Friday, December 31, 2010


Here's a recap of my 2010 through some of my favorite pictures:

Wendy and Sophia
Jongo Java
Secret Agents
Senior wrestlers
Free Water
The Dejongs
Population 10
Me and Al
Long's Peak
Greeley Fairgrounds
Bella with Elaine and Dan
Monkeys at Library
Harveyville tower
Lunch near Alexandria
Welcome to NC
Egg Rolls!
Big Family 2

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I list photography as one of my hobbies, so it was with a sad and nostalgic heart that I learned today was the last time anywhere in the world that Kodak Kodachrome was to be developed. Kodak stopped making the film in 2009 and today, in tiny Parsons, Kansas, in a 75 year old family photography business, the last roll will be commercially developed.

Digital is the current wave and future of photography. I still hang on to my old Canon EOS Rebel 35mm because maybe I'll be cool enough to break it out and snap photos and develop them on my own like those nifty people I sometimes meet. This summer, a girl bike touring was carrying a vintage camera from the 50s. Admittedly, she said she hadn't used it a lot because it's so much easier to snap a photo and go with her compact digital. Another guy was riding from Chicago to New Mexico carrying a medium format. And a third was taking photos with just a Polaroid.

Check out these links, there's a small piece of history that we're not getting back now. The human story is told in many ways, photographs just one of the means. As said by Claire O'Neill, "It's not the end of the world, but is certainly the end of an era."

For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas

A Color-Saturated Sun Sets on Kodachrome

The Kodachrome Project

The Last Roll of Kodachrome Film Ever Will Be Developed Today

Goodbye (Again) To The Last Rolls Of Kodachrome Film

Photos: Steve McCurry's Last Roll Of Kodachrome
Steve McCurry was given by Kodak the last roll of Kodachrome produced.

ABC News - nice photo montage (and a shout out to Rosie the Riveter).


Look at all my friends!

You’ve Got to Have (150) Friends (NY Times)

According to Oxford University anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the most number of friends that we can meaningful relationships with is 150. In the Facebook world, anyone beyond that is simply a "voyeur". They are able to "peek" into your life but do not necessarily meaningfully contribute on social and emotional levels.

I have 654 friends on Facebook. I know, because I just checked. All are great in their own ways and there are so many unique, talented and interesting individuals. But true "friends"? I have old classmates and former students. Co-workers and people I've met in my travels. But the "inner circle" is small. And that's okay; I wouldn't want it any other way.

The part of the article that fascinated me was:

In the real world, according to research by myself and others, we devote 40 percent of our limited social time each week to the five most important people we know, who represent just 3 percent of our social world and a trivially small proportion of all the people alive today.

The world population is in the neighborhood of 6.5 billion people. If this statement is true, most people devote nearly half their social time to 7.6923077e-10 percent (my math) of the people on earth. I think that speaks a little to how insignificant we all are. I also think it speaks volumes about how infinitely significant those closest to us are.

Bell's Invention

I was randomly snapping images with my Canon S90, messing with settings and stuff, and this was one of the images I ended up with.

Why post it? I'm one of the few people I know that still has a land line. It mostly receives telemarketers (I got a call from the NRA today), but I do use it when I am home. So give me a call... if you know the number.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wondrous Love

"Agape is insanity to reason."

This strange love of the Father, to send his son to love us, though we're sinful, prideful and selfish, makes no sense.


Yet, it's my hope...

Jesus and Colbert and Grace

Stephen Colbert and the Gospel:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

Some Colbertisms:
"Jesus said we only have to love those who deserve it."
I'm glad that grace doesn't work like that. I sure don't deserve it. Somehow, I'm a recipient of it.

"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy, without condition, and then admit that we just don't want to do it."
True grace is given to those who need it, but do not necessarily deserve it. Colbert gets it and that's what he's saying in this satire.

