Things for A Real Date

Paul Hudson has written a piece titled 11 Things That Are Supposed to Happen on Real Dates That Don’t Anymore.

I like the flowers … and spending too much time getting ready … and I just assumed people were nervous?

I imagine that not always knowing of someone well could deter picking up and dropping off a lady on a first date, unless she isn’t living alone – I’m thinking safety … wanting to have her own vehicle, not wanting him to see where she lives, in the event he creeps her out.

What do y’all think?

 

A Dark Shadow on a Great Day: Horsey Hundred 2015

I was expecting a nice ride at this year’s Horsey Hundred (HH).

Unlike the Redbud Ride four weeks ago, there was no storm activity remotely in the forecast; the morning temperature was in the mid-50s, and the expected high temperature was in the high 70s or low 80s. I figured that might make the back 50 a little tough, but the front 50 would be pretty easy.

This year, the HH folks added a rest stop in Frankfort, which basically ensured that riders would never have to go more than just north of 15 miles between rest stops. And they went out of their way to ensure that none would run out of food.

I decided to go out with the Slow Ride Group (SRG), which is a really fun group of riders. We departed at 0630.

The first rest stop was at almost the 16-mile mark. It felt like ten miles. I wasn’t even sweating. I drank some water–with hydration mix–from my water bottle, and headed out.

The second rest stop was at about mile 28. We all were feeling VERY good. I still wasn’t even sweating. I ate a pack of sports beans and drank some more, and headed out.

The third rest stop was at mile 42 (Frankfort). I still wasn’t sweating. Everyone felt very good. None of us were even remotely tired. I grabbed some goodies and downed some Gatorade, refilled my water bottles, and we all headed out.

The next stop–Millville–was just past the halfway point (mile 54). It was without a doubt the easiest 54 miles I had ever ridden. I wasn’t even tired. Most of the SRG folks in my cohort also felt good. The sun was coming out, and the temperature was picking up, and I was sweating, but I still felt good. 48 miles to go.

The back 48 miles were a little tougher, but still not that bad.

The next stage featured the hills of Clifton, and that was tough, but doable. They were long, gradual climbs, but I just put it in my lower gear and plodded through. In a sinister way, it felt good.

Going into the stop at mile 64, I still felt very good. Not really tired, although my butt was starting to get sore. I downed some cookies, refilled the water bottles, and moved on.

The next stage–into mile 75–was mostly rolling hills. The rollers were tough in that some of the downhills didn’t give you great acceleration, so you still had to fight the climb. It still didn’t feel that bad. At mile 75, my legs felt great. Butt was sore, but the legs were good. I put down some food, refilled the water bottles, and went back out with the group.

At mile 85, we stopped to pick up our pins. We took a few minutes to joke around, but then got down to business.

At the last rest stop–mile 93–they were serving root beer floats. MrsLarijani was there, and we split a float. My butt and neck were sore, but my legs were good. I had her put my backpack in the car–I think that was the source of my neck pain–and hit the road for the final 8 miles.

The last 8 miles felt more like 5. At the end, other than my butt and neck, I felt great. I even went for a small jog (1 mile) at the end, just to practice bike-to-run transition.

In all, it was the best century ride I’ve ever had.

Only one bad note:

At about the same time that my SRG cohort was crossing the finish line, a drunken jackass (Odilon Paz Salvidor) veered off the side of the road on Lemons Mill Pike–right at about mile 99–and then overcorrected, plowing right into 57-year-old Mark Hinkel, a longtime century rider who was three miles away from the finish.

Hinkel was killed instantly, his body coming to rest inside the bed of Salvidor’s truck.

Salvidor attempted to flee the scene, but a deputy saw Hinkel’s body in the bed of the truck and pursued Salvidor. Salvidor was charged with DUI, murder, driving without a license, fleeing and evading, and leaving the scene of an accident. (Here is the story.)

In the 38 year history of the Horsey Hundred, that is the first fatality. And it was the result of a drunk driver, and possibly one who is an illegal immigrant.

