"You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something."
"All the evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition...that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets of reality have their meaning and explanation in this central fact."
Dr. Micheal Denton
You are who you are for a reason. You're past of an intricate plan. You're a precious and perfect unique design, Called God's special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason. Our God made no mistake. He knit you together within the womb, You're just what he wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones he chose, And no matter how you may feel, They were custom-designed with God's plan in mind, And the bear the Master's seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy. And God wept that it hurt you so; But it was allowed to shape your heart So that into his likeness you'd grow.
You are who you are for a reason, You've been formed by the Master's rod. You are who you are, beloved, Because there is a God!
"Focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life's purpose."
There has been so much activity in the past few months that I haven't really taken the time to collect all of my thoughts and reflect on them. Now that the Fall semester is done and in the books, I was hoping that the clarity that I had found this summer would come back to me. I honestly believe that it is beginning to and am very grateful for that. By trying to understand what is going on inside and around me makes me wonder and observe so many things.
Last week I witnessed an extremely humbling site. I was at home, busy as all get out, trying to get things done being it was the last week of the semester and finals week. I had lost sight of the big picture and was quickly reminded of how truly blessed I am, for all things great and small in my life. I heard the dogs barking in the pen and just happened to glance out to see what all the commotion was about, which is not abnormal for Sam and Riley, they are very good watch dogs. I saw Sam was at the back of the pen and was baying pretty stoutly. I looked across the alley and saw a man dressed in a long black trench coat with his little dog under his arm rummaging through my neighbors trash. Now I am not trying to stereotype, but the signs seemed obvious, he was economically less fortunate that I. I was so humbled to think how blessed am I that I have a roof over my head and enough food to fill my belly. I realized he was rummaging for treasures. Now I don't mean dumpster diving, where people find good used items to refurbish or sell as is, I mean rummaging for scraps of food. I noticed he had found some things he thought were worth while, fed one or two morsels to his dog and placed the rest in a plastic bag that he found in the garbage can. I had an overwhelming feeling come over me! I could not believe that I had lost sight of such blessing that have been before me to make the lesson have to have that large of a magnitude. I have seen and interacted with many homeless people in my lifetime, from hustlers, beggars, con artists, and genuine 'down on there luck' homeless people. Some of them have left an impact on me while others have not. In one of my earlier posts from Seattle this summer I had such an occurrence with a gentleman and elaborated on it.
Witnessing this man rummaging through my neighbors garbage stopped me dead in my tracks and Thank God for everything I have. Everyone has hardships in their life. I feel I can honestly say that I have had a pretty good life, all things considered and am grateful and very blessed to have experienced what I have in my life.
I have been searching for quite some time, of how I fit into this world. With the calmness of the winter break I am going to try and extend my search and see where I end up. Many things have occurred at times when they were appropriate lately (the last year or two). I have witnessed many things that I can not simply 'chalk up' to coincidence any longer and need to search for the meaning, which I already am suspect to the importance.
I would like to extend a holiday blessing to all of my fellow brother's and sisters, not only during the holiday season, but each and everyday. May you all be with your loved ones and family during this special time of the year. May all of your travels be safe and when you break bread realize the importance of it and give Thanks for your blessings!
Have a safe and happy holiday season and may all of our protectors make it home safely to once again get to experience their families as we do ours while they make the ultimate sacrifice for you and I.
This week I went to a debate over Human Space Exploration. I have to say I was very intrigued. Not something that I would have initially had an opinion about but after sitting and listening to it, there were some very good points that were brought up. I am just curious, if you have a few spare minutes (like we are all just so bored and have all the free time in the world right?), put in your two cents worth. Sometimes just thinking about a topic off of our normal day-to-day topics will stimulate and cultivate the mind to alternative trains of thought and may relieve a bit of stress and help calm the mind by processes of thought. Maybe...
This is the summary for the side of opposition:
The advancement of Science Argument-
1) Given that resources for space exploration are limited, money should not be put into MANNED space missions as opposed to UNMANNED space missions, unless science can be expected to advance faster this way.
