If you use Endomondo or Strava, there's Bike Commuter Cabal groups there. Get crackin!
Fridays are Hawaiian shirt days! Well, not really, but I always wear one, so for me, it is.
As I previously wrote about Caustic 2 running in Linux with wine emulation, version 3.1 of Caustic has come out with loads of great new features. Simply put, it's now practically a full-blown electronic music production program. The Android version is $10 (well worth it) and the Windows desktop version remains free.
The list of improvements is substantial:
- More instruments per project
- New instruments
- New features in old instruments
- more effects
- more MIDI functions (yay!)
- Export features
- UI improvements
I can't say enough good things about this app. The fact that it runs under Linux is even more exciting, as that wasn't done intentionally, but it works anyway. I highly recommend it.
This post is probably one of the hardest I've ever had to write. I've been thinking about it, off and on, for 9 months.
I've got plenty of family and friends who care about me, but wholeheartedly reject my religion. I'm going on record saying that I can care about somebody and disagree with their lifestyle, opinions and choices. I think there's much more to a person than who they want to sleep with, what substances they use, or what religion they follow. But people are selfish and narcissistic, and sometimes it's easier for them to just shout "Prejudice! Bigotry!" than actually dealing with the issue. If you really believe in accepting the person as a whole, then you need to read this entire post. I just pray that if you disagree, you can disagree without hate, because I wrote this without any malice or hate. It's just a simple observation, nothing more.
I've basically figured out that modern culture is twisting definitions of things for its own short-term benefit. Equating Acceptance with Approval; redefining Love as something completely sick, twisted, and perverted. I'm going to be brutally honest here, so you can see exactly what's going on. Phillipians 2:15 says we should live as children of God in a crooked and perverse generation, and this couldn't be more true than today.
First, the Bible clearly says that the committing of certain acts is a sin... it doesn't say the temptation is a sin. It goes on to explain how people who trust in Jesus can be freed from those sins. I also don't expect people who don't believe the Bible to care, one way or the other. So for religious grounds, it only applies to people of faith. This, sadly, sets the stage for the decline of entire generations.
Second, we can cite several historical examples where disruption of traditional values and the family unit caused irreparable cultural damage, ending rather badly for those societies. Realistically, this started about 50 years ago in America with the large push for sexual freedom, and abandonment of ethics and values. It doesn't take a genius to see that the massive exodus of women from being homemakers to the workplace, and men disappearing all together, has had a detrimental effect on our nation's youth.
I can see that the family unit in America is all but destroyed, but I think that's due to the slippery slope of morality in general, not any specific event. There's already a huge amount of work to be done to fix American families. Our children are now being raised by TV, morally corrupt public institutions, and their peers. They're being emotionally crippled, suppressed with medications and quack psychologists. It's only getting worse, despite massive amounts of data showing how detrimental this is. There has to be a collapse at some point... I just don't know when.
Thirdly, the problem of a slippery slope argument, as far as what is accepted as normal and deviant in society. People will say "Society changes!" and there is valid argument there. Now, hear me out: if a small minority of people insist on their particular behavior being normalized/legalized, and they're vocal enough, then other groups will follow suit even if they don't understand the problems behind it. This can easily lead to abuse of the system (and a vast majority would argue it already has, see: euthanasia and abortion). At some point you have to draw the line, otherwise we will, and have already, legalized and normalized some rather horrific things.
Now, you can't realistically argue that the slippery slope doesn't exist. The question is where to draw the line, and naturally people are going to want the line moved as little as possible, as long as they're on what they think is the right side of it. You can disagree where the line is to be drawn, but you can't reasonably say anybody can do anything they want. There has to be a standard somewhere.
Fourth, there's the argument that the process of doing whatever you want is weakening the reasons for having morality, ethics, and laws in the first place.
It wasn't until recently that marriages were proposed strictly on feelings. For millennia, it was understood that the purpose of a marriage was to find a strong, able, well-connected mate that would further your chances at raising a successful family. If you loved your spouse, that was a bonus... not a requirement. In India, China, and other countries, they still practice arranged marriages based on the family's wealth, education, and social status. The purpose is to strengthen the family unit, and protect the family so they can focus on that goal. Feelings are considered only after the fact.
