isn’t color-coded.  Those who imagine that the value of human lives or whether human lives matter depends on skin color are: racists; have well-below average cognitive horsepower; make their living by ensuring large numbers of human beings see themselves as primarily their skin color.


Do black lives matter?  Not any more than the lives of members of any other race.  And the extent to which human lives matter is best determined by other human beings on an individual basis.

In the world of work as in the larger society, I tend to value human lives according a rule of three.  I ask whether the individual with whom I have contact is:

  1. A person of goodwill;
  2. Oriented to reality;
  3. Competent or moving toward competence.

Obviously a man or woman can be a person of goodwill and still not be oriented to reality or competent.  A human being can be oriented to reality and be a person of ill-will and an incompetent.  A competent person is usually a person oriented to reality, but that person may lack the quality of goodwill.  An individual who meets all three of my criteria, or Christov10’s Big Three, is not often found in media, in politics, in government middle management positions, or really occupying positions prestige in most realms of human endeavor.

I’m reminded again of C.S. Lewis’ address, The Inner Ring.  I’ve either linked to it previously or mentioned it in this space.  I first ran across when working for a largely unknown and strictly small-time (by the standards of modern bureaucracy) state government agency.  It was while so employed that I also developed my Rule of Three, which appears as a numbered list, above.  No imagination should be required to understand why it was that I turned my mind to matters of this sort during that period of my life.  By the way, it was at that time that I first read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Keep your speech free, people of the left, the right, and center.  Resist anyone who tries to silence you and to diminish your ability to think for yourself and experience your own circumstances according to your own perspective and within your own values.  None of that is infallible, but to what extent a genuine manifestation of your real self, to that extent meaningful and of value.

Dos centavos, people, dos centavos.



McCain is America’s Petain

So, for a long time I’ve thought of establishment hack Senator John McCain of Arizona as a sort of American Marshal Petain. The difference, of course, is that Petain, before becoming a collaborator with German forces after the French surrender during WWII, had actually been a hero of the First World War and had real accomplishments to his credit.

McCain, as we all know, survived a horrific North Vietnamese captivity and had previously flown missions as an American military officer – okay, truthfully, those are two real accomplishments.  Beyond them, though, not much of real value, and those two real accomplishments do not necessarily make the guy a hero.  McCain, as we also all know, functioned during the treasonous administration of Barak Hussein Obama, as a collaborator with that racist and islamist regime.  He continues to toe the line of anti-American, globalist, and neo-conservative establishment appeasement of the Left, needless foreign military intervention, and opposition to meaningful constitutional government.

We know Petain collaborated in selling out French Jews to the insane Nazi anti-semetic death cult.  Dunno whether McCain’s done anything that overtly identifiable as evil.  But here’s an article that manages to sum up John McCain’s post-Viet Nam War political career:

Update 7/21/17: Sorry to hear the guy’s got brain cancer, wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but that doesn’t remove John McCain from the A-hat column and elevate him to untouchable sacred cow status, either.  McCain’s a rotten guy who’s got brain cancer.

Alamance County Courthouse Confederate Memorial Rally, Graham, NC

I’m curious, and I want to know things. Can Southerners exercise their God-given freedoms (some few of which are enumerated in the Constitution of the United States of America and Bill of Rights) by publicly speaking up and standing for their heritage?  Is such speech inherently racist?  If it’s not racist, is it still offensive and wrong?  Does having one’s opinion contradicted and does feeling offended cause actual harm to a person or group of people?


On Saturday 18 July 2015, I arranged my ride through the three towns of Alamance County to place me in the courthouse square at Graham in time for the rally organized to protest demands by the local NAACP chapter for the removal of a monument dedicated to the memory of the county’s Confederate soldiers killed in the War Between the States.  It’s an old monument, and appears to have been standing there for about a hundred years.  Here’s what it looks like:


Here’re two declarations from the monument’s base and visible in the photograph above at right:  To commemorate with grateful love the patriotism, valor, and devotion to duty of the brave soldiers of Alamance County, this monument is erected through the efforts of the Graham chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Faithful unto death, they are crowned with immortal glory.  Neither statement do I find offensive, racist, white-supremacist.  Theologically, as a Christian, I find fault with the latter of the two statements I’ve quoted because it strikes me as unlikely that all of the Confederate war dead of Alamance County were numbered among the elect.  The sentiment likely falls into the category of a civil religious statement declaring gratitude and remembrance but makes no salvific claim.  A study of civil religion and its expression in the United States as related to the American Civil War might be an interesting and instructive undertaking.


Local police and state troopers had roped-off the four street approaches to the square.  People attending the rally left their cars wherever they found parking places.  Most of the people attending wore ordinary, casual jeans-type street clothes, ball-caps, sneakers – about what you’d expect most people to wear on a day they’re not at work.  I did, however, see a lot of people wearing t-shirts emblazoned with patriotic and other statements generally in favor of First and Second Amendment rights.  Some wore camouflage and kepis.  A few members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans wore reproductions of uniforms worn by Confederate soldiers during the War for Southern Independence.  Many, many of those in attendance carried, waved, and walked back and forth through the crowd around the base of the monument and courthouse steps carrying versions of the “Stars and Bars (actually, the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia),” as the flag is colloquially known by some.  I saw two or three men in the crowd wearing flags like capes or, literally, wrapped in them.  That struck me as odd.  Some of the flags bore in their centers the image of a bearded, cowboy-hat wearing person whose identity I didn’t recognize, but who must have been pretty well known to some – maybe a country music personality?