2) Science cannot be expected to advance fastest this way. (MANNED missions)
3) For now, therefore, manned space missions that go beyond providing support for the unmanned ones should NOT be funded.
The Practical Argument-
1) Manned spaced missions that aim to establish permanent human settlements in environments lacking breathable atmosphere are in the end doomed to fail unless we have an energy-efficient way to generate a breathable atmosphere from non-breathable substances. (Air loss through leaks, even it if it kept to a minimum, are for all practical purposes permanent, and mechanical systems can be counted on to be imperfect.)
2) We lack an energy-efficient way to generate a breathable atmosphere from non-breathable substances.
3) It is wrong to fund space missions that are in the end doomed to fail.
4) For now, therefor, manned space missions that aim to establish permanent human settlements in environments lacking a breathable atmosphere should not be funded.
The Obligations at Home Argument-
1) Environmental problems here on Earth (the web of problems that include human overpopulation, soil loss, increased toxins in the environment, global warming, desertification, loss of bio-diversity, etc.) deserve the unwavering focus of humanity.
2) Manned space missions that has their long-term goal the exodus of minority of humanity to extraterrestrial space amount to being a diversion of attention away from the more pressing problems here on Earth.
3) We have no business diverting attention away from these problems before they are adequately resolved. They matter that much.
4) For now, therefore, manned space missions that have as their long-term goal the exodus of a minority of humanity to extraterrestrial space should not be funded.
(Majority of these arguments from Steven Wienberg, physicist at the University of Texas at Austin, Nobel Laureate, and recipient of the National Medal of Science)
Now, the arguments on the side of maintaining MANNED space missions
Science and Society Advancement-
1) "The longer we stay on the planet Mars - the more scientific experiments we can do."
2) "We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are willing to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others too."
3) Many household products are a direct result of developing materials for human space exploration- such as food preservation, medical, materials (golf clubs), communications, fire protection, watches, etc.
4) Thus the push to go to space advances science and society in beneficial ways.
1) "Economic, scientific and technological returns of space exploration have far exceeded the investment. Globally, 43 countries now have their own observing or communication satellites in Earth's orbit. Observing Earth has provided G.P.S., meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and global monitoring of the environment, as well as surveillance and intelligence. Satellite communications have changed life and business practices with computer operations, cell phones, global banking, and TV."
2) "For every dollar we spend on the space program, the U.S. economy receives about $8 of economic benefit."
3) Right now, all of America's human space flight programs cost around $7 billion a year. That's pennies per person per day. In 2006, according to the USDA, Americans spend more than $154 billion on alcohol. We spend around $10 billion a month in Iraq. And so on."
4) "Royalties on NASA patents and licenses currently go directly to the U.S. Treasury, not back to NASA."
5) The current ISS (International Space Station) effort is now moving towards privatizing space exploration, expanding the economic base to support exploration of space.
6) Thus, NASA is an income source and entrepreneurial enterprise for the U.S. and not a drain.
Survival of the Species -
1) "Mankind will not remain on Earth forever, but in it's quest for light and space will at first timidly penetrate beyond the confines of the atmosphere, and later will conquer for itself all the space near the Sun."
2) "Exploration of space will provide humanity with an answer to the most fundamental questions: Are we alone? Are there other forms of life besides those on Earth?" Knowing about life, helps us understand life and ourselves.
3) "Space exploration will eventually all us to establish a human civilization to another world (e.g. Mars) as a hedge against the type of catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs."
4) Thus, moving into space protects our species.
Dubner, Stephen. " Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?" http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin. "Konstantin E Tsiolkovsky Quote." First Science
Krauss, Lawrence. "A One-way Ticket to Mars" NY Times. 31 Aug. 2009
Kennedy, John F. "John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium." NASA website
It was interesting to hear this debate. Basically, the side of opposition was saying the use of probes and robotics will produce, at least the same, if not more, especially scientific, results. More or less that a machine can do what a human can.
