31 May 2010

Eyes and Heart

It's your typical island beach: about ten yards of light sand, flanked by cliffs, with palm trees and wet green hills climbing to fog-covered mountains.

I saw two kayaks under a palm tree. After some short negotiations, Tyler and I rented them for two hours.

I love being on the water. We were up near the short cliffs, where little gray and red crabs scrambled away as we paddled by. Close to the cliffs, when the incoming and outgoing waves coincided, we could rise or fall five feet almost instantly. Kinda scary, very cool.

We paddled across the bay to the other side. What looked like an assortment of pretty buildings turned out to be like the poor neighborhoods I've seen in other parts of Central and South America: shelters slapped together with lamina and scrap wood.
Right next to the resort. And I noticed that all the windows facing the poor barrio were closed up.

Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.

Techo

I sit on the roof and think. Lightning flashes to the West and to the South: there is a storm over Haiti.

I wish you were here, sitting by my side as the rain sprinkles down on our skin and the setentas cruise the streets below. You could ask me questions as we watch the lightning run across the Haitian sky.

I wonder what Haiti is like. I wonder if I could help there. I wonder if they could help me.

I pray: "Why am I here, Lord? What do You want me to do here? Learn Spanish, ¿nadamás? It has to be more than that. These people need more than another Spanish speaker.

But they don't need me at all. They need You.

I need You.

26 May 2010

Dominican Republic

In the DR. Pretty cool so far. More to come when I find reliable Internet.

22 May 2010

Ella

She's following Jesus to the other side of the ocean.
She likes campfires.
She's a backpacker.
She's willing to heed something I told her five months ago.
She's patient.
She'd make a great mother.
She wants to raise her own kids.
She wants to travel.
She likes to watch the stars.
She's beautiful.
She likes being barefoot.
She likes hammocking.
She sees beauty.
She's never been kissed.
She's strong.
She writes.
She sings beautifully.
She loves God.

And she likes me.

21 May 2010

A breakdown of minimalist footwear

Once a friend introduced me to Vibram FiveFingers, I've pretty much given up on normal footwear. Instead, I've explored several options for minimalist footwear. I'll present them here in the order I tried them.

Vibram FiveFingers KSO

Like slip-on hobbit feet.
Good for: Running and hiking, especially when it's wet, on road or off.
Not good for: Wearing all day, prolonged wet conditions, cold conditions
Price: $85

These are the most barefoot-like footwear I've tried. They're basically Vibram rubber gloves for your feet. Your toes can move independently, and along with the rest of your foot, they can wrap around rocks and roots on the trail for traction. They have excellent traction in almost every condition - wet wood was the only place I've felt them slip.

I've run through light snow in these, and as long as I wasn't always in the snow, my feet were fine: there's so much blood going to your toes that they stay relatively warm. I've also run through puddles after a rainstorm. Normally, I'd have to go around, but with these, I could go straight through.

However, if your feet are wet in them for a long time, it may cause problems. I wore these for a week in Peru, where it rained daily and the humidity was always high. They never really dried, which resulted in some blisters and wrinkled skin.

Also, on long runs, I've experienced some chafing  along my arch. This is pretty easily solved with some athletic tape. Also, Vibram's new Bikila is said to solve the problem.

Soft Star Viley

All natural, like what the Indians wore.
Good for: Winter hikes, runs, and general wear
Not good for: Warm weather.
Price: $67

These are simple shoes. A smooth grain leather upper, sheepskin innersole, and rubberized outsole make them cozy, with enough traction for pretty much anything. They're super flexible - you can just roll them up - and super comfy. However, if I'm standing around inside or in warm weather, my feet sweat like crazy.

Nike Free 5.0 V4

As minimalist as Nike gets.
Good for: Situations where you need to look normal.
Not good for: Lateral movement.
Price: $85

These feel great after a bike ride or a long run. Their heel and arch support let my feet relax - although for most, coming from more "supportive" shoes, they would work your feet.

I don't recommend these for beginners, or really for anyone. The heel makes it extremely difficult to forefoot strike, which will give you bad form while running. Heel striking is bad. But these are very flexible as far as "shoes" go, and I avoid wearing anything with more support than these.

Nike has come out with a Nike Free Run, which doesn't seem to solve any of the problems addressed here, but does look like it has a more comfortable upper. Nike's human rights violations make me want to stay away from them.

