Monday, December 31, 2007

Your Dog is Dumber than My Dog...I Hope

Jill and I are finishing up our week visiting family in Iowa. That means we're getting ready to go "home" to Denver (it still sounds a little strange to say that). It also means that we're bracing ourselves for the report we'll be getting from our friends Kevin and Lynn, who have been watching Daisy-the-Wunder-Mutt while we've been away. We're preparing ourselves for the worst--but consoling ourselves with the knowledge that their dog Zeke(whom we watched during Thanksgiving break)is dumber than our dog. At least we hope he is.

Here is the standard Zeke set--the one we hope Daisy will not quite be able to attain.

1. Zeke cannot poop in one spot. This is not as endearing as it sounds. Zeke (who is one of those big dogs who looks hunched over and awkward to begin with) walks in circles as he poops. It's the first thing he does when he hops out of the back of the Robert's Subaru. And he does it at night, on our walks, too. Believe it or not, squinting in the pale moon light as I hunt for stray dog turds is very low on my list of favorite things to do. As this is a family blog, I won't get started on what happens to the rest of his anatomy when he's working on all this.

2. Zeke is prone to anxiety attacks. When we had him at our house for a few days this summer, the Roberts dropped off a few pill bottles with his leash, dog food, bed, and water bucket (by they way, he needs a bucket, not a bowl, as he drinks/drools an incredible amount. This could easily be point three, in my opinion.). They explained that one was a prescription for the really serious attacks--the Fourth-of-July-Fireworks type. The other was an over-the-counter drug for the less serious thunderstorm-induced attacks. Well, I'm glad we didn't have Zeke around for fireworks, because the "minor" attacks are annoying enough. Zeke cowers in a corner, shaking, or sticks to your side so closely that you can't go to the bathroom without him following you there. Thankfully, the drugs do a sufficient job of knocking him out.

3. Zeke is a delicate sleeper. We first discovered this delightful idiosyncrasy when we tried to gate him into a room downstairs. This was successful for a few hours. But sometime around 4 am, we heard a loud CRASH as he came through the gate (not over it). The next night, when we let him sleep upstairs in the hallway with Daisy, we couldn't keep him from pacing in and out of our room and up and down the stairs, whimpering, trying to crawl under our bed, and generally acting very nervous (see pt. 2, above). After a few hours, we discovered that one of the things that was bothering Zeke was a very subtle "chirp" from one of our smoke alarms. I still don't know which one (or why it was chirping, since they don't run off of batteries), but I did look. Eventually (around 2 am), I ended up standing on a chair in my boxers muttering less than affectionate things about old Zeke as I yanked out the smoke alarms--only to discover that that makes them chirp even more. In fact, they just may be possessed, since the keep on chirping even when the back-up battery is removed. By 2:30 am, all of our smoke detectors were piled outside on our back porch. I consider it evidence of spectacular self control and restraint that I managed not to throw them into the street where I could back over them--repeatedly--with the car.

There are a few others--but that should give you a sense of the standard that has been set for Daisy. Like I said, I really hope that Zeke is dumber than Daisy so that we don't have to feel too bad about whatever terrors she's inflicted upon the Roberts. And I also hope that, if the Roberts read this, they know that, really, we love Zeke, he's wonderful, and we'll happily take him again. At least if you're willing to take Daisy.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Flashback 1993

Here's some more video of Jill at work. I missed the intro, but with the stage, music, and mic, I think I'd have a good audition tape for Ron Popeil(were he not bankrupt). The first video introduces the show ("Mission Super-Chill!"), the second will take you back in time to your seventh grade science experiments. I suggest you don't watch them if you have problems with motion sickness.

Friday, December 28, 2007

One Smart Lady

I spent a good chunk of the day Monday (Christmas Eve) at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science watching Jill do what it is she does there. I've seen her at work before, but never in this particular department. This was quite possibly my last chance for a while as the space suit is starting to get a bit snug around the middle. Depending on how this works, tomorrow I may add some exciting footage of her simulating the conditions on Tritan. No doubt about it, she is one smart lady.

Untitled from Joel Schreurs on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Give the People What They Want

I recently installed a cool new feature on my blog. It's called "sitemeter" and it tells me how many people are visiting my blog and--the best thing--where they are from (you can look for yourself by clicking on the icon on the left). In addition to raising some questions (who do I know in Kentucky? Or Manitoba? Where is Manitoba?), seeing how many visitors I get has also done great things to feed my vanity (which is, of course, what blogging is all about*). It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that there are more than two people who check out this blog. It also makes me feel a little guilty about not updating more often.** So, in an effort to give the people what they want, I'm going to offer a few blurbs summarizing the posts I could have written during the last month. These will be short, so you'll have to insert your own jokes/witty comments. Also, you may want to pace yourself. I may not update again for another month.

The End of Summer: It came the week before Thanksgiving here in Colorado (78 degrees at the end of November!). I celebrated by going for a mountain bike ride and then heading out to a Monday Night Football game with a few guys from church (Broncos vs. Titans). It was a hoot--so much fun that I could almost become a football fan if I did that more often (and if the Broncos were still playing). I stayed away from the nachos but caved in and had a brat. I love stadium food. Tasty AND good for you.

Holiday Cheer: The Sunday after Christmas Jill and I went out hunting for a Christmas tree. We headed deep into the mountains, hiked over hill and dale, and then chopped it down and took it home, Griswold style....Okay, not really. We went to the basement and pulled out the enormous box containing the eight foot tree someone gave us last year (our first tree, by the way). It's a little thin around the bottom--but I think it looks nice. I also put up lights--which was not all that frustrating because they were all new and neatly wrapped. I'm sure next year will be more, um, entertaining.

Daisy gets a bath: Nothing really that special here--Daisy is just so cool I'm sure that anyone with a little sense would want to look at a picture of her. That, and I though you might like to see how we get Daisy to stay in the tub. In case you can't see it, that's peanut butter smeared around the edges. Mmmmm. Maybe this will be a tactic we will use when our child gets old enough to protest bathing.

Observations from a day at the mall: In addition to realizing that people will stand in line a long time for mediocre coffee (yes, I'm talking about Starbucks here), I observed that I am perhaps the easiest person in the world to shop for. Jill, on the other hand, may be the most difficult. The key difference between us has something to do with our obedience to the 10th Commandment ("Do not Covet", if you weren't already aware). You see, I can walk into almost any store and find something I'd be happy to have--and many stores where I really want something. Pen store? Check. Sports store? Check. Pet store? Check. Western store? Maybe (I could go for a stetson). Apple Store? Don't even get me started. Jill, on the other hand, would apparently be a great Buddhist (which would make her a bad pastor's wife, but I digress). She seems to have all her desires under control. So really, don't feel bad if you don't know what to get her. In fact, don't get her anything--she doesn't really want it. You'd be better off getting me something instead.

Ski Bum: Last year, I went skiing for the first time as a resident of Colorado. I greatly enjoyed it. This year, I caved in and got a season pass--which means I can go as much as I want (or, more realistically: I can ski as many times as I (a.) have time for and (b.) am allowed by my pregnant wife, who probably shouldn't ski.) Here's a picture of me in my new helmet and goggles. The helmet is white and has me half way down the road to looking like a storm trooper.

*Face it, you have to be a little narcissistic/vain to think that people actually care about the latest picture of your dog, what you did last weekend, blah blah blah.