Today, marriage in the U.S. has been been watered down to where it no longer has any meaning. This is obvious with today's divorce rate, because if you only marry to "be happy" then when you're not happy anymore, it's over. This is not only extremely damaging to individuals and society as a whole, but emotionally crippling for the children unlucky enough to be raised in homes like that. They are silent victims of a society that doesn't want them in the way, and can't be bothered.
The truth is, I care very much about the family unit as a whole. I am willing to put my neck on the line to protect the family unit, because I believe the traditional family unit is essential to the future of a society. You may not agree, but history and science have repeatedly borne this out. And honestly, it doesn't matter if you agree; either it is or it isn't, and I'm willing to bet it is.
I understand people want special treatment, but there's no waffling in the Bible. God has standards of conduct, and He expects them to be followed. You disobey God at your own risk.
"I don't believe in God!" you might say. But it doesn't change the fact that God's plan is what works best, and history has shown this repeatedly, even if you don't subscribe to the origin of it.
Why are we as a society so willing to throw tradition to the wind for the sake of feelings, when it is proven to corrode the very structure of society from the inside out? What is wrong with falling on the side of caution? Are we willing to bet the very future of our country on people's feelings?
I don't like the direction the country as a whole is taking, and I understand that ignorant people will continue to drive it into the ground for the sake of misplaced notions and hurt feelings. I think we should grow up, and realize that life's not fair, because we're not fair. We can't decide predictably from one day to the next, so we shouldn't base our society's future on "because it feels good."
I am simply waiting for the inevitable. In light of the moral decline and bankruptcy in America over the last 50 years, it's not a matter of "if" things will break down, it's only a matter of "when." We've already decimated the reproduction rate out of convenience. We've crippled the reproduction process by by punishing traditionalists, and allowing anything and everything to replace meaningful, stable family units and home life.
Our country is eating itself from the inside out. At some point, it will be too weak to support its own weight, and collapse will be imminent.
I have no reason to spew hatred, because I don't hate people. Since I started following Jesus, I've had no reason to hate anyone. They are simply the product of their corrupted natures, and there's nothing I can do about that. I can't expect them to do anything else; it's what I did when I was in their shoes.
So no, I'm not surprised. Not shocked, not really upset. Just kind of sad that we, as a country, have chosen this path to go down. It started a long time ago... and this won't be the last we see of it, either.
I'll continue to speak truth in love. But I'm not looking forward to what the future of America holds if this is how we're going to get there. But ultimately, I know God will bring people through it. He did it for believers during the Egyptian exile, the Babylonian occupation, persecution from the Roman Empire, and many, many other times. It's cyclical. Yes, it's undeniably true that our nation is heading in a downward spiral.
But the beauty is that God can and will continue to bring people to Him in spite of adversity. How do I know this? Because I've seen it with my own eyes, in my own life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
As a (admittedly lacking) science fiction reader/author, I've been following the rumpus surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards for Science Fiction. Simply put, they're fan-based awards, given to works of science fiction* that exemplify the best talent in the industry.
* Or at least, that's what it used to be. In the last 2 years, we've discovered it was a thinly disguised club who used it to promote works that were neither science fiction, nor the best that the industry had to offer.
Naturally, people were upset about this and pressed back, and so the Hugo Awards ended up burning themselves to the ground instead of letting "unapproved" authors and editors get their coveted awards.
Honestly, Larry Corriea explains it perfectly here.
I've noticed over the last year or so, with GamerGate and now the Hugo Awards, that being a moderate in these areas is ineffective and counterproductive. Not wanting to hurt people's feelings ends up backfiring 99% of the time, because the people you're trying not to offend don't care if they offend you.
So as believers, do we simply smile and back away? Do we take our toys and go play in another sandbox? Or do we put our foot down, insist on playing by the same rules, and beat them at their own game?
As of yesterday, I weighed 165 pounds, which means I've lost approximately 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks. I think I'm going to focus on nutrition and building muscle mass at this point. Even though I could probably lose a bit more weight, I think I would be better served by increasing my strength and endurance, now that I'm within a few pounds of my ideal weight.
Here's some music to get you moving on this Monday morning.
I'm stuck here. I'm debating on what to upgrade on the Beast of Burden. It has to be sturdy, reliable, inexpensive, and functional.
My Surly LHT is currently using Tektro V-brakes and Tektro R520 levers (which work well). It has 7-sp downtube shifters which are problematic for shifting while sprinting through intersections. It has a custom built (by me) dynohub front wheel and a 7-sp cassette rear wheel (still rolling well). Cheap Shimano Deore/Tourney derailleurs (which work well).
