28 September 2010


Loyalty is "one of the greatest virtues that there can be in any person, and especially in a knight, who ought to keep himself loyal in many ways. But the principal ways are two: first to keep loyalty to his lord, and secondly to love her truly in whom he has placed his heart."

-Order of the Band of Castille

26 September 2010


The trees get scrawnier and the path gets sketchier as we near the treeline. Then we roll out of it, over rocks, with the mountain climbing to our right and falling to our left. The moon shines on the valley floor thousands of feet below us.

We come to the end of the trail and park, get out and walk around. It's all gray rock and a little scrub pine, orange and green lichen on the ground. We can see the Milky Way and the Big Dipper and the other fourteeners around us, the moon casting shadows on their faces. In the valley behind the peak, a campfire flickers; other than that, there is no sign of civilization.

We gather around a cross someone placed there and open the Bibles on our phones. Gordon reads Psalm 19; I read Psalm 8:3-4.

When I consider the heavens,
The work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
Which you have set in place,

What is man that you are mindful of him?
The son of man that you care for him?

23 September 2010

Stupid things

"Rationally speaking, what kind of fool would walk an hour and a half hoping for 180 feet of delaminating slush and horror? But we do all kinds of stupid things when you think about it. We work too much, don’t make the most of our pre- and post-work time, or our lunch breaks, or our time with friends, and the list continues. Hell, people mow their lawns. Why? For what? Step away from the 'well, everyone does it' thing and you realize that mowing your lawn makes September ice climbers look like rocket surgeons."
-From "Chasing Friday" on The Cleanest Line.

Yeah. I'd bet that would work on my dad as well as the "Mom, if we clean before company comes, it's like we're lying to them. We're saying the house always looks this nice, but it really doesn't."

But, I think it's true.

In other news, I went for my first run with the marathon club today. The guy who led it - my coachee from last year - took us on a pretty sweet trail through the woods. Marine Corps Marathon in five weeks.

22 September 2010


You ride on my back
As the rain softens our skin
I don't know what to say:
It's strange to me
That you should go and I should stay.
Hay tanto sentido en mi pecho
Y yo no puedo expresarlo.
I don't have words to whisper
As you prepare to go and follow:
Those three words
Are said too much
And not enough.
So I quote scripture and hold you tight
And pray for you
And for us.
What if this is our last embrace?
May His will be done.
We hold back the tears
As I climb in my Jeep
And I realize how fitting
Is this rain that's falling.

20 September 2010

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."
So let us melt, and make no noise,                                       5
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys 
    To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                              10
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                     15
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           20

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so                                          25
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                30
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                    35
    And makes me end where I begun.  

By John Donne (1896)

18 September 2010

Sun come up through them trees

As everyone leaves the dying fire and heads for bed, I reach into my pack and pull out my Bible, flipping to a verse that's been running through my head the whole night:

When I consider the heavens, 
The work of your fingers, 
The moon and the stars, 
Which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him?
The son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:4

In the morning, I hear voices around our campsite, and peek out of my sleeping bag to see Bill and Matt packing up. They had to head back down for Matt's game, but I lay back in my hammock and stare at the sky.

The wind blows, and golden aspen leaves float down, riding on the wind, twisting this way and that. The sun lights up the western ridge, covered in pine and rock and aspen. A bird wings across above me: every time it opens its wings, the sun shines on its bright breast with a golden gleam. Then it closes its wings and it becomes a brown speck, launching itself through the air.

I reach down and grab my JetBoil fuel and stuff it in my bag with me so it warms up. Later, I climb out and start boiling water for oatmeal. Carly crawls out of her tent and eats it, then I make myself a bowl. Once everyone's up and packed up and the fire's out, we head up to the peak.

The aspens are beautiful, golden patches in the evergreen forest.

Up on the highest mountaintop, just wanna hold that breath forever...
"Changes in the Weather" by Barefoot Truth

13 September 2010

Marine Corps Marathon 2010

I went to an informational meeting for the Marathon Club last week, but I never imagined that would earn me a slot for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon. When I was offered the slot, I hesitated at first - I probably have to pay my own airfare - but decided to take it. How could I pass up 26.2 miles through D.C., especially Arlington?

So, I have 47 days to train for a marathon. I did 14.5 miles on Saturday morning, on Falcon Trail: tons of elevation change. The low point is Stadium Boulevard; the high point is the Stanley Canyon trailhead - plus three huge ridges and several other smaller ones. It took me 2 hours and 50 minutes, including stops to grab stuff out of my pack and check maps. That's an 11:45 mile - very slow. However, it's at 7,000 feet, and it's hilly.

