10.29.2007

Church was cool...

Yesterday was a good day.

I really appreciate our 'The Pastor'. He is a guy who didn't grow up in the church and definitely hasn't had what you might call an easy life. He is very refreshingly honest.

Yesterday, the service was dedicated to talking about our (as in the Church in NA) responsibilities to the poor and disadvantaged in distant lands. The more particular focus was on the AIDS crisis in Africa.

'The Pastor' did something that doesn't often happen...he showed a video instead of speaking. The video that he showed was of Bill Hybels interviewing Bono. You can find it on YouTube in 7 or 8 parts. Just search for 'Bono' and 'Hybels'. It even works to search for 'Hybles' like I did.

I realized a few things yesterday as a few of us were talking about the video. We were talking about the extent of our responsibilities and what we can actually do. A 'Think Global, Act Local' vibe was happening. I realized that most North Americans are thoroughly insulated from the majority of the people around them.

I also realized that on my ride to church, I said 'Good Morning' to pretty much everybody that I passed who was similarly cageless. I also made eye contact with them. I also smiled at them. They generally returned the salutations.

The best part of the service was when 'The Pastor' said something to the effect of 'I need to get off my aaa...uhhh...keister, and do something.'

Here is something you can do...

1. Check out the video on YouTube.

2. Check out www.makepovertyhistory.ca (Canada) or www.one.org (USA) or www.data.org and pass the word along.

3. Go for a bike ride.

Bill Maher - Anti-Pharma Rant

'Ask your Dr. if getting off your ass is right for you!'

10.21.2007

Cyclo-Cross

The Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships were held in Kamloops yesterday and today.

The weather was beautiful yesterday and nasty today. Here are some random pics...

Start of the U23 Men's race...
Elite Women's...Wendy Sims in front placed first and Alison Sydor behind her finished second, followed by Lyne Bessette in third. These three were well out in front for the whole race and had quite a battle throughout.


The Ephemeral Rider...

10.14.2007

An opinion...

James Howard Kunstler is an opinionated man. I offer for your perusal his most recent rant.

October 8, 2007
The Grass Roots Syndrome
Because I wrote a couple of books about the design of cities (and the shortcomings of suburbia), a lot of blather comes my way about what towns around the nation are planning for the future -- and, off course, I hear plenty on the subject in my own town, Saratoga Springs, New York, which is a classic "main street" type town. I also happen to travel a lot and actually see what's going on far from home. Almost everything I see and hear is inconsistent with what I think reality has in store for us.
Most American towns, including my own, are obsessed to the point of mania with the issue of parking and more generally the management of cars, and much of their spending is directed to those ends. Municipal leaders (and the public they serve) have no idea what kind of problems the nation faces with oil. Because life in the USA has worked a particular way all their lives, they assume that it will continue to operate that way. Not only will they be disappointed as happy motoring spirals into history, but they will create a lot mischief in the meantime in planning things based on faulty assumptions.
My own town, for instance, relies heavily on tourism, in particular tourism based on happy motoring. There is not the slightest apprehension among the people here, or our leaders in city hall, that automobile-based tourism may not be happening as soon as five years from now. All our political energy is being expended in fighting about what kind of parking structures we will build (with borrowed money) and where to put them, and how these things might incorporate some secondary uses, such as police offices. We have also been debating plans for the expansion of our modest convention center -- in connection with added parking structures. It seems to me that one of the first things to go as the US economy contracts, along with its energy supply, will be activities like boat shows and optometrist's conventions.
Now this town happens to be on a railroad line that connects New York City to Montreal. Before 1950, it was the main way that people came to this town. These days, we get one train a day in each direction. The trains are invariably late, and not just a little late, but hours late. The track bed is in miserable shape and, of course, Amtrak is a sort of soviet-style management organization. There is no awareness among the public here, or our leaders, that we would benefit from improving the passenger railroad service, and around the state of New York generally there is no conversation about fixing the railroads. (Governor Elliot Spitzer is preoccupied these days with arranging to give driver's licenses to people who are in the country illegally.) We are going to pay a large penalty for these failures of attention.
Another aspect of all this has to do with our assumptions about land development. Here in my town, and elsewhere around the country, the assumption is that suburban development will continue just as it has the past sixty years. This assumption is shared both by the developers themselves and their opponents. The developers expect the current "downturn" to reverse before long. From the opponents' point of view, the assumption is based on their legitimate fears and heartaches about what they've seen heedless development do to the American landscape. Consequently, whatever mental energy is left after the parking debates get tabled is dedicated to fighting over projected suburban expansion.
My personal view about this is apparently radical -- though I am a man of modest habits and philosophy. My view is that the suburban project, per se, in the United States is over, finished. Like, totally. You can stick a fork in it. What you see is basically all that we're going to get. Not only do we not need anymore of it, but we have way too much of what is already on the ground. We don't need anymore suburban housing pods, and the ones already out there are going to hemorrhage value (and usefulness) as far ahead as anybody can imagine. We need more retail like we need 300-million holes in our heads. Ditto suburban office capacity. Ditto new roads and highways.
The projects that people see under construction now are things that went through the torturous permitting process at minimum a year ago and generally even further back. I would imagine that many of the developers of these few remaining projects -- whether they are condo villages or strip malls or chain store "power centers" -- are in deep melancholy as they read the news and desperately search for tenants. Their lenders must be equally depressed -- and in some cases cutting off further injections of capital. What remains is what bankers call "the workout" -- where the financial chips fall when people's hopes and dreams collide with reality's separate agenda.
In connection with the imminent collapse of our investments in suburbia is the fate of all the laws and codes that have governed the creation of it. I think it is a waste of effort at this point to attempt to reform what we generally refer to as "the zoning laws." They will simply become irrelevant. As we get in trouble with oil, and driving becomes more of a problem, it will be self-evident that regulations geared to keeping cars happy can no longer be followed. My guess is that for a period of time we will see a condition of stunned paralysis in the council chambers and planning boards. Eventually, if we are lucky enough to retain effective local governance, a new consensus will emerge that will be more reality-based by necessity.
In saying this, I imply that societies go through cycles of collective thinking that range from being fairly consistent with reality to being dangerously out of whack with it. We're at the latter end of the cycle these days. One of the symptoms of this is the fact that so many Americans believe the only thing wrong with America is George W. Bush, and that if only we could wiggle out of "his" war, every day would be Christmas, with Nascar around-the-clock, time-outs for shopping sprees down the aisles of the Target store, 5000-square-foot houses for all (for $750 a month), and three BMWs parked in the driveway. . . with fries, and supersize it!
In reality, there's a lot more wrong with how we live and how we think about how we live than the mere presence of George W. Bush at the head of the federal government. Our expectations are deeply out of phase with what the earth can provide for us and what the future has in store for us, and this failure of our collective imagination goes down to the grass roots.
--
I don't agree with everything that JHK puts out there, but I think that he is right that our current way of life in North America is rapidly becoming unsustainable.

