Posted in Music

#197: Hallelujah, ‘Tis Done!

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

‘Tis the promise of God, full salvation to give

Unto him who on Jesus, His Son, will believe.

CHORUS

Hallelujah, ’tis done! I believe on the Son;

I am saved by the blood of the Crucified One;

Hallelujah, ’tis done! I believe on the Son;

I am saved by the blood of the Crucified One;

2

Tho the pathway be lonely and dangerous too,

Surely Jesus is able to carry me through.

CHORUS

3

Many loved ones have I in yon heavenly throng;

Thtey are safe now in glory, and this is their song;

CHORUS

4

There’s a part in that chores for you and for me,

And the theme of our praises forever will be:

CHORUS

Posted in Events

Blog milestones: are they significant

Today’s post is a short one about the blog itself. In the past two weeks I hit two milestones, according to the notifications that WordPress gave me. According to WordPress, I received my 150th follower last week. My posts also received the 1,000th like that readers gave them.

Now, those are not large numbers, but they are nice numbers to me. I write the blog to share my contemplations, and it is nice to know that someone might be reading it.

I myself follow a few blogs that I find interesting, and note how they have people that comment frequently, and on a regular basis. Those blogs probably get more comments per post, on average that I have followers total. Of course, their topics are more focused, both on politics, publishing, the art and business of writing. I would like to have a blog that got more comments, but I don’t often post on subjects that stimulate discussion and controversy as those blogs do.

There is a blog I follow that often gets few comments, but it is also one of my favorites. It is a more lighthearted, lifestyles-type blog, by a published author. But she gets enough comments at other times to know that people are engaged with her posts, even when they don’t comment.

Me, I tend to write about things that in a way to build consensus, provide information and amusement. That style doesn’t generate as many comments as the grittier materials of the more well-read blogs I follow.

When I check back on the history of my blog, I see I opened it in November of 2012, and started daily postings by January 2014. Having three and a half years of daily postings under my belt, and only receiving 1,000 likes seems like a fairly small number.

Yet stats don’t tell the whole story. Remember, within the past two months I have met people who have come up to me in public places, and talked to me about reading my blog, and how they appreciated the information.

So, the thing for me to mull is: am I doing with the blog what I want? do those stats support or justify my goals and the efforts I put in.

And my answer is: Yes. The stats support the other small amounts of feedback to let me know that this information is beneficial to others, and puts something positive for people to read and follow.

Posted in Fitness

Fitness Update: Midway Point

What do I mean by midway point?

I mean I have gotten through the first couple of races in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge — the 5K and the (modified) half marathon — and have one event at the track meet (don’t know which one yet), the triathlon and swim meet yet.

Before the Corporate Challenge I had my Progress Series of races. So, in a sense, the halfway point should be between the end of the series and the beginning of the Challenge. In a sense I am talking about two halfway points, which means I’m three-quarters of the way through the combination of the two. Put together, or even each half considered independently, is a sort of long-distance event.

Planning for a long-term event or project requires a certain amount of psychological perspective and perseverance. My practice sessions, my runs for the Progress Series were pretty consistent.

But in heading to my second half-marathon, for the Challenge, and the rest of the Challenge events, my workouts have gotten more aberrant. They said to train for consecutive half-marathons you didn’t need to practice the full distance between races, just do “long runs” and keep the cardio training up. I did enough swimming and biking to do that.

So, for this past week, I had quite a bit of cycling, one day of 1,000 yards of swimming at the NKC YMCA. But no practice runs. I did run 2 miles on a treadmill at the Wellness Center as part of an “inside triathlon” program they are sponsoring. I did a lot of walking at Worlds of Fun. I also swam six laps (three laps each of Friday and Sunday) in the Caribbean Cooler at Oceans of Fun.

My total bicycle miles to date are 1,408 miles. My May interim goal to reach my annual total is 1,250 miles. I am 158 miles ahead of schedule. I have vacation time in June, and a lot in July where I won’t have opportunity to cycle. So I will need to have some ahead to stay on schedule.

My total running for the year is 250 miles. I am halfway through my annual goal of 500 miles. A midway point of sorts. Whether I make my annual goal or not depends on how I continue running through the rest of the year.

For swimming, I have swum 12,000 yards at the lap pool, and 1,600 yards at Oceans of Fun. That is much less than halfway through the 50,000 yard goal for the year. So no midpoint there.