Soft Star RunAmoc

Like what the Indians wore, but better.
Good for: Running, wearing all day, conforming a little
Not good for: Sandy trails.
Price: $87

Once Soft Star realized a lot of their customers were wearing their moccasins for running, they began developing a running moccasin. They sent many different variations to testers, evaluating materials, fit, and function.

They did a good job. With its perforated leather upper, Vibram sole, and adjustable elastic laces, the RunAmoc is good for running. I did 13 miles in mine the second day I wore them. However, my arches got pretty sore. It was probably not a good idea to do 13 miles on my second day. Also, sand from the trail leaked in the holes and gave me blisters on the outer part of my soles. And one more thing: the 5mm trail sole seemed to thick to me - my feet slid off rocks instead of wrapping around them.

Of course, most of those problems are my fault: I went too far too soon, perforated leather isn't good for sand, and I chose the wrong sole thickness. I sent these back for some sizing adjustments and the thinner (2mm) sole. We'll see how they work now - I'll be wearing them a lot in the DR.

In any case, these are one of two pairs of shoes I could wear all day.

Huaraches

Run like the Tarahumara. You don't have to get pink laces.
Good for: Running on any surface, wearing all day.
Not good for: Cold weather.
Price: $20-25, depending on foot size.

I made these myself with a kit from Invisible Shoe. That means they're custom-fitted, and cheap. The owner will make you a custom pair for twice the price.

They're a piece of Vibram rubber that hugs your sole. 4mm is thick enough to protect your feet and thin enough to let them function naturally. The cherry rubber provides good traction, along with allowing your feet to wrap around rocks and roots.

I ran on Blodgett Peak with these this morning, and they felt great. In fact, I normally couldn't feel them at all. The day after I got them, I put them on at 1400 and didn't take them off until I went to bed. They're that comfortable.

19 May 2010

To fly or to build?

In November, I have to submit my choices for my Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC). I'm not sure if I want to fly, or if I want to go into engineering and do RED HORSE type of stuff.

Flying would be fun, and I could fly rescue choppers, or fighters, or tankers, or anything, depending on my pilot training class and how well I do in it. But it's a ten-year commitment.

Engineering would be sweet. I could jump out of airplanes and fix stuff. But only for one assignment, or maybe two. It'd probably be a lot of administrative work.

If I fly, I could go into missionary aviation. If I go engineering, I could work on the ground to provide shelter and clean water and such.

They're both good options. Hmm...

17 May 2010

Storm

As worship songs echoed in my head, I climbed the hill near the Chapel to the LZ.

At the top, I turned to the east and watched lightning flicker through a thunderstorm 20,000 feet tall.

Our God is an awesome God.

15 May 2010

Ultrarunning

"Perhaps the genius of ultra running is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are."

David Blaikie, a Canadian ultrarunner

Ran across this today. Good stuff.

14 May 2010

Where I come from

I drive these old roads
I run these old trails
Filled with memories,
With songs, with sights

Here is where I hit the deer
There is the curve I crashed my bike
The doctor's house, on the right
Where I chopped the tree the wind blew down

Remember our ride at dusk
When the gnats filled our hair?
Remember when Luke whistled Christmas songs
All the way home from church?

That tree is taller than I remember
See how high the river is?
There is the smell of lilac
Over here, the smell of birch

Back here, I lay and look at the stars
The jack pines creek in the breeze
Once, we watched the northern lights
Did you see them dance?

One day, you will see my home
You'll see my family, my yard, my town
And then maybe you'll understand
Where it is that I come from

11 May 2010

The longer the waiting, the sweeter the kiss

The longer the waiting the sweeter the kiss
It's better my darling, I promise you this

This has become one of my favorite songs. Although the song speaks of a fisherman who is leaving his love to go to sea, I think it also applies to someone who's saving their first kiss. Or in my case, my next kiss.

I really admire a girl who hasn't been kissed. It's not easy. To the girls who have been kissed, there's no reason to be ashamed of that - forgiveness is yours, and purity can be restored. As for me, I know I've been forgiven, but I wish I could say I've save my first kiss for my wife - I'd like to be able to say I only kissed one woman in my life. I can't, but I can say I'll only kiss one woman for the rest of my life.

I've been waiting a while, and I've got some waiting left. But that is gonna be one sweet kiss.

10 May 2010

Education

On my way to the cadet store for some celebratory Good & Plentys, I stopped in the barber shop for a haircut. As I waited, one of the barber ladies was studying with a cadet for one of her finals tomorrow.