On the other hand, the side for maintaining manned space exploration explained how it has advanced not only science, and the teaching of, but all education in some shape or form. NASA has been really pushing for the advancement of education in all forms of all subjects.
I have been involved with a research group since last semester that is funded through a NASA grant. I have been amazed at the science that is involved with all different aspects of this whole group. It has really helped my technical skills develop and look at school more professionally. Our department Chair, Dr. John Heinrichs, has deep convictions about teaching and helping us develop into professionals in the science field in any of the different areas. He has many mentor qualities about him that I respect greatly. Most of the research he has done, or currently looking into with us, and makes sure that everything we are doing is, and will be accepted with validity in the science community. I personally, had the opportunity to travel last Spring Break to Boulder to sit in on the yearly planning conference with him and his fellow colleagues. The depth and subject matter really drew me in.
I hope that the fall weather finds you all well and best wishes to everyone!! Get out and explore your world!! It is amazing in so many different ways.
Finally I have found a group of people that share the same interests and intensity (actually more intense) that I have. Recently I have gotten more into mountain biking. The Hubb Cycle Shop in Hays has become a common place I visit these days. The crew down at the Hubb have been extremely helpful in getting me up and going and keeping me going while I learn the in's and out's of mountain biking. I rode in my first race last month and was hooked. It was a 5 hour race and realized shortly after the race began, that I'm not in race shape. I was riding quite a bit this summer and with school starting haven't had the free time I had this summer. I still ride everyday, but more of a commuter ride than training. Never the less, it's still peddling!!
This weekend I went out to Wilson Lake after I got off work Saturday night. It was pretty late, ok, early Sunday morning, when I finally made it out to the lake. I needed to wake up to a lake sunrise. The sun wasn't even up when Riley decided she needed to be up and about as well. I feel so bad, Riley has really been a trooper lately. I haven't had much free time to run and play with her but she has hung in there like always. She was so happy to be able to run and play.
Today was suppose to be pretty windy so we decided to go ride the trails while it was still cool and before the wind started blowing. The trails at Wilson are pretty technical. It was a great workout first thing in the morning. I have ridden the Big Creek trail a couple of times and enjoy it but Wilson will definitely make you learn how to ride and power through the technical portions.
We rode for about 2 hours, finished the 15 mile trail and headed back to camp for a snack. The wind had already started blowing but that was going to stop us from heading out on the kayaks and getting a good paddle in. Unfortunately I had to work tonight so we only got to paddle for about two hours, if even that. Paddling into the wind to begin with sure made for a peacful stroll back to the cove we camped at. It was good to get back out in the kayak and getting on the open water. The wave were white capping pretty good today and it made for a gnarly ride. Needless to say I had to dump a bit of water out of the hull when we got done. I had my spray skirt on but still seemed to manage to get some wet. It was a great time.
There is a ride coming up in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to it. It starts on a farm north of Russell, continues on country roads to Paradise and then backtracks back to the farm. It'll be a nice 40 mile road ride to get me legged up for the Coronado Challenge in November. Once you ride in a race you get hooked!! The people that attend these events are a blast to be around and are always willing to lend a hand to those in need. It was amazing how well the accept new blood into the sport and encourage each other. I noticed how tight knit they are and have a true passion and love for cycling.
Hope all is well with everyone and apologies for the tardiness for a new post. I got a few shots this morning of the sunrise at the lake and hope to have them posted later this week.
Sunday morning I went for a little hike. There are two pictures that show the below and above photos. The top picture is from the Fire Academy, with Mailbox Hill in the background. The picture below it is from the top of Mailbox Hill looking down at the Academy. That was an amazing hike. From the trialhead it is 7.8 miles down and up. That doesn't sound like much but the incline was probably a steady 45%-50% until you got out of the trees. That is when the trail really starts to get steep. I couldn't believe how steep the trail got. It was well worth the trip. It was amazing to be able to look over the valley and see Mt. Rainier in the far off distance. Mt. Rainier was one of the things I wanted to hike when I got here. Needless to say I didn't do enough research to be able to achieve that one this time. Snow capped the summit and quite a ways below it. One of the locals here told me you could a guide to take you up but not sure how long or how much that would take. I'm sure it's not cheap though. It had been quite some time since I have gotten that dirty and sweaty. It felt awesome!! A trip like that gets all of the bad juju out of the system and sure makes you feel more pure and clear your head. It was beautiful!!
