Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend, 2009

I spent Sunday morning reformatting Tammy's Dell laptop. She picked up a nasty bug of some sort off a link from eBay that rendered her computer useless. A search for 'Antivirus 2009 Pro' let me know that I was in for a challenge as it was rated 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for severity. I worked what little magic I could before throwing in the towel and reaching for the start-up disks. After a few hours of babysitting the process, I now have a happy Dell laptop as well as a happy wife.

Rachel and I both had issues with our new Motorola Droid cellphones and had to have them replaced. The keypad is covered with a thin vinyl that was beginning to separate on Rachel's phone. She's pretty sure the protective cover we bought for our phones were put on backward and a small tab was catching on a few of the keys whenever she'd slide the cover closed. My phone simply quit working after six days of use. The battery was showing that the phone had at least a 60% charge but I couldn't get it to turn on even when plugged in. I brought it in and the tech thought the battery may be defective. She gave me a new replacement phone and surprisingly the difference between the battery on the new phone being able to hold a charge vs the other is night and day. We're both very happy with our Droids even with the problems we've had.

Tammy had to work Thanksgiving afternoon and evening so Rachel and I went up to my sister's home 40 miles north in Maple Grove. Truth be told, I invited us over—Jackie's cooking is that good but of course, it was nice to see her and Jerry and the others. Jackie generously loaded us down with a feast to take home to Tammy which she was so happy to have. I really wish she could've been with us.

We detoured to Keith's on our way back and spent some time with his family and Mom who had spent the afternoon there. Another nice visit was had before we found our way home via Mom's to drop her off. Keith really didn't seem as tired as the photo makes him appear but my photography skills leave something to be desired.

Rachel had a sleepover for her friends from Brenda's School of Dance on Friday night where she both teaches and takes instruction. Pizza, pop, chips, talk, posing and lots of laughs made for a late night. A few of them managed to keep the party alive until 4:30AM as there was no hurry getting up in the morning. Rachel really loves this group of friends especially considering it wasn't too long ago when a whole different group made up the dance team and there was a lot of bickering and back-biting. Rachel gave some serious thought to leaving the school for greener pastures a little over a year ago but she stuck it out and to her surprise, every one of the girls who were making the experience so miserable for all the rest didn't return. Tammy and I are glad she stayed put but my advice to her then was to move on as her time left there was so short and high school years can be so fleeting.

I thought for sure that my long rides were over for the year but last week I again found myself keeping an eye on the weekend's weather forecast with a glimmer of hope about getting out for one last longer than normal effort before resigning myself to rides of less than 40 miles. By Friday I'd somewhat lost my enthusiasm for a long ride on Saturday but I kept the option open; maybe it was the turkey talking. All that changed when I got up Saturday morning to let the pups out and I saw how nice it was.  A temp in the low 30s with little to no wind and a high expected to be near 50f.   It would be a crime to let a late November day like that go by without making full use of it, and so I did.

I brought the pups back inside where Tammy was making up a spread of pancakes and sausage for the sleepover kids who were showing no signs of getting up anytime soon. She pawned off all the pancakes that were a little burned or deformed on me which I was happy to make disappear. If I wanted to minimize my need to stop during my ride, taking on extra fuel before leaving home was a must.

With no particular route in mind, I headed to the northwest to take advantage of whatever winds would develop later in the day. Passing through Excelsior I had the feeling that I was cycling through a Department 56 Village scene. The sidewalks, as well as the streets, were bustling with people enjoying a Thanksgiving weekend. A reindeer tied to a fence post where Christmas trees were being sold attracted little ones and no doubt some of the older crowd too. I thought how I'd like to bring Tammy back here and spend an afternoon going in and out of the shops that line the street.