I guess my real dilemma is that I want to get the bike lighter, and modernize it somewhat, but without having to buy a whole new drivetrain. I don't really need more gears. I want to be able to commute on it, and use it for group rides. This will require me to get a separate wheelset... keep the dynohub for commuting, and a lightweight set for charity group weekend rides. I can just strip off the rack and lights, and ride it with light wheels.
Do I just upgrade shifters and keep it 3x7? Future wheels can use a cassette spacer. I'm okay with that. But that requires going to mini-V brakes, which rules out fenders and fat tires in the future. (I won't do cantis or Travel Agents... they just suck. Too complicated.)
It's cheaper to keep using 7 speed gear, and it works. But I don't like the downtube shifters for riding in traffic, and I can't find decently light/sturdy 26" road wheels. This will probably require custom wheels on my end. I'm wanting something that nobody makes.
Do I custom build some wheels and go with 9/10sp shifting? Too much cost for the shifters/cassettes/chains.
I think for now, as long as I can get 7-speed parts, I will stick with 3x7 or even 2x7 and just replace wheels as needed. I have a complete new 3x7 drivetrain waiting to go on the bike, I'm just wanting better shifting. There's at least 4 companies still making 7-speed cassettes, and 2 that make shifters. And they're cheap compared to the 9/10/11 speed stuff.
I think I'll use some bargain-bin 26" mountain wheelset for road rides for now... I have a pair of Vuelta Zerolite Comps in 26" I can use. Not superlight, but aero and very cheap. Lighter than the old MTB/dynohub wheels. I will need another set of 26's with knobbies to put on the Klunker.
I'm sure some of you are thinking "You're an idiot, just get another road bike and be done with it." I wish I could. But I've already got 2 bikes, and I don't really need a third. I want to prove the LHT really is a "do-all" bike. With the right parts, the LHT can be a sub-20 pound bike. I'd be happy with 25 or so. Can I lose 5 pounds off the bike just by swapping parts? Very likely. If I can get it to 25 pounds in group ride trim, I think it'll be perfect. Don't care what it weighs when I'm commuting, as I'm carrying 2 panniers anyway.
Can I do it for cheap? A 25# LHT using 7-speed parts? It's the perfect balance of functionality, retro, and cheap.
I'm going to find out.
After a month of riding my bike to work, my blood pressure has dropped from 140/90 to 110/80, and I think it will keep going lower.
While riding mountain bikes with my Scout troop this past weekend, I did manage to drop my bike's chain, causing me to smash my left knee into the handlebar. I've got a nice fat knot the size of a golf ball just above my kneecap!
For a lot of people, the desire to be creative has been stamped out of their daily thinking. It never crosses their mind that they have the time or the ability to create something.
For me, the realization of this happened when I wrote my first book, during NaNoWriMo. One of the tips they give is to "lock away your inner editor" and just write whatever comes to your mind. And for people like me who have high standards of quality, that works, surprisingly.
Why is this? It's because of the fear of our output being "not good enough" from only the first draft. We look at our incomplete musical or graphical or literary first drafts, and think "this really sucks." But if you stop there, that's the end of the story (pun intended), and nothing gets created.
Freedom to create comes when you lock away your inner editor long enough to get past the initial aversion. Even if it's bad, a written book is closer to publication than an incomplete one. A song with all the parts there is closer to being "finished" than one with a well-mixed intro and nothing else.
You can't edit or polish something that isn't there. Worry about perfection after you've actually completed something. In some cases, you'll realize that the end result probably doesn't need that much fixing anyway. You get better with it over time.
So quit double-guessing yourself, put aside the fear, and finish something. Anything, even if it's bad, is better than not creating at all.
I've been blessed to participate in a short fiction anthology, where the proceeds go to the Journey Home Foundation. Short stories that inspire and entertain, and do it for a good cause!
You can read about it here.
There comes a time in every man's life
When he grows tired of all the strife
But soldiers on, despite the pain
To keep the paychecks flowing like rain
The mental fog occludes the will
And quenches man's desire to fill
His mind with passionate joys of love
With corporate idiocy from above
But one day, friend, he will be free
Retirement ends the misery
Only to find there's no more drive
He sits resolutely;
American Idol's on at five.