My $0.02 on Josh Duggar

First, a disclaimer. I am not going to excuse what Josh Duggar did when he was a 14. He engaged in sexual conduct that, even if consensual, was wrong by any Biblical standard. Moreover, he violated the bodies of multiple people, including at least four of his sisters. Actions have consequences, and what he did was a very big deal. While he faced the music and paid his debt to society, he has learned the same lesson that King David learned: sexual sin is the gift that keeps on giving. We would all do well to remember the “my sin is ever before me” clause in Psalm 51.

Having said that, knowing only what we know, would it be reasonable to classify Josh Dugger as a threat to society? Not from what we know.

It would be fair, in his circle of accountability, to question him significantly about who he is today. Has he cheated on his wife? Does he use pornography? What changed in his conduct after his scrapes at age 14? Has he learned to control his passions in a way befitting a Christian gentleman?

About ten years ago, I worked in an Awana chapter at a very large church in Louisville. Before I was cleared to work in Awana, I was subjected to a substantial questionnaire about a plethora of moral, ethical, theological issues, as well as sexual conduct past and present. (On top of that, they ran a background check on me.) Even in that interrogatory they delineated between sexual experience prior to age 15 and after.

Fact is, teenagers–including teenage girls–are known to experiment with themselves (and others) at that stage in their lives.

No, there is no defending that conduct.

Yes, parents need to communicate with their kids from an early age, admonishing them succinctly–both the what and the why–about respecting other peoples’ bodies. It is best to communicate such matters before the hormones of adolescence go into full afterburner. Teaching them that they must learn to master their passions–while pointing out that there are some places you must never, ever go–is a parental imperative.

Still, what do we do about Josh Duggar?

First of all, if we rake him over the coals, then we must do the same to roughly half the males in his age cohort. Most guys I know have been on the giving–or receiving end–of someone else’s sexual experimentation. From what I know of the ladies, there are more dark secrets among them–and yes, they have their share of both victims and culprits, too–than anyone wants to admit.

I guess we need to resolve what constitutes a sexual predator.

Today, we are tagging, as a felony sex offender, a 16-year-old boy who has otherwise consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. Yes, I understand the legal rationale around “consent”, but let’s be honest here: however wrong the boy is–and he is wrong–tagging him as a felon is excessive.

But that’s not the case with Josh Duggar: what Duggar did at age 14 is very problematic in that he was touching his sisters inappropriately. If he were ten years old, that would have been one thing, but he was 14. By that point, he should have known better. That he had not learned proper boundaries at that point is problematic.

At the same time, he faced the music and had his “come to Jesus” moment with appropriate authorities. It is my hope that he learned his valuable lessons and has, as far as it depends on him, made amends with those whom he harmed.

Conservatives would be quick to point out that the leak of this story came from elements that appear to be aimed at smearing the Family Research Council–which has been a stalwart defender of historical marriage, opposing its redefinition–and that, had Duggar not been on staff at the FRC that this story would never have seen the light of day. There is probably some truth to that argument.

Even then, the lesson is poignant here: as far as this earth is concerned, the effect of sexual sin never really goes away.

This is not to shame anyone, as most of us–even those who were virgins on their wedding nights–have some baggage in that department. Still, even as God forgives our sins and removes them “as far as the east is from the west”, the baggage remains.

I hope the Josh Duggar fracas is a teachable moment in Christian households.

Women in Ranger School, Part 2

The first co-ed Ranger School class began on April 20 with great fanfare and promise: of the the 19 women who showed up, only three failed the first day. In percentage terms, their Day 1 performance was better than the men.

By the end of the week, however, only 8 of those women remained. Still, that was better than many skeptics–myself included–were predicting. I figured a couple would make it to the Darby Phase, and none would make it to the Florida Phase.

Well, if this is any indication, I was half correct: all 8 women failed the Darby Phase and must re-take it.

While it is not at all uncommon for Ranger School grads to “recycle” at least one phase–most in fact end up doing that–it’s going to be a tall order for these gals to regroup after the Darby Phase, given that (a) two phases–the Mountain Phase and the Florida Phase–remain, and those are harder, and (b) the extra endurance load that this requires on their bodies.

