Friday, August 31, 2007

Ride Across the Lake!

In honor of Forrest being in Japan and my enjoyment of cycling, I thought this was nice:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Valley of Vision wins again for expressing what I have been thinking lately, but much more eloquently.

O God,
Though I am allowed to approach thee
I am not unmindful of my sins,
I do not deny my guilt,
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness

May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee,
to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,
to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,
to deem it an honour to be employed by thee
as an instrument in thy hands,
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness,
and willing to offer all my talents to thy service.

Thou hast done for me all things well,
has remembered, distinguished, indulged me.
All my desires have not been gratified,
but thy love denied them to me
when fulfillment of my wishes would have
proved my ruin or injury.
My trials have been fewer than my sins,
and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen from thy hands.
Thou has often wiped away my tears,
restored peace to my mourning heart,
chastened me for my profit.
All thy work for me is perfect,
and I praise thee.

Things I wanted to buy today

Why am I fascinated by USB products? I don't know, but I am!

Monday, August 27, 2007


This is from one of my favorite books, "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken.  I find it a compelling (though not complete by any means) argument that humans were created for eternity, and not just for this world.

    How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it. We alone: animals, so far as we can see, are unaware of time, untroubled. Time is their natural environment. Why do we sense that it is not ours? C. S. Lewis…asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. "Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?" Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest? It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggest that we were created for eternity. Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it - how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another favorite website - - it is so cool! It gives not only the calories and other basic nutritional content information, but minerals and all sorts of information you never wanted to even think about!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Facebook Song

A song all about Facebook! Very catchy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Favorite Site:

I have decided I need to fill out a "favorite links" section on my page, so I will give a review of why each link is my favorite. has to be one of the coolest things I have found in a long time. Reasons why:

(1) You can map (using google maps/satellite images) your walk/run/bike ride and
(a) Know how far your route is!
(b) Save your route (so you can use it again!)
(c) Log your route to your 'training log'

This picture is one of my favorite routes!

(2) The aforementioned 'training log' - it keeps track of what you have done! And you can make graphs! And charts! This is what August looks like so far for me:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Books: A Severe Mercy

Since I have apparently stopped finishing books (no new LibraryThings for quite some time), I have decided to start adding older favorite books to my online library. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is one of my most favorite books, I highly recommend it. It is the story of the author's passionate relationship with his wife and their search for spiritual truth. I should read it again soon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Segway: A Pedestrian Friend or Foe?

I say foe! If you are not aware of the evil known as "Segway" see here. No, I am being too dramatic, as Segways are not evil, but it seems strange to me that many cities are purchasing them for their police forces rather than bicycles. See the stats below - bikes just seem so much cheaper, faster, and more efficient! My comments are in red. I am not sure why I have such antipathy towards Segways. Please know that I am only against Segways or other motorized vehicles for able-bodied and healthy persons.

Article from:

The Segway: A Pedestrian Friend or Foe?

6 May 2002 - 12:00am
Author: Andy Clarke
What are the major planning issues involved in the use of the Segway, and should motorized transporters be allowed on sidewalks?

Andy ClarkeWhat is the Segway?
The Segway Human Transporter (SHT) is described as "the first self-balancing, electric-powered transportation device." The rider stands on a small platform supported 6 to 8 inches off the ground by two parallel wheels; holds onto handlebars that are used to steer the device; when the rider leans forward the SHT moves forward and when the rider leans back the SHT moves back or stops.

How big is the Segway?
The SHT comes in three models. The personal transport model is 16 inches long, 21 inches wide, and weighs 69 pounds. Slightly larger models are available for commercial/industrial use; they are 19 inches long, 25 inches wide and weigh up to 95 pounds. The heaviest bikes usually weigh less than 35 pounds.

How fast is the Segway?
The Segway is capable of speeds up to 20 miles per hour. A speed-governing key is used to limit the speed of the personal transport model to 10 miles per hour, or "three times faster than the average walker." The commercial/industrial models are set with a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour. Bicycles can go faster than 20 miles per hour and also have a built-in speed governing system (your legs).

How far can the Segway go?
The personal transport model will go between 9 and 14 miles on single charge; the commercial/industrial model will go up to 17 miles per charge. Need I say more?

How much weight can the Segway carry?
The SHT is designed to carry a person up to 250 pounds. The cargo version has an additional capacity to carry 75 pounds and a trailer is under development that will have a further capacity of 300 pounds or more.

When will the SHT be available?
Demonstration models are currently being tested and used at trade shows and other venues. The personal transport model is expected to be available in late 2002.

Where can I get more information? has a lot of additional promotional and technical information.

Why has the Segway become a legislative/public policy issue?
Segway Human TransporterThe manufacturers of the Segway have launched an aggressive lobbying campaign to amend state and Federal law to ensure that the device is not regulated as a motorized vehicle and that it is able to operate on sidewalks and trails rather than the road. Legislation to achieve these goals has been introduced in the US Senate and most states.

What is being proposed at the Federal level?
Senate Bill 2024, introduced by Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), would allow the use of the Segway on federally funded sidewalks and trails, when state or local regulations permit.

