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.

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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.

The Stupidest Play Call In Sports History

As an observer of the NFL for a very long time, I have never been a fan of short passes inside the defense’s ten yard line, or screen passes inside the offense’s ten yard line. This is because they are very high-risk. You want evidence, here it is:

(a) Dan Fouts throws a 102-yard pick-6 to Louis Breeden, propelling the Bengals past the Chargers in 1981;

(b) Already suffering a horrendous first half against the Raiders, Joe Theismann attempts a screen pass deep in his own territory on the last play of the half. Jack Squirek picks it off and scores an easy touchdown, expanding what would be a 38-9 rout;

(c) Kurt Warner, deep inside New England territory, attempts a short pass. End-result: a pick-6 that would prove to be the difference in the game, giving Tom Brady his first Super Bowl ring;

(d) Kurt Warner, with a chance to put the Steelers on the ropes, attempts a short pass. James Harrison intercepted it and took it to the house. This would also be the difference in the game, as the Steelers would get their 6th Super Bowl ring.

The only pass plays that work from that close: (1) a timing route to the corner of the end zone, or (b) a jump ball to the back of the end zone. Think Montana-to-Clark, or Bradshaw-to-Swann, or Bradshaw-to-Stallworth.

Still, when you have the ball at the 1-yard line, and you have the best smashmouth running back in the NFL, and your QB is the best running QB in the league with the possible exception of Cam Newton, and you have three plays and two timeouts, YOU PUNCH IT IN!!!

There are smart risks and there are dumb risks. Going for the TD at halftime was a smart risk. Why? A field goal would have been a win for the New England defense. Going for the TD shows that you want to WIN. As they say in the Spec-Ops world: who dares wins.

But going for a short pass at the 1-yard line, that was a dumb risk. A jump ball to the back of the end zone would have been understandable; a fade pattern would have been ok.

Still, when you have the best running attack and a QB who can scramble, you need to try to ram it down their throats at least once before attempting a pass.

Instead, New England fans will celebrate their former coach, Pete Carroll, who gift-wrapped a 4th Super Bowl ring for Tom Brady.

Tiger Woods Hits New Low

This time, in his first tournament of the year, he fired 73 in the first round, then followed with a career-worst 82 (including a 44 on the front 9).

He was dead last.

I’ve long said that I believed Tiger could still win the big tournaments. He is not what he once was physically, but he’s still pretty fit. His short game has become erratic, and his driving distance has fallen considerably, putting more pressure on his short game.

Par 5s used to be potential eagle holes for him, as his driving distance and accuracy would give him a fair shot at hitting the greens in 2 shots. His short game was once very solid, and this augmented his long game. Course designers sought to “Tiger proof” their courses.

But those days are gone now. He’s declining physically, and his opponents no longer fear him. Since the fracas that exposed his scandals, he has lost his edge mentally. While he has shown some flashes of potential, he has been unable to clear the key hurdles to put four solid rounds together in a Major.

At 39, he’s still comparatively young. But he’s not getting any younger. Physically, his best days are behind him, and he must learn to play the game in ways to which he is not accustomed.

Whereas he was once considered a shoo-in to destroy Jack Nicklaus’ record for Major championships, the Golden Bear appears to now be quite secure.

Father Time can be quite the Mother indeed.

“I’m crazy, obsessed and slightly obnoxiously in love with the Church and her leaders.”

Whitney Capps has written a piece titled, “An Open Letter to All the People Writing (And Sharing) Open Letters About What’s Wrong with The Church.”

To be honest, I like her piece. Thinking of, “those sweet, saintly ladies who put on those events praying over those doily-laden tables for young women to fill those chairs,” gives me the warm-fuzzies. I remember preparing for events like this, praying for those who would come, seeking and following the wisdom of those mature women whose lives were full of beautiful stories of the love of God and His faithfulness, despite loss and tragedy. Those are sweet memories for me.

Whitney’s writing from a Millennials pov, a pov of which I don’t have much experience or knowledge, so I cannot speak to what she writes here specifically regarding Millennials: “If I can glean anything from these open letters, it’s this-maybe people (my people, Millennials) are leaving the Church because we are spoiled, selfish, uneasily satisfied, hypercritical, consumeristic and socially enlightened but biblically light-weight.”