Weight loss of at least 20 pounds is very common in Ranger School, and it’s not like the women have that much weight to lose to begin with. Having to recycle is going to subject them to extra food deprivation. It’s tough enough if you’re a 220-pound linebacker; it’s not as easy if you’re a 140-pound woman who is lean.

Psychologically, it’s one thing to recycle the “Florida Phase”, when you know it’s the last one, whereas the Darby Phase is only the first phase. It can be done, but the eight women who are recycling now have their work cut out for them.

If they make it through Darby, then more power to them.

Having said that, their road just got an order of magnitude tougher.

Embrace The Suck: Redbud Ride 2015 After-Action Report

For the week leading up to this year’s Redbud Ride, cyclists were on edge: the weather forecasts ranged from light rain to severe thunderstorms, with low temperatures in the 40s and highs in the low 60s. Many riders chose not to even make the drive to London, Kentucky.

When I arrived on Friday night to pick up my ride packet, the organizers were providing up-to-date weather forecasts. Those, too, were fluid. For the most part, the forecast was for light rain in the morning, heavier rain later in the day, and severe thunderstorm risk from 2PM on up.

In the morning, the forecast had heavy rain for about an hour in the morning, but scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. The leader of my cycling group decided not to go. “I don’t like to ride in rain.” Many riders opted to sit this out.

I decided to go for it. Organizers told us to leave early to get a head start on the storms, so we did.

This year, I registered for Ironman Lousville, an Ironman triathlon held in October. (In past years, it was held in August, but this year it will be in October.) My aim was to use the Kentucky Century Challenge rides–Redbud, Horsey Hundred, Preservation Pedal, and Hub City Tour–as training rides.

My goal for Redbud: finish comfortably and have energy in the tank for a small run afterwards.

—-

The first stretch–18 miles–wasn’t that bad. Rain was light, and temperatures were cool, but it was bearable. My only problems: (a) my low gears were slipping on the steep climbs, and (b) my right cleat came loose due to a missing screw.

This would slow me down, but was more of a nuisance than anything else.

Pulling out of the rest stop at mile 18, the suck arrived: the rains became heavy and the temperature dropped like a brick. I was wearing a poncho, but it didn’t help much. My hands and feet went numb from the cold. My core was cold. I was cold, wet, and miserable.

When I pulled into the rest stop at mile 33, I saw a lot of riders dropping out. These were seasoned century riders–tougher than the average bear–deciding they’d had enough.

I took stock of my situation. Sure, I was cold. Sure, I was wet. Sure, the conditions were sucky. But I was a third of the way done.

While I was mildly concerned that I could develop hypothermia, I thought to myself, “I can do this two more times.”

I was even more determined to embrace the suck.

As I pulled out of the rest stop, I noticed the rain had begun to let up. The temperature was rising. This was bearable.

My only serious problems on the front 50: my front brake was catching the rim, which was slowing me down; my left cleat gave me no leverage on the hard uphills; and my low gears were failing on the steep hills. I had to walk my bike up Tussey Hill because I had no low gears.

Still, when I pulled into the halfway point at Letterbox Baptist Church, I felt pretty good. MrsLarijani fetched some food for me–some pizza, an energy bar, and some Gatorade–while I had the mechanic work on my bike. He fixed my brake problem, inflated my tires, and that gave me what I needed for an uneventful back 50.

Starting the back 50, I felt really good. The 27 miles to the next stop were mild rolling hills–the only difficulty being some tough headwinds–but it was a pleasant ride.

Pulling out of mile 77, my butt was sore, but my legs were good. That stretch to mile 86 was also very pleasant.

At mile 86, I downed some cookies and brownies, refilled my water bottles, and headed out to finish.

MrsLarijani caught up with me, driving the car, and was able to follow me in to the finish.

At the end, my neck was a little sore, as was my butt, but I had energy to do a run.

Only one problem: I had forgotten to pack my back brace!

