Monday, November 20, 2017

Nov 20th; Baseball Blues

I have have managed to post every day for the first two thirds of the month and only have ten posts left to complete the challenge of daily posting for the month of November. For each November that I've tried this National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) challenge, I gain respect for the daily bloggers that do it year 'round.

As the days grow shorter and night falls earlier, I find myself missing baseball season. I'm not much of a TV watcher -- unless it's baseball season. Honestly, I don't know how football fans can get by with only getting to watch your favorite team play for just 16 games per year. No wonder there is so much hype for every single game!

Fortunately, there are MMA fights nearly every weekend and the Blues skate a couple of times per week, as well. Baseball has it's winter talks and off-season deals to follow, but it isn't the same as watching a game. I haven't bothered to start a countdown clock to Opening Day or to Spring Training. Maybe I should. I could add to the anticipation by using an image of a loaded ballpark hotdog as the background for the countdown clock!
I have checked the spring schedules for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals, and the Springfield Cardinals (the AA affiliate of the big team) so I can plan a few motorcycle ride/baseball outings. I'm looking at day games where I can make the round trip in daylight and not have to eat too many bugs on a night ride home.

Today is supposed to top 60f degrees (16c) and I think I'll treat myself to nice ride of a hundred miles or so.
Keep an eye out for us retired guys on motorcycles.

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Nov 19th; Sunday

It looks like another beautiful day in the Ozarks!
The sun is shining brightly and the day is warming into what will be a grand fall day.

I am preparing for a morning of sharing one of my favorite Bible stories at a growing little church in our area. After speaking with the pastor about the church's current growth spurt, I am even more excited than usual to get to preach there. Recently, they've added a second service directed to the youth of the church and the pastor has asked if I could do some magic for the that service.

I'll also be back for an evening service, so it's going to be a long day. It will be far from the typical lazy Sunday that I'm used to. I am going to enjoy this day.

I hope that you get to enjoy your Sunday, too.
And I hope that you have a place to worship God with other believers.

John <><

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Nov 18th; My Circles

How diverse are your relationships?

In Southwest Missouri, there is not a lot of room for racial diversity as it is a predominantly white community. In my small sub-division, I probably qualify as the only "person of color" with my half Asian heritage.

Politically, I am at odds with most people from my local area. Sure, there are other left of center folks around, but it seems to be a secret society to guard against the verbal abuse and eventual shunning that will take place. Although I consider myself to be more of a moderate, that's the same as a flaming liberal in this far right, deeply red community. You've heard the "blue dot in a red sea" analogy? That's me.
Part of the largely Republican dominated philosophy is a strong anti-union sentiment. I served my union locally and on a couple of different national committees over my career

Religiously, this is the middle of the Bible Belt.
Oddly enough, there are a whole lot of people that are of no religion whatsoever (I'd guess the majority of people). It's pretty safe to assume that if somebody goes to church, they go to a Christian denomination church. Some are ultra conservative, some more progressive. And there are several other belief systems represented, as well. I consider atheists to be a part of a belief system and there are also a significant number of them in the area -- far more than most evangelicals would like to believe.

It's like my acquaintances are from very different tribes that seldom connect in any way.
In the end, I have very few contacts from minority races.
Most of my contacts are hard core republicans with a few that lean libertarian and the ever hopeful few democrats. Surprisingly, a number of my union acquaintances are also pretty staunch republicans.
Religion-wise, the majority are affiliated with a Christian church of some kind. I also know a fair amount of unchurched or non-religious Christians and non-believers.

And of course, there are my readers that come from all over the place and have many backgrounds and stories. It could be that you are my favorite people to visit with. I read your stories and can agree or disagree freely. I can choose to comment or not. I can skip a post and not feel bad about it. I can smile when I receive your comments or see that a certain post is getting a lot of views.
I don't think of blogging as being anti-social. We have our own little society. Some of you are here daily, and others are less frequent members of the community.
I have only met a few of you in person. It would be nice to meet more of you. Perhaps on another ride.