I want her dad: “I fell in love with God because my earthly Dad is simply amazing. I can honestly say that my early inclinations towards God were that if He loves me like my Daddy does, I’ll love him forever.” And I would give just about anything to have my second husband be the one I married first, when I was young.

I want the church to still be to me what it was, or at least what I thought it was, before my trust was so severely betrayed … within the church, by the church, by those who lead within the church, by those who have openly measured my worth based on my attendance and activity within the church. I want that innocence back.

I still love her … the church. I just think of her differently. She’s those who love Christ. Those who love Christ, who are in my life, love me enough to pray with and for me, to hold me accountable, to walk with me, to do life with me. She’s no longer confined to a building, or a brand, or an attendance sheet.

I would guess there are some out there who are, “spoiled, selfish, uneasily satisfied, hypercritical, consumeristic and socially enlightened but biblically light-weight.” But I think we’d be a bit short-sighted to classify everyone, or even most people, who’ve been in the church and wounded by the church, as such.

I like this: “Reach out to those in your local body. And stay. Stay close. Stay connected. Stay hopeful.” I see it a bit differently than the local brick and mortor church, though … I see it more as reaching out to those in the body of Christ, staying with them, staying close to them, staying connected to them, and staying hopeful – knowing that Jesus Christ is hope.

Wasted Ranger School Slots?

It appears that Fort Benning is going to be seeing women in the next cycle of Ranger School.

Personally, I think the Army is wasting time here. While it is entirely possible that there may be a woman or two who are capable of handling the physical and psychological rigors of Ranger School, I find it highly improbable. Among the guys, getting into Ranger School is not easy, and–even then–a lot of folks get punched out in the FIRST DAY.

The endurance challenge alone causes many otherwise good men to drop. Others get bounced for performance: they weather the storm, but perhaps don’t show adequate leadership worthy of the Ranger Tab.

If the Marine Corps infantry courses–enlisted and officer–are any indication, the women are going to get dropped in droves out of Ranger School. To date, only four women have passed the Marine Corps Infantry basic course, and ZERO have passed the officer version.

And Ranger School is harder than that.

Maybe Professor Hale has other thoughts on this, but I just don’t see this working out well at all.

Yoga Pants

Daisy at Chicks on the Right has written a piece titled, Warning: This Post Is About Women Wearing Leggings And Yoga Pants, And I Can’t Believe I’m Writing A Post About That, Either.

Before it was 24 hours old, it had already hit my newsfeed twice on facebook. The comments on those threads are interesting, but the most intriguing comments are from the men who basically state that if you women are going to wear skin-tight clothing that makes your tush look great, we’re going to notice … and if you’re my wife, you’re probably not going right to sleep tonight.

I lean toward the conservative side of dress. If there’s a question, I err on being a bit more modest. I used to stress about it much more than I do now, but I still think it’s a relevant issue, regardless of what year it is.

Yes, men are responsible for their own thoughts and behaviors. And, yes, women are responsible for the way they present themselves. How that looks to different people obviously differs greatly. Swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other doesn’t usually get us very far. Ragging on each other because we don’t believe the same doesn’t, either. Neither does expecting everyone to believe exactly the same.

In the end I have to answer to God for my life choices, including the choices I make regarding what I wear in public.

 

 

Here’s Why People are REALLY Leaving The Church

John Pavlovitz has written a piece for Church Leaders titled, “Dear Church, Here’s Why People are REALLY Leaving You.”

This spoke to me: “In fact, most of your time, money and energy seems to be about luring people to where you are, instead of reaching people where they already are.”

I don’t know why reaching people where they are, letting them be where they are without demanding they come to the church, is so hard to get. The first year I was a single mom, two staff members in my Sunday School class (small group – or whatever it was called then – I can’t remember) wanted to give my young girls Christmas presents. They didn’t need Christmas presents – I’d already got them everything and more. But we did need somewhere to go on Christmas day. Not one family invited us to their home, and not one person brought us food … but they were very sad they couldn’t buy us gifts. It’s what they needed to do for the ‘needy,’ but it wasn’t what the ‘needy’ needed.

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What do you think about what he’s written?