**Did I mention that I want my very own home Internet connection for Christmas? This business of "sharing" with church just isn't working any more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


There it is. Finally bigger than mine.
There's a real live baby in there. One that likes to swim, kick, and eat (a lot, apparently).
As of last Friday, we're half way there!

P.S. Note the rosy glow.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby Bump.

Here's a picture of Jill-"Showing." Quite exciting.

Here's me--"practicing" with Daisy.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Family Time

My parents were here this weekend--which was great. But since it wasn't the first time, and since we didn't really see much new (other than a good Vietnamese Restaurant), I didn't take any pictures. Oops.

However, my brother (Micah), his wife (Shannon), and their kids (Caleb, Joya, and Stephen) came out a few weekends ago. It was their first time out since we've lived here, and we had a great time. They managed to fit in a rather impressive amount of activities in their blitzkrieg tour of Denver. They:

  • Went to the museum where Jill works (Denver Museum of Nature and Science)
  • Spent time on the 16th Street Mall
  • Made friends with Daisy
  • Toured the Coors Brewery (where they make a depressing 1.5 million gallons of beer a day. Oh, and 14 million aluminium cans).
  • Stopped by Buffalo Bill's grave
  • Saw Buffalo Bill's herd
  • Went to church (twice)
  • Hiked at Three Sisters near Evergreen
  • Toured the Denver Mint
  • Visited Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Visited a mechanic in Estes park (this was not a part of the plan, but Micah's van window was not cooperating)
  • Ate at KFC (while previously mentioned mechanic worked his wonders)

Not bad for three and a half days! Here are the pics*

*If you're viewing this via Facebook, you'll have to click the "see original post" link to see the pictures.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Computer Geek?

I'm realizing today I may very well be a computer geek--or at least an aspiring one. I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing as long as it doesn't get too out of control In fact, I've attempted to be a computer geek before. It happened in 1995 or so, when I went to Radio Shack spent my heard earned money on an IBM Aptiva--a computer with a whopping 100mb of memory and a 166 mhz (or so?) hard drive.

It didn't really take then. But several interrelated factors have led me to believe that I may be further down the path now.

First, there is the existence of this blog. In some ways, it has nothing to do with the computer. It has more to do finding a diversion and trying to connect with folks I've lost contact with. Yet, since I started blogging a half a year ago, I find myself spending more of my free time in the interweb--both writing, sorting pictures, and fiddlin' with things. And I'll admit, I like it.

Second, there's the fact that I recently signed up for a facebook account. Again, this is partially out of a desire to get connected with folks (there's a theme here). But I also like the fiddlin'. And by the way, the 65 confirmed "friends" I have there suggest that I'm moderately popular, at best. I'm no where near a certain "Riets", who is rapidly approaching a whopping 300.

Third, I find myself frustrated when I can't get an Internet connection at home. As in: swear-under-my-breath-and-say-lots-of-things-pastors-shouldn't type frustrated. This is rather pathetic, I realize. After all, I do have a good book (or two) to read. But regardless, I'm actually thinking about shelling out the cash so that we can get our own service at home.

Finally, I've found myself coveting (yes, I know that's a sin) a new computer for our home use (currently I tote my church lap top back and forth). And not just any computer, but an imac. I've always wanted one--just so I could be like the cool kids. But today, I actually took the time to watch a video tour of the new operating system ("Leopard", grrrr) and was convicted that they really are better. Much, much better. (And soon, when the tour of "ilife" gets downloaded to my humble PC, I'm sure the case will be made again.) I may even be starting to believe that my life will be better if I attain this wonderful piece of technology.* Ooooh, the websites, the photos, the filing systems, the music, the video conferencing. Someday, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.**

PS: If you like to read a lot of blogs,"Google Reader" is the greatest thing since bagels .

* That reminds me of something Anne Lamott once wrote. After lamenting with her friend that her friend's husband, Eddie, blew their vacation money on an air conditioner, Lamott confesses: “…I wanted air, too, and believed that if I had it, my house would be perfect. I’ll go to my grave convinced that you can find happiness out there, somewhere, with the right someone or good financing. If you could just get things to line up properly, you could relax, learn to experience life in all its immediacy, reconnect with who you really are, with the soul or spirit, the divine whatchacallit deep inside that sparks when it hears certain music./// We’re not stupid, Eddie and I. We are Americans.”
**That's a Wayne's World reference, in case you missed it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Amusing (to me)

Jill and I have had a great time telling folks our big news. Generally, the reactions have been quiet satisfactory (though I'm not sure why people say things like "Well, I wondered..."). However, some deserve to be recorded for the ages.

Like tonight. We had a group of folks from church over for supper--including Andy and Ruth. I really love Andy and Ruth. I'm not sure how best to describe them other than to say they're very sharp--and at least a bit eccentric.

Okay, I'll try to do better.

Andy is 89--tomorrow. He made sure to slide into conversation that it's his birthday November 4. Because he loves holidays--when it was their 65th Anniversary this year and we announced it at a church potluck, he pumped his fist in the air and whooped for joy. They dress up for Halloween (Andy as a convict, Ruth following some sort of Hawaiin theme). In their house they have miniature sphinxes and pyramids--just because they think they're interesting. They're always at the front of the line at church potlucks. Andy wears string ties (Lanyards?) and a belt with his name on it. He calls me "short stuff" (and I call him "Young Man.") Forty years ago, Andy and another guy from church took their teenage sons to Mexico--and had them ride in the back of the pickup the whole way to Mexico city. Tonight, he teared up as he told us about his trip to Israel--and the way his athlete's foot was cured after he waded into the Jordan with his Sunday shoes on.

Okay, they really are hard to describe.

Anyway, tonight we announced to Andy and Ruth that we're expecting. Andy's reply was classic. "Well, what do you expect? That's what happens when people get together....happens all the time!" (They have six kids.)


Also good was the response of my niece, Emily. We didn't actually tell Emily ourselves. My sister, Leah, broke the news. "Joel and Jill called last night," she said. "And they had some exciting news. What is the most exciting thing that could happen at Joel and Jill's house?" Emily didn't need to think about that one. "Daisy is having puppies?!"

Well, that would be exciting...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


A few weekends ago (after Jill and I took our trip to Creede) I jumped in the car with two buddies (Chris and Nick) for a couple days of mountain bike. It sounds cruel to leave Jill at home, but she really wanted to go to work.

Here's the cliffnotes version of our trip:

6:54am--Stuff junk in the car. Neatly of course.
7:18--Drivin' drivin' drivin.
12:34--Stop at Wendy's for lunch. This would prove to be a poor choice.
2:07--Set up camp.
2:18--head out to Slick Rock Trail. A little scary. A lot steep. Mucho fun.
Dusk--Grocery store. Delcious noodle supper. Beer. Diet Coke. Cool Ranch Doritos.
Later--Bed time. Animated discussion about "Blankin' Robert Plant" in the back ground.