Well today was the last time I will wake up to the Sun shining on the mountains in Washington. I have had a great time up here being able to get out and experience the outdoors, all things considered. The mountains are always such a memorable experience. The mountains are like an old Harley. An old Harley will always get you were you want to go, but it may not get you back. The mountains hold a very near and dear place in my heart.
We all have those experiences in our lives that we will never forget. Maybe not every single detail, but how we perceived it. I remember the very first time I had the opportunity to experience the mountains. I was 14 and my uncle Gene took me on a camping trip to The Powder Horns in Colorado. I fell in Love from the very beginning. We camped in the back country for three or four days and then got a cabin in Gunnison. There are so many things that I loved from that trip and I think that maybe where I was at that point in my life is why that experience stuck with me so strongly.
Like I have said in the past, this year has been so wonderful for me. There has been so much personal growth, thanks to family, friends and people that have helped along the way. There are so many factors occurring in my life concurrently that make this such wonderful period in time.
I have been blessed with such great wonders to cross my path and am grateful for each and every one of them. The dynamic that fills my soul everyday is something I can not fully describe. Just waking up and being able to step outside and hear the birds sing and watch the Sun hitting the mountain side is so peaceful. Surrounded by pretty much nothing but nature is so serene.
I am looking forward to getting home, although it won't be for another two weeks. Whether I am in the mountains or the comfort of my own home, I have been blessed with many things. In another couple of weeks life will get to be quite hectic for me. There may come a time when I will have to go back and reread my posts from this summer and let the thoughts and memories fill my mind to be able to maintain my equilibrium. Whatever the future holds for me, I am ready and willing to accept. I am excited to see what the upcoming months bring. I have a feeling things will work out very nicely. I am at a point in my life that I am ready to face my future head on and enjoy every moment of it. I have really learned to embrace my 30's. It has been a topsy-turvy ride so far, but so worth it. I can only imagine what my 40's will have in store, but for right now, I'm really dig'n life and want to experience so much.
I hope everyone is having a great summer and enjoying everything you can. If any of you are traveling, enjoy the trip, the destination is not as important as the journey.
Life is Grand!!
(Notice in the first photo that the only two uses for the trail was hiking and Llamas. Wish I would have remembered to pack my llama for this trip.)
Thanks to Tracy and Emily I knew of a few places to go experience while in the Seattle area. We started off the day with Pike Market. That was really cool. We got there while some of the produce stands were still getting there booths ready and the seafood vendors were icing down the fresh catch. Coming from a landlocked state this is not something you get to witness very often. It smelled amazing in the market. There were floral vendors that had many different varieties of flowers. It was beautiful to see all of the different colors in the market. From flower vendors to produce, the variety of color was astonishing. None of these pictures do justice to the diversity of color.
Today was filled of quite a few things I have never witnessed, experienced or have seen before. It was great. I could never live in 'The City', but the diversity is humbling to experience from time to time. We went on the Coast Guard Base in Seattle. This is the first weekend of Seafair, which is a big event in this area. We were told there will be some big Navy vessels in this next week, along with an air show. We didn't get to see any cruisers, carriers or destroyers yet, but we got a really cool tour of a cutter. The USCG Midgett is a 374 ft. cutter that does mostly law enforcement and drug trafficing missions. The ship was named after the Midgett family, which has a LONG lineage of Coast Guard history. There have been over 170 members of the Midgett family that have been enlisted in the USCG. In 1974 (the year the USCG Midgett was launched) the Midgett family had a family reunion aboard the USCG Midgett, and there is a framed picture hanging in one of the portages on the ship. One last thing I noticed in the port was the Alaskian Cruise ships, just calling my name. I have always wanted to go to Yellowstone and Alaska. After Tracy and Emily took there cruise, and they showed me the pictures they took, I have had an evergrowing yearing to get there and experience Alaska. In time I am sure I will make it.