There is less focus, and more holistic gestalt to today’s post. Which sort of emphasizes the point I previously mentioned about the psychological component of the fitness training regime.

Posted in Music

#196: Blessed Be the Fountain

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

Blessed be the Fountain of blood, To a wold of sinners revealed,

Blessed  be the dear Son of God — Only by His stripes we are healed.

Tho I’ve wandered far from His fold, Bringing to my heart pain and woe,

Wash me in the blood of the Lamb, And i shall be whiter than snow.

CHORUS

Whiter than snow, (whiter than snow), Whiter than the snow — (whiter than the snow)

Wash me in the blood of the Lamb, And I shall be whiter than snow.

2

Thorny was the crown that He wore,  And the cross His body o’er came;

Grievous were the sorrows He bore, But He suffered thus not in vain.

May I to that Fountain be led, Made to cleanse my sins here below;

Sash me in the blood that He shed, And I shall be whiter than snow.

CHORUS

3

Father, I have wandered from Thee, Often has my heart gone astray;

Crimson do my sins seem to me — Water cannot wash them away.

Jesus, to that Fountain of Thine, Leaning on Thy promise, I go;

Cleasne me by Thy washing divine, And I shall be whiter than snow.

CHORUS

 

 

Posted in Family, Politics, Social Issues

“The World Series is baseball…”

That is what started a very interesting lunch conversation I had today at Worlds of Fun. Unbenownst to me, the initial speaker had seen a poster behind me about “The World Series of Barbecue”, and had used that to spark his initial statement.

This led to a conversation about baseball, and how the World Series actually is just the United States, well, maybe Canada as well, there is a team or two there (you can tell how little about sports I know). The original speaker mentioned Japan also playing  baseball, to which I said, it might be a good thing we don’t play them, they might beat us in the world series. LOL

Which spun the topic to the question of Japan. We compared the responses of China and Japan to the pushes by the West to open both of them to Western trade.  China resisted, and events were forced in without their control. Japan was forced open, but greeted it and learned. We discussed how well Japan maintained its own culture while assimilating the technology and many cultural things from the west. With my family’s interest in Japanese anime, we noted how well they blended a uniquely Japanese outlook with many Western images and themes in the movies we watch.

One we watched today, “From Up On Poppy Hill”, had some significant sections of the movie where the theme music was this excellent American-style jazz music, but it worked very well in the flow of the movie, done in a uniquely Japanese way.

We reflected this back to the United States, with how it assimilated people and ideas from many different cultures into the unique freedom of the American experience.

I also reflected to the county of India, and its use of assimilation: How it took the influences of its colonial British masters and used them to pull together all the languages and cultures of the Indian Subcontinent, in a very Indian way, to form a very functional, diverse, secular representative state — in its own way more amazing than the assimilation and diversity of the United States.

And yet, even so, the United States is unique. The United States is an idea. You can be French, or German, or Japanese, or even Indian, without believing anything specific. You cannot be American, truly American, without believing a certain overarching gestalt.  People come to the United States, add their uniqueness, and join our gestalt about what it means to be free. Thus, we are threatened, subtly and invisibly, to the core when people come live in our territory but refuse to become a part of the gestalt. That is what may one day truly unwind the Republic — a lack of belief.

As you can see, this wasn’t a tight logical syllogism, but a general bouncing from principles of related concepts into a generalized whole.

I posited the fact that our unique freedom of ideas brought creative people from all over the world to the USA to try out their ideas and make them a success. Not that many didn’t do the same in their home countries, but other countries didn’t have the same influx of people for that reason.

I also posited that, while many people claimed that we impoverished the world and hogged all the wealth to ourselves, that the truer answer is that our exchanges of wealth with the rest of the world grew their economies, and lifted people out of poverty to a greater degree of affluence than they ever had. The metaphor/phrase “a rising tide lifts all ships” was mentioned.

Then we used the idea of ships differently. If the ship of our economy flounders or sinks, too many others sink with it. Our actions have consequences, and while an “America First” policy sounds good, it is only good if it recognizes the secondary effects we have on other people.

I illustrated, through the smaller example of our family, how taking care of oneself is important to be able to take care of others. As the father I need to take care of myself so I can provide for the rest. The hunters in the tribe ate first, so they might have strength to catch the food to feed the rest. But it was a necessity of service that provides for self first, not anything of better stature.