I showed up on a mutant Jamis Supernova cyclocross bike wearing slightly loud but almost-matching road-cyclist lycra jersey and shorts, helmet, and gloves.  Unlike most of those around me, I was appropriately attired and outfitted for the prevailing climactic conditions –  hot, humid, thunderstorm threatening.  I walked into the crowd pushing my bike up near the monument.  I openly photographed the event.  No one seemed to react with rudeness to my presence, and, for myself, I calmly observed the goings on and listened to a really well-thought out and interesting speech given by one of the SVC members present on the courthouse steps.


Because I found what the man was saying interesting, I searched online and found a copy of his speech included in the newsletter linked here:  The blurry picture above is of the man giving the speech.  I’ve cut and pasted below the newsletter’s text identifying the speaker and reproducing his statement in its entirety, and have taken the great liberty of setting one paragraph in bold print.  Read the speech and let me know whether you think it racist or white-supremacist.  I thought it pretty reasonable, and as I was leaving the event, getting ready to ride through the rain back to my friend’s house, I saw the man walking to his car and thanked him for his effort.

Below is the Speech given by Northern Piedmont Brigade Commander Mitch Flinchum on Saturday July 18th at The Rally for the Confederate Monument in front of the Graham Courthouse

I am honored and humbled to be able to speak before you at our rally for our Alamance County Con federate monument. I feel that in order to do this properly I need to go back into our history, and to share with you some information that you may not have heard in school. Today I would like to share with you my remarks entitled Duty, Honor, and Country.

These are terms that don’t mean much today. But in generations past, the men that answered the call to arms knew a thing or two about duty to country and about personal reputation and honor. They knew that freedom wasn’t free. It had to be purchased with the price of blood.

In 1776 our forefathers faced off against the most powerful nation on earth, Great Britain, in what must have seemed like a futile quest to earn their freedom. After seven long years of misery and sacrifice, they prevailed, and the Southern colonies contributed greatly to this victory. The war had basically been won by the British, but patriot victories at Cowpens, Kings Mountain, Guilford Courthouse, and Yorktown turned the tide. In the Treaty of Paris which officially ended our war for independence, the British crown recognized each former colony as a free and independent nation. This was the beginning of our basis of republican government and the formation of the United States of America.

The fledgling states were small and weak by international standards. They were rich in land and raw materials, but short on men, capital, and manufacturing capacity. The only real protection they had from any number of powerful European nations was the vast Atlantic Ocean. Our forefathers knew that the former colonies had to band together much as they had during the war in order to insure the permanence of their hard-won freedoms. In order to insure that they could work together for common goals such as protection from foreign enemies and the promotion of international trade, a general or federal government was formed under the charter of a constitution. This constitution ceded some powers to the general government and gave it the power to act as an agent on the behalf of the states. The powers, obligations, and duties ceded to the general government were specific and limited, and there was no misunderstanding that true power and sovereignty remained vested with the states. Southerners understood this for Southern statesmen had contributed a great deal to the writing of the new constitution. North Carolina in particular was one of the last states to ratify the constitution, and she would only do so once the Bill of Rights had been added. Of particular note is the Tenth Amendment which spells out that all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government are retained by the states or by the people.

I could say much on the question of secession. It is my belief that if my ancestors were wrong in 1861 then my ancestors were wrong in 1776. The founders recognized that if secession was specifically not al-lowed under the constitution then the states would not ratify it. In fact, several states specifically stated that their right to secede was retained in their ratification documents. Secession had been threatened by different states many times before and it was thought of as the last defense of a state against federal overreach. It was recognized by most statesmen and constitutional scholars as a given right, up until 1861. As Walter Williams stated in his recent article, upon noting that constitutional amendments were offered in early 1861 prohibiting secession, why should these have been necessary if secession was unconstitutional?

Also consider what Chief Justice Salmon Chase said on the question of bringing Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders to trial for treason:

“If you bring these [Confederate] leaders to trial it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution secession is not rebellion. Lincoln wanted Davis to escape, and he was right. His capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one.” Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, July 1867

By 1860 it became clear to many states of the deep South that they were no longer represented by the general government. Since 1789 the general government had grown such in size and scope that it had over-stepped its constitutional mandate and usurped many powers not specifically granted it by the constitution.

Weary of serious philosophical differences on the issues of tariffs, the transcontinental railroad, the homestead acts, fishing bounties, coastwise shipping, the issue of slavery, and the rise of power of the Republican party, many in the South began to see that existence on an equal footing together with the powerful industrial interests of the North was becoming almost impossible. After the elections of 1860, which saw Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln win the presidency even though he lost every single Southern state, the Deep South states felt that they must leave the union in order to have any control of their political destiny.

It was the desire of the Southern states to leave the union peaceably. The new Confederate government sent a peace envoy to Washington in order to discuss such things as the assumption of their share of the federal debt and the fair consideration for former federal property, such as defensive forts. But president Lincoln refused to meet with the peace commission to discuss these items. Unknown to them at the time, the federal government was making a plan to provoke the south into war.

It is here that I do want to speak on the institution of slavery. I do not think there is anyone alive that thinks this was not a brutal institution. There is certainly no one that would ever praise it or wish for it to return. But what I want people to realize is that this institution had been commonly accepted in the world. We did not start it. It had been practiced here under the British flag since 1619. It had been practiced under the federal flag since 1776. If slavery was THE issue of the war, then why did the north propose the Corwin amendment, which would have forever guaranteed slavery in the states that practiced it, in order to entice the seceded states back into the union? If slavery was THE issue of the war then why weren’t all slaves in the north freed before the war was over? If slavery was THE issue of the war, then why was the Crittendon Resolution passed by both houses of congress which stated that the war was being waged to reunite the un-ion, and when that end was accomplished hostilities would cease? Lincoln had repeatedly said that he had no right or desire to interfere in the institution of slavery. He also said that he would do what he had to regarding it in order to save the union. Slavery was only introduced as an issue of the war in order to keep France and England from recognizing the Confederate States as a nation. It was political expediency, and nothing more.