7:08am--Rise and shine to heated debates in next campsite.
7:32--Start water for coffee.
7:56--still waiting for water to boil.
8:02--Pour water into nelgean with great haste. Ponder Nick's new french press. Make with haste.
8:04--Spit out large chunks of coffee. Acknowledge our ineptitude with the french press.
8:28--Catch Shuttle that drops us @ 25 miles into desert at the top of porcupine Rim trail.
9:47--start riding.
9:52--whoop with delight.
10:01--pass crazy guys "doing some drugs" (their words not mine) along side of trail
10:07 Whoop some more.
11:48--Hunt for trail. Trust hightened sensory perception of aforementioned crazy guys.
11:57--question sensory perception of crazy guys.
12:43--more whooping.
1:51--accept oatmeal from crazy guy. "It's all natural...I mean no green, man." (Imagine Otto like voice).
2:35--laughter as I endo (flip over handlebars)
2:42--grimace when discover that bike is not functioning properly.
2:55--CL miraculously fixes my bike (mostly).
Later--finish ride.
4:37 (ish)--Discover toppled tent. Chuckle.
4:41--discover bent poles on new tent. Swear under breath. Consider leaving to beat storm.
4:53--Make comfort food--brats.
5:01--Contented by brats, decide to stay.
5:06--wind changes.
5:07--decide to leave.
5:41--stuff remaining goods in car and leave.
Later--eat Taco Bell. This is also a poor choice.
Much later--grind teeth, hunch over, squint, and pray as we drive over Vail Pass in snow.
2:30am--arrive home.

Okay: Here's the good part. The pictures...

Saturday, October 27, 2007


In case you haven't heard, it is no longer October. Its ROCKtober. Why? Because the fine folks at 9 News Denver said so (and a few other notable Denver characters, I guess.)

This renaming of months all has to do with the World Series. If you haven't heard, the Rockies are in this particular series (which doesn't really appear to be a World series from what I can tell, but I digress). And in case you don't know, the Rockies are from Denver. And since I'm from Denver (in case you didn't know), I guess that means I'm supposed to root for the Rockies too.

Truth be told, I've resisted hopping on the Rockies band wagon. Like most other Denver residents, three months ago I was fairly apathetic about the fate of the Rockies this year. I don't know all the history--there's a lot of bitterness about the Rockies ownership, from what I understand--apparently they're too intent on making some money, which bothers a lot of people and they've lost a lot of fans in the last ten years. But that's not really my issue--it's more that I'm generally apathetic about all sports. I suspect that has something to do with my being bad at them.

At any rate, I've not been an overly enthusiastic Rockies fan. I've gone to a few games. But I've also enjoyed poking and prodding the real fans. For example, last spring, I put in a bulletin announcement that said, "Young Adults: Come watch the Rockies lose with us" or some other such thing. Perhaps an abuse of power, but I was right (they lost something like 9-2). So given that history, I didn't think it would be right for me to pretend that I'm overly interested in the fate of Denver's new sweethearts.

But I have a confession to make. I've actually watched TV baseball (and am doing it right now, in fact). I want to yell at the screen (and occasionally do). I think I care.

But I still don't think that they're going to win the series.

But oh well. I'll still lay it on the line. For the record: Go Rockies!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Opinion Poll

I know I'm not supposed to covet, but I do spend a lot of time daydreaming about what my next bike purchase will be. A delicious Vanilla from Portland? A classic Kirk from Montana? A pricey Pegoretti from Italy to hang on my wall?

Well, probably not this year (probably not ever, actually). But I do have something in mind. Here are three an attempt to engage my readers I'll let you take a guess which is most likely.

Is it the traditional Dutch transportation bike, built to carry loads up to 125 lbs. Elegant, understated, and practical?

Or will I roll like John Dorian on the fuel efficient (but wildly pollutant) Buddy scooter?

Or will it will it be the updated classic--the Radio Flyer Twist Trike?

If you guessed #3, you're the lucky winner! Of course, I won't be riding it--but some young Schreurs will be...

We're Back

Well, we're back--"We" being me and my computer (which has been undergoing major surgery the past few weeks but is finally fixed--I think) and, more importantly, me and Jill from our vacation.

The short version is that Jill and I went to Creede, Colorado for a few days and had a great time. We did all those things married people do--you know, went to bed early, went for a few walks, played games (I taught Jill Yatzee!) and read (for the record: Jill and I listened to The Last Juror, I finished Whale Warrior, and also completed Terrorist and Lone Survivor). Then we came home so that Jill could go to work on Friday and Saturday and I could go for a little bike ride in Moab, Utah.

Here's the longer version:
Jill and I headed out after church Sunday afternoon on what turned out to be about a five hour drive down U.S. Highway 285. We chatted a lot, ate "Pull and Peels" (more my thing than Jill's), and then had a jaw dropping moment when we came around a bend and suddenly had a huge mountain range (the Collegiate Peaks, I believe) extending before us. The pictures never capture it, but we paused for a few tries anyway.

Monday, we headed from our little cabin on the Rio Grande to the town of Creede. In the summer months, Creede is supposed to be a happenin' little town--it has a lot of theatre, artsy-fartsy stuff. But in the fall (as we expected), there wasn't much to do there but sit around in the local coffee shop and talk about high-powered rifles, camouflage, and musk (its hunting season, in other words). Not really our thing. But that was okay. We had a very greasy burger, stopped by the Forest Service to get some maps and recommended hike routes, and then headed out of town to take one of the recommended hike. A good time was had by all, but a better time would've been had if the place we ate for lunch had put a little more hamburger in with their grease. And if we had Daisy along (sniff, sniff).

Tuesday Jill and I drove a little ways up from our cabin so that Jill could hike and I could bike. The goal (for me) was to make it to make the 14.5 mile MTB ride to Wheeler Geological Area and see the sights. I made it--eventually. And in retrospect, I'd even say I had a good time. But for much of the ride, I could only think, "Wow, I'm not very bright. This was not a good idea."

Here's a few free cycling tips for you from one who's been there. First, elevation makes things harder. (Yes, very good, I know). And on a related note: 11,000 feet (the elevation of my ride) is much higher than 5,000 feet (where I live). And the second tip: if you make it about 5 miles into your ride (okay, 3.5 miles into your ride) and you're wondering if it would be best to turn around--if you really have what it takes to mountain bike 30 miles over tough terrain with much less oxygen than you're accustomed to--you've probably bitten off more than you can chew. You're probably going to have a miserable couple of hours ahead of you. At least, that was my experience. I made it to my destination, but for a good two thirds of the ride home I felt lousy. I don't want to scare my mother or sound overly dramatic, but I was cold. I was tired. I was exhausted (I had to stop and push my bike up several small hills). Like I said, I wasn't very bright in choosing to do that ride. But of course, I'd do it again in a heart-beat if I had the chance.

That was Tuesday. Wednesday was a bit more laid back. We had intended to go "somewhere", but it looked like snow, so after going out for an even greasier burger than Monday, we hunkered down at the house. Perfect.
Thursday we made the drive back home, swinging by Great Sand Dunes National Park. There are sand dunes there. They are very great. So I guess the park is aptly named. We didn't spend much time there, but some day we'll go back, hike up them, and get lost in the wilderness

That's all for that portion of the trip. I'll tell about my little bike ride in Moab later this week. For know, here are some more pics of the rest of the trip (push the play button if you haven't figured that out already).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


No blogging for a while. I will return when my laptop does (hopefully the end of this week). I like to blog, but not enough to sit at work extra time and do it here...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Little Pocket of o' Sunshine

Mondays are a weird day for me. They are my official day off--but I usually feel like garbage for a good part of them. I think I suffer from what I once heard Rob Bell refer to as a "Preacher's Hangover" --I feel exhausted, may or may not have a headache, and can't help but thinking "Oh my, what did I do?" and more to the point, "What did I say yesterday?"

In order to deal with this condition--and for our general mental health--Jill and I do our best to get out of town for a while on Mondays. We usually head up to the hills (it seems like a more entertaining option than heading out to the plains)and do some hiking and biking. That was the plan this morning, but a dark cloud was hanging over Denver when we awoke. We thought it might end up being a quiet day at home reading.

However, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we discovered that the place we wanted to go only had a 30% chance of rain for the day (and not until the afternoon). So we loaded up the dog and headed out.

Things looked bad on the way out of town. We couldn't even see the mountains that we were driving towards because they were covered with thunderheads. Jill commented that it looked like they were being devoured by "the Nothing" in The Never Ending Story (great book, lousy movie). However, because we believe absolutely everything that we read on the Internet, we persevered on. And we were glad we did.

The place we went to is known as "Buffalo Creek" and is part of Pike National Forest. The biking was mediocre, but the scenery was great. And the interent didn't fail us--we got our little pocket of sunshine.

The place was basically wiped out by a forest fire ten or so years ago and is now in various stages of re-growth. There are also a lot of interesting rock formations etc. The pictures don't really do it justice (it seems nearly impossible to take good mountain pictures) but here are a few attempts...

PS. Sorry to you who check this regularly the lack of updates lately. I blame Harry Potter and the way my computer has been acting up. Grrr.
In the spirit of true repentance, I will do my best to do better in the future. .

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Victory or Defeat?

I think I began a new chapter* in my reading life this week--I quit a book. The offending piece of literature was the latest by Jane Smiley, Ten Days in the Hills. I picked it up on a whim at the library (by the way,after 50 weeks in Denver, I finally got a library card). I got it because I remember enjoying A Thousand Acres--it was a great modern version of "King Lear", had an engaging plot, intriguing characters, and even took place in Iowa. What's not to love?

Well, Ten Days was not quite so charming. A bunch folks staying together in a house in Hollywood ranting about the war and talking about the sex. It was boring. If I'm allowed to say such things--even the sex was boring. But I stuck with the book for @160 pages. I really thought I was going to make it to the end (400+ pages), but it was just too much. If it were only 300 pages I might have made it. But not 400. I couldn't bare it. And I gave up.

I'm not sure if that's a victory or a defeat in the reading world. I'm leaning toward the former. After all, I heard a book critic on NPR says she only finishes one out of twelve. And as everybody knows, NPR people are SMRAT. So apparently I'm in good company.

In case you're really interested in my reading life, I should say that the one caveat here is that this was a library book. I'm not sure what I would have done if I owned it. I suspect I would have persevered. Perhaps I would have put it back on my "To Read" shelf for a while, but it certainly wouldn't have gone on my "Books Completed Shelf." Does that sound as OCD as I fear?

In other book news, I read Jodi Picolt's latest novel last weekend (instead of Ten Days). Its called Nineteen Minutes, and I personally like it better than My Sister's Keeper. Less predictable, but still a little "chicky" at times.

Now I'm reading the fifth Harry Potter book. I think there may be something mildly depressing about the fact that, page-wise, this is likey the longest book I've ever read (longer than The Brother's Karamazov!). That J.K. Rowling does spin a great tale, however.

*Yes, that's a terrible pun. But as I may have mentioned to my church golfing buddies today--those are par for the course.
Okay, that's was just an act of desperation.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Jill, Joel, and Jan?

They’d once gone to the woods together, where he tried to enter her world of absorption as she fixed her gaze on lichen—but his mind had wandered like a free-range chicken, and he ended up thinking through a sermon based on Philippians four-thirteen. (From Jan Karon, "Out To Canaan")

Jill and I have been doing some camping the past few weeks. Nothing serious--quick overnighters with our dog, big tent (to accommodate the dog), and shiny new Coleman stove. We sit around some, hike some, read some, and--when Daisy allows--sleep some. It's good.

Two weekends ago Jill's brother Luke joined us on a whim. We camped near the top of Guanella Pass (@10,500 ft). Memorable moments included waking up at 2:30 am and looking at the stars--they were amazing. Like handfuls of salt sprinkled on a dark canvas. The next day, we tested Luke's flat-lander lungs and hiked our first "14er"*--Mt. Bierstadt. Luke was a champ.

Last weekend, Jill's folks were out and we rented a cabin in the mountains. Except for our dog deciding that she had to hunt mice in the middle of the night, it was a good trip. Again-=-hiked some (Rocky Mountain National Park), read some, sat some, slept some. Oh, and we gamed some. I didn't win every game of Settlers, but two out of three isn't bad. (Of course, I'd rather not talk about Ticket to Ride.)

Here are some pics of the past month...

*A "14er" is a mountain that is over 14,000 feet. There are 54 (56?) in Co. Some people make it a goal to climb all of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bachin' It: An Ode to Jill

I've been "bachin' it" the last few days. Jill has been in NY visiting her family since last Friday. That means that I've spent a lot of time doing "sermon research" (watching movies and reading), going for long bike rides*, eating nachos and drinking Pepsi One (that one calorie really does make a difference).

But she's finally coming home today.

That's probably good--on many levels. It's good because I miss her, of course. But it's also good because our household probably can't tolerate her absence much longer. Things just seem to go down hill when she's not around. And it's not just the fact that she has a much lower threshold for messiness than I do (why put in the dishwasher today what you can put in tomorrow?). Here's a short list of the (minor) catastrophes that occurred while Jill was gone.
  • On Saturday, I went for a road ride with a local bike club. 60 miles should not have been a big deal. But I forget to take food (I thought we were out. Talking with Jill Sat. night, she reminded me that we were not--I just hadn't looked in the right spot). Well, I blew up--big time. I've never felt so awful on a bike. Toward the end, I even wanted to puke going downhill. Sunday, my lungs/chest still hurt. I'm sure this would not have happened if Jill were around.
  • Food wasn't the only thing I forgot on Saturday. I also forgot sunscreen. I got my first burn of the year (pretty good, really). Saturday night my increasingly "noble forehead" had little strips of burn where the sun snuck through the vents in my helmet.
  • Sunday, I decided to make myself a frozen pizza for supper. Frozen pizza is usually one of life's little pleasures for me (I even splurged and got Digornoes). But it's less pleasurable when you forget to take the cardboard out from under the pizza when you slide it in the oven. Thankfully, no fires.
  • Monday night, I read a spooky article on rattle snakes right before bed. I tossed and turned and had bad dreams all night. I suspect my beloved wife would've censored my reading material (or, more likely, told me to go to bed earlier) and prevented this too.
  • Even Daisy has been affected by Jill's absence. Last night, I had to let the distraught pup out three times. This morning I discovered that it was because of a nasty case of diarrhea. It could've been from her snarfing of the neighbor's peaches. But I think it was because she missed Jill. Regardless, it was very nasty. But even that wasn't the worst of it.
  • The worst of it happened on Sunday. I decided to pick up some ice-cream with my Digornoes. Coffee/fudge = good. The bad part was that I didn't realize until I got home that it was "fat free." What a disaster. That too, I trust, would have easily been avoided if Jill were at home.

*CL: I road the first section of the Colorado Trail on Monday. It's sweet. I'll post pictures when my computer starts cooperating. That may or may not be after the Second Coming.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Things I DON'T LIke About Living in CO

One of my dreams is to live in a place that is "safe." No crazy weather (hurricanes or earthquakes). No venomous snakes. No scary bugs.

Apparently, CO is not that place.