What is being proposed at the state level?
While the specific legislative proposals are slightly different in every state, the general goal of the legislative campaign is to classify the Segway as a pedestrian and permit use of the sidewalk unless a local jurisdiction specifically bans them. The bills also typically restrict the Segway to streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less if a sidewalk is not available.

The March 8 issue of Urban Transportation Monitor reported that "the [Segway] company has provided model bills and testified before 45 state legislatures…Of those 45, 21 states have legislation pending and 5 states (NH, NJ, NM, NC, and SD) have passed legislation regarding how and where the EPAMD can be used."

What are the concerns/objections to the Segway being treated as a pedestrian?

  • The impact of collisions with pedestrians
  • The impact of collisions between Segway users (especially operating in limited space)
  • The threat and discomfort felt by pedestrians which may discourage walking and use of sidewalks
  • Competition for already limited space on the sidewalk
  • Likelihood of crashes between Segway users and motorists (the two most common causes of bicycle/motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists riding against traffic the wrong way, and riding on the sidewalk, both of which the Segway would presumably be doing. At every driveway and intersection, bicyclists/segway riders must negotiate drivers who are not looking for them or expecting them to be going so fast)
  • This sets a precedent for other motorized vehicles such as scooters which may be even less appropriate to use on sidewalks
  • There is no way to enforce speed limits set by state/Federal law
  • The speed governing mechanism on the Segway can be easily over-ridden
  • We have no research on the operating characteristics of the vehicle or the rider
  • The social justice impacts of allowing an expensive device available to a limited population to dominate public space
  • Sidewalks have been designed for use at walking speeds, not "three times faster than normal walking speed"
  • What happens where sidewalks don't exist or come to a stop and the road has speeds in excess of 25mph?

What are some other concerns about the Segway?

  • Promotes a more sedentary lifestyle when we should be promoting walking as healthy physical activity
  • Promotion of the Segway has been disingenuous:
    • it is a motorized device even if the phrase "electric personal assistive mobility device" seems designed to disguise this
    • we don't know if it can be safely integrated into the pedestrian environment as the makers claim
    • use of the phrase "assistive mobility device" may incorrectly suggest that it serves people with disabilities in the same way a wheelchair does
    • the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was persuaded not to treat the Segway as a motorized vehicle, leaving regulation in the hands of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, even though the Segway has a motor
  • Promotion of the Segway legislative campaign has not considered or included those most affected: pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Promotion of the Segway distracts from serious issues of bicycle and pedestrian safety and access
  • The current crop of legislative proposals will result in inconsistent and confusing treatment of the device from one state to another and from one community to another
  • The legal status of the user is unclear or is inappropriate: should a Segway user follow the rules of the road?
  • The current legislative campaign usurps local control over the use of the device and places the onus on localities to prohibit use of the device rather than make a positive decision to permit use of the device where appropriate
  • Operation of the Segway in the roadway may be problematic with the speed differential between motor vehicles and the Segway
  • There are unanswered questions about the licensing, training, and regulation of Segway users, and regulation of the equipment that should be required for the operation of the device (e.g. helmets, lights and reflectors, DUI)

What are the positive aspects of the Segway?

  • The Segway will provide mobility assistance to some people unable to walk or walk very far or fast
  • There are practical and valuable commercial uses for the device
  • If the Segway is used on streets it may help make more use of bike lanes and reclaim space from motor vehicles
  • Any car trip that is replaced by another mode benefits bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Segway users and the manufacturer may become an ally in the quest for better bicycling and walking conditions
  • Anything that gets people outside and into the fresh air is positive
  • It is an emerging and fascinating technology that should be supported
  • Public trails and sidewalks are for everyone's use and to ban or limit one type of user smacks of elitism

After weighing all these factors, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals believes that the Segway ought to be regulated and managed more akin to a bicyclist than a pedestrian. The presumption should be against their use on the sidewalk.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

New Online Photo Album

I think I like Picasa better than Fliker (I should have known, Google owns Picasa!), and my photo album is here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

More On Suffering

This is from John Piper concerning his response to the tragedy that happened in Minnesota this week:

At about 6 PM tonight the bridge of Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed. I am writing this about three hours after the bridge fell. The bridge is located within sight of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Most of us who minister at the church cross this bridge several times a week. At this point I don’t know if any staff was on the bridge. Desiring God offices are about a mile from the bridge.

There are no firm facts at this point about the total number of injuries and fatalities. When we crossed the bridge Tuesday on our way out of town, there was extensive repair work happening on the surface of the bridge with single lane traffic. One speculates about the unusual stresses on the bridge with jackhammers and other surface replacement equipment. This was the fortieth anniversary of the bridge.

Tonight for our family devotions our appointed reading was Luke 13:1-9. It was not my choice. This is surely no coincidence. O that all of the Twin Cities, in shock at this major calamity, would hear what Jesus has to say about it from Luke 13:1-5. People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate. Here is what he said.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn’t die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God.