The sun's low arc across the sky in front of me made it difficult to read the screen of my Garmin Edge 705 through the glare of my Flanders Bros jersey reflecting off it. I'd strain to look at it occasionally but didn't particularly care where I was headed; just that when I'd used up half my daylight hours I'd need to point myself in the direction of home. This was unfamiliar territory for me and I was impressed with the road I was on and the light amount of traffic using it. I got as far as Watertown, 50 miles out, where I refueled with a Chuckwagon sandwich at the Marathon station before jumping on highway 25 to begin the trip home. I'd been pushing into a quartering headwind of something less than 10 mph and I'd now get to more or less use it to my advantage.

Could this really be late November weather I wondered? Don't question it, just enjoy it I told myself.

Strange, but I saw no other cyclists out on the roads with the exception of a middle-aged couple on their upright hybrid bikes. I'm sure there were many others out there but our paths never crossed.

Highway 25 would eventually take me to Norwood/Young America where I'd turn onto Highway 212 and get the full effect of the wind at my back. Having my Edge 705 this year has allowed me to explore some roads I'd taken a pass on so many times before. One of them is county road 41 that meanders south out of Cologne toward East Union. It's a beautiful, lightly traveled road with one nice hill that prompted me to grab some video with my Droid.

My last stop for fuel was in Jordan where I usually hit the Holiday station for a pack of Hostess cupcakes but before I could lean my bike in that direction McDonald's across the street caught my eye.  I shifted my weight and veered into their lot then hurried inside for a couple cheeseburgers instead. Hey, I don't question my cravings when I'm on my bike; I simply indulge them. I was back on the road in less than 6 minutes and feeling good about knocking off the final 23 miles before the sun would set at 4:35 but rather than taking a route that would maybe add a couple more miles to my total (which I usually do) I opted to stay on Hwy 282 and take the most direct route home.

Official sunset may have been 4:35 according to my Edge but by 4:15 it's looking pretty dark and there are places I'd rather be than on the road without lights.  I sometimes make an attempt to sit up a bit higher or get up out of my saddle more than usual to make myself more visible at times like this. But still, I was very tempted to add some additional miles at the end of the ride and use every last bit of daylight.  My better judgment won out and my wheels rolled back up our driveway with ten minutes of daylight to spare and 109 miles behind me.  I offered up a prayer of thanks to God for bringing me home safely then leaned my bike against the brick in front of our garage before walking back down the driveway to check for mail.  Tammy had already beat me to it.  I was still in my endorphin induced euphoria when for a moment I considered hanging out until our Christmas lights came on but I knew I had some pups beyond the door inside the garage who were waiting with wagging tails to jump up and attack me the way they do every time I come back from a ride.  The lights are beautiful and I enjoy them but they're no match for Toby, Allie, and Charlie.  I headed inside.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We're Not Alone...

...and I have proof in the form of my Motorola Droid smart-phone. The capabilities of this phone are so far beyond what I'd ever imagined something so small could provide that the only way of wrapping my head around the 'hows' of this thing is to resign myself to believe that space aliens are among us and they're the ones responsible for this thin rectangular box of magic that fits neatly in the palm of my hand.

I mentioned in my previous post about giving serious consideration to taking the plunge on a Droid; I did it or rather, we did it. Rachel and I got Droids while Tammy went with an Envy 3 which is what I'd have otherwise gone with had it not been for my perceived need for a smart-phone.

Droid has nowhere near the number of apps (short for 'applications' that can be downloaded to enhance the phone's capabilities) the iPhone has but there are plenty available to get me started and there will soon be tons more no doubt. One of the more fascinating apps I've seen is Sky Map (as mentioned by Tim in the comments section of a previous post).

Unlike other cellphone cameras I've owned, Droid actually takes some very nice photos. There's a software issue with the autofocus though that apparently degrades photo quality on a 24.5-day cycle. I found this quote online attributed to one of the phone's developers, Dan Morrill, he states:

Yes, this is exactly what is happening.

