Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Clearing My Mind

April 12, 2012

I am back in school as a student after a fifteen year break.  I am taking a graduate course in philosophy and the majority of the grade is based on one assignment.  I have been thinking about this paper since the beginning of the semester and have done some preparation for its’ writing.  This past Monday, I planned to spend the day at the library, meet with the instructor, and thought that I would be well underway when the day was finished.

After the day was spent as planned, I had a million, jumbled thoughts rattling around in my head.

This was not good.

Tuesday morning came, and I was still wrestling with the information that I had gleaned from the previous day.  I had thought that I knew where I was going with the paper, but now I was no longer clear about a specific direction.

Still not good.

I went for a run Tuesday morning.  I try to run three times a week, six miles each time.  I run primarily for health reasons.  There is a history of heart disease in my family, and I would like to stay healthy.  On this run, as I was bouncing along the gravel shoulder, my thoughts bounced into place.  I had an idea, then an outline, and now I feel better about what I am going to write.

That is much better.

I thank God for bringing the ideas together in my head and for the peace that came with a chosen path.   I thank God foremost, but I do believe that He used the process of running to clear my mind, and to bring some order out of chaos.  Of course, I still have to put the thoughts down on paper, but at least I have a clear idea of  what I am going to do.

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Bike Lanes

April 3, 2012

When I was a young adult in college I rode a bicycle year-round for transportation…in Minnesota.  It was quite an experience.  I’m glad that I survived.  Riding at night in snowstorms was probably not the smartest thing I have ever done.

While visiting my son, who was attending my old college, I noticed that they now have specified bike lanes in downtown Minneapolis.  What a wonderful thing that is for the bicycle rider!  I used to zip along between the moving traffic and the parked cars with not much room to spare.

Currently,  I am taking a course at a university that is over an hour away .   I am considering going back to school  to work on a doctorate, and am enrolled in a class to see if I can handle being a student again after many years, along with my normal schedule.

At this university town, I again see bike lanes.  They are a little inconvenient, because they did not make the road any wider, they just made the car lanes a little more narrow, and marked off the bike lane.  I am OK with that, I want to encourage people riding bikes safely.

What I am not OK with, is that on two occasions already this spring, I have noticed bicycle riders riding on the other side of the one way street, not using the bike lane.  This irritates me because there is a lane marked for bikes, the road is already more narrow, and now cars must slow down, or go around a biker who is not using the designated space.

I am happy to share the road with bicyclists, but they should use the space provided for them.  I sure wish that I had a bike lane thirty years ago.  I would have used it.

More to the Story

March 29, 2012

The shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager by an armed neighborhood watch man has created quite an uproar.

What surprised me the most was the information that was left out in most accounts that I have read.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, dated March 26th, when the police arrived, George Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a fat lip, and was bleeding from lacerations on the back of his head.  There is a witness that saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top of him.  Zimmerman was the one calling for help, according to the witness.

This information significantly changes the story.  There is still much to debate about the role that neighborhood watches play in communities, the right to bear arms, the “Stand Your Ground” laws and so on.  It is a tragedy that the young man is dead, but we really should consider all sides of the story. Sadly, Trayvon isn’t alive to tell his side, but we should still listen to what George has to say.

 

Spring into Summer

March 22, 2012

Officially, Spring arrived Tuesday.  The weather for the last two weeks has felt more like  summer, at least, the summers I grew up enjoying in Minnesota.  I have been greatly enjoying the 70’s and 80’s.  These temperatures are what I consider to be perfect.

It does make me wonder, if these are the temperatures in March, what will be coming in June, July and August?

Oh well, let’s not focus on that concern.  There is nothing we can do about it anyway.

Today is a beautiful day!

Grassroots Politics

March 20, 2012

I am in my fifties.  This is the first year that I have participated in the local political caucus.  I also had the opportunity to participate in the county convention.  What this experience has shown me is that there is an avenue for the average person to be involved in politics.  If you feel strongly about issues, you can bring like-minded people with you to these events and it is possible to have an impact.  You simply need to be willing to invest some of your time, energy, and a little money and you can be a part of the democratic process.

It was also surprising to me the range of opinions that were represented.  I certainly did not agree with all of them, but I recognize that everyone has a right to their opinion, and a right to be heard.  It is my hope and prayer that, in the end, right decisions will be made for our country.  It was fun to be a part of the process.  Why did I wait so many years to get involved?