Aside from an occasional blizzard and a perennial drought, the weather is great. But I'm not a fan of the wildlife.
Two weeks ago I saw a rattle snake while mountain biking. And today, I was told that a woman from church got bit by a black widow while looking for something in her garage.
Yikes. THAT's creepy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bad Timing

Jill and I got new neighbors this week. My pal Pico (from seminary) and his lovely wife Kim (from Kenosha, WI) moved into the house on the other side of church. They'll be living there for the next year while Pico (AKA"Chris") does a chaplaincy internship (AKA "CPE) at a local hospital (AKA "Swedish"). Jill and I are delighted at the prospect of having friends our age around--but we're trying not to be overbearing or creepy about it.

Chris and Kim, on the other hand, are probably just happy to have had their worldly goods arrive. They've been waiting for almost a week for the moving truck to get here, and Monday it finally did. But apparently, they weren't the only fresh faces to move into the neighborhood. How do I know this? Well, on Friday some concerned citizen went around stuffing pieces of paper into mailboxes and behind screen doors, informing all that a registered sex offender had just moved into the area. Yeesh. That's some bad timing.

Hopefully, Chris (and Kim) don't get too many dirty looks.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lessons Learned

I didn't get to go for a bike ride last week Tuesday (the day after my last post). I was too sore. But it probably wasn't what you think.

You probably think that I was sore from my bike ride on Saturday . But that wasn't the real trouble. The real trouble started on Monday, when I decided NOT to ride. Instead, I thought it would be a better idea to relax in the hammock chair. Maybe read a book. Perhaps take a little nap.

The only catch was that my hammock chair was sitting in the basement. I had not quite gotten around to hanging it in that perfect spot above the back patio.

"Well," I thought to myself, "I'm no mechanical genius, but I think I can hang up a hammock chair ."

I clearly overestimated myself. Because that's where my trouble began. Big, big trouble. The kind of trouble that starts with T , which rhymes with P, and that stands for pool....but I digress.

With great gusto I marched to the garage, and with childlike glee I grabbed my drill (a rare occurence), gave it a few revs and checked the battery, and then located what I was sure was the perfect hook for hanging a hammock chair. I figured I'd be relaxing in minutes.

And much to my delight, I was.

It was pure bliss.

For about two and a half seconds.

But then, my world (or maybe just my self) came crashing down. Before I knew it, my chair was no longer suspended the three and a half feet above the cement patio. It was on the cement patio. And so was I. I had landed quite squarely on my tailbone. And that hurt. A lot.

That's why I didn't go on a bike ride on Tuesday.

But on the bright side, all was not lost. I did learn some valuable lessons through this (painful) experience.

Perhaps the most important lesson was "Listen to your wife." You see, Jill had been watching with mild interest (amusement?) as I attempted to hang the chair. And at one point, she gave the hook and had taken from the garage a wary look and said, "Are you sure that thing will hold you? Because I sure don't think it will..." I don't remember my exact reply. I either said, "What, is that some sort of fat joke?" or just shrugged my shoulders and gave a little "meh." But either way, the end result was the same. I continued what I was doing, ignored her advice. And ended up in a world of hurt.

Next time, I'll listen.


Lesson number two was a reminder that I'm married to a very gracious woman. When I came crashing to the ground , Jill didn't say, "I told you so. " She didn't make disparaging (but accurate?) comments about my intelligence or mechanical ability. Nor did she fall to the ground in a shoulder-shaking, breath-taking boute of laughter. In fact, she didn't laugh at all. Instead, the first thing she blurted out was what we might consider the third lesson learned from this experience:

"Wow, gravity sure is strong!"

And there you have it. A sore butt and bruised ego. But I'd say, some very important lessons learned!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Piece of Cake

Well, Saturday was the big "Triple Bypass" . Some of you may recall from an earlier post that I was somewhat apprehensive about the ride. But it turns out, things went better than I dared hope.

I came. I rode. I rode some more. I conquered.

But I think I got off easy.

For one thing, there was the weather. It was perfect. "The best ever", is what I'm told. Partly cloudy. 70s. No raging headwinds (only mild ones). Only a few minutes of rain (and that during the last 30 minutes of the ride. This is unusual---people usually expect a good thunderstorm at some point during the day.) Compare that to last year, when there was so much rain, snow, cold, and carnage that at least half of the riders quit. I can just imagine what those who actually finished will say when I tell them I rode this year. "Yeah...well, back in MY day, in ought 6, it was so cold we got hypothermia coming down Squaw pass. And that was just the beginning.."
But the weather wasn't the only unfair advantage I had. You might also consider the distinct advantage my body type has for around half of the miles of the TBP. Weighing in at around 220, I am able to descend much more quickly than your typical 140-150 pound cyclist. I easily cruised down Loveland pass, for example, at speeds of 45mph before tapping the breaks (my riding partners who weigh about the same cracked 50.) Clearly, with nearly half of the ride being down hill, I had it easy here too. I can just hear the skinny guys say: "Yeah, you Clydestales may have to carry an extra hundred pounds on the way up. But it sure pays off on the way down!"

And then there was my gear. Compared to most people on this type of ride, I have nice, but not outrageously nice, cycling gear. But compared to the guy I passed going up Loveland pass, mine was completly over the top (no pun intended). If you look closely at the pictures to the right, you'll notice that he's riding up Loveland Pass on an old Schwinn Stingray.* It has a bannana seat. Chopper bars. According to the old Schwinn catalogues, it was around 39 pounds.** And you'll also notice that this fine gentleman is riding without padded shorts etc. Instead, he's dressed for comfort in cut-off jean shorts, a Rolling Stones t-shirt (taking with him at the top he was quite proud of that shirt!), and boots. Ouch.

Like I said, with the exception of the 120 miles, 10,000+ feet of climbing that the ride involved, I had it easy.

Now about that.

For those of you interested in the details, we left Evergreen around 6:20 and immediately started climbing the 18 miles up Squaw/Juniper Pass. That took a little under 2 hours. Coming up was great, but to tell the truth, going down was a little cold (the west side of the mountain doesn't get much sun at 8 am!). Once we got to the bottom of that (Idaho Springs), we started the loooong, slow climb up to the top of Loveland Pass. This seemed to be typical for the last two passes. A fair amount of elevation gain spread out over a lot of miles. This could make for a long, slow grind, but I rode conservatively and I felt fine for most of it. It was only toward the end of Vail Pass (Pass number 3) that I wondered what on earth I was trying to prove. However, at the top I had some oreos and watermelon and felt revived for the 25 mile descent to the finish. That was a good way to end.

Here are the stats, which I'll be determined to beat next year:

  • Start time: 6:20 ish.

  • Finish Time: 4:20 ish.

  • Average Moving Speed: 14:3 ish.

  • Time on Bike: 8 hours and 25 minutes ish.

  • Max Speed: 45 mph ish.

  • Total Mileage: 121 miles (ish)

And here are some random pics from the day, including the actual piece of cake referred to in the title of this post (the ride really was not that). It was my birthday cake, two weeks late, because I was trying to hold off on the ice cream in order to keep in nice, svelte climbing shape.

One of the five (?) reststops on the route. Somehow, me and the guys I was riding with managed to find each other at these.

Going up Loveland Pass.

"Silent Bob", chatting it up Loveland Pass.

Me: at the Top of Loveland Pass. Only a little lightheaded.
Crazy Guy: at the top of Loveland Pass. No more lightheaded than usual.

MMMM. Cake. What Jill did while she pined away for me...

*I don't know if he rode from the beginning. But I am quite certain we saw him roll into Avon some 60 miles later a few hours after we got in).