In all, a decent ride. Road quality was bad in several areas, largely due to the winter conditions and the flooding. The rain on the front 50 made for some early challenges. Otherwise, it was a nice ride. The temperature was good, humidity wasn’t bad, and, with the exception of the headwinds, the back 50 was pretty easy.

In terms of Ironman preparation, my endurance level was where I was hoping it would be at this stage. I have my work cut out for me, but I’m not in a bad position at this point.

Next stop: Horsey Hundred.

New Book About Korean War and No Kum-Sok

Blaine Harden, author of Escape From Camp 14, has written a new book, The Great Leader And The Fighter Pilot, which chronicles the rise of Kim Il-Sung, key milestones in the Korean War, and the life of No Kum-Sok (Kenneth Rowe), who would defect to the United States by flying a MiG-15 into Kimpo Air Base in South Korea on 21 September 1953.

In 1996, No and Embry-Riddle humanities professor Roger Osterholm co-wrote A MiG-15 to Freedom.

Both are absolutely fascinating reads.

Indiana RFRA: What Does It Really DO?

Looking at the news coming out of Indiana in the wake of Gov. Mike Pence’s signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, you’d think conservatives dropped a nuclear bomb on San Francisco.

(1) Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a scathing op-ed, condemned RFRA laws, insisting that they target homosexuals. That he actively does business with Saudi Arabia, which executes homosexuals, of course, reflects no duplicity on his part.

(2) Connecticut, which has a very similar–some commentators have even said farther-reaching–law has banned state-funded travel to Indiana.

(3) Angie’s List has canceled a planned expansion of business in Indiana.

(4) The NCAA, headquartered in Indianapolis, has weighed in against the Indiana law.

But seriously, that begs the question: given that (a) a federal RFRA law is on the books–and this was passed by a Republican congress and signed into law by a Democrat President–and (b) at least 20 states have similar laws on their books, what is it about Indiana’s law that merits the vitriol?

So here is the text of the RFRA law. Go ahead and read it; it’s neither long, nor is it particularly complicated.

In layman’s terms, here is the executive summary: a business owner may deny business–citing religious objections–if the religious objections surmount the “compelling government interest” test.

What this law does not do:

  • It does not make religious groups a protected class; even business owners who object on religious grounds are subject to the “compelling government interest” test.
  • It does not protect religious business owners from litigation.

So what does it mean?

(1) If you own a catering business, a bakery, a flower shop, or other business that operates in a particular market niche that has religious significance (weddings), then you MIGHT be able to refuse to provide services for a gay “wedding”, as your religious objections MIGHT pass the “compelling government interest” test.

It does not protect you from a lawsuit; it only provides verbiage saying that you MIGHT have a case. It does not give you any preferred standing, and the burden of proof is still on you to prove that your objections pass the “compelling government interest” test.

You still must hire attorneys; if you are sued, you still risk losing everything in court; you have no immunity from the non-value-added cost of fighting the lawsuit.

So in this case, what has the Indiana RFRA law done for you?

The short answer: nothing.

(2) If you own a business that does not operate in a market niche of religious significance–nail salon, restaurant, department store, gun range, cell phone store–then you almost certainly have no basis to deny services to anyone on religious grounds, as the “compelling government interest” is likely going to be insurmountable.

(3) If your business does contract work with the government, then you have no case for denials on religious objections. After all, if you take government money, then you must play by government rules. The “compelling government interest” id 100% in that case.

(4) If you seek to create an entity centered around unlawful activities, citing religious reasons–i.e. The First Church of Cannabis–then the “compelling government interest” (i.e. the DEA) is going to be quite the hurdle. That is, unless you provide some prostitutes, in which case you might see a boom in your business.

Seriously, the RFRA law is effectively a toothless tiger that does nothing of material value for religious business owners.

The fracas is good for fund raising; aside from that, the RFRA is a weak law that accomplishes nothing.

Christians should be outraged that their lawmakers, and governor, would go to the wall for such a tepid and diluted law that helps them in no material way.