Fractions. Pre-algebra.

I say that not to scorn her - rather, she deserves praise. I can't imagine studying that stuff at 40 years old. That takes courage.

We chatted a bit as she cut my hair - she asked about my finals, and I about hers. She wants to become a dental hygienist or a nurse. Some days she feels way over her head, and others she feels like she's got it down. "Do you feel like that too?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well then I must be doing something right, huh?"

I think she'll make a great dentist.

Around here, it's easy to get down, easy to feel like I'm in over my head. But today was a small reminder of how much of a blessing this place is. I get paid to go to school, to study advanced subjects, even to go to the Dominican Republic for four weeks.

Why do we complain about doing what so many wish they could be doing?

06 May 2010

Streets of Laredo

I just finished reading Streets of Laredo, Larry McMurty's sequel to Lonesome Dove. It's an excellent book. Here are some choice passages:

"The harm is not in the beer," Maria told him. "The harm is in men. Drunk men. They beat women. Some of them have beaten me..."

Call was wondering if the man would survive. There was no answer to the question, of course, but it was a matter he always pondered, when he led men into danger. It was also a question he could as well ask of himself. If the years had taught him anything, it was that survival was a matter that could not be predicted with any accuracy. Time and again, on the frontier, men who were well experienced and well equipped rode off one day and got killed. Gus McRae, his old partner, was as competent as any man he had ever known, and yet, Gus had ridden off on a kind of frolic, in Montana, and ended up dead. None of the Hat Creek cowboys had been as competent as Gus, or Deets - the black man who had served him so well for so long - yet, Gus and Deets were dead, and some of the least competent - Soupy, for example, and Jasper Fant - were still alive and flourishing. There was no degree of competence that would tell a commander which man would live and which man would die.

Among his people, the Kickapoo, respect for the gods caused most people to behave well, at least to behave well most of the time. But the same did not appear to true of whites, most of whom behaved as if they knew no god and had no guidance stronger than their own passions, when it came time to decide how to behave.

Gus retorted, "That's your problem, Woodrow, or one of them. You've got no sense of show. Aint' you ever heard of esprit de corps?"
"No, what is it, and how much does it cost?" Call asked.
"I give up! You don't buy esprit de corps, you instill it, and bugler would be a good start," Augustus said.

Maria knew the men would be after her soon. They would be angry because she had stirred up their women. Most men didn't like women being stirred up... Life was much easier when women were broken, when they didn't dare express a feeling, whether happy or sad. It was not something to question; it was just how men were.

Call often picked over battles, in his mind. There were few fixed rules. Once men started shooting at each other with deadly intent, strategies and plans were usually forgotten. Men acted and reacted according to their instincts. Experience didn't always tell; veterans of many battles made wild, inexplicable mistakes. Even men who remained perfectly calm during battle did things that they could not make sense of later, if they survived to rehash the battle.

Lorena said, "If killing is the only reason you can think of to live, then you might as well die."

Lorena's thought: How could men, decent or not, know what made a woman happy or unhappy?

Clara realized she had lost touch, just from not touching.

Charlie Goodnight: "Life's but a knife edge, anyway. Sooner or later people slip and get cut."

02 May 2010

Things I learned this weekend

Dino-camping, BSU banquet, and bonfires.

I really, really like sunrises.


Bacon fried over a fire is really tasty.


Skinny dipping in Purgatory is super refreshing.


Even hollow trees are fun to climb.


I like rivers.


Colorado once had a lake where dinosaurs walked.


Every group has someone who doesn't have their stuff together and holds everyone else up.

It sucks to be that person.

Colorado can change from mountains to grasslands to canyons as fast as you can read a few chapters of Larry McMurty.

Willow trees will always give away the river.

Vibram FiveFingers are great hiking shoes.

If you're an evolutionary biologist who studies birds, you can recognize birds by their song.

When one bird sings the song of fifteen different species, it's a mockingbird.

Mockingbirds in Colorado have heard chickadees.

Being up-front with women impresses them.

On the grasslands, the stars are incredible.

Peruvian hammocks are comfy.

If you go for a hike in the canyons after reading Larry McMurty, you'll expect Indians to suddenly appear on the ridges above.

Saying goodbye is hard.

Sometimes, Christian men don't treat women as well as non-believing men do.

Women have a lot of wisdom.