scripture on it and she wrote a short note and put it with $20 in a zippered part where she may not find it for a little while.

We went out to Hard Rock Cafe' in Minneapolis last night. It was something we've been wanting to do for a while but had never taken the time...until last night. It was fun. We came back and played a few rounds of Slap Happy Mammy.

I worked in the yard for a few hours today then got out on my bike for a lack-luster ride. The humidity was so high that I just decided to do some soft pedaling and brought it home after a short 26 miles. I'd like to get out tomorrow for 120 but I'll see how I'm feeling in the morning.

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Stop Raining

Okay, I've got stuff to do today and the rain is getting in the way. I shouldn't have slept in so late as I would have at least gotten my ride in. Mowing the lawn can wait till tomorrow but I'd really like to ride. I did manage a longish ride yesterday of 121 miles when I rode out to St. Peter along Hwy169. I was intending to go to Mankato but I cut it short.

Tammy is working and Rachel is with her dad. She didn't sound all that happy to be going to see him yesterday. She called me around 11:00am and said her dad was picking her up around 12:30. I told her I'd see her tonight and that we'd all do something...I think that something is going to be dinner at Hard Rock Café in Minneapolis. We'll pick her up around six and head over there on the way back.

Rachel has been disappointed with her visits with her dad and step-mom for quite a while now. They speak Vietnamese around her and so she's not a part of their conversation. Her step-mom's english is very marginal and I sometimes wonder if that's maybe the way her dad wants it to be. He was very controlling with Tammy and he's in a perfect position to have total control over his new wife. Rachel is very bored at their apartment and I think she's glad her visits are only every other week. That's sad though as I can't for the life of me understand why her dad isn't more interested in Rachel's life. She's such a good kid. If I were her dad I'd be over here all the time, at the risk of being a pest to be spending time with her. I just don't see that with him.

It won't be long though before Rachel probably won't have much time for Tammy or myself as she begins to explore her world and seek more independence. We want to have the best foundation for her that we can so she's prepared to be able to make appropriate decisions for herself. Tammy and I engage her quite a lot...certainly more than our parents ever did with us. We make a point of often times including her in our conversations and getting her opinion. I don't think she has any doubts about our love for her.

Still raining.

My sister, Claudia has been making sure there's no lack of drama in our family. She's been suffering with depression for the past seven or eight years and only seems to be getting worse. Both she and my sister Jackie were molested as young girls by our uncle, Elvin. Jackie has been able to put the whole mess behind her while Claudia doesn't appear to even want to begin to look forward. I can't begin to understand the dynamics of being molested but I'm a bit confused/curious that the molestation was never an issue until she was fired from her job around the same time the depression began.

To me it almost seems convenient that she was able to go on disability due to her depression as it was a nice segue out of the working world and onto the government doles. Maybe I'm wrong and that she really needs to be on disability.

The problem I'm having with the whole situation is that she's on all sorts of meds now and I think there may be an addiction problem as well. It's been a couple months since I've talked with her but the last time I spoke with her was at night and she was so out of it from her meds. I'm not the only one who has noticed this trend. She obviously needs help for her mental health but a part of me thinks she's comfortable in her role of not having anyone have any expectations of her because she's depressed.

I can't offer her any constructive help because she turns it around on you and tells you you're attacking her. I asked her once what sort of coping skills her therapist was giving her and she couldn't think of any. I mentioned that she may want to keep a journal and make note of good things which happen to her throughout the day so when she's feeling down she can go back and see that all is not negative. I don't think she was very interested in my idea. I'm not sure if I believe her that her doctor hasn't been giving her advice of a similar nature.

Anyway, back to the drama. She knows that she can manipulate our mom and get her to feel sorry for her. She stopped calling mom and didn't give her any reason for pulling the plug. She just clammed up. Mom was having difficulty sleeping as she was upset that Claudia was isolating her for no reason. Our mother is nearly 80 years old and she doesn't need this sort of stress in her life. Claudia's self- centeredness is getting very old.

Hey, you know what? The sun is beginning to shine and I really need to put this away and get outside on my bike. I'd like to do a quick 40 miles then get back home and mow the grass before going out with Tammy and Rachel tonight.

I think I just needed to vent more than anything.