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Dying to Self

Since becoming engaged to marry I have begun to learn some things about life and who I am that I don’t think I ever would have learned otherwise.  There is a part of me that is more selfish than I would have ever cared to admit.  Now, however, I am forced to confront this in the light of the fact that I am going to be married.  That fact alone is enough to break a few of my prior paradigms on how I should live my life because I no longer am making decisions for myself alone: I am making decisions that directly affect another person, one whom I claim to love with my whole being.  If I am to love her as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, then I must love sacrificially, denying my own wants and desires in an effort to provide and also be everything that she needs in so much as I am able.  This does not mean that I will never be able to have that which i desire; on the contrary, by providing for her I will be filling myself up with joy knowing that I am being a good husband.  So even in sacrifice I am blessed.  Does this mean that no matter what I do I stand to gain something and it cannot therefore be considered “sacrifice?”  I say no.  St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as having said that, “it is in giving that we receive,” and, “it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  Does that mean that we give because we know we are going to get back or pardon just because we will then be pardoned?  Again I say no.  We are to give expecting nothing in return.  We are to forgive expecting no thanks.  In marriage it is this way.  The beautiful thing though is that if both are giving and forgiving in this manner, then both will be blessed because of the love that is shared sacrificially.  It is truly a bewildering concept for me.  I can’t wait to learn more.

Crossing the Rubicon

Julius Caesar, upon crossing the Rubicon River on January 10, 49 BC into northern Italy in defiance of the Roman senate mandate, passed the point of no return, for in crossing the river he had essentially started a war.  He is quoted as having said, “alea iacta est,” which is to say: “the die is cast.”

For those of you who aren’t keeping up with me elsewhere, I am now engaged to marry a wonderful woman named Julisa.  We didn’t consider the Rubicon at the time, but it is interesting to note that we will be married on January 10th.  I’ve thought about this engagement thing for a while, and I find that this is thusfar the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  It is at the same time thrilling and terrifying, yet not in the same way as a rollercoaster, but rather like whitewater rafting- sudden thrills around the bend, but at times one may get tossed overboard, only to be rescued and heading straight back for more.  For both of us, getting engaged is crossing that river.  We both have lived a lot of life as single adults and find the coming changes exciting and scary at the same time.  We have both had roommates and lived alone.  We are resolved.  The die is cast.  There is no turning back from here.  I for one am excited for the future.

Climbing in the Rockies

Saturday I got up a little earlier than usual.  In fact there have been times when I have gone to bed later that that, but this particular Saturday I had plans that required such a sacrifice. There are several reasons for that, but none so important as simple safety.

Having prepared in advance with driving directions that seemed solid, I packed up and took off at a little after 3 AM. The roads are surprisingly clear at this time of day.  Mostly because the drunks have already crashed (literally or figuratively), and the average person would have sense enough to be asleep.

The drive took me through the mountains into Leadville, Colorado, the highest town in the USA.  At over 10,000 feet, even the ice cream pops out of the containers due to air expansion.

As I consulted my directions on my way out of town I took a turn on County Road 300 and stopped.  Ihad a hunch that the turn of the highway was important for something, but I looked again at my directions and found I had a few miles to go further.

A few miles down I found the road, turned, made a couple of u-turns because it was very dark and signage was hard to read, but eventually I made it down the long dirt road that my directions indicated was right. But something was bothering me.  Some little voice was trying to be heard.  Yet I was resolved to get to the end of the road.

I can be really hard-headed sometimes.

Eventually I found the end of the road in the form of a locked gate that was completely unlike the description I had read of the large parking area at the base of the mountain.  Okay, I said to myself, consult the web page that had the written directions.

And that’s when I became a little annoyed at myself.  “From US-24 past Leadville, take County Road 300 to the right.”  Right.  Is that a voice laughing in my head?

And so, I backtracked, and watched the dawn breaking as I thought to myself for an hour that I could have already been on the trail.  When I finally did get to the parking area it was 6:30, more than 3 hours after leaving home for what should have been a 2 hour drive.  I guess I won’t need that headlamp I thought to myself.

I had wanted to be on the trail before first light for a couple of reasons.  The first was that I wanted to be up above the treeline at dawn if possible to get some pictures of the mountains in that light.  The second reason was that I was hoping to be the first to the summit that day. Oh well.

It was a balmy 36 degrees (2 C) at 10,040 feet when I started up the trail but soon despite not wearing gloves or a jacket I was plenty warm and even starting to sweat a bit.  One of the rules of hiking in the cold is to not overdress.  It is good to be able to keep warm, but if one sweats because of all the layers, it will lead to hypothermia, so it is better to be a little on the cool side.

The climb led up through the trees at 11,900 feet and from there the false peak could be seen.  If you ever get a chance, go there: it is an impressive sight.  The crystal blue skies behind it and the sunlight on the face was inspiring in the morning.

Continuing up the trail over the next couple of hours my progress was easily marked.  This was the first time that I climbed by myself, and so although there were other people about, I had no one with me to either push me or slow me down.  It was nice but at times I think I pushed myself too hard.