After leaving the union, one of the first orders of business for the fledgling Confederate government was to drastically lower the tariff rate for international trade in Southern ports (the rate was about ten percent versus the U.S. average rate of forty-one percent). Faced with the massive loss of revenue and trade to Southern ports, the Northern industrial interests demanded that Lincoln take action. Lincoln even admitted that he could not let the South go because the North could not do without the government revenue. Thus one can see that the issue of greed, and not slavery, was the real cause of the conflict of 1861-1865.

Unwilling to back down in the face of a determined federal effort to reinforce Fort Sumter, the Confederate forces did fire the first shot of the war. The truth is that both sides knew that a confrontation over the possession of this fort would likely result in war. But it is not always true that he who uses force first is to blame, but he that makes the use of force necessary. In fact Fort Sumter was South Carolina property, and the North had no claim to it. It had never been completed or garrisoned and the federal troops had taken it under cover of night when there was an armistice in place between SC and the federals. This was actually an act of war. Another fact is that Lincoln knew the act of resupplying the fort (with a force large enough to invade Charleston by the way) would draw the Southerners into blocking the action and give him his moral high ground to go to war.

Finally given the excuse to retaliate, Lincoln called for the remaining states in the union to supply 75,000 troops to crush the “rebellion.” Four Southern border states, Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee, that had previously chosen to remain in the union, promptly joined the Confederacy rather than provide troops to make war on their brethren. When asked to provide 2,000 troops to march into South Carolina, NC Governor John W. Ellis replied “Your dis-patch is received, and if genuine which its extraordinary character leads one to doubt, I have to say in reply, that I regard the levy of troops made by the Administration for the purposes of subjugating the States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution, and as a gross usurpation of power. I can be no part to this wicked violation of the laws of the Country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.” North Carolina was faced with the possibility that she would be attacked by the very government that she had been a part of forming, so after twice declining to call a secession convention, Lincoln’s call for troops pushed North Carolina away.

Our state supplied more men and materials to the war effort than any other state. Having 1/9 the population of the entire confederacy, she supplied 1/6 of her troop strength, and bore ¼ of her losses. Over 125,000 of her sons marched to war and over 40,000 never returned. But our TarHeel Boys were unmatched in the field. “First at Bethel, Farthest to the Front at Gettysburg and at Chickamauga, and Last at Appomattox” was touted and emblazoned on the Confederate Me-morial at the Capitol in Raleigh.

Facing overwhelming odds against an enemy possessing every advantage in manpower, manufacturing capacity, and monetary wealth, the men of the South fought bravely for four long devastating years. Finally the South was crushed by the invading army that was willing to win at any cost, including the making of total war against a civilian population. The court historians will tell you much about the noble aims of the federal soldiers, but they will tell you little of the murder, rape, arson, theft, plunder, and destruction of civilian property. The fact is, the only way they could win their war was by making total war on civilians. That sounds very noble.

We remember the sacrifice of the men of Alamance County, the State of North Carolina, and the entire southland that answered the call of their country to arms in the struggle for Southern independence in the great war of 1861 to 1865, and gave their lives in that conflict.

We come here today to pay homage to these men; to recognize the strength of their character; to offer the thanks of a grateful nation for their service. We remember a time when the words “duty, honor, and country” really meant something and were not just words. We remember that these valiant men did not die in vain, even though their cause was eventually lost, succumbing to an overwhelming enemy that would have victory at any cost. We praise these men, who fought and died honorably, on fields purchased with their patriot blood, all over the South and in northern prison camps like Elmira, New York, Point Lookout, Maryland, Camp Douglas, Illinois, and many others.

Why honor these men? These men fought for their families, community, state, and country, willing to protect hearth and home with their blood and treasure. They were willing to give their all for honor and principle. They were patriots, certainly not traitors. After the war the question of state’s rights was put to rest, decided by the sword. But might does not always make right. We honor these men who rest in the earth because no one is left to speak for them. As sons of Confederate soldiers we take up the charge left with us by General Steven Dill Lee in 1896 to protect the Confederate soldier’s good name and to champion the cause for which he fought. Those of us from Southern heritage know the truth and strive to see that it is told. Consider what one man saw in the future “Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be im-pressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.” — Maj. General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, January 1864, writing on what would happen if the Confederacy were to be defeated.” The victor of a war not only gets the spoils, he also gets to write the history. Our purpose is to see that our history is told correctly, without shame, so that our children can be proud of their heritage and can know that our ancestors did not shed their blood in vain.

Although we can never thank them enough for their sacrifice, we can make sure that they are not forgotten. That’s what a memorial is; something that insures remembrance. We remember the valiant Southern soldier, the patriot that marched off to war to defend his home and family against an invading army. There are many that would try to bring politics into the reasons they fought. Today we seek no political controversy. Today we only wish to say to our fallen brethren “Sleep on Brothers and take your well-earned rest. Know that we will not forget the price you paid. Know that we know all too well how high was that cost. Know that you are honored among men. Know that we will never forget.

Based on the law of the United States, Confederate Veterans are to be treated as veterans of the United States. By Public Law 85-425, May 23, 1958 (H.R. 358) 72 Statute 133 states – “(3) (e) for the purpose of this section, and section 433, the term ‘veteran’ includes a person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and the term ‘active, military or naval service’ includes active service in such forces.” As a result of this law the last surviving Confederate Veteran received a U.S. Military pension until his death in 1959, and from that day until present, descendants of Confederate veterans have been able to receive military monuments to place on graves from the Veteran’s Administration for their ancestors. A Confederate Veteran should therefore be treated with the same honor and dignity of any other American veteran. If you tear down this monument you are destroying a piece of history and a place that honors those “American” Veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I’d like to offer you a quote from the Bible. Proverbs 21:28 Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set. People need to remember why memorials were placed in the first place. Why were the events they commemorate important?