There’s a rounding-error bug in the camera driver’s autofocus routine (which uses a timestamp) that causes autofocus to behave poorly on a 24.5-day cycle. That is, it’ll work for 24.5 days, then have poor performance for 24.5 days, then work again.

The 17th is the start of a new “works correctly” cycle, so the devices will be fine for a while. A permanent fix is in the works.

We're currently in the good part of the cycle so hopefully, they'll have a fix ready to be applied before the 11th of December when we'll be back into the bad part of the cycle.

The phone's camera is 5mp with a flash that actually works and as I said, I'm quite happy with the quality of the photos it produces but just as good is the video it takes. I'll post some from the dog park or maybe Thanksgiving get-together in the next few days.

I got out last Friday for what will probably be my last long ride of the year. I wasn't expecting to be able to do another of this length for 2009 but everything came together late last week and I went for it. The temp was in the upper 40s to lower 50s with winds light out of the southwest. I was wishing I'd been able to get started a couple hours earlier to make it an even longer ride but I had no complaints.

Within two miles of leaving home, I'd already noticed two cellphone distracted drivers who were creating some annoyance for others and I was hoping it wasn't going to be a sign of how the day would go. Cellphones add a whole other dimension of risk for cyclists that didn't exist before they came onto the scene and it's only getting worse. That's not to say they're not a hazard to everybody but we cyclists are especially vulnerable. I don't think about it much while I'm on the road but seeing such inattentiveness as I did to begin my ride gave me something to ponder as I headed out toward county road 5 and north into Burnsville.

I took the scenic route a few miles to the west of Highway 169 and managed to get as far as Henderson (53 miles out) before stopping to refuel. I really wanted to press on to Le Sueur and pick up highway 169 for home but I was seriously flirting with not getting in before sunset and I didn't like my chances should I keep pressing outbound. I opted to head for home at that point and figured I could tack on whatever miles I'd need to put me over 100 once I got much closer in. It was the right choice giving me 106 miles for the day.

I was hoping to spend most of Saturday down in the shop finishing the next panel for our basement entertainment center but the warm and sunny weather had me outside most of the day. I spent the afternoon cleaning windows and washing, waxing and detailing our vehicles while watching several neighbors hang Christmas lights. Hey, I'm ahead of the game for once.

I'd finish this entry by saying 'bring on the snow' but you'll never hear me utter those words.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Shadow, Tough Talking Pups and A Droid?

Rachel met me out at my work yesterday morning to do a job shadow for a couple hours as part of a school assignment. She'd like to have shadowed somebody in the medical field, ideally our family doctor but with all the doctor/patient confidentiality requirements it wasn't going to happen. Not that she wants to be an air traffic controller but coming in and seeing where I work and watching me during a session in the sector proved interesting for her, or so she said. Some of the guys at work have read enough about her in my blog so I thought it would be fun to have her come in and meet them, and it was.

The sector was pretty quiet as we first sat down but traffic levels built nicely and she was able to get a good idea of what it is I do. We talked about what it takes to be a good controller and wondered out loud if she could imagine herself working in this sort of environment. I told her that she definitely has qualities about her that are necessary to do the job (attention to detail and an ability to multi-task) but I'd rather see her do something much different with her life. Not to say that her talents would be wasted here but I see her out in the world working with others in a way that wouldn't happen in our darkened control room. She agreed.

Rachel was here once before but that was ten years ago after Tammy and I were first married and she was only 8 years old. They spent a couple hours with me at the sector with Rachel using most of that time doodling with a pencil and paper while I explained the job to Tammy. Today's experience was quite a bit different for her.

Tammy and I brought the pups to the park yesterday afternoon. Our weather has been absolutely gorgeous the past two weeks and it's been nice to be out in it. I brought our video camera along because Tammy was telling me about how Charlie likes to make a run for a herd of llamas in a pasture adjacent to the park. They see him coming, and they run toward him which sends him back in full retreat mode. I had to see this for myself.