John <><

Friday, November 17, 2017

Nov 17; The War on Christmas

It's hard for me to believe that Christmas is only a little more than five weeks away.
I've never been the kind of person that begins the early Christmas preparations or shops in July or gets excited about Christmas too early.

I've already seen several Facebook memes about "It's Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays" and other similar sentiments. I even saw an SUV with the back window filled with text about "Christ"mas being about the birth of Christ and how Jesus is the "reason for the season" and how we should all say Merry Christmas.

If you've been following Out of My Hat for very long, you already know that I am a Jesus follower. You also know that I celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus (God incarnate) and the fulfillment of the Promised Messiah (The Christ). You probably also know that I recognize that much of my holiday celebration is completely secular and I am willing to own it.

I doubt that I have many hard line "It's Merry Christmas" folks left as regular readers (I know there are a few of you lurking in the shadows), but I was wondering what good it does to insist on wishing someone a Merry Christmas if they are a nonbeliever and only celebrate the holiday for the gifts, the giving, and the spending of time with family.
If Christmas to them is Santa and reindeer, the giving of gifts, etc., does saying Merry Christmas make either of you more holy? Does that, of itself, make the moment a moment of sharing the Christ story?

I do believe that the season offers followers of Jesus wonderful opportunities to tell the story of God's great love for us. I don't think that saying Happy Holidays* has to be considered a missed opportunity or a blasphemous utterance.
There will be plenty of opportunities to ask people about their ways of celebrating the season and sharing your own. There will be opportunities to invite them to church concerts or programs that do celebrate the birth of our Savior. There will be even more opportunities to be gracious and Christ-like as we go about our holiday shopping and our everyday lives over the next several weeks.

Because I often see irony where others don't, I find it extremely amusing to see someone with a cartload of wreaths, lights, candy canes, and other holiday decorations insist on saying an emphatic "Merry Christmas" to the checkout clerk that just wished them a Happy Holidays.

There is no war on Christmas
...until we decide to fight about it.

Be kind.
Share your story.
Share His story.

John <><

*the plural "holidays" can and usually does include Christmas

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nov 16th; When Religion Gets Ugly

I think that religion can be ugly enough on its own and I don't particularly want to add to that ugliness, but I've a story that I think needs to be told. There will certainly be people that will take great offense to my rambling. I am okay with that because it is an offensive story.

Last month, my home church of Hopedale voted to adopt The Nashville Statement as a part of our church constitution. I was opposed to its adoption for a number of reasons and spoke against it (for my allotted two minutes at the business meeting) and was one of two votes opposing it (the other vote was my wife).
Although I was disappointed, frustrated and even angry with the results of the vote, I have grown accustomed to being on the outside when it comes to religion and politics in Southwest Missouri. I should point out that my frustration goes much further than Hopedale and includes being cast in the general group of evangelicals that want more to do with legislating morality and engineering a religious based government than sharing God's grace.
It was with all of this in mind that I wrote my Weekend Rant of a few weeks ago.

Although Hopedale wasn't mentioned specifically in the post, my pastor read it and took it as a personal attack on him and the church. The following day I received a voice mail to call him later in the afternoon. I was busy at that time and when I was ready to call him there was a text telling me that the magic at the next night's Trunk or Treat had been cancelled and we'll talk later.
I called him on Tuesday morning and was informed that we (both me and my wife) would no longer be able to teach, serve on any committees, nor serve in any leadership roles at Hopedale. I guess that also included doing magic at a community event.

All of that from one post!
I feel like I should mention that I've been blogging for more than eleven years. If you were to find the search bar (upper left in the web version) and type in Hopedale, you will find these posts. I've re-read those posts and think that I've painted a pretty rosy picture of Hopedale.
It was after Tuesday's phone conversation that I wrote Wednesday's post, Heretic.