Christ came because we could not save ourselves. In Mark 2:17, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

It seems as if many are saying that we'll give you help, we'll give you a doctor, when you feel better. That's not the gift of the Gospel. That's not Grace. Grace is summed up in Romans 5:8-- "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Grace is not at all about anything I've done. When I truly believe that, then I'll be able to love in the way that Christ loved: unconditional, sacrificial and with nothing in return.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Go Asheville

I stumbled upon this. Good in lots of ways, but left out so much. Only goes to show that you need more than 36 hours in Asheville.

NY Times: 36 Hours in Asheville

Are we all Crazy/Angry

"It's an old and ironic habit of human beings
to run faster when we've lost our way."

-Rollo May

This weekend, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are hosting "rallies" at the National Mall in Washington, DC. My brother is going.
The "Rally to Restore Sanity/Keep Fear Alive" actually is very indicative of our country. This summer, I saw something interesting-- America rocks. Just don't watch the news or ask politicians. If you do, you'll see America as hateful, divided, intolerant and dangerous. Here's what I saw: a country that was warm, embracing and inherently good.

So what happens? We let the minority dominate. The failure of our democracy might be that we don't hear the majority. The screams, threats and fear mongering of the minority is what most of us hear. And in turn, it shapes what many of us believe. We are a society that has allowed ourselves to be driven and shaped by fear.

I read a fascinating article a few weeks ago in the NY Times about how irrational a society we are as reflected by our parenting. Parents over worry about school shootings and kidnappings (which I don't wish on anyone) when statistically their children are more likely going to get involved in drugs, become obese or injure themselves playing soccer. The most dangerous activity our children do everyday: get in cars. The rates of accidents and injuries in public transportation is much lower than in personal vehicles. If you really wanted to keep your child safe, you'd be better off putting them on a bus or even an airplane.

Fear drives us to be irrational. It causes us to scream and shout while forgetting to think. Fear builds walls. If we could learn to look past it, we would see lots of great things and people that were missed because our eyes were shut, ears were covered and we're yelling too loud.

Blog Hibernation

My last post was Sept 21. Wow. Where has the fall gone? And why am I captain of "Team Blog Suck"?

For what they are worth, here are my excuses:

1) I've been super busy. Yes, that's tired and used, but I feel like I have been working harder as a teacher this year than any year since my first. Classes are the same, but the students are different. I don't have bad kids; I have kids that drain me emotionally. They are students that have many academic, social, emotional and developmental needs. Awesome, sweet kids-- but they are physically and emotionally draining. Unbelievably tiring, each day I am just exhausted.

2) I have not been feeling very artistic and original. I've had great ideas and subjects for blogs, just have not seemed like I could put words to these ideas. Writer's block if you want to call it.

That being said, Monday, November 1 is the beginning of wrestling season. My life becomes consumed by my role as coach. This blog may disappear. I hope not, but I am in a real funky, fluid and flaky place in my life right now. I may or may not be figuring it all out. Just when I think I know the answer, I am proved wrong. When things are dysfunctional in my mind, clarity emerges somehow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gas Light

Last Friday morning, my gas light on the Ducati came on. I was heading towards Asheville in the afternoon with plans to stop at a gas station in Fletcher that I often get fuel. Riding up HWY 25, things are great. Then the engine dies. Yep, I've run out of fuel.

Things were fine because I was right in front of the gas station and I could coast into it. I had timed it perfect... I was a genius! It was only when I got into the gas station that I saw that it was closed for renovations. No gas! I ended up having to walk 1/3 mile back to get gas for the bike.

Don't we do that a lot? Ride the gas light seeing how much we can get out of the tank of fuel. Just like me, when the tank is empty, we find we are not in a place to refuel. So what do we have left? Only a empty tank and nowhere to go.