Our cellphone plan is coming up for renewal next month. We've been with Verizon the past four years and have no complaints about their service so we plan to stay with them. The only question is, do I upgrade my phone to a smart-phone or stay with my middle of the road Envy or something similar? I'm very tempted to pull the trigger on a Motorola Droid but I'm having a difficult time justifying it. Do I need one? Nope. Would I like one? For sure.

We've already decided to get Rachel a Droid for Christmas. She's a busy kid and being able to retrieve her emails on-the-go and get online whenever she needs to is becoming more of a necessity. Yesterday for example: meet me at my work at 7:30 then back at school by 10:00. After school, she had nearly three hours of Mock Trial after which she hurried home with only enough time to grab her dance clothes and a sandwich Tammy made for her to eat on her way to teach dance for 5:00 in Farmington.  In between the classes she teaches she has time to do homework and that's where the Droid and its ability to connect her to the net comes in handy. It's a changing world out there. She wouldn't get home until after 9:30 but even then her day still wasn't over as she would have more homework to do.  She's certainly getting the education I never did.  Tammy and I would rather she wasn't so busy but it's what she thrives on.

I've been getting in some nice rides the past couple weeks.  I was out Monday morning before work and came oh-so-close to taking a pass on work altogether. A bright sunshiny day and temps in the low 50's. It doesn't get any better than that this time of year.  I'd like to get out for one last longish ride tomorrow before the real cold weather takes hold; possibly 100+ miles. The forecast is calling for southwest winds and temps in the upper 40's under overcast skies. I'm thinking a Le Sueur loop. Tammy will be in the office and all my yard work is done.  I've got a stained glass project to finish but that's on Saturday's to-do list.

It appears we'll be hosting Christmas Eve at our home.  I think I'll use the 'event feature' on Facebook to send out invitations as everybody who will be invited (with the exception of my mom) uses FB.  Maybe it's tacky to send out invites this way or is it just another way our culture is evolving...or is that devolving?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Send-off for Bob and Tilt Shift Photography

In the next few years we're going to see lots of people retire from our ranks in the FAA as the huge bubble of people who hired on after the PATCO strike in August 1981 become eligible. We've already seen quite a few leave but nowhere near the amount that will retire in the next 3-5 years. A friend from work, Rob, was telling me that there's a study of air traffic controllers that says for each year a controller stays on the job beyond age 50, they lose one year of life. I tried to find the study online but wasn't able to. I suppose that for some there's truth in those numbers but I'm not going to make any plans based on them. My intention has always been to work until age 56.

Bob retired last July but any sort of retirement party for him must have been overshadowed by vacations and warm, sunny weather. Rex organized a small, somewhat surprise get-together for Bob yesterday at RJ's in Hastings. There were maybe a dozen of us who showed up for lunch and beer and a couple hours together to wish Bob well in his retirement. Bob is that little voice on my Facebook who keeps reminding me that the waters of retirement are fine and to jump on in. One of these days/years I'll join him and I intend to do it in the form of a cannonball off the three-meter board, but I just ate lunch so I have to wait at least an hour before going in the water.

With broadband internet connections so widely available now it seems we're all experiencing a variety of videos like never before. Of all the videos I've seen (and it's quite a few) I do have one that stands out above all others (thanks to a link from my nephew, Tristan). The style of this video is called "tilt-shift" and I'd never heard of it before. It's where the depth of field of the image/video is very shallow, blurring the edges and giving it the illusion that its closeup photography of a miniature scene; also referred to as "miniature faking". Done in the right setting it can have some very interesting results. Check this out—be sure your audio is up.