I hope to finish the MCM in 3:45, fast enough to qualify for Phase 1 of the Pikes Peak Ascent at the end of next summer. We'll see.

I'm also thinking about turning this into a charity run. Maybe you'd sponsor me a quarter or a dime for every minute it takes me. The faster I go, the less you pay. I'd donate the money to an orphanage in Guatemala.

Stay posted for details on that.


LtGen Gould, our USAFA Superintendent, is obviously well liked. After crowd-surfing the bird and the cadet wing commander, we started chanting, "We want Gould! We want Gould!" Cheers erupted as he ran across the field and crowd-surfed to the top of the stands.

12 September 2010

Death by PowerPoint - and how to fix it

Thoughts of late

"Religion" is bogus
"Jesus didn't come to make us religious. He came to make us human." - Pastor Matt Heard
Christianity isn't about rules or regulations - it's about freedom. His grace sets us free.

Today in church, we sang "How he loves" while a video of little kids acting out Jesus' life played. It brought me to tears. My body shook as I sang

He is our portion and we are His prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking...

Communion isn't about rules
It's about remembering. You don't have to be a member of the church. It doesn't have to be unleavened bread and real wine. It can be leftover dinner rolls and red Powerade, or a loaf of bread and some grape juice.

"This is my body, given for you... do this in remembrance of me."

The man's got to lead
In a relationship, it's the man's job to lead. It's his job to protect and care, to make decisions and guide the relationship. To say what needs to be said and to hold back what shouldn't be said yet. He must always be honest. He should pray, to himself at first, then out loud, with her.

06 September 2010

Something old, something new

The clouds are creeping across the sky
And the jack pines creak in the breeze.
The grass is wet and it's cold
But we stay and stare at the heavens.
Then I pray and I feel your heart.

The waves crash over the pier
And the hail flies horizontally.
I shield you with my body
But soon we're both soaked.
Then your smile brings out the sun.

The breeze ruffles the target
And the sun glints off the barrel.
You try shooting from a sitting position
But you're frustrated 'cause you miss
Then you lie prone, and hit the bull's eye.

The grass is green and the breeze is light
And Josh Turner plays on the deck.
I play frisbee in the grass
But you stay on the porch
Then I see you, watching me.

The sun is starting to get low
And the air is beginning to cool.
In my park, we walk along
But you stop to take pictures.
Then you put your hand in mine.

The coals flicker in the wind
And the fire smells like hardwood.
My dad cracks his old jokes
But you find them hilarious.
Then they head in and we talk and pray.

02 September 2010

That college thing

"I've taught for twenty years and I never talk about my personal life in class.

"But I buried my best friend on Sunday and my mom's had two heart attacks this week. I didn't think it would bother too much, but it did.

"Ukranians came to North Dakota to be wheat farmers. I grew up a roughneck. I worked the night shift on oil rigs and went to college during the day.

"When the drill bit wore out, we had to pull up all the pipe to get to the bit. So I was 100 feet up on the platform, opening up the hole, pulling out 90 foot sections of pipe and stacking to them side. Then, putting the pipe back in, you had to throw the section in and latch up the hole, all in one smooth motion.

"One night, we had an engine malfunction, so I had to go down and fix that. When I came back up, I forget to reconnect my harness. I threw in a section of pipe and just kept going, leaping across and down 25 feet, 100 feet above the ground. I climbed around the outside the platform and went right back to work.

"One of the guys I worked with as nicknamed 'Ick.' He put rodents in his mouth. On the platform.

"Another guy got caught in a blowup. 80% burned. I visited him in the hospital, he was all bandaged up. He told me, 'It's ok, they're gonna replace everything in my locker.' I thought, dude, you're never gonna walk again. You're never gonna work again. You won't need steel-toed boots and gloves.

"So I went to college so I wouldn't have to work on oil rigs the rest of my life. We had to tear down and rebuild the rig every 7-10 days to drill a new hole. I was terrible at dying knots. They'd say, 'H put one of those college knots on it.' They made fun of me - I was the guy who went to school.

"I came back about ten years after I got my PhD and wound up in Greeley. I was in a bar, saw a guy I used to work with. 'How's that college thing workin' out?' He asked.

"It works."

This is from my geopolitics teacher, a man who spent his summer flying around the world, making youtube videos for class. He's written three geopolitics books. He owns a house in France.

"Yeah, it works."