*My bike probably weighs about 23 with all my stuff. The real "Weight Weenies" (read: "rich guys") get their bikes down around 15lbs

Monday, July 9, 2007

Things I like about CO: Part III

Now that I'm an old codger of 27, I'm not sure what the kids these days would use to describe my last post. "Lame" seems apt. But you'd have to ask someone more "down" with the slang.

At any rate, in an effort to redeem myself (and in an even bigger effort to put off getting to work), I'm going to post the third in my compelling series: "Things I like about CO." Today's feature? "Dates with Jill." Of course, I could have dates with Jill anywhere we lived, but never mind that. As you can tell, we have some wild and crazy fun out here. I mean, a Friday night at the greenhouse? Outrageous.

The one* picture that's missing that has become a new thing for us is playing cribbage on the front porch in the cool of the evening. Has anyone noticed that the first person to deal always wins? Or is that just us?

*Oh, and our all too regular "Netflix" dates. And nights reading (Jill's plowing through the "Mitford" series now). Anyone have any good recommendations for books/movies?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Non-Bike Content

Heading out the door the other night on our way to a soccer game/fireworks, Jill told me to grab the camera. "Then you can blog about something other than bikes," she said.

So, in keeping with my constant desire to please my wife, no bike content here. So, what else to write about?


Work? Nope, that violates the strict code I've established for this blog: No work allowed.
Dog? She's awesome. But I shouldn't say more. Dog-crazy people are worse (I think?) than bike-crazy people.

Grill? Still cooking. Mmmmm. Brats. They're really tasty after a good, long bik...oops. Never mind.
Jill? Better than Daisy and brats. But I don't want to write about her and give her the satisfaction (after that comment and all).*
Well, that's pretty much my life. Not sure what else there is to tell folks about life here. I guess I'll have to settle on the weather.

We've been told more than once here: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours." That is, and is not, true.
Hey, is that a paradox?
It's not true because the weather here for the past several weeks has basically been hot, hot, and more hot (90-100). Of course, when I say "Hot", I'm talking about a different sort of heat than I'm used to in the midwest. It's "dry heat." It's a strange phenomenon--it can be 95 degrees out and you (or I) won't be visibly sweaty/sticky. Apparently, it just evaporates. Amazing.

At any rate. It's been hot. And dry too. However, you'd never be able to tell it by looking at our lawn. We have a sprinkler system and have caved in to pressure from our landlords to use it. So here we are, in the middle of the hot, dry, desert (ish), with a green lawn. Sheesh.
But back to the point. I haven't witnessed a whole lot of change in the big picture of Denver weather. Hot and dry pretty much sums it up.
But then again, it does change. Say the other night, when we went to the fireworks/soccer game for the 4th. (Oh, by the way, we went to a soccer game--Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew. A good time was had by all. We saw mascots playing each other at halftime. But I can't write any more about soccer. It only dredges up painful memories from my youth). When we left for the game around 7:15, it was 87 degrees and the sun was blazing. Two hours later, we were shivering, wishing we hadn't left our sweatshirts in the car (that just wasn't smart. The temperature regularly drops 15- 20 degrees here in the evenings). In another twenty minutes (after the game, before the fireworks) it was raining. A lot. Then, it stopped and we got to watch the fireworks in relative peace.

The fireworks, by the way, were quite good. The show was at least a half an hour (bit of a crick in the neck) and they boasted (truthfully, I assume) having the loudest fireworks in CO. Amazing.

Back to the changing weather. This afternoon is another case in point. I was at work, catching up on some things (oops, guess I broke my code), when it suddenly got very dark outside (it was sunny and, suprise, hot). Within fifteen minutes, there was lightening cracking outside my window (almost literally), the water was pouring down, the gutters overflowing. This lasted about twenty minutes, and then Jill and I went outside on the front porch to play cribage. This time, we had our sweatshirts on. But that only lasted another twenty minutes. Then the sun came out, we got too hot, and came back inside.

Again: amazing.
That's all I have to say about the weather. That was even more boring than I feared. But I never promised it would be interesting.
If you read this all, I'm not sure if I should commend you or tell you to get a new hobby. At any rate, now when I do a very long write up of the perils I encounter on the Triple Bypass next weekend, you'll all be grateful for some bike content (or may never come back here again!)

*That, and I'm planning on doing a "Jill" post after I get more pics of her at work.
**PS: If you want to know the current weather in Denver, check out the new "Weather Pixie" on the Left Panel. He/she even changes clothes to fit with current conditions (or at least conditions within the last hour or two.)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Things I like About CO, Part II

Another thing I like about living in CO is that it's usually not too much trouble convincing others to come vacation here. A couple of weeks ago Jill and I went up near Estes Park/ Rocky Mountain National Park with my parents, sister, and her family. A good time was had by all. Here are many, many, many pictures to prove it.

P.S. Consider this an open invitation to anyone who would like to come.* We have two extra bedrooms that we're happy to fill (hint hint dear brothers).

*Well, not really anyone. But if you actually take enough of an interest in our lives to read this, chances are we like you enough that this invitation applies to you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Things I Like About CO, Part I

I've been doing my best to enjoy some of what CO has to offer, so here (and in the following few posts, as I get time) are a few shots of things I like about living here. Note the theme: mountains, bike rides, mountains.* These shots are from a few bike rides a did before going to M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i. They include a road ride up Deer Creek Canyon, and some mountian rides with pals CL and Nick. Warning: by viewing this slide show, you risk seeing me in all my spandex-clad-biker-glory. View at your own risk.

*Note: These are not all the things I like about living here. I also love my job, my church, my dog, my house, my grill, etc etc....

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Look elsewhere

If you're really, really curious about what I'm doing this week, you can check my other blog and read about my adventures in Mississippi. Probably won't post anything new here until I get back.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Book Guilt

I feel (a little) bad about being so critical of Lamott's latest book in my last post. After all, I'm probably partly to blame here for reading such "chicky" literature. So to redeem myself, I'm going to post a few of the good quotes from Lamott's book. Because, really, I'm not such a crabby/cynical/crotchety/mean/bitter person. So here goes:
  • “ Believing [in God] isn’t the hard part; waiting on God is.” (p. 56)
  • After lamenting with her friend that her friend's husband, Eddie, blew their vacation money on an air conditioner, Lamott confesses: “…I wanted air, too, and believed that if I had it, my house would be perfect. I’ll go to my grave convinced that you can find happiness out there, somewhere, with the right someone or good financing. If you could just get things to line up properly, you could relax, learn to experience life in all its immediacy, reconnect with who you really are, with the soul or spirit, the divine whatchacallit deep inside that sparks when it hears certain music./// We’re not stupid, Eddie and I. We are Americans.” (133)
  • “If you are mesmerized by televised stupidity, and don’t get to hear or read stories about your world, you can be fooled into thinking that the world isn’t miraculous—and it is.” (154)
  • “Then I said the stupidest thing to God: I said, “I’ll do anything you say…” (192)
  • “If there were no other proof of the existence of a bigger reality than birds, they would do it for me.” (237)

See--that wasn't so bad!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book gripe

A loooooooooong time ago, waaaaaaay back in my college days, I read Anne Lamott's first book of memoirs/essays--Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. It was great. At least I think it was. Like I said, that was a long time ago (7 years?) so honestly don't remember many details. But I remember laughing a lot. I also remember hearing Lamott speak at Calvin College's Festival of faith and writing and laughing some more. In fact, I remember being so impressed with the book I even considered rereading it someday (something I rarely, if ever do).