Then we brought it back around to how we need to be very conscious of the secondary effects of our actions. As the big economy in the world, we can’t do anything without consequences, nor can we just withdraw from the world. Not that we couldn’t learn to be a little more circumspect in how we intervene or not. It is too easy to be the giant in the playground, doing things to make ourselves feel good, while actually making things worse. Just because something sounds good, looks good, doesn’t mean it is good, or doesn’t have bad unintended consequences.

We discussed the concept of the “superior American” who goes around the world looking down on everyone else. I mentioned that many of the British at the height of their empire had the same thing. But our real attitude should be one where we feel, we know, we are unique because of our idea, our gestalt, but at the same time not look down on others because they aren’t Americans.

As I said above, America is different from the world, being an idea. I don’t think we realize how that makes us different: we see the world differently than they see us. There are many ways we just don’t understand each other, while being absolutely sure that we do.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, when we remember those who laid down their lives so we might be free, along with all our other loved ones who went before, let us be ever mindful, let us be serious, about the idea that is America, and not too serious about ourselves at the same time. And let us realize that we do live in a different world from the other countries of this globe, a world of ideas has been changing this globe for the past three centuries and hopefully will continue to do so for another three.

Posted in Events

A Look Ahead …

The beginning of summer is upon us. Not the official summer by the equinox, but the social season, by the placement of the first of the two main holidays. Summer always begins socially in the USA with Memorial Day, and ends with Labor Day.

This coming Monday being Memorial Day Observed (Official Memorial Day is always May 30th), this weekend is the start of the Summer Season, socially.

Here in Kansas City, that means the opening of the Oceans of Fun section of Worlds of Fun. This year Oceans of Fun opens on Friday morning. Since I have to work, and didn’t take a vacation day for it, I won’t be able to be there at opening — a tradition of mine for many years — but I intend to make it before the end of the day.

Worlds of Fun also has several Military Appreciation days throughout the year, and one of them is Monday, May 29, Memorial Day Observed. Complimentary tickets available for active duty, retired or reserve military with honorable or medical discharge and government issued ID. They can also received discounted tickets for some members of their families on that day.

Which is a natural segue to the comment about Memorial Day.

What also will be happening is the placement of a lot of flowers. Memorials remembering those who died in active military service; also, more generally, and not meant to detract from those who died in service, it is used by many as the placing of flowers on the graves of all loved ones who have gone before. I know my family will be placing flowers on the graves of my family back in New York State. Not living anywhere close to those graves, I haven’t participated in that tradition in many years, but I do think about them.

Finally, there will be a lot of picnics over the weekend.  For while Memorial Day is an observance (one should not wish someone a “Happy Memorial Day”, at least according to some people, based on the somber nature of the observance) it is also a holiday, and people do celebrate and play. So remember to take time to be thankful for the sacrifices given, while you take full exercise of the freedoms those sacrifices make possible.

_______________________________________

For those following, below are the current stats on the All Season Dining plan:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 125
Total Retail $1,280.70
Average Price Per Meal $3.98
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 99
Total Retail $99.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.30
Posted in Music

#195: Look and Live

(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!

The message unto you I’ll give;

‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah!

It is only that you “look and live”.

CHORUS

Look and live (look and live),

my brother Live! (my brother , live, look and live!)

Look to Jesus now and live;

‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah!

It is only that you “look and live”.

2

I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!

A message, O my friend, for you;

‘Tis a message from above, hallelujah!

Jesus said it and I know ’tis true.

CHORUS

3

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!

Eternal life thy soul shall have,

If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!

Look to Jesus who alone can save.

CHORUS

4

I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!

To Jesus when He made me whole:

‘Twas believing on His name, halelujah!

I trusted and He saved my soul.

CHORUS

Posted in Education, Houghton College, Writing

A bit of poetry

(Note: it has been awhile since I’ve pulled up my old poetry, so here is another one.  This was during my year as editor of the Houghton Star student newspaper at Houghton College, during the last year that the old Compugraphic machines were used instead of the new Macintosh computers that they got the next year. This poem is about a breakdown and repair of the old machines.)

 

A PSALM FOR THE STAR STAFF (1986‑87)

                                                             From Their Editor

 

Wendell and Loren

came with tool boxes,

removing three screws

hidden in a tight place.

To loose the screws

they used allen wrenches,

needle‑nose pliers, fingers.

The plate held by the screws removed,

the editor fixed the plate

with crazy glue.