The music also adds a nice feel to it and it seems the video was maybe edited around the lyrics at times. If you checked out the links under the video you'll see that he's got several others uploaded. Here's my 2nd favorite of his called Bathtub V.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day, 2009

There are two times each year when I'm never more proud, in a humble sort of way if one can be just that. Our lead pastor at church takes time each year on Father's Day to ask all of the dads in the congregation to stand in recognition of their role as fathers. It's an incredibly meaningful moment for me. I may only be Rachel's step-dad but I stand because I'm both proud and blessed to be in her life and to be a father-figure to her. Pastor Bill also takes a few minutes each year around the time of Veterans Day to ask former and current members of the military to stand and be honored for their service. This is also a very proud moment for me although I don't feel that my service comes anywhere close to that of those who put their lives on the line in a dangerous combat environment. Still, I'm moved by the recognition.

Those of us who have never experienced the hardship of war and the tormenting damage it can do to the psyche can't possibly appreciate the sacrifice made on our behalf. But that shouldn't stop us from trying.

Stranger, by David Baerwald

brother at this moment
you ain't feeling any pain
and you're staring out the window
and it looks like rain
and you're a veteran and you know
about monkeys on the brain
you watched every dream you've had
lie broken in the drain
three hundred thousand men
all different all the same
three hundred thousand men
all different all the same
piled up like driftwood
in a pouring rain

hey stranger
ain't there nothing I can say
can you think of any way
that you can make it through the day
hey stranger
ain't there nothing I can do
you lost it all for me
there must be something I can do for you

a quarter of the country
is one paycheck from the street
a tenth of the country
has never had enough to eat
and one one hundredth of the country
is strangling all the rest
and every policeman on the street
is wearing a bulletproof vest
three hundred thousand men
all different all the same
three hundred thousand men
all different all the same
piled up like driftwood
in a pouring rain

hey stranger
ain't there nothing I can say
can you think of any way
that you can make it through the day
hey stranger
ain't there nothing I can do
you lost it all for me
there must be something I can do for you

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Evening Musings

I was checking out Facebook Thursday morning as I contemplated whether or not I'd gotten out of bed too early after the all-night shift; it was going on 11:00. Before I could give it much thought I got a chat message request from a friend to go riding. That was definitely on my list of things to do but so soon? I needed to wake up first. Maybe it was the kick-start my day needed.

My riding for me has and I think always will be primarily a solo endeavor. I'd say I'm a bit unusual in that way because it seems most cyclists enjoy the company of others when they're out riding for hours at a stretch; maybe it's a safety in numbers thing. As for me, I don't mind spending time with myself and actually prefer it when I'm riding. I'm a loner at heart. I've done enough group rides to know that conversation with others isn't what works for me but rather, the solitude of the road; it's the main reason I'm out there. Still, an occasional break from my routine can be nice too.

Jay said he could be by in 30 minutes so I quickly checked the winds and forecast temp then hurried to grab a bite and get suited up. Southeast winds lend themselves to the Hampton Loop which is the way we went. I didn't know what Jay was up for but I think the 45 miles we did may have been about 10-15 more than he was fueled for.

I'll never take a sunny day for granted again after the stretch of cloudy, rainy weather we've experienced for too many weeks of late. It was so nice to be out and I considered adding another hour to the ride but I didn't want to push it since I'm still recovering from 'the bug'.

We had some visitors Thursday night. Two Mormon missionaries had come by our house earlier in the week when Tammy didn't have time to sit down with them so she invited them back. She likes to engage them about their beliefs and I think a part of her feels bad at all the rejection they must experience door after door. We had a nice discussion and after all was said we agreed that neither of us was likely to sway the other about what we believe but we enjoyed our time together.

I took advantage of some unseasonably warm weather to put up our outdoor Christmas lights on Friday. Rachel asked me earlier in the week if I was putting lights up this year and that she was hoping I would. There's no way I'd disappoint her as this will be her last Christmas living at home before leaving for college.  I have a feeling I'll still be hanging up outdoor lights next year and the years after that too for when she comes to stay with us during her break from school.  And someday when Tammy and I are grandparents and I'm not keen on climbing the ladder anymore I think I'll still find a way to keep the tradition alive even if I have to pay one of the neighbor kids.