Now I'm more sad than angry as I feel like I am a man without a church. I'm more sad for Chris as she has far many more ties and friendships than I do.
And I'm thinking that there are quite a number of people to whom I owe apologies. Over the years, many have left Hopedale and shared parts of their stories or indicated that they no longer felt welcomed there -- and I always defended Hopedale and our its pastor. Now I wonder if they found themselves victims of the same type of non-biblical church discipline.

We have reached an ugly point in our human history. In today's world, differences of opinions create enmity. I am so thankful for my faithful friends that have greatly different opinions on some topics and yet choose to remain my friend because of the core things that we have in common.
We have also reached an ugly point in christianity (little c intentional). In today's world we have decided that it is our place to pass judgement and condemnation rather than simply share that God's grace is enough.
It is enough to cover my sin.
It is enough to cover yours, too.

I'm not going to pretend that I have all the answers. In fact, the only answer I have is that God loves you and Jesus died for you.
I think I'll leave it to Him to figure out the rest.

John <><

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Nov 15; To Bob or Not to Bob?

I am not really mechanically inclined. When it comes to working on motorized vehicles or fixing things around the house that need fixing, my philosophy has always been -- They paid me well to do the job I knew how to do. I should be willing to pay someone else well to do the job they know how to do.

Having said that, I've been toying with the idea of doing some modifications to an old motorcycle that I have. It's an '82 Honda CM450. I'm thinking of turning it into a little bobber. I'm not exactly sure what that will take, but since I'm not riding it now, it won't really matter if it takes me a long time to get it done.
I imagine I'll be able to find some You Tube videos or online help from some motorcycle forums. I'll need to find a single saddle and either remove or cut down the rear fender. I'll also have to move the rear brake light and turn signals. The front windscreen will also come off.
As an older 450, it can currently make it to 70 mph with my big ol' butt on it, but I doubt it would go much faster and certainly won't hold that speed uphill. Stripping it back a bit (especially removing the windscreen) might help, but it will be more for fun or to sell than to actually ride on the highway.
Maybe a winter project to keep the old retired guy off social media and my blog, thereby keeping me out of trouble.

I'll get back to my un-organized religion posts soon (that will aggravate some of the self righteous religious people), but I've come to realize that most everything sensible offends them anyway. I have reached the point of not really caring about people that find offense where none was intended. If you want to be a victim -- you're a victim.
But I digress ...

John <><

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nov 14; mini rant

A rainy fall day in the Ozarks may keep me from getting any riding in today. That's okay. The bike could use a good cleaning after my weekend ride and a day of riding in the rain.
On the bright side, it will also keep me from having to rake leaves today...and tomorrow. Maybe by the weekend it will be dry enough to get them up.

Most of you know that I am not a winter fan. After a weekend trip to Chicago where there was a bit of snow on the ground, I am already looking forward to spring.
And it's not even Thanksgiving yet!
We have already booked a February vacation to Cancun and I will be projecting my thoughts and enjoying the beach in my head for the next 12 weeks. Some good cigars arrived yesterday and I'll be saving a few of them for the trip. I'll be looking through my humidor and selecting some others for the days lounging on the beach.

In the mean time I'll have to occupy myself with other winter distracting activities.
If I had the time, I could spend forever on the computer pointing out all of the really fake news and lies that are published on social media sites. This comes from both sides and far too many people read, believe, and share false information without checking sources. It is unfortunate that we allow ourselves to become the means for spin artists and politically motivated liars to spread their lies.
Such a task would confine me to my computer indefinitely.

Maybe we all need to be less quick to retweet or share things we haven't checked out. Maybe we should check stories out and call the bs when we see it. I know that most people will not remove posts that have been called out as lies, but at least others that read the comments will know that it is untrue.

It is unfortunately true that I have been guilty of reposting false stories.
I give you permission -- even encourage you -- to call me out for such stories.
If we all become more deliberate in checking out stories before sharing information, perhaps we can prevent ourselves from being the dumbest, most misinformed generation of all time.