Wendell and Loren

put the plate back in

with its three screws.

Using butter to hold screws

to the plate, the three men

fumbled.  The screws were in,

the machine worked.

Selah.

 

Chorus

“Let the staff rejoice,

let the earth be filled with their singing,

for the compugraphic machine is working”

said the editor.

And the staff said

“Amen and Amen.”

Posted in Fitness

Fitness Update: (Modified) Half Marathon

Well, This past week I ran my second half marathon, sort of, but sort of didn’t.

The Kansas City Corporate Challenge half marathon was scheduled for this past Saturday. The route started at the Southcreek Business Park and after a loop around there ran down through the Overland Park Community Park and the Tomahawk Valley Trail.

But rain Saturday night had either washed out, or flooded, parts of the trails at the further end, so they had to modify the course. We ended up with two loops around the business park and a “short” run down the trail and back, for a total length of 9.8 miles.

Now, the Saturday before, I had run a long run of 7.5 miles, but between that long run and the Half Marathon, I didn’t do any running. I swam once, did a lot of biking, but mostly I slept in each morning. The week before the race I was suddenly very tired, and opted to rest over train.

Which turned out to be the right option.

It rained the night before the race, but was dry and overcast the morning  before the race started. The humidity was above 90% and the temperature was about 60 degrees. The 700-some of us lined up into sections based on our expected running paces. And then we were off.

This was the first race this year that I ran without having run some of the course to check the terrain and know what to expect. So the first loop around the business park seemed a little long. It was also a question about setting a pace, and being comfortable with it.

The pavement on the upside of the loop felt better to me than the downside, but I enjoyed going downhill more than uphill. Except that we did get some breeze, and it ended up being a headwind while going downhill. That is one of the things I like the least while riding a bicycle, and I found I don’t really like running into a headwind either, whether uphill or down.

On the second loop around I heard someone behind me talking to the person next to her about her fitness device, and how it was telling her we were at about a 9 minute mile pace. I asked back, did you say a 9 minute mile? When she assented, I said, “Good, that mean’s I’m not running too fast.”

Because the 9-minute mile was the pace I had wanted to set.

Which bring me to an aside. Many times during the first two loops of the race I was being passed by people, and I could hear them breathing hard as they did so. I was always able to talk to them, say hello, good job, go for it, etc., but many of them didn’t have enough breath to reply. As long as I was running at a pace where I could talk, I knew I wasn’t overpacing myself. Many of those people I subsequently passed later on down the trail.

After the second loop, we took a left turn onto the trail section of the route, and started heading both into headwinds, and a scattering of sprinkles that continued to get more misty and persistent as the rest of the race went on.

Running the 2+ miles down the trail to the turnaround, I kept expecting to get to the turnaround sooner than I did. At first it was only a few people coming back and me, but as the numbers thickened, I kept on feeling like I  had to be close. When a pack of people from my company came back by me, I found myself encouraged, just as I did when my friend Paul Mast ran by and we gave each other a high five slap on the exchange.

Then finally the turn was made and I was on the way back. This was the stretch where my passing of people became a slow but consistent reality (along with a few passing me still).

It was also where the heat from my own brow, and the moisture from the air and rain around me, started fogging up my glasses enough so my visibility actually began to decrease. Occasionally I would look over the glasses to verify what I was seeing. But mostly they kept the rain out of my eyes.

There were a lot of long stretches on the way back. Here’s the last turn back toward the business park — but, oh yes, I forgot about this long run back up to the turn-off. And then when we got back to the loop it was several stretches and turns before they actually brought us back into the final stretch where we could actually see the finish line.

I had been running right behind one guy most of the way back up to the pack and around those turns, but as we got to to the penultimate turn I started stretching out and putting on my last speed. As I passed him, I expected him to put on his own burn of speed, and still stay ahead of me. But he didn’t. Instead I found myself passing about 5 more people in my final sprint to the finish line — always running through the objective before slowing down.

I saw that the clock was somewhere before 1:27. When I checked the stats my time was: 1:26:22.5 with an overall place of 371 and a Gender Place of 287. I probably won’t know until later today how I actually placed within my division of the Corporate Challenge.

Many of the other people from my company talked about how they just weren’t ready to do a half marathon on Saturday, and glad it was shorter. For me, I came in with trepidation, but between the rest, and the weather, I felt like I could have kept my pace up for the full distance — but was just as glad that I didn’t have to.