I hurried through a bunch of yard work yesterday morning so I could get back out on my bike for most of the afternoon. I had another request from Jay to ride with a couple other guys but I took a pass in favor of my fix of solitude. With the winds out of the west, I headed toward Shakopee and figured I'd decide when I got there which way to go. I tracked toward the northwest with thoughts of St. Bonifacius running through my head but I didn't see how I could do it with the sun setting at 4:56. I set my sights on Victoria instead. A quick stop for fuel there and I was back on the road.

A few miles out of Victoria I spotted another rider off in the distance and the chase was on. It's a thing we bikers do and we pretty much all do it. I caught him climbing a hill just north of Highway 10 and we struck up a conversation. My first words when I catch somebody are usually, "where you headed?" We then typically share where we're from and maybe discuss bikes and equipment—small talk. Depending on how much speed difference there is between us, I'll sometimes ride together for a bit before being on my way. John was keeping a similar pace (I had to work to catch him) so we rode together for ten miles before our paths diverged.

During my time with John, I'd committed myself to extending my ride through Jordan rather than taking a more direct route home. I'd use up most of what was left of daylight and have to hustle to make the 5:00 service at Hosanna. Tammy was still in her office and would be until 7:30 doing her telephone triage nursing so I'd be going alone. H1N1 calls are dominating her days lately.

A few miles from home I got a text message from Rachel saying she was having a good time at the senior-high retreat (put together by Hosanna) near Alexandria a few hours to the northwest. I wouldn't get a chance to respond to her message until I got seated at church more than a half-hour later after I'd had a chance to shower and change clothes.

71 miles later the pups met me at the back door and I gave them a couple minutes to lick the salt off my face. It's a treat they look forward to. I know—what a treat! It's a part of our routine. Toby and Allie lick while Charlie bites at my hands. I felt bad for them because they'd been on their own pretty much the entire day and I was about to leave them again. I'd make it up to them later with some lap time while Tammy and I watched a movie.

I poked my head in Tammy's office to see if she was interested in going out to dinner later. She suggested T.G.I. Friday's. I liked the way she was thinking.

Finally, after a very full day, we were relaxing in the restaurant, having a burger and a glass of wine while I recalled my day for the lovely Mrs. Gilmore. I had been going since the minute I woke up and I don't think I realized that until I recounted it for her. I love days like that.

I wish I had taken a photo of Tammy while we were there so I could include it here but all I had with me was my cellphone camera. Not good enough. I'm getting some flak from a couple guys at work who say there's a disproportionate number of photos of Rachel compared to Tammy in my blog—and they're right. All I can say in my defense is that Tammy is one of those who shudders at the shutter. Okay, that may be a bit strong but she doesn't really like her photo being taken and I respect that. Rachel, on the other hand, couldn't care less. Anything to please the love(s) of my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apologetics, Not an Apology

There are way too many sick people at work to avoid catching this junk that's going around and it finally caught up with me last week. I'm still sneezing and hacking but it could be worse. I'm not sure if that's because of the zinc tablets I'm taking but I'd like to think I'm not wasting my money on them. Don't get too close to this post; I don't want you to catch it.

I took a couple sick-days from the salt mine last week and used the time to resume work on the stained glass project that I'd put away when the weather turned warm last spring. We're so close to finishing it that I think another 8-10 hours should be all we need. I'd really like to get the entire project completed this winter. We've got some neighbors who would like us to do some work for them but I don't want to take on anything until these six panels are done. Here's what a completed panel looks like and here's where I was with the current one as of a few days ago. We're quite a bit further along now. If all goes well I'll have it hung by weeks end.

These windows are going above the entertainment center in our basement. Here's a link to a video I made last spring that shows the project in more detail.