Jack-of-all-Trades

March 8, 2012

My father was a very handy man.  He enjoyed working on things and constantly had some sort of project underway.  I would frequently help him work on a whole variety of things.  I was a first-class gopher.  Go-for this, go-for that.  Hand me this, hand me that.  You get the idea.  Anyway, my father would refer to himself as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.  The idea being: that he dabbled, and was proficient in, a lot of areas, but did not consider himself a “master” of any of them.

As I matured, my skill-set turned out very differently from my father’s.  Oh, I know how to use a hammer, or a wrench, and I can manage some things around the house or garage, but my skills are nothing like those of my father.

I am a minister, and a teacher.  Currently, I am the pastor of a church, teach at a community college, lead a campus ministry,  am enrolled in graduate school, maintain a blog, teach ministry classes, mentor a young minister,  exercise regularly, help around the house, and try to have a life.

Perhaps I did learn something from my father.

I am not specialized, but generalized.

The problem with doing so many things is that you cannot devote as much time to any of them as you would if you were doing fewer things.  There is only so much time after all.  So the question becomes; do you continue to spread yourself around, doing what you can do, or do you reduce your commitments, and focus on doing fewer things, better?

That is a question that each one must answer for themselves.

As Is: No Warranty

March 6, 2012

We recently purchased a used car from a dealership. It was impressed on us several times as we were signing the papers that the car is sold As Is: No Warranty

I understand.

The dealership does not want to be responsible for things that may go wrong once the vehicle leaves the parking lot.  With an older car things can be on the verge of breaking.  If you start to make exceptions, it becomes expensive very, very, quickly.

However, I wonder how much the dealer is aware of existing problems?  Do they sell vehicles with known defects, hoping that you won’t notice until after you have signed the papers and paid the price?

Our most recent purchase had a door that will not unlock with a key, and it needs a new water pump.  I did not notice these things until after the purchase.

Was the dealer aware???  We smelled coolant on the first day, but did not notice any drips, so maybe it was just starting to go bad.  It is possible that they were not aware of the problem.  The cost of the part is not great, but on this particular model the repair is labor intensive.  The door lock?  It is the driver’s side door, and they were aware of the problem.  Their advice to me was not to lock the door.  I currently am unlocking the door from the passenger side.

Next time, I will need to remember the old saying “Buyer Beware!”

Tragedy

March 1, 2012

There has been tragic news recently.  The school shootings in Ohio and the deadly storms in the mid-west are two examples of bad things that can happen to unsuspecting people.  It is my firm belief that God is able to help people face whatever problems, or tragedies, may come their way.  The Spirit of God can bring comfort, wisdom and strength to face any situation.

My prayers are with those people who have suffered loss in this past week.

 

Yield!

February 28, 2012

When the light is green it is your right to drive through the intersection.

Way back in high school, I was driving home after class, when I had an interesting event.  I had stopped at a red light, a block away from my house.  When the light turned green I started to accelerate, but I noticed a truck coming out of the corner of my eye.  He wasn’t slowing down.  I stepped back on the brake and watched him sail through the intersection directly in front of me.  I can still see the look on his face as he realized, too late, that the light was red.  My friend who was riding with me, said “Wow!  I’m glad you were driving!  Greg or John would have accelerated right into the path of that truck.”

I learned an important lesson that day.  I had the right to drive through the intersection, but to avoid a collision, I needed to yield.  That lesson has served me well through decades of driving both automobiles and motorcycles.   You may have the right-of-way, but sometimes it is right to yield for the sake of safety.

Knowing when to yield is important in many other parts of life.  There are many situations where we can either stand firm, or “yield” the right of way.  This is true in family matters, work issues, neighbors, politics, and so on.  The first step is to recognize that things do not have to always go our way.  The second step is even harder.  That is being able to recognize when to stand firm, and when to yield.

Traffic Cameras

February 23, 2012

Here in Iowa there are a number of cities that utilize cameras for both speeding and red-light violations.  The Iowa congress is debating banning the use of cameras for traffic law enforcement purposes.

I fully support the use of cameras,  for the following reasons.

Speeding and running red lights increase the risk of accidents.

People are less likely to speed or run a red light if they know they will get a ticket.

There will likely be fewer accidents in areas that utilize cameras.

People who are ticketed shouldn’t have been breaking the law.

People should not expect privacy on public streets.

Criminals do not deserve privacy so that they can break the law.

The income from fines can be put to good use.

Owners are responsible for their vehicles.  If a car is loaned to someone other than the registered owner, the owner should recoup their costs from the person to whom they loaned the vehicle.   If that is a problem, then people will be more judicious about whom they let use their vehicle.

I suspect that the only people who really oppose traffic cameras are people who habitually disregard traffic laws.

Oh…

Many people do habitually disregard traffic laws.

No wonder there is such a fuss.