I also got to witness glass blowing for the first time. That was extremely interesting to me. Any form of an artistic talent amazes me. The pieces in the gallery/shop were magnificant. What a talent!!!
I also made a new friend, Penny. I never have seen a penguin in person before. They always looked so much smaller on National Geographic. I was impressed. They sure are friendly little creatures. It was a little bit warmer today so I'm sure he was pretty hot with all of the fat that penguins have.
I'm sure that everyone has moments in their life that just sink deeper than most. Today after we left Pike's Market we were walking to the waterfront and a gentle man approached me. His fingertips were so dry there were cracked. He spoke very softly and looked me in the eyes. It's not just a look that anybody will give you. It wasn't a glare or a stare but this look that goes way beyond your eyes. Not a look of desperation but of comfort. It caught me off guard at first, but as soon as I felt the depth of his eyes, I knew why I stopped to talk to him. I try not to be rude to homeless people. In all honesty, I think some of them have life figured out. No financial responsibilities, not much stress, just the animalistic part of life. Where to find shelter, food, water and the social needs that every human has. I wouldn't say that I envy them, I feel envy is an emotion that usually does not harbor a positive attitude, but I can tell you that I can learn quite a bit from some of them. Whether it be street sense or just a simpler meaning of life, I believe that we can all learn from one another.
I have been a desolate soul before and am not afraid to admit to that. I think knowing where we were or came from can give so much light on where we want to go, what path in life we want to choose for ourselves. If we never examine the past how can we ever plan for the future?
My experiences today took me back to a class I took last fall. I may have talked about this before. Last semester was definitely a changing point in my life, in so many ways. Going back to college made me open my mind and really look more at the bigger picture. Global Environmental Issues was probably one of most favorite classes I have ever taken, for several reasons. For starters, the course material was most interesting to me. Instead of having to buy a $80 or $90 dollar textbook, Dr. Farley choose Collapse by Jared Diamond. A $17 textbook taught me more about life than a $100 dollar textbook. The book talks about several colonazations or tribes and how the outcome of their history was. They 'take home message' from the book was if we never examine our history or past, how can we ever make our future brighter with a more positive outcome. Now, mix the course material with the instructor, and you have nothing but a plater for success and cultivation of the mind. Dr. Farley is one of those instructors that will toss a thought out there and let you teach yourself, learn from those sitting around you, or if no one speaks up will put more things on the plater, and just let the class discussions go in whichever way they go. All within reason that is. It truly was an amazing class. It made me think more about life outside of the narrow halls that some peoples minds wander through.
Don't be afraid to look to new horizons, new thoughts, experiences...try diversifying your life. You never know what you may like or find interesting until you try. And if you don't, well so be it. To each there own, but at the very least, no one can ever say you didn't at least try. I beg each and every one of you, deeply from within my heart, if you have blinders on to take them off and look around you. Truly look around, even at the same things you have seen for a large part of your life. Change your perspective, you viewpoint, where you stand when you look at it, and think, just stop and think about it in a different light. You never know what you might see. Even if only to change you thought patterns for an instant, step out of your everyday box if you feel you are in a 'pattern' of life.
God Bless to each and everyone of you, my fellow brother and sisters. Peace be with you!!
I have been very blessed this week to be smack dab in the middle of beautiful majesty. I have always felt my soul belonged in the mountains. When I used to truck, I would always feel this sense of overwhelming comfort every time I went through mountains. It didn't matter whether it was the Appalachians, Rockies, Cascades or Sierra Nevadas. This calming deep feeling of fulfillment has filled my soul, almost as if Mother Nature is saying 'Welcome home my son, rest your soul.' The Northwest isn't much different than the Rockies but it does have a little bit different feel to it. Nothing bad, just different. There is about 5,ooo feet difference in elevation, but I'm not sure that I can attribute the change to that factor. Maybe it is because I haven't made it to Colorado for two years now and the experience isn't burnt deeply in my soul as it once was. It really isn't that relevant, whatever the case is.