Here's what went through my mind when I was fueling my bike:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mekong to Tennessee River

On the weekend of August 28, my family and I made the trek to Knoxville to attend a family reunion. It was to mark the 30th year that my family has been in the United States and we celebrated with the families that brought us to the United States. I've written before about what a leap of faith it was for these individuals to step out of their comfort zones and welcome total strangers into their lives.
All of us!
It really was a great weekend. As always, we had great food. There were laughs, tears and stories. It was the first time in over a decade that we've all been together. So much has changed throughout the years. I am no longer a toddler. My siblings speak great English. We've grown into professionals and some have started families. There are children and grandchildren. And we-- Keans, Uy, Headricks and Smiths-- are all family.
My Best Friend
Here is the article in this week's Blount Today about the reunion. It's full of errors about facts and names and some other things. But it does get some of it right. Hope you get to read it. I owe a lot to these families that brought us to America, but I also owe a lot to the ones who love, believe and support in me everyday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

By the numbers

Some numbers from the bike trip:

2 sock monkeys that finished the trip

2 Tires replaced – 1 rear tire on bike and 1 trailer tire

2 gloves lost in Vale, Oregon

4 flat tires patched

7 number of rest days

8 days over 100 miles

13 states traveled through

14 pounds lost

17 other cross country cyclists met

31.3 shortest travel day (Grand View to Mountain Home, Idaho)

54 days traveled

66.2 average daily miles (76.1 not including rest days)

100 Counties travelled through: Oregon (10), Idaho (10), Montana (1), Wyoming (6), Colorado (7), Kansas (18), Missouri (12), Illinois (5), Kentucky (4), Tennessee (12), North Carolina (1), Georgia (7), South Carolina (7)

125.3 longest travel day (Colorado Springs to Kit Carson, Colorado)

3, 578.5 miles logged

3,600 estimated average calories burned per day cycling (based on 14-16 mph for 5 hours)

Thursday, September 9, 2010


sad or depressed from a longing for home or family while away from them for a long time.

It's been nearly a month since I've been home from my bike trip. It has been great to see friends and family. School is off to a terrific start. But I'm roadsick. Understand, I love being home. But I miss the road. I miss meeting new people. I miss getting up at 6:00 in the morning and knowing I was going to be in a new town today. I simply miss moving. I am roadsick.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back on the Bike

Today, I got back on the bike and went for a little ride. The rule I've created is that it is fine for me to have multiple bikes as long as they get used. So I grabbed the road bike for a spin. Man, was it awkward.

A bike is a bike is a bike. Bikes are a lot like people. We have a basic anatomy, but within that are so many variations. Some of us are tall. Michael Phelps has disproportionally long arms. Our frames are different: Bone structure, density, muscular development.

Let's not forget that I was on Bella, my Surly Long Haul Trucker almost every day for nearly two months. You get used to things. So today, on my K2 road bike, it was like riding a brand new bike:

- Man, the K2 is light. Somewhere around 13 pounds of aluminum and carbon unlike Bella's 27 pounds or so.

- I had to relearn clipping in as the road bike has Look pedals and the touring bike has Crank Brothers.

- I like the bar end shifters on the Surly, but I had forgotten how convenient and easy integrated shifters are.

- Brakes: on the touring bike, because of weight, I had to really squeeze to come to a stop. On the light road bike, too much of a touch can throw me over the handlebars.

- Speaking of bars: riding position is different and took some getting used to.

- No granny gear on the road bike; it has a compact crank.

I only did 12 miles over Davis Mountain and back up and over Finley Cove. One of my favorite quick loops-- because I can leave from my house and it has some challenging climbs and fast descents.

The other difference I am noticing is the conditioning. I climbed the first part of Davis Mountain Road faster than I have ever before. Further up, is a short, steep hill that I always have to come out of the saddle to clear. Not today. Stayed seated and cruised up. Finley Cove usually slowly wears me down by the time I get to the top. I was tired, but not as beat as usual. And I was able to climb in a higher gear than I usually do.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


On June 23, I left Cannon Beach, Oregon on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. 54 days and 3578 miles later, I arrived at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

It was the conclusion to an epic adventure. I was challenged in many ways, met countless terrific people, was pushed physically and recharged mentally. I got to visit old friends and made new friends. It was a lot of what I expected and then plenty of unexpected.
Welcome to SC