This monument was not erected as a symbol of hate, or for the glory of the confederacy. It was erected as a symbol of love. Love for the fathers, the sons, the husbands, and the brothers that never came home. It was not done by the government, but the money for it was raised by private donations. It is often said to us as Southerners “that war was over 150 years ago, you lost, get over it.” I would like to say to those that oppose us in honoring our ancestors that I have never owned a slave, and no one alive today has ever been one. You cannot judge nineteenth century people by twenty-first century standards. No one today wishes to see a return of that institution and no one believes it was a good thing. I would say that it has been over 150 years since anyone has been a slave in the U.S. and while we can’t change that ugly past, we can only hope to be a better society in the future and maybe it is high time that we all should get past that. Who gets to decide what history needs to be erased? What is divisive, derogatory, bigoted, or racist? What happens when something you love gets taken away? Where do we draw the line?

I would worry more about what is in the hearts of the people I see around me every day. People can do harm, but that statue of marble and granite cannot. Do you feel threatened by people, or by symbols? If I felt threatened by people in this community, then I would not want to live here. Symbols cannot harm you, and if people did not erect them for the purpose of intimidation, then what is the reason for removal other than a general purge of past culture? Before last month, there had been no controversy over this statue. Strife is being sewn where there was none, and there is no need for this. It really is like the novel 1984 where items from our history are being thrown down the memory hole to erase who we are as a people.

I will leave you with this quote from Robert Lewis Dabney, a chief of staff to Stonewall Jackson. “Sirs, you have no reason to be ashamed of your Confederate ancestors, make sure they have no reason to be ashamed of you.”

That’s a good word.

So, in answer to the questions I asked at the top of this post: 1) Yes; 2) No; 3) No; 4) No.  I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post discussing culture.

How Do I Learn Stuff?

How Do I Learn Stuff

How It Works

Usually what happens is that something piques my interest and I begin to acquire information about the subject.  A lot of the time, what interests me is technology, and when that is the case, I learn everything I can about whatever the thing is that interests me.  Curiosity is the starting point.  My interests are not limited to things, but this post is about things.

I scour discussion boards, old catalogs in portable document format, reviews, purveyors of new old stock, and consult with those known to me who are more expert than I.  Sometimes, I decide I’ve got to have whatever it is I’ve been studying about.  Usually, then, what I decide is that the cost of the latest version of whatever it is cannot be justified, so I buy (when I can find it) an upper mid-range or top of the line item that is several years old.

For instance, I bought a 1981 Miyata 610 that was in nearly new old stock condition, and have put the bike to constant use.  I obsessively researched the manufacturer and the model for a month or two before making the purchase.

Except for the Power Mac 7600 I bought in the Nineties, I’ve never purchased a new computer.  All of our computers were refurbs and supposedly obsolete when we bought them, but they serve us pretty well.  My smartphone is the version of the Iphone that my provider was giving away at contract renewal time.  My Pentax Optio water proof camera was several years old, but new in box, when I got it.

Sometimes, I’ll buy something on the used market that may be suitable, but isn’t what I really want.  The reason for that is that I never do want to spend a lot of money.  I have qualms of conscience about spending money, and because, as a married man and a father, what I really want more than things is to husband the family’s resources.  I recall buying a Power Mac 8500 for a video project in college – several years old at the time, but I got the project done and got to monkey around with video.  I got the 8500 because I thought the used 9500 was too expensive.  Sometimes what I buy on the used market that turns out to have problems that require correction or upgrade which may have a learning curve and require spending more money.

I learn how to cobble stuff together out of necessity.  Sometimes I find I am able to tackle learning projects that seemed impossible to me when I was younger, before I had learned how to learn in the need of the moment.  Necessity promotes learning.

Who Needs a ‘Modern’ Bicycle?

I figure, back in 1981 or 1985, cyclists were doing cool things with their then-new bikes, so why shouldn’t I be able to do cool stuff with those same bikes that are now old.  Having old bikes, I learned how to operate downtube friction-shifters, ride fairly heavy bikes, ride where I want to ride, ride hills that intimidated me, outrun (for the most part) trailer-dwelling pit-bull dogs, ride in traffic, and so forth.  No worries, right?  So, why would I want an index-shifted, lightweight road-bike?  I don’t know for sure.

I have been intrigued by purpose-built cyclocross bikes because there’ve been times I’ve ridden my road bikes down gravel roads and through mud and on dirt tracks, experiencing their limitations.  Pavement ends, and I want to keep going.  Limitations including clearance at brakes, forks, and stays for mud; road tire (even the venerable Continental Gatorskin) inability to maintain much traction on degraded small town alleyways, mud, sand, gravel; road bike lateral drift on dry, loose dirt and gravel.  Frame geometry has not been a problem with my old lugged-steel bikes, nor has ride comfort.  Modern cyclocross bikes appear to have similar slack frame and fork geometry to my ancient Razesa (a sport-tourer/racer) and the older Miyata (primarily a tourer).  Additionally, I don’t want to abuse the Miyata – my favorite bike – during the winter months.  Something newer might hold up a little better in Southern Middle Tennessee cold-and-wet-season conditions.  I ride all year long.

Without regard to harsher climatic and road surface conditions, having joined a cycling club and occasionally participating in group rides, I listen with envy to guys talking about their 65 to 75 mile rides.  I wish for a sufficient number of cogs at the rear wheel to address the varying terrain in this part of the state, as well as the ability to more effortlessly shift between them while riding.  I’ve gotten tired of unexpected goofy cable maladjustment causing the chain to bang down to smallest cog in back when trying shift into a lower gear to climb a hill.  I hate walking up hills and, although I could  be a stronger cyclist, some of the problems are due to an erratic funkiness inherent in the old equipment.  Heck, next year, I’d like to ride the BRAT – that’d be greater challenge than necessary on a 33 year-old tourer with the original 15-speed Suntour groupset.  Actually, I could probably do the BRAT on the Miyata, but I’d rather ride it on an Orbea Starship.  Heck, I grew up watching reruns of Star Trek on a 13” black and white television in my room when I should have been doing homework.  Starships are where I come from.