Some people here look at us like we are from Mars when we tell them that we do not have a car. The temperature in the mornings around here has been 5-10 degrees...perfect cycling weather...and people think we are nuts to be out in the cold. Today we were offered a ride (in a car) because riding (our bikes) to our destination would take at least 20 minutes.

For three years in Calgary, we told ourselves that something was going to have to give...during our time in Japan, we realized that the great enabler of our frantic lifestyle was our car, so we gave it up. I can't help but think that if more people would give up their automobiles, that the world would be just a little more enjoyable.

10.09.2007

The Blasphemy Challenge

Something worthwhile on YouTube!!

Cultural Vertigo

The title of this blog started out referring to the fact that I was experiencing disorientation with life in Japan. Japan is a very different country from Canada and there were many things that were frustrating about living there.

Now that I am home, although I sometimes call Japan 'Back Home', I realize that there are many things about Canadian culture that has most people experiencing a sense of vertigo. Some examples...

At the beginning of the summer, Facebook and the CBC collaborated on a project called the 'Great Canadian Wishlist'. It is still posted on FB if you are interested in checking it out. The idea was that people could 'wish' for certain things and then others could offer their support or not. One of the cool things that came out of that was that the number one wish was that abortion would be abolished in Canada. It had over 10,000 supporters by the end. The pro-aborts were mighty pissed off by that...and they cried foul blah blah blah...

Needless to say the discussions were often intense and about very weighty topics like abortion, gay 'marriage', God etc.

What was distressing was the utter lack of many people to put forth any sort of reasonable argument.

I was discussing the Big Bang with several people. One implication of the Big Bang is that the universe (time/space) had to have a beginning. One person agreed that an infinite regress of cause and effect is impossible but would not admit that the universe had a beginning. His response was "Whatever happened when the universe 'began', it wasn't a 'beginning'." I was dumbfounded...still am.

Another statement that seems to be popping up with alarming regularity is that people don't believe in God for the same reasons that they don't believe in leprechauns. This is just plain silly.

To borrow from Greg Koukl...

"Believing in leprechauns is a leap of faith. Believing in God is like believing in atoms.

You simply follow evidence of what you can see to conclude the existence of something you cannot see. The process is exactly the same. The effect needs a cause adequate to explain it. There is nothing unreasonable about the idea of a personal God creating the material universe. A Big Bang needs a 'Big Banger'. A complex set of instructions (DNA) needs an author. A blueprint needs an engineer. A moral law needs a moral law giver. This is not a leap. This is a step of intelligent reflection."

10.08.2007

Thanksgiving

Some pictures from my ride this morning...

This is from the top of Billy Miner Trail. The bridge is part of the Trans Canada Highway. In the distance is the North Thompson River.

Almost at the top of Billy Miner Trail...notice the beetle-killed pine trees.

Looking down into Peterson Creek...more beetle-killed pine.

At the bottom of Peterson Creek.

Downtown Kamloops.



The hills around here are steep and the single-track is fantastic.


I will ride this little drop into the creek another day.

The weather was perfect for a ride this morning before all the family got here for Thanksgiving turkey. It is great that there is such great riding so close to town. The trailhead for this trail is within a kilometre or two of my back door.

Keep the Rubber Side Down!

10.06.2007