In the end it was no matter because at 5 minutes to 10 AM I reached the peak.

I spent a good 40 minutes there, eating, taking a few pictures, and chatting with other climbers about the experience.  Then I noticed something that was a little disconcerting.  The skies were no longer crystal clear, they were filling up with (to quote a guy I spoke with a little later) “puffy bunny clouds.”  It was time to go.

It was still mostly sunny when I left the top at 10:40, and of course I passed probably 50-75 people who were going up as I was going down.  I talked to many of them, and to all of them I suggested that they consider the clouds that were building.

Which brings me to reason #3 for getting up early and climbing.  Summer storms in the Rockies occur quite often on days that begin just like that one did.  And lighting tends to strike high on the mountain, above treeline, where there is no cover.  Hence my early exit.

It took well over an hour to get to treeline, and I was still passing people on the way up.  It was nearly noon!  By this time the clouds were no longer puffy bunny clouds- they had joined forces and looked rather like a large grey blanket.

Within a few minutes of stopping for a brief rest, I noticed a few little white droplets falling every couple of seconds.  Five minutes later it was really coming down- I got my jacket out and picked up the pace.  It became rain soon after that, and at 12:20 I heard thunder.  I was happy that I was far from the top.   The rain continued to some degree until I was within 100 yards of the parking area at 1 PM.  Safe and sound.

Here’s a pictorial to illustrate some of this.  Enjoy!

Writing on my iPod

So here I am, just watching the olympics, and realized that I can blog on my iPod now. It’s cool, but it takes way too long to type. Oh well.

The Olympic Denver Omelette

My first original kitchen creation.  A bachelor’s dream dinner all in one.  Okay, maybe just one I think about even later when I’m hungry.

Gentlemen, let’s do this thing.

  • Start with a nice 10-12 inch nonstick pan.  Put just a little olive oil in it and put it on medium heat (that’s about 4-5 on most electric ranges).
  • Take 3 or 4 eggs and whip them in a bowl.  Be sure to crack them open and get them out of the shell first.  If you can’t do that, I can’t help you anymore.
  • Add a little bit of half and half and whip it with the eggs, maybe a tablespoon or so.  I don’t measure it, so it may be more than that.
  • Pour the eggs into the pan (see this is easy!).
  • Take a small piece of smoked salmon, about the size of three to four fingers (depending upon how big your fingers are of course) and cut it into small pieces, then place them on one side of the omelette.
  • Now take 1/3 to 1/2 of a small avocado and dice it (remember to take it out of the hard skin and don’t try to dice that big stone-like seed!).  Place this into the same side of the omelette as the salmon.
  • Add a little grated cheese (I prefer parmesan, and since it’s my recipe, I’ll use it!).
  • This is when I usually add a little salt and pepper.
  • Hopefully you haven’t dilly-dallied and burned up the eggs already.  If you have, it’s time to stop and go out to eat.  If not, press on!
  • Fold over the empty half onto the full side.  If you have too much stuff it won’t close, but then again, so what?  You’re still eating it by yourself, so who’s gonna care?
  • Lastly, after a couple of minutes you can either flip it over onto the other side or just serve it onto a plate.
  • Once on a plate, cover with a little green chile salsa.  I like 505 Southwestern Organic Green Chile Sauce.  You can buy whichever one you like.  If you can make your own, why are you reading my recipes?
  • Enjoy with enough water or other palate cleansing liquid to keep the green chiles from burning your taste buds so that you don’t notice the avocado goodness.

And there you have it!  My Olympic Denver Omelette.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

What’s up with the Demolicans? Or the Repubocrats?

So I’ll admit that I was around to see Jimmy Carter beat Gerry Ford in the 1976 election.  I don’t remember any of the pertinant details of course, but I do remember the excitement and then the following term by what history proved to be a mediocre president.  Here we seem to have an impending election in which two candidates with equally ambiguous claims to the office seem to be hurtling headlong towards filling the void that will be left when the current administration vacates the premises (I hope that at least this first family will leave the silverware that needed replacing after the previous tenants skipped town for their new posh digs in New York).  Honestly I wish that in every election there would be on the ballot an option to vote for “none of the above,” so that we could force another election with more qualified candidates if we so choose.  At least that would send the message that says: “hey, we’re watching you guys, and we don’t like what we see, so you’d better tow the line, mister!”

As much as these two guys try to show that they are different, they seem so much alike in some ways and yet even in their differences they aren’t all that different.  I guess what I’m saying is that it would be nice to have term limits so that nobody could be a “career politician,” and so that even those who are really qualified would work hard to do what the electorate sent them to Washington to do, knowing that they would be tossed out soon enough anyway, never to run again for that office.  I mean, sure, a president should be someone who has had some years of experience in running an office of that scope, whether a governor or a senator (or even the occasional representative of distinction), but should someone serve 30 years on the hill before running?  No.  Should we have someone who has spent 3 years serving and done little more than vote, “present,” for most of the votes of import?  Again, no.  That’s one reason that I voted for our current president.  He served his state as governor, did a great job for two terms, and then moved on to something else.  All after being successful at running a business.  He has proven executive skills.  Of the two guys running this time around, I’d sooner vote for Mrs. McCain.  At least she knows how to run something.  These other two guys are consummate politicians.  And I’ve got only a little respect for that sort.