The water is so prestine and clear, you can see to the bottom, no matter how deep it is. It is amazing. In some of the photos from earlier this week where we were jumping off of the bridge and swinging on the rope swing, that water was at least 15-18 feet deep. I tried to swim down and touch the bottom but didn't make it. That bridge is 2.5 miles from the Academy. Running down there right after class and jumping right in is more refreshing than I can describe. It is truly an amazing feeling, feeling each and every pour, almost get nourished with pure spring water. I'm guessing the water temperature is around 60-65 degrees. I would just jump in and sit there and tread water for 20-30 minutes, feeling the blood pump through my body. The cold water constricts your vessels, elevating your heart rate. You can almost literally feel the toxins leaving your system, leaving you feeling so nourished and refreshed.
Yesterday we went and did a little sight seeing in some nearby communities. The upper water fall is from Snowqualmie Falls. I need to do a little bit of reading on the history of the falls. There is a hydrogenerator by the falls, so I am assuming that the community of Snowqualmie may get a portion of the electricity from there. It was beautiful. If you notice in the photos, for scale, the spa in the upper left hand of one of the photos. I'm not exactly sure how tall the falls are but the look pretty tall.
The photos of the bottom water fall is Franklin Falls. The trailhead to the falls is just down the freeway from the exit to the Academy, within a 15 minute drive. It was another beautiful short hike up to the falls. There is an I-90 bridge that is just above the falls. We went down and climbed some rocks to get to some hidden spots. There were little falls all the way up the trial. I learned a little lesson today. Whenever hiking, wear your trunks. You never know where you can just kick off your shoes and dive right in. There were so many little 4-10 foot pools that would have been awesome to dive into right off of the rocks. The river has cut a pretty deep channel into the valley throughout the years so the walls are pretty steep.
There was one place that where the water had eroded the rocks away in such a manner that they resembled water slides. The rocks get slippery when wet and you can slide right down then into a pool.
Standing at the bottom of Franklin Falls today was a very humbling feeling. The falls don't look very tall but the force of the fall creates a mist that hits you in the face and just feels incredible. Just standing there, peaceful quite surrounding with the mist and wind blowing straight into you, cleansing your soul and enriching you.
I hope that all is well with everyone and summer is starting to calm down. I wish you all the best and don't be surprised if I don't come back home.
Now I know what you all are thinking, looking at these pictures Jeff, you sure don't look like you're working very hard while you are on a military trip. Well, I will be honest, this year isn't that physically demanding. Everything we are doing is classroom stuff and we have the afternoons and weekend to go do what we would like. These classes do require studying and paying attention but I have to admit, they are not a class that you have to devote all of your free time to. So, what do I do when I have free time in the mountains? Play and soak up as much of nature as I can. This stream is just inside the gate when you pull off the main drive into the Fire Academy. I couldn't believe how clear this water is up here. You can see all the way to the bottom and it's at least 15-18 feet deep. It is absolutely beautiful!!! The other pictures are of the road that leads into the Fire Academy. This is my new road course for running. It's 2.5 miles from gate to gate. I ran down and back last night and then this afternoon after we got done jumping, swinging and swimming I ran back to the Academy. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever ran, which I have to be honest, isn't that many. So easily you can get lost in your thoughts, just observing nature and soaking it up in every pore. All of you sensese are hightened to the extreme, not in a nervous way but in a way that hits your soul to the depths, makes you feel at one with everything around you and being grateful to God for every beautiful ounce of what you are experiencing. It truly is amazing. Almost undescribable....
Make you sure appreciate the wonders of the outdoors and every blessing in your life. I hope everything is going well with everyone back home. If I should not happen to come back in a month, would someone please forward my mail to North Bend, WA. I would appreciate it.