So, regarding a modern bike – a choice of two types of bike:  a premium road bike, or a cyclocross bike.

Bike versus Upright Freezer:  Freezer Wins

We got the upright freezer my wife has been wanting for months, and that was the right thing to do.  Got the freezer at about 60% of the item’s on sale price because it had some cosmetic imperfections; that’s fine with us because the appliance resides in our garage.

About the bikes, then.  The one I wanted was a 2003 Orbea Starship (Columbus aluminum) tube frame with carbon seat and chain stays, full Campagnolo Record Ultra 10-Speed gruppo, Bontrager wheelset, Bontrager carbon fork and seatpost, and Bontrager seat, bars, stem.  Truly a beautiful bike, right down to its tan bar-wrap, which reminded me of the steering wheel wraps we had on our cars back in the 70’s.  Pretty much the-best-money-can-buy build in its class.

My wife told me to go ahead and make an offer on it, and I, the expressionless man whose dial rarely registers anything that could be interpreted as enthusiasm, was visibly excited and happy about the prospect.  Then, I woke up in the early a.m., the day I was to drive out and test-ride the bike, and I had this sense that the amount I was prepared to spend was out of all proportion in terms of what is important to my family.  With real regret, I emailed the bike’s owner and explained that I would not be able to look at the bike.

I’m certain I made the right decision about the Orbea, and if I come into a providential windfall while the bike’s still for sale, the first thing I’ll do is buy it.  Christmas is on its way.  Who knows what will happen.

A Less Expensive Compromise
This bike in this condition was not worth what the seller was asking

This bike in this condition was not worth what the seller was asking

I did travel to Murfreesboro to test ride a 2003 Bianchi Reparto Corse Alu-Lite SL in my size, celeste green with Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed gruppo.  According to the seller, he bought it from the original owner, a Chattanooga physician who’d put a lot of miles on it; seller said he’d only ridden it about 2000 miles.  If the bike had been in better condition, it would have been worth what he was asking.  I actually offered him more than I’d originally wanted to because I did like the bike, and now that I’ve been super close to buying a top-end European bike with top-end groupset, I would have settled for a less expensive, lower-end European bike.  The seller, however, said, “For that, I’d just as soon keep the bike.”  So, I let him keep it.




What I wound up getting was a 2007 Jamis Super Nova cyclocross racing bike.  I’d seen the ad on Craigslist for about the past month, so had plenty of time to research it.  The photos above are those the seller used in his ad.  The 2007 Jamis catalog can be found here.

The biggest complaints I’d read on various Internet bulletin boards were:  Avid Shorty brakes provided inadequate stopping power; strange seatpost brake cable routing; heavy wheelset.  The 2007 Jamis catalogue lists the Supernova as the company’s top-end cyclocross bike that year (but, there were only two cross-specific models).  The Craigslist seller had addressed the brake problem by installing a set of Kore brakes using Kool Stop mountain bike pads, added Dura Ace rear derailleur and shift/brake levers, Ultegra front derailleur, Ritchey carbon fork, RaceFace alloy stem and 44 cm bars, SRAM rear cassette with a large cog for hills, cheap SRAM chain, Mavic Ksyrium wheelset with cheap Continental Ultra Sport tires.

I probably paid $50 to $100 too much for the bike, considering the seller had built up the frame (purchased on Ebay in 2009, he said, from an Oregon bike shop that probably stripped a complete bike that didn’t sell) using components he’d already had or bought, like the frame, on Ebay.  On the way home, I agonized over not having bargained better.

I've got ideas

I’ve got ideas

Because I felt chagrined, when I got to the house, I added some air to the tires and rode the bike around the neighborhood deliberately hitting every rough patch I could find, and then rode it around my yard a few times, hitting roots and holes on purpose.  What I discovered as a result of this caveman-level emotionally motivated activity was that the frame is supremely comfortable; that even with low-end, treadless road tires, the bike handles all manner of lousy (but dry for this experiment) surface conditions in a manner that left me feeling confidently in control of the bike.  I began to like the bike in spite of my stupid bikesnobbery.

Bike Learning

This bike’s a little like those second and third hand computers and videography equipment I bought back in college for projects, only I have no project to justify the bike’s expense.  I’ve already bought a 90 mm stem to replace the 110 mm unit that came with the bike.  Tried that out today, along with some cage-pedals.  Stem and pedals are fine, but I’ve got to reorient the bars for a little better long-ride comfort and control.

I do like the orange and white color scheme.  I like the fact that the bars are wider, but hate the drops – they aren’t long enough at the ends.  Or, rather, they don’t sweep back far enough to comfortably grip for longer periods of time.  Maybe Salsa Woodchipper or Short and Shallow bars?  I hate the black bar tape and switch to white when I get a set of bars I like better.  Okay with me that the white will become dirty-gray before long.  Adds character and still matches the bike’s color scheme better than black.

It did turn out those Mavic hubs are either in need of service or replacement – they don’t spin as freely as they ought.  Getting the bike up to speed requires real effort.  I ordered a set of Continental Tour Ride 2 tires for winter riding here at Stepford.  They arrived today.  I’m not sure about them, but will try them out after I get the hubs sorted.

Here’re some pictures I’ve taken of the bike while out on rides since last Thursday’s purchase:



Set the bike down here to snap some photos of wildflowers, nearby. That’s not really my house in the background. No, really, it’s not….