Let’s get someone to run who will make US policy to help the helpless when we can, provide for the underprivileged within reason, and reward the successful based on merit and nothing more.  We can have this as both domestic and foreign policies.  I’m not saying get everyone on the dole who doesn’t want to work, because I see that enough as a doctor.  I mean more to make sure that the hungry kids in this rich nation have food to eat so that they can go to school and pay attention to the teaching rather than empty bellies.  At the same time I think that we can distribute the burden of taxation more equally so that we can both maximize government revenue while minimizing individual obligations.  How in the world can we do that?  By taxing goods and services rather than income so that the more one spends, then more one is taxed rather than by income.  That rewards the worker who wants to provide for the future, which in turn stimulates the economy with increased investment, all the while giving the government what it needs to do its job, which should decrease over time anyway as society improves economically.

I’ve blathered on long enough.  Maybe another time I’ll solve the “health care crisis.”  Oh, but look out, “Global Warming.”  You’re next.

What in the World?

…..Good question.  It is 1 in the morning on July 4th and I’m not yet sleepy, so why not post on the blog?  Ok, maybe I’m kinda sleepy, but at least I feel like writing, and that hasn’t been the case lately.  Mostly I’ve been reading.  Reading the news, reading a novel or two, reading work manuals, or just stuff on other people’s blogs.  But it is high time that I wrote something for my minions (and of course for those who also read my blog by choice: “we realize that you have a choice when reading blogs and we thank you for choosing denniswales.com; whether this is your final destination or you are continuing on your internet journey we wish you a safe and pleasant stay while you are here”).

….. Well the world continues to spin on its axis just like always, no matter what the latest carbon dioxide count may be (actually it was 386 ppm last month in the Mauna Loa observatory: that’s 386/1,000,000 or 3.86/10,000 or 0.0386 % partial pressure of CO2, which in turn is something like taking one breath out of a paper bag after exhaling into it almost one time per year.  That’s a lot, right?).  You know, when you think about it, plants are amazing- they survive off of photosynthesis, a process which liberates oxygen but requires CO2, yet the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are far less than  a tenth of 1%, and the oxygen in the air is an astounding 21% of the total air that we breathe!  That is over 500 times the amount of CO2 in the air!  And those fear-mongering, nonscientific, environ-mentalists want to cut down the amount of CO2 produced.  I wonder what the plants would say if they had a voice.

…..We are in the world for a purpose.  As a Christian I of course believe that I am here to glorify God and to make Him known.  But also I believe that we have been given responsibilities by God to be good stewards of those things that have been entrusted to us.  The world is one of those things.  God spoke to Adam and gave him dominion over the earth.  He also gave him the responsibility to care for it and to look after it.  I don’t think that we are doing a good job.  However, I don’t think that going completely nuts about global warming helps either.  I think that it is at once irresponsible science and at its worst, yellow dog journalism.  There is a certain agenda behind many of those who cry that we are headed for climate catastrophe, and though some cry without knowledge of the agenda (they are the pawns for which I feel most pity), what bothers me the most is that many are they who know of the agenda and yet keep it quiet.  They are those who are quick to say that anyone who disagrees is a shill for Big Oil and Corporate greed, for look who benefits from that sort of thinking.  And yet the hypocrisy is that the studies and evidence that comes closest to supporting their position was funded by those who are sympathetic to their cause.  Where are the denouncers of that funding bias?  Anyone?  They are not there because they believe that they win there arguments because of the volume of their shouting instead of the volume of evidence.  What irks me most is that so many of my colleagues in medicine have themselves swallowed these hypotheses as fact without examining the evidence at all.  Truly it is a case of being convinced by repetition rather than by logic and reason, and that is above all, the most bothersome part.  Sure it feels good to fight for the planet, for Mother Earth, and who but the most Philistine among us would dare stand against protecting our home?  How convenient.  Shape the argument in terms such as these and you can’t lose, eh?  Well, I don’t buy it.  I feel responsible to take care of the earth, but it should be done the way I care for my patients- based on the best evidence, not hearsay, conjecture, and speculation.  It should be based on reason, not irrational hatred of corporations or even the feelings of love for our planet.  I love our planet too.  I live here.  But just as I routinely have to educate parents on why we recommend immunizations for all children when they are worried that their child will become autistic because of them, I feel that we need to educate ourselves on what is true and accurate about our climate and the world in which we live.  Sure autism is bad, but an epidemic of measles and your child dying from a lack of immunization would be far worse.   Let’s stop this epidemic of irrationality.  Let’s get some education.  Let’s look at the evidence, not at the speculation.  Let’s be reminded that the warmest year on record was in the 1930s, not in the past decade; that 2007 was cooler than the previous 7 years; and that those who are at the forefront of the climate catasrophe movement have wanted to cripple corporations for many years prior to finding a cause that they could get others to blindly follow.

…..Open your eyes and read the evidence.  Stop saying you are open-minded and be open-minded for once.