But now I don't think I will--in part because of I'm afraid of what I'll find there (in other words, I'm afraid the book will, uhm, suck.) For one thing, there was Lamott's second book of memoirs/essays that was released a few years ago, Plan B: Further thoughts on Faith. Not so hot. But I was willing to let it go. I remembered my fondness for Traveling Mercies and figured it was a fluke. But then, a month or two ago, Jill and I went to a local bookstore to hear Lamott speak/read. Lamott was (how do I say this kindly?)...annoying. (oops, that's probably not kind). Those two things probably should have been good clues that its time for me to give up on Lamott, but I didn't. Instead, I got myself a copy of her latest book, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. I guess I was still hoping for redemption. But I didn't find it. The book was really not very good. In fact, I might even say it was lousy. Here are a few of the things I found lacking.
  • The content: Lamott subtitles her book "Thoughts on Faith." The truth is that there are actually very few thoughts on faith. Now, if she had called it "Thoughts on being middle aged", or "Thoughts on the Bush administration," or "Thoughts on weight gain" (or some combination of the above) the title would've fit. But she didn't.
  • The concept: Speaking of the title--those of you who are especially observant may have noticed that the three books mentioned above are all variations on a single theme (according to the titles): "Thoughts on Faith." I have to say, enough already. I suspect that the good material made it into the first book and the last two are full of the leftovers. Time for something new...
  • The comparisons: as one of my acquaintances points out, the low point of the book may be the line--"I sat tight. As tight as a sphincter." Ugh.
  • The criticisms (sorry, I'm stretching for a "C" here): Lamott has some harsh words for people who are conservative/"fundamentalist" in their faith and in their politics. That's fine with me. But what really gets my beef is that even while she speaks so strongly against folks who see the world in black/white on one end of the spectrum, she does the same thing herself on another end (I think this is called a double standard). You dislike Bush, protest the Iraq war, vote pro-choice etc etc and you're in and one of the good guys, if not, you're out...there's no middle ground.

So those are a few. I shouldn't make it sound like reading the book was complete misery, and pardon me if I sound like a book snob. Or (in keeping with the "C"s) a cranky old cynic. It's really not my usual practice to rip apart books (I usually choose indifference when I don't care for a book). But hey, I need something to write about.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saying Good-bye

Last week, Jill and I said good-bye to an old friend. She was only 19 years old. We'd been together five years. We've been through a lot together--even seen (a small part of) the world together. I'll admit, she wasn't perfect. She was a little ugly. Some would say "gutless." Or even "worn out."

But she was so faithful, so dependable, so...low maintenance.

Our friend, an '88 Toyota Corolla wagon (aka: "The Beater Wagon") has gone to a better place now. At least I hope it's better. We decided that we didn't need her* services anymore and so we passed her on to someone who would get more use out of her. So I guess for the Beater Wagon, our parting is not so much an ending as a new beginning. Not so much "goodbye" as "hello."

As the first car either Jill or I ever owned, she probably deserves a more moving eulogy. Maybe I should write a poem. Or a funeral dirge. But alas, the grief is too great. The pain too deep. So I'll just list off a few things that I'll miss...

  1. Being able to sing "Big guy in a little car."

  2. The cloud of blue smoke she'd belch out after sitting idle in our driveway a few days.

  3. Hauling couches, dogs, lamps, bikes, grills, mattresses, and about anything else you can name...

  4. Being able to say that I drive a station wagon.

  5. The smug feeling of self-satisfaction and moral superiority I get knowing that my car is crappier than your car.

  6. The great free advertising I was giving to Dordt College with my "Alumni" sticker in the back window (I took the sticker off). What better proof could there be than that car that Dordt alumns are very successfull?
  7. The duct tape that held the blinker/light switch together.

  8. The long list of "quirks" I'd have to tell people who wanted to borrow the car.

  9. The raw power of that four cylinder engine.

  10. The great connecting point I had with my neighbor as we talked cars: the points of comparison between the Corolla and his new Porsche were endless. Really.

*Why are cars always personified with the feminine pronoun?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Manly Man...and other news

Well, Monday night at 7:19 pm it became official--I'm a manly man now. That was the moment that I finished assembling my new grill. That's right, we have a grill now. And I assembled it. And from this point forward, we'll be eating meat. Lots of meat. That I "Barbecue" (not "cook"--cooking is for ladies. Barbecuing is for manly men).
Here is a picture of the new beast in all it's glory.

Here's a picture of me, doing what manly men do. Pretend that's steak, not chicken.

In other news, the Platte River is VERY high right now. This is the point on the Platte River Bike Trail (which runs next to the Platte River) where I had to turn around today--there was just no getting through that one.

Here's a point a little further down the trail. I chose to walk around the other side, through the rocks where it was dry. This guy was slightly smarter than his friend, who tried to ride through that water. He ended up submerged up to his mid-thigh and, ultimately, tipping over into quite a deep pool of water. I shouldn't delight in the misfortunes of others, but I really wish I had had my camera out a few seconds sooner.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 27, 2007


I've been in Grand Rapids the past few days (see my other blog for more info.). It was a fine few days, but much to my chagrin, I'm still here. That's right, I got up at 4:40 am and drudged off to the airport only to discover that my flight had been cancelled due to fog. So now I'm stuck here until 3:30 pm. Ugh.

I came here full of good intentions, of course. I was going to finish this week's sermon and get started on next weeks. Finish the four books that have been staring me down for the last month. Prepare for my adult ed class on Sunday. Read the Bible through in a single sitting. Oh, the mighty plans I had.

But, needless to say, few of them came to fruition. Somehow, I found other things to occupy my time. I got caught up in my novel. Chatted with old friends. Adjusted my glasses (new frames last week are still driving me nuts). And, oh yeah, watched cable TV.

I used to want cable. Secretly, of course. In fact, Jill and I used to have a "deal" (I'm not sure how serious either of us where) that if we made x amount of dollars we could get cable. I don't know if we've crossed that magic line yet or not (I don' think so), but we have made a choice not to get cable in our home. This week, I was reminded of at least three reasons why I'm glad we made that choice. (And pardon me if I sound like a real snob here--don't want to be one of "those people" who says, "Sure, I watch TV--did you see that new episode of Nova last night on PBS?). Here they are in, descending order:

3. Espn2/Espn Classic--Okay, I'm sure its hard to find sporting material to fill all 18 Espn channels (they could try bike racing, but I digress). But seriously. Turn on ESPN2 and you know what you get? Poker. Yeah, you heard me. Poker. What's next, Nascar? (Oh, wait...). And you know what was on ESPN Classic? An episode of "American Gladiator" from the mid 80s. At least there is some physical activity involved there (and some impressive mullets), but give me a break.

2. VH1--it's depressing to me that as a culture, we actually care so much about so-and-so's divorce/shopping habits/weight gain/weight loss. Even more depressing is that many of the shows on this channel make "Paradise Hotel" look tasteful.

1. "The Pussy Cat Dolls." Do I really need to say more?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Will Power

Saturday morning I headed out to Golden for a little ride. My goal was to ride up Lookout Mountain, which I eventually did (10 miles, 2000 ft. of climbing). But as I wheezed my way up one switchback after another, I couldn't help but think that things might be slightly easier if I lost the little Pastor's Paunch. So I resolved to eat better--I even thought about giving up ice cream.