December 2012 Post


I’ve been busy since the disastrous national election, and, really, even before then.  Like most Americans who believe the U.S. Constitution remains in force and provides, along with the Bill of Rights, the only valid model of governance for the United States of America, I will continue to work to ensure that the U.S. remains a free republic, those holding high elected and politically appointed office who wish to transform this nation into something that’s a cross between Zimbabwe and socialist European kleptocracies notwithstanding.

Job Change

Back in the fall of this year I changed jobs.  The hapless, incompetent, and mercurial flunky who’d been placed in supervisory role at former place of work, after more than a year in that position, failed to develop any competence of her own or any understanding of the work done by those whose work she was supposedly hired to supervise.  I was no longer willing for my good work to lend credibility to that fool’s failed tenure as a manager.  Every other person employed in the facility, by virtue of their competence, willingness to work, ability to function as a team member, was and is that supervisor’s superior.  I interviewed for and obtained a job closer to the house (that’ll save about $1,000/year in unreimbursable gasoline expenditure) that registered as a promotion and resulted in a raise in pay.  The fact that the agency for which I now work seems to foster a positive orientation to reality, value competence, and manifest a little common good will was, in sum, the real reason I took the job, but the savings and raise comprise an additional happy providence.

Christov’s Three Criteria

Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed three simple criteria for quickly evaluating other people in the workplace.  The core concepts are not original with me and I owe much to the reading I’ve done over the past few years on human development and various approaches to mental health counseling.  They are as follows, and are assessed in the order presented because those that follow are dependent upon those that precede them:

  1. Is the person oriented to reality?
  2. Does the person exhibit competence to perform whatever he or she purports to be about?
  3. Does the person exhibit basic good will toward others?

The second and third, competence and good will, do not always follow the first, orientation to reality, but I don’t think they can exist without it.  Furthermore, competence is something that one develops over time, frequently after the person has taken more than one wrong turn – for instance attempting to study a subject for which he or she has no real aptitude and in the face of resultant failure in that endeavor, choosing a more suitable field of study.  Here, it is the orientation to reality that overbalances sentiment and allows the person to discern the proper path by apprising him or her that the present course will lead to no good end.  The man, woman, or child who is oriented to reality (in children, this is something developed over time intellectually and experientially by means of observation, consequence, and [ideally] good parenting) and who is developing or has developed a variety of competencies is capable of recognizing reality-orientation and competence in others and, having gained so much thereby himself, also wishes (or becomes hypothetically capable of wishing and aiding) others well and may assist them in that pursuit.

As an experiment, use these criteria to assess the people in your workplace and social environment.  Self interest (which includes the well-being of your children) may dictate that you distance yourself from those who do not meet this simple standard.

Weight Gain

Since September, I’ve put on about five pounds of belly and buttock flab.  My goal for the month of December was to lose five pounds by Christmas, but I only managed to shed about half that.  I’d been bicycling less frequently than during the lead-up to that 50-miler my friend Adrian and I rode in early September.  I’ve had a wretched cold for about the past two or three weeks (off and on, but worst during the past few days) that has kept me off the bike.  Cold winter Tennessee air makes the snot run like water out of my nose when I ride, anyway, and since I’ve added a pound of snot in my sinus cavities during this illness to my five pounds of body fat, the prospect of all that running out my nose and down my face and cycling togs during moderately intense exercise activity is not a happy one.

Probably my one New Year’s resolution is to exercise more and return to Weight Watchers eating habits.

Root Beer Barrel Candy

Weight Watchers allows one point for one ounce of hard candy.  I did bestir myself sufficiently during our family Christmas visit to the Midwest to drive with my brother-in-law to Farmland, Indiana, where I bought three pounds of root beer barrel candy to keep at the office.  While at the Farmland General Store, I sampled horehound candy, which I found not entirely unlike root beer candy, but had a slightly bitter aftertaste.  I would have bought some, but I was already emotionally, if that is the right word, committed to buying the candy for which I’d come in search.  The only other place I’ve found root beer candy in bulk is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, but I’d rather drive to Farmland, Indiana, than Gatlinburg, Tennessee, any day.

The Old Year

The new year, 2013, is upon us.  Who really believed space aliens would come and fetch away their devotees, or that the stone age Mayans would accurately predict when the great creation’s winding would come undone and release cataclysmic geological, climatological, and spiritual forces rending the fabric of all we know?  Honestly, that’s just silly.

So here we are.  Today, our congregation will hold its last worship services for the year.   We don’t have what 19th Century literature seems to indicate was called a Watch Night Service, where the congregation meets around midnight on New Year’s Eve to confess and repent of sins of the old year and to pray for guidance and good providence for the new.  Sounds like a good idea, though.

A New Old Car

In November I found and in December I bought a new used car – an early model Volvo all-wheel drive Cross Country station wagon with only 106,000 original miles on the drive-train.  My justification is that AWD will be useful to me in my new employment, the purchase price was well within my budget, and I like a station wagon.  After much debate with myself, I’ve decided I cannot justify holding on to Thursday, my 1997 Volvo 850 five-speed sedan, for the next 12 years in order to give it my son when he will be learning to drive.  I’ve offered the car for sale to one of my brothers for his oldest boy, who will be heading to college next fall, but my brother reckons the sedan’s mileage, a mere 205,000, is too high.  So, if you know someone interested in an extremely reliable manual transmission Volvo sedan, get in touch with me.  I have all service records for the car since 2005 and the timing belt and other service is all current.

F R E E S T U F F !