I think I'll look for a different distraction.

John <><

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nov 13th; Cold Weather Ride

It is the Monday morning after my first long, cold weather ride.

Thursday I rode about 400 miles from Ozark MO to Metamora IL. It was just above freezing when I left home and upper 30s (3-4C) when I arrived. It did make it into the mid 40s (7C) in southern IL.
Friday afternoon I rode from Metamora to Chicago when temperatures were in the mid 30 range.
For the 500+ mile ride on Sunday, I got the added bonus of light rain for about 3 hours! It was a little warmer with most of the day in the 40s.

My overall assessment of the long cold ride is that it wasn't much different from any other long ride. Although my "cold weather" gear is pretty inexpensive and not really motorcycle cold weather riding gear, I was comfortable. The multiple layers is a little binding when moving around at stops and a pain when you need to pee, but did the job of keeping me warm and dry.

I wore heavy denim jeans, a long sleeved shirt and sweater, and insulated bib overalls. Over that I wore my lined textile jacket and covered it all with my Joe Rocket rain gear. I had waterproof motoryles gloves with an additional liner and waterproof winter boots with heavy socks. I also used the chemical hand and feet warmers for parts of the ride. I used a face and neck fleece with my modular helmet.
All-in-all, it wasn't bad. The rain gear served as a nice windproof layer when it wasn't raining and I wore it all the time.

If I decide that I'll be taking more long winter rides, I may have to invest in some actual motorcycle cold weather gear. For now, what I have is what I'll work with.
I'll continue to ride when the road conditions are suitable throughout the winter months. If it's just a local ride, I won't bother with any more gear than is necessary for a short time out.
If you are an all weather biker and have some tips, I would be grateful for your input. I've been riding for less than two years, so I am still learning. While on this trip, I did pass the 29.000 mile mark in the 20+ months since I got my motorcycle endorsement and bought my '06 Vulcan 900 Classic.

Be safe out there.
And if your driving, continue to watch for old retired guys on motorcycles. Not all of us put them away for the winter!

John <><

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Nov 12th; Chicago

I'm typing late on the 11th and will post this for the 12th.
Chris and I spent the day in Chicago with Aaron and Jenny. We slept in and then headed over to Haymarket for brunch. Jenny knows that I'm always good for a Morning Riot.

Our afternoon activity was a mani/pedi day. I skipped the pedicure part, but did get a manicure. The hand and forearm massage felt pretty good after a couple of days of cold weather riding.

Dinner was pizza at Lou Malnati's.
Then it was off to see the Chicago Wolves hockey game. This season, the St Louis Blues have their minor league skaters on two different teams -- that played last night. The Blues skaters on both teams did well.

I'll be spending most of my Sunday on the road as I make my way home.
Be well, my friends.

John <><

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nov 11th; Veterans' Day

Happy Veterans' Day to all of you that have served our country in the military!
Thank you for your service!

This morning's post comes from the frigid region of Chicago IL.
I arrived yesterday afternoon on my motorcycle to find snow on the ground! It wasn't on the streets, but the sidewalks and grass areas still held the morning snow ... and it was cold! It will be a little warmer today and tomorrow, but still cold.

I'm going to say that a winter ride of several hundred miles might not have been my best idea, but on the other hand, it wasn't too bad. Even with the cold, I enjoyed the ride.
However, if I'm going to continue with long winter rides, I may have to invest in some better gear -- especially in good winter foot gear. It was never far below freezing and I was never really uncomfortable. All in all, the long, cold ride was no big deal.

I am looking forward to spending time with the kids today. Tomorrow's ride will be a long, cold, and possibly wet day. Eh, we'll see.

I'm having some issues with posting pictures to my blog. If I can get it figured out, I'll add one. Otherwise I'll just post my black and white to my social media sites.

John <><