Christian Apologetics is the science or art of defending the Christian faith. So many of us who call ourselves Christians readily gloss over some of the more difficult realities of our faith; myself included. I recently finished reading a book titled Letters from a Skeptic by Dr. Gregory Boyd and Edward Boyd. Greg is a Christian theologian and Ed, his father, is a cynical skeptic of the Christian faith. The book is a series of letters the two exchanged over the course of a couple years whereby Ed posed some very difficult questions to his son about Christianity followed by Greg's responses.

Some of the titles of letters his father posed to his son in the book are:
Why has Christianity done so much harm?
Why is the world so full of suffering?
Why does God create earthquakes and famines?
Why did God create Satan?
Why didn't God spare your mother?
Aren't the Gospels full of contradictions?
Why are there so many differing interpretations of the Bible?
How could an all-loving God torture people in an eternal hell?

Ed would form his questions with an honesty that left no room for Greg to misunderstand his father's intent. To give you an idea of how the book reads, below is an excerpt from one of those letters titled, Why does God make believing in Him so difficult?

Why does God put us in a position where we have to try to believe in Him? Why does He toy with mankind, teasing us with evidence that's good enough to make us uncomfortable, but never coming out directly and making Himself clear? what's so great about "faith" that He desires it above an obvious revelation of Himself? And when He does reveal Himself---supposedly in the Bible---He does so many damn bizarre things that no one who wasn't there to see it can be expected to believe it. Yet "salvation" supposedly hangs on this! Why do people have to believe things and accept stories that they'd never accept under ordinary circumstances in order to be saved? This isn't exactly fair.

So if I want to avoid hell, I presumably have to believe that a snake talked to Eve, that a virgin got pregnant from God, that a whale swallowed a prophet, that the Red Sea was parted and all sorts of other crazy things. Well, if God wants me so bad, Greg, why does He make believing in Him so damn impossible? He gives an evidence here, an evidence there---enough to get us wondering---but then He throws in these other bizarre things which we can't possibly be expected to take seriously! If there were only the evidence, or only the crazy stuff, I'd have no problem. But combined, it's most aggravating.

It seems to me that an all-powerful God could do a much better job of convincing people of His existence than any evangelist ever does, and even better than all your arguments do. Hell, just write it across the sky, nice and big: "Here's you're proof, Ed. Believe in Me or go to hell! Sincerely, the Almighty." You wouldn't have to spend an afternoon arguing history to me. I'd be on my knees.

I suppose it's for the better, but the more convincing you sound, the more ticked off I seem to get. And I've found myself recently thinking about all this material too much, which means I walk around here in a state of frustration. I don't have a clue as to what you could do about this. Maybe tell your "Spirit" who is supposedly quietly chipping away in my heart to come out of the dark and write in the clouds! Short of that, I think I'm destined to be an intrigued but frustrated skeptic, and your optimism about me is doomed to disappointment.

Sincerely yours,


Sometimes I'd actually find myself oddly amused at Ed's frustration; he reminded me a bit of my own father. His questions were well thought out and while I may have at times been strangely entertained by Ed's straight-to-the-point cynicism, I couldn't help but be sympathetic toward him as well. Just when I thought he couldn't possibly pen a more difficult scenario for his son to explain away, he does just that. Very pointed questions which Greg would speak directly to in his responses. Rather than write his answer to his father here for you to read, I'll encourage you to pick up the book and read it there with the rest of the dialog. There's also a story within the story of his father's struggle to find anything meaningful in his son's faith. I promise you that you'll find the book enlightening and worth every minute of your time. Link to the book on Amazon.

I saw Greg speak at our church earlier this year at a Men's Breakfast and he'll be back to talk with us again in December. I'm looking forward to it.

Greg isn't well-liked by many in the Fundamentalist Christian arena. Watch this video where Greg appears at 2:07. He marches to his own beat and there's something about it that is very appealing to me, but then, I've been accused of being on a different wavelength from the norm myself a time or two.