Here’s a copy of something I found in my mailbox a few weeks ago.  It’d been put in an unmarked envelope.  My guess is that one of my neighbors here at Burnt Down Plantation Estates placed one in every one of the subdivision’s mailboxes.  I meant to post it earlier, but have been too busy living life here at Stepford to do much blogging about it.  Because we’re about to have a presidential and general election, I though it would be a good idea to publish this missive so that more than just those in my neighborhood can reflect upon its contents.


How to get from Stepford to Pixley on a Bike

Last Saturday (6/16/12) I got up early intending to ride out to the Pot County administrative plaza over in Pixley (previously misspelled, by me, “Pixilie”).  I think I’ve mentioned somewhere else in this space that I reside at Stepford in Pot County.  The kind you pour from, not the kind you smoke.

I wanted to visit a couple of friends over there, one of whom I had not seen for several months.  When you’re halfway smart, it’s hard to have friends because, really, who are your peers?  I guess my answer to that question is anyone who is oriented to reality and competent in fulfilling their life’s work is my peer.  Both of my friends at Pixley have probably got some standard score points on me in one or two WAIS-IV subscale domains.  It does me good to spend time with these guys – both have experienced more of life within and without social, educational, and religious systems than about ten other average people.  Sort of like spiritual Samsons.


The ride to Pixilie is about 24 miles, round-trip.  I’d hoped to pedal the Miyata, but hadn’t got the Continental Gatorskins yet that I ordered sometime last week from and was still having severe lower back pain every time I rode the bike and was still having trouble with the gears/chain pretty frequently slipping down to the smallest of the three chainrings (I have since leveled the saddle and tightened the shift levers).  The inexpensive but brand-new Schwinn tires that came on the bike’s ancient 27” rims I reckoned unequal to the task.  So I loaded up the Razesa, which is an awesome bike, and headed out.

The morning was already warm as I turned right heading out of Burnt-Down-Plantation Estates on to Country Club Road.  Passing the turn-off to that august institution (where I’ve actually eaten lunch and dinner a few times, although not since I’ve moved to this neighborhood), one rides on past a palatial mansion behind gates and a wall on one’s right, then past Revolutionist Acres, and, at the corner of that subdivision and Country Club, turns right onto Catfish Billy Road which connects at the bottom of fun hill and a flat place to Old Pixley Highway.  A left onto OPH is quickly followed by a right turn onto Husk Road, and, riding past a water tower on one’s left and a Faction Two bottling and distribution facility on one’s right, one comes to the main highway.

The four-lane connects Stepford to Pixley now that this part of the world has no passenger rail (must be about 40 or 50 years now, maybe more).  Engineered for the use of motorized vehicles, the highway has wide paved shoulders suitable for riding a bicycle that’s got Gatorskin tires.  From there, once safely across the four lanes of traffic divided by a grassy median, the ride is easy over long, not-very-steep hills on in to the glorious seat of county government hereabouts.  From driveway to destination, about 12 or so miles.

Recycling Center

Making fun of the place I live, having grown up and lived a lot of my life in other places, is something about which I have no qualms.  My friends, however, I’m not inclined to mock.  Is not Augustine quoted or misquoted as having said, “Gold from Egypt is still gold.”  My friend Reginald has something to do with the recycling center behind Pot County Administrative Plaza.  He’s there on Saturdays and Wednesdays.  About three years ago, when I was looking for a place to dump a pickup truck full of junk and trash I’d cleared out of the house my wife and I’d just purchased in Burnt-Down-Plantation-Estates, Reginald informed me I couldn’t dump most of that trash there.  He suggested the municipal dump at Stepford (which was closed when I got there, but I did find a convenient dumpster on the highway running from Stepford to Hooterville).

Who knows how, but we got talking about the things of God and found we are both Christians.  As we talked, Reginald sometimes broke off conversation to assist elderly recyclers or to engage regular recyclers in conversation.  This population of recyclers appears to be his parish, if parish is the word I want.  Reginald is a tall man with red hair, a moustache, and an at times alarmingly direct gaze.  He reports a post-secondary education education at a couple of the better thought of Southern schools (Baccalaureate and Juris Doctor) that I have no reason to doubt, as well as an impressive career arc that brought him to the humble-seeming place I met him after he and his wife “decided to live on purpose.”  Reginald’s manner of speaking, as well as the content of his speech, does one good to hear tuning the mind of listener to the conversational norms of about a century ago.  Here is a photograph he permitted me to take last Saturday.


Last Saturday, as I said above, I rode out to the recycling center to visit with Reginald.  At first he agreed to let me interview him, but as we began he said he felt uncomfortable with the process, and I did, too.  So we just visited.  Sometimes it is good to let someone else direct the conversation and to listen attentively.  I’m not good at that, never really trusting anyone else’s perceptions much except to check them in order to gather more data.  Because I don’t really trust other people, there’s this tension, and it’s hard to listen unless I’m mining data.  Anyway, I guess my discomfort with trying to interview Reginald has to do with the fact that I think he’s an immensely valuable human being and I want to know what he knows, but I think he deserves better than to be expected to tell me what I think I ought to know, as opposed to letting him tell me whatever it is he wishes to say to me.  Probably because my early survival, figuratively and (to a degree) materially, depended on categorizing perceptions regarding circumstances and people while noting connections and disconnections in order to discern what is real from what has been asserted by others as real, I continually do that to this day in all of my interactions with other people.

Reginald told me a story about his great-great-great grandfather, one William Bobbit, who was born on an adjacent farm to the one where James K. Polk was born somewhere in North Carolina.  Both men raised families in Maury County, Tennessee, and both owned plantations near one another in North Mississippi.  Polk had a rule that his overseer was not permitted to whip any of his slaves on the plantation, but had to send a message to Major Bobbit to ride over in order to personally administer correction.  The theory being that one who has never owned any property (the redneck overseer into whose hands Polk had effectively abandoned his slaves in order to carry on with the business of the law or government) would not have the sense or ability to refrain from damaging same.  That “correction” was administered only when the slaves had run away, often to Tennessee, to see their relations.  Reginald told me that while at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he happened upon some letters Major Bobbit had written to his friend Polk.  In one of them, describing the election returns from two bellwether counties, reported that “Mississippi is safe for democracy for two more years.”  Interesting is the evidence that the phrase, “safe for democracy,” predates by at least 50 years Woodrow Wilson’s use of it at the time of the Great War in the early part of the last century.

