December 13, 2013

Book Review: Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke

Front Cover - Lit
Title: Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Author: Tony Reinke
Publisher: Crossway Books
Genre: Christian non-Fiction

Why read?

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other mens writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for." -Socrates

The written word should be used to improve our instruction, understanding, and knowledge (Romans 5:4). Of course these writings must be placed under the microscope of truth provided to us by the Bible (Psalm 119:105) which helps us discern the infallible from the falsehoods (I John 4:1). Reading is one of our callings as Christians.

A book that is about reading. Lit explores reasons for reading in detail. It raises questions to help understand reading habits and to refine these habits; to analyze what is important and what is a waste of time. Reading is an example to our children.

Lit caused me to take a step back and examine how and what I read. It reads well and the ideas are inspiring and clear. This is an encouraging book that I do recommend. Everyone should read more.

November 7, 2013

Book Review: The Chase by Clive Cussler

Title: The Chase
Author: Clive Cussler
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Fiction, Action and Adventure

Unfortunately this book is a disaster. There are a few good points: the intro is gripping and the storyline is ok and…that is it. The dialogue is weak and ridiculous and the characters are cardboard. The editing is horrendous (like this blog) and the timeline doesn't flow. At one point a minor character has a different name then he did several pages before. Coincidentally one of the characters, moments before an historical event, declares the time, place, and date. The good guy says things like, ‘I will catch him if it’s the last thing I do.’ And the bad guy says things like, ‘They will never catch me, I am too smart and sly for the law’ and 'say goodbye' just before shooting people. It is corny and cheap. The characters remind me of Ayn Rand characters in their lack of depth. All the girls immediately fall madly in love with the 6 foot something blonde hair, blue eyed, dreamy good guy. And the bad guy is heartless with cold eyes and a greedy soul. Save yourself some time, get another book.

 The Chase (An Isaac Bell Adventure)

August 16, 2013

Hike Review: Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Park

Location: north of San Diego near SeaWorld
Distance: optional  

Difficulty: easy  
Elevation Change: zero (you're walking on the beach)  
Time of Year Best: any

Mission Bay is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Mission Beach. There are a lot of sidewalks, parking, grass, bathrooms, and people. If you go early in the morning, you will have the place to yourself, but the grass fills up quick with people to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the sun. If you want to go for a swim, don't go to Mission Bay. Although some people swim here, the water if largely stagnant. It is better to go to Mission Beach and swim in the surf. At Mission Bay, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and much more accessible then the beach. You can park at one of the many large parking areas, carry your picnic gear to the nearest grassy patch and you are ready to bbq. I saw a lot of these while I was there: Char-Broil Smoker Grill. Mission Bay is a very cool place to come hike/walk and relax with the family or friends. There is a lot of room to run and play. 

Click Here for More Pics

July 6, 2013

Box Springs Mountain Park Hiking Trails in Riverside, CA

Box Springs Mountain Park

Box Springs Mountain Park offer some excellent hiking and biking trails suprisingly close to Riverside, CA. Box Springs is an island of wilderness. From the top of the parks high point you can look down on Riverside and Moreno Valley and the tangled freeways. I have been several times and each time the park has been empty. There are fifteen miles of trails. It can get very hot. Due to proximity to the city and the types that the city produces, there is some graffiti on some of the rocks and trash strewn about. However, the hiking, the ease of travel, and the amazing views make this an excellent half day destination.

Click here: for a map and directions.

July 5, 2013

The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward

Book Review: The Price of Politics

Author: Bob Woodward

At the end of July 2011, days before the United States defaulted on its debt limit, negotiations to pass the annual budget were at a stalemate. "We can't yield," exclaimed Biden.  "This is bullsh*t! We're not bending," cried Obama appointee Jack Lew. Reflecting, Obama said, "It was as intense a period as I've had." "Trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again would be almost impossible," Boehner (pronounced Bay-ner) warned.

The Price of Politics timelines the steps that the government took to fix the down economy during Obama's first term. A large portion of the book covers the intense budget compromising and negotiating that took place in the summer of 2011. Obama and Boehner were the prolific figures in these negotiations. During the tense budget talks, members of the Republican Congress fought for spending cuts while the Democratic Senate fought for tax increase.

The book gives great insight into the internal workings of the United States Federal Government. And, without stating it outright, it brings to light problems that arise when a third party is thrown into a system that was designed to work as a two party system. The book reads fast and flows well. Woodward has a lot of experience with the politicians and seems to be able to get interesting and raw information from them. I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in US politics.  

June 19, 2013

Chris Dorner's Last Stand

Chris Dorner burned here
Recently, I found myself on Glass Road, crisscrossing the Santa Ana River. This wasn't a planned stop, but there it was. The burnt down cabin was fenced off. The remaining smell of embers was dull, but present. The wind faintly rustled the trees and birds sang soft. The river whispered gently making gunfire and death difficult to imagine.

On February 12, 2013, Chris Dorner was burned and died in this used to be cabin