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

I sang to her the song I always sing,

Come rest your head and nestle gently
And do not fear the dark of night.
Almighty God keeps watch intently,
And guards your life with all his might.
Doubt not his love, nor power to keep,
He never fails, nor does he sleep.

I said, “You know, Talitha, that is true whether you die in a bridge collapse, or in a car accident, or from cancer, or terrorism, or old age. God always keeps you, even when you die. So you don’t need to be afraid, do you.” “No,” she shook her head. I leaned down and kissed her. “Good night. I love you.”

Tonight across the Twin Cities families are wondering if they will ever kiss a loved one good night again. Some will not. I am praying that they will find Jesus Christ to be their Rock and Refuge in these agonizing hours of uncertainty and even loss.

The word “bridge” does not occur in the Bible. There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn’t build bridges, he divides seas. The other is that usually his people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isaiah 43:2). They may drown you. But I will be with you in life and death.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-38)

Killed all day long. But not separated from Christ. We go through the river. Not over it. He went before us, crucified. He came out on the other side. He knows the way through. With him we will make it. That is the message we have for the precious sinners in the Twin Cities. He died for your sins. He rose again. He saves all who trust him. We die, but because of him, we do not die.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25)

Talitha is sleeping now. But one day she will die. I teach her this. I will not always be there to bless her. But Jesus is alive and is the same yesterday today and forever. He will be with her because she trusts him. And she will make it through the river.

Weeping with those who weep, and those who should,

Pastor John

Psalm 71:20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Favorite Bike Path

This is one of my favorite bike paths near by house. I have had the idea of mounting my camera to my bike for some time, and I am quite excited that it seems to have worked quite well. This is also my first YouTube video! It's not really that exciting, hopefully in the future my bike-videos will improve...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Oh My God" - Jars of Clay

I have been thinking about suffering and pain lately, and my conclusion continues to be that there is suffering in this world because of sin - we are all broken, and capable of any wrongdoing, and our only hope, only way to ever experience joy and true change from our brokenness is Jesus. This song's lyrics better expresses my thoughts (I wish you could hear it though):

Jars Of Clay - Oh My God Lyrics

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Good news for fair-skinned coffee-addicts! (me)

Exercise, caffeine fight skin cancer
By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer | July 31, 2007
WASHINGTON --Can adding a cup or two of coffee to the exercise routine increase protection from skin cancer? New research indicates that just might be the case.

The combination of exercise and caffeine increased destruction of precancerous cells that had been damaged by the sun's ultraviolet-B radiation, according to a team of researchers at Rutgers University.

Americans suffer a million new cases of skin cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In mice there is a protective effect from both caffeine and voluntary exercise, and when both are provided -- not necessarily at the same time -- protection is even more than the sum of the two, said Dr. Allan H. Conney of the laboratory for cancer research at Rutgers.

"We think it likely that this will extrapolate to humans, but that has to be tested," Conney said in a telephone interview.

Nonetheless, he added, people should continue to use sunscreen.
Exposing the mice to ultraviolet-B light causes some skin cells to become precancerous.
Cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct, a process called apoptosis, but not all do that, and damaged cells can become cancerous.

The researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they studied hairless mice in four groups. Some were fed water containing caffeine, some had wheels on which they could run, some had both and a control group had neither.

"The most dramatic and obvious difference between the groups came from the caffeine-drinking runners, a difference that can likely be attributed to some kind of synergy," Conney said.

Compared with the control animals, those drinking caffeine had a 95 percent increase in apoptosis in damaged cells. The exercisers showed a 120 percent increase, and the mice that were both drinking and running showed a nearly 400 percent increase.

Just what is causing that to happen is not yet clear, though the researchers have several theories.
"We need to dig deeper into how the combination of caffeine and exercise is exerting its influence at the cellular and molecular levels, identifying the underlying mechanisms," Conney said.

"With an understanding of these mechanisms we can then take this to the next level, going beyond mice in the lab to human trials," he said. "With the stronger levels of UVB radiation evident today and an upward trend in the incidence of skin cancer among Americans, there is a premium on finding novel ways to protect our bodies from sun damage."

Conney said the researchers were originally interested in the effects of green tea in preventing skin cancer and were doing tests on regular and decaffeinated teas.

They found the regular tea had an effect, but not the decaffeinated brew.
And, he said, researchers also observed that mice drinking caffeine were more active than those that didn't get it, so they decided to study the effects of exercise too.

They put running wheels into some of the cages. The mice "love to go on it," he said, and will jump on the wheels and run for several minutes, then get off for a while, and then get on and run some more.

And they found that both caffeine and exercise helped eliminate damaged skin cells, but the combination worked better than either alone.

"What we would like to see next is a clinical trial in people," Conney said.
Dr. Michael H. Gold, a Nashville, Tenn., dermatologist and a spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation, said he believes "the concept of systemic caffeine should be addressed further."

"I think the concept potentially has a lot of merit," he said in a telephone interview. But mice and humans are different and studies need to be done to be sure this also applies to people.

In the meantime, he said: "If you go outside, you have to wear a sunscreen ... it has to be caffeine and exercise with your sunscreen."