Politically, Reginald strikes me as liberal, so I kidded him by telling him half-seriously that in the coming presidential election, he should vote for Romney, who is actually a conservative Democrat, as opposed to voting for Obama who is an anti-American Communist.  And very frankly, I think most Democrats who consider themselves Americans first, will find they have an easier time working with Romney than with Obama.  Reginald said that when, as a younger man, he held an official position in Mississippi that brought him into frequent contact with local reporters, he was wont to give them interesting statements that became their leads, and he therefore became the only person whose statements were correctly quoted in the papers.  Possibly in reference to my advice to vote for the Republican, Romney, in November, Reginald said,

“I can’t imagine why anybody would want to abandon the party of Slavery, States’ Rights, and Manifest Destiny for the party of Abolition, Isolation, and The National Debt that Alexander Hamilton started.”

Which statement may be the best on-the-record quote I’ve ever heard anybody utter.

I telephoned to my friend, Theodore, to see about meeting him someplace for coffee, but he said he would drive over to the administrative plaza and we’d motor someplace.  For a long time, I’ve thought Theodore and Reginald should meet, probably because they’re two of the five or six guys I respect most.  When I introduced them, I misidentified Reginald as an Arminian and when he denied it and looked at me like he was going to knock me down (considering what I’d just called him, he had every justification if he’d done it).  I tried to excuse my gaff by referencing his previous work with the Methodists of Memphis and Reginald said the fact that he’s no longer associated with them may have something to do with his theology.  I’m not sure why my jaw was spared.  Probably

Here are a few of the photographs I took at the recycling center (click on them for larger images):



Theodore pastors the small congregation with whom (if whom can be used as a plural) my wife, son, and I have worshiped for several years, now. I recently wrote elsewhere that from the first time I heard him preach (in the loft of a converted barn), I marveled that God had sent someone of his caliber to this obscure corner of Christendom.  We drove over to the Pixley Cracker Barrel over by the freeway and talked ecclesiology, books, and ate lunch.  We talked about the recent Calvinist v. Arminian controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention.  Our congregation is loosely affiliated with the SBC, and we’ve talked among ourselves at business meetings about whether or not there’s any benefit to be had from that association.  Maybe some, probably not much.  I had a fried-egg sandwich with hashbrowns, apples, and a biscuit with jelly.  I figured it would be okay since I had plenty of exercise ahead of me.

I have been thinking more and more about the utility of what is usually known as the “House-Church Movement” – requires very little in the way of tithes and offerings to maintain a system that has much more to do with culture and visible status within the culture than (it seems) to do with Christ and what the scriptures of Old and New Testaments seem to indicate the congregation called by God should be about.  Most of the “church growth” schemes I’ve encountered and read about appear intended to promote the sort of growth cancer cells are known for, and it is not for nothing that one of the New Testament Pauline metaphors for understanding the relationship of the Church with Christ is that of the body.  Are mega-churches actual functioning organelles of the whole body, or are they misshapen, tumorous growths?  Most likely, not always the one and not always the other, and one may morph into the other, from good to bad, pretty easily, I would guess.

Another topic was whether families should or are willing to relocate in order to serve the larger body of Christ in places where there is no Reformed witness.  What this may depend on is whether or to what degree the believer reckons the Church (and by using a capital, I mean the company of the redeemed through time, but also at present) a greater priority than the believer’s own family.  Does this sort of commitment require some kind of special call to ministry or missions of sort culturally recognized in what passes for the Church in North America and leads to careers in church systems at home and abroad?  Is it something one can or should be willing to do on the basis of persuasive speech or the voiced conviction of another believer?  Is it some that requires the sort of conviction attributable to the Spirit of God?  Does God expect the believer to intelligently husband the resources God’s given?  Does God expect the believer to take (to use a hackneyed phrase) “a leap of faith”?  Should a group families uproot and migrate to another city without having secured work sufficient for their support and housing?  How about living in one’s circumstances in such a way as to provide “salt and light” – can that not be done here as well as there?  If we’re starving together here, should we go over there to starve instead?

That last question reminds me of the people of Israel who’d left Egypt with Moses and complained in the wilderness and whom God answered by giving them their fill of bread and meat, and with it, leanness of spirit or heart.  Hosea 11:1 speaks of the love of God for Israel, having called his son out of Egypt.  Christians believe that statement of historical fact was additionally fulfilled prophetically when the family of Joseph the carpenter returned from Egypt after death of Herod the Great and those who’d sought the life of the Christ child.  Migration.

A literal translation of the last few verses of Matthew’s gospel reads as follows:

Mat 28:16  But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mount where Jesus appointed them.
Mat 28:17  And seeing Him, they worshiped Him. But they doubted.
Mat 28:18  And coming up Jesus talked with them, saying, All authority in Heaven and on earth was given to Me.
Mat 28:19  Then having gone, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20  teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age. Amen.

Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, copyright © 1976-2000 by Jay P. Green, Sr.

Implicit in Jesus’, “Then having gone,” is the inevitability of the going, of dispersion, migration.  A laundry list of the reasons people migrate include such things as escape from persecution, securing economic opportunity, reunion with family, forced relocation by governments, and so forth.

After lunch, we drove back to the recycling center where I stayed a bit longer before pedaling back to Stepford.