It took me three days to bike from Elberton, Georgia to Folly Beach. South Carolina is old plantations, Spanish Moss, dense forests, slow rivers and small communities. The heat and humidity made the ride difficult. John Williams, who assists me in wrestling, his wife Wendy and their daughter Sophia made things easier by picking up the trailer and panniers. I could ride without the burden of pulling an extra 50 or so pounds. I estimate that I was about 3-5 MPH faster without the weight; the biggest gain came in climbs. So I got to ride unencumbered and John, Wendy and Sophia hung out at the pool or beach. It worked out great and I can't thank my friends enough for coming down.
Spanish Moss
Wendy and Sophia

So I make it a bit over 50 miles when John and Wendy catch up with me on Thursday. They grab the trailer and feed me fresh fruit and drive on. I pedal the next 40 miles and meet them in Aiken, a great town when it's not 180 degrees outside. The next day, I am off riding early and John, Wendy took Sophia to Edisto Island for her first visit to the beach.

The final day, Saturday, was about 60 miles from Walterboro to Folly Beach. Matthew and Erica Johnson drive down with their five month old, Eliza, so that Matthew can ride the final day with me. It was nice having the company of a great friend and awesome athlete. Matthew is a friend from church, a sick Ultimate player, the lead teacher at Glen Marlow Elementary and the guy who has given me scars mountain biking. Matthew and I always ride the trails together, so riding the pavement with him was a new experience. But we took turns drafting and just tore up the first 40-45 miles until fatigue started setting in.
Last day

Funny thing is that in 54 days of riding, I've never had to ride in the rain. It has rained at night, but not when I was on the bike. I was totally prepared for the rain-- I've got Goretex gear, fenders, drybays and they weren't called on. Matthew and I are trucking down Folly Beach Rd with the end very near in sight when the skies just open up. Not a just shower; it was a deluge. I turned and asked if he was okay with this and he replied, "Yeah! We're so close." So we trudged the last mile and half in an absolute downpour. When we got to the town of Folly Beach, the streets were flooded with 4-5 inches of water. We're totally saturated... and we're loving every moment of it.

At the Holiday Inn, John is waiting along with Chris Stevens (and here), a Georgia Tech Superfan, and his buddy Victor. Congrats, high fives and hugs are given all around. When the clouds break, we head to the Atlantic, where Bella and I step into the ocean to conclude our trek. After that, champagne toast courtesy of Chris's foresight and thoughtfulness.
Finished and drenched

It was a great way to finish. Exciting ending in the rain, super friends, champagne on the beach.

And how do I know it was a great ride? I don't hate my bike. After almost 3600 miles, I'm ready to get back on a bike and ride. So call me up-- we don't have to go cross country, but I'm up for a road ride or some singletrack in Dupont or Bent Creek.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Halfway to Heaven

"This fool's halfway to Heaven and just a mile out of Hell, but I feel like I'm coming home..."
Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

I'm coming home. I'm close, but still have some running-- er, pedaling, to do.

This is a great song. Lots of philosophy packed into 4:49.

The Home Stretch

Yesterday, my brother joined me in north Georgia. We got to hang out and camp. It was nice. Today, he hauled my trailer and gear while I biked the 68 miles to Carnesville, GA. He hiked, took pictures and toured in the car and we met up for a late lunch. It was nice not having the extra gear. Especially after I crested Neel's Gap and could go down the other side like I was in the Tour de France. After lunch, I hooked up the trailer and reattached the panniers and was off for the last 30 miles to Elberton.

Tomorrow, John Williams, my assistant wrestling coach, his wife Wendy and their daughter Sophia are gonna come and join me on the trip. John is gonna take the gear and I'm gonna ride hard. Wendy might join me for a few miles also.

I've got another friend (or two) who are deciding if they can come join me for a few miles at the end. I hope they do. The plan is to arrive at Folly Beach on Saturday afternoon. I can almost taste the salt water and feel the sand; something I haven't done in over 3200 miles.

And here's Tyrone Rucker, from Elberton, GA. He loved the idea I was riding across the country. He didn't want to take a picture of me; he wanted me to take a picture of him:
Tyrone Rucker