Friday, August 22, 2008

Pie Eating Contest

So at work, they had a pie eating contest and I was one of the participants. I got through about 2/3rds of a key lime pie before the winner was declared. I don't necessarily recommend this as a balanced diet strategy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

This comes from one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul types of things. The lady who originated this bit of insight and wisdom was in her late 80s.

"If I had my life to live over, I would dare to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I've been this time. I would take fewer things seriously, and I would take more chances. I'd take more trips; I'd climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream, and fewer beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

"You see, I am one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, but if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else -just moments - one after another instead of living so many years ahead.

"I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring, and I would stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies." -- Nadine Stair

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ethnic Enrichment Festival

Along with several folks from PVBC Young Adult Large Group I went to the Ethnic Enrichment Festival on Saturday. There were booths from about 40 cultures as well as food, crafts, music and dance exhibits, and assorted other pieces of culture. I personally tried some Ugali with goat from the Kenyan booth which tastes like a mixture of couscous and mashed potatoes. Many Kenyan runners eat this to help fuel their endeavors. For desert, I had some apricot torte from Lithuania and washed it all down with some Guava juice from Columbia.

For more pictures check out the Community Faces link.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ryan Hall

Check out this great interview with US Marathon Olympian Ryan Hall. He is an outstanding runner and someone to root for in the Olympics. He also is a Christian with a strong walk which is very apparent from this interview with "Sharing the Victory."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Looking in the Mirror

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? Really look. Not just check your appearance. What does your face say about your outlook on life? Where are you going? What is written in it? Do you stop for introspection and ask yourself who you really are? When no one's around and it's just you and the mirror do you take a moment to reflect on what you really see in yourself?

I think this can be a useful exercise in gaining a visual representation of your emotional, mental, and physical state. We can get caught up in the busyness of life and just check appearances, make sure the exterior is in place and not pause to check out the interior. Next time you look into a mirror take a moment to reflect on how you look inside. Are you all hustle and bustle or calm and collected? Does God's peace sit beneath the exterior?

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story...

A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium By: Joe Parkin

Anyone who has even the most cursory knowledge of cycling has heard of the Tour de France, the granddaddy of all cycling races. And for Americans in present day, the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong go hand in hand. Armstrong's books give a view from the front of the pack and what it's like to be one of the most dominant cyclists in the world. A Dog in a Hat contrastingly provides a view from inside the professional European peloton.

After graduating from high school Parkin determined to become a professional cyclist rather than pursuing college like so many of his peers. Rather than hanging around the US cycling world, he received advice to cut his teeth racing in Belgium. So, after saving up money for plane fare to Belgium, he hopped on a flight and was on his way to becoming a "for real" cyclist.

He begins as an amateur and after performing well in some races, eventually attracts the attention of pro teams. His next year is spent learning the ins and outs of the professional world and making rookie mistakes. Along with learning the cycling world he also learns the Belgian culture and begins picking up on Flemmish and Dutch which are the primary local languages.

The quirky title of the book comes from a local expression basically meaning something out of the ordinary. Parkin learns to look for "a dog in a hat" in races when someone is about to make a break, as well as in general life as he adjusts to the rigors of being a professional cyclist in a foreign country.

While Parkin hears of drug use by cyclists prior to coming to Europe, he witnesses it first hand in many races where fellow teammates and competitors regularly use performance enhancing drugs. He also learns of various sordid methods used to beat drug testing. The reader witnesses this dirty side of the sport through his rookie eyes and sees his struggle to maintain integrity while still performing at a high level.

He also learns about the somewhat controversial part of European races where races are sold. This occurs when a breakaway is in progress and one of the riders pays the others to allow him to win. Though this does not make sense to those with a squeaky clean fairness mentality, the practice occurs regularly in European bike races.

For those uninitiated with the sport of cycling, it is very much team oriented and the book does a good job at explaining the ins and outs of working as a team to get the chosen teammate to the finish line before other teams. Overall, though definitely at the pro level, Parkin is not one of the elite riders and as a result serves as a work horse to allow fellow teammates the ability to rest in his slipstream, help when the main rider has bike trouble, control the pace of the peloton, etc. Parkin works his way up from a being on a low level team to riding on a more respected team by the end of his European career.

Throughout the book, you want to root for him to do well and have success despite some of the modest results. It feels in ways like a "Rudy" story based on his desire and heart to be a great cyclist.

Whether you're a hard core cycling fanatic or are passingly aware of the Tour de France each year, you will enjoy this page turning chronicle of a young man's coming of age as a cyclist in Europe. It might even inspire you to dust off that old bike sitting in the closet and take it for a spin.

If you found this review helpful, please let know at this link.
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