Well, it only took until Saturday night for my resolve to crumble. We (Jill, me, and pal Pico who's visiting for the weekend) went to a Rockies Game (Hooray for $4 "Rockpile" seats!). Below are pictures of our supper. Needless to say, not a real good start on the "eat right, eat healthy etc..".

Mmmm. Nachos.

That's about 4.5 lbs of cheese, sourcream, and other "product."

24 Hours Later, I can assure one does not eat all that cheese product/jalapenos without consequence. The wages of nachos is....never mind.

There's a hotdog under there somewhere...

I asked Jill for permission to post this picture. I'm not really sure why she gave it to me.

A not so full house at Coors Field.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

One of THOSE People

CL reminded me the other day that I haven't updated my blog in a while. He said (as I remember it): "You never update that thing. You're turning into one of those people."

He's right, of course. I haven't updated in a few weeks (especially if you don't count gratuitous Youtube content). And I don't have an excuse. It's not that I've been getting a tremendous amount of reading done (you'll notice the book list hasn't changed in a few weeks), or that I've been terribly overworked at church (on the contrary, I feel like I haven't as productive as I'd like the last few weeks), or that I've been spending two hours a day on the bike (let's not talk about that). Again, no excuses. I'm just one of those people.

I was thinking about that today--about how I've become one of "those people" that I said I'd never be. It's been on my mind for at least a good five minutes now because I've come to realize that it's happening in other areas of my life other places too. Proof? Twice a day I go out the door with a dog and a plastic bag. Oh, the indignity of it all. But let's not talk about that either.

Better proof is the fact that I've spent too much time the last few days investigating cell phone plans. That's right. A cell phone. It looks I'll soon be stepping into the year 2001. And then I'll be one of those people going 47 mph in a 65 mph zone, swerving erratically in between lanes, talking at a ridiculous volumes in restaurants about the rash I've got under my arms, or calling my wife every three minutes from the grocery store so that she can tell me what kind of apples to buy, then what grade of ground beef, then what flavor of cheese?

Sheesh. What's next? I'll cry when Sanjya finally gets voted off American Idol?

Well, at least I'm not the only one going downhill. Jill discovered ebay the other night. But more on that another time.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

dirty preacher

In a lame attempt to update my blog at least onece a week, I'm posting somebody elses video. But it IS at least vaguely related to my life. Last Sunday, I was trying to talk about a woman's "dress" and ended up saying "bress." Of course, all the dirty minds in my congregation thought I said something else. But on the bright side, I think I handled it better than this guy.
PS: Too "edgy" for the church blog?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rollerblading with Daisy

I'm not sure why I find this so entertaining--but I do. This is us going down our block. She's slowed down a bit after going for a good half hour. (Earlier, we went to Wash Park and were keeping up with some bikers. Yep, my dog is faster than your dog.)

Getting Ready For a Walk

This is Daisy get revved up to go out for the previously mentioned rollerblading. About ten seconds in is when I grab the leash and she realizes what's going on. And no, I don't know why I say "go" like I'm from Sheboygan County

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flashback: 1990

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm training for the Triple Bypass coming up this July.

Well, sort of training.

Monday afternoon I meant to go for a ride. But it was windy. And cold (ish). And that meant biking outside would be a lot of work. So not such a hot idea.

So then I thought of another idea. I could go in the basement and work on the erg (that's a rowing machine, for you lay persons). You may or may not know, but "erging" (that's "rowing") is one of the best workouts there is. It works every major muscle group at once. And again, that means its a lot of work. So that sounded like a bad idea too.

And then I remembered an almost idyllic scene from a few days before. He was floating, it seemed. Gliding down the street without any effort. He had his trusty K-9 trotting along beside him.

He was...rollerblading.

Suddenly, I was transported back to the year 1990. To the time I flipped through the JC Penny Catalogue and saw a pair of "Laser Line 50s." They were only 45.95.* And they were beautiful. Jet black. Your choice of hot pink or neon green trim and wheels.

They had to be mine. Soon, they were. (You can guess which color I chose.)

It wasn't long before I was blading around Sioux Center with my friends. Cruising around the mall. Jumping off of the Dordt Science Building Steps. Hopping over the benches of the SUB (may it rest in peace). Whipping down the hill behind the chapel. Zipping through the hallways of Sioux Center Christian before school. ** Playing roller hockey in empty parking lots. Getting in trouble with Jeremy K's mom for hitting her precious little boy with my hockey stick.

Ahhh, yes. Those were the good times.

So I decided to ride that wave of nastolgia all the way to "Sport's Authority" and find myself a new pair. Regrettably, they didn't have anything in cool neon colors. But, somewhat miraculously, they had something in my size. And on sale! It was a sign. I bought them, took them home, and laced up. And then, I put Daisy on her leash and we took off for Harvard Gulch Park.

Let me tell you, Rollerblades have come a long way in the last 15 years. The boots are more comfortable. The bearings are much smoother.

And with Daisy pulling like a Clydesdale, they roll a whole lot easier. In fact, with her doing most of the work, rollerblading just might qualify as the best workout ever.

*A bargain compared to Kelly C's new, top-of-the-line "Coolblades", for which he paid a cool $150.
**Clearly, this was before I became employed there as a janitor. Janitor me would've wailed on roller-blading me for such foolish behavior. Do you know what Rollerblade wheels do to waxed floors?!

Monday, March 26, 2007

MORE Vacation

That's right...more goofing off this weekend. Just think, I usually only work one hour a week , and this weekend I even got that off!

We had a good time showing Brian and Becky a bit of Colorado.
Supper at Thai Basil Thursday (mmmmm), breakfast at Duffy Roll on Friday, a bit of work for me and Jill, then off to the mountains!

A couple from church was kind enough to let us stay at their mountain home near Fairplay, Colorado. That's a pretty cool part of the state, if I don't say so myself. You come over Hoosier Pass and suddenly see a huge open plain--it looks like Narnia. Its a strange feeling, because if you look straight ahead (not very far), you'd think your in Nebraska, it's so flat. But if you look around, you realize you're at around 10,000 feet and there are some really big mountains around (You can see Pike's Peak from where we were staying).

I confess, I can now see why "those mountain people" find a weekend get away so attractive. (By the way, anyone want to go in to buy a cabin with us? Or toss a hundred grand our way to get us started? I found a really nice little spot that might be relatively cheap. I can even send you a picture if you're interested in the investmnt opportunity). Jill and I (but perhaps especially Jill) really, really like to get out of the big, dirty city. I also love the chance to sit around and read in peace (Mary Doria Russel is a really good writer. I'm now 300 pages into A Thread of Grace, and still loving it--which says something since I'm usually sick of books by about page 200--and that's if its a good book), to play games (a lot of "Ticket to Ride"--Choo, choo!--this weekend), and, drink coffee (that mug made it taste even better), and generally do nothing. For me, the only thing that would have made the weekend more perfect would be if I had a bike a long. I would have loved to tackle the thousands of acres of National Forest in the Cabin's back yard. Maybe next time.

We left Sunday afternoon after a short hike in the snow. Stopped at three sisters for another hike, then came home and picked up Daisy, who clearly missed us a great deal. Here are some pics:

Our Humble Home.

Sunrise out our Front windows Sunday Morning

Jill, not being annoying at all.

Brian, Ever Thoughtful.

Jill, Showing that Puzzle Who's Boss.

Hiking at Three Sisters (Ever Green)

Jill, Doing What Jill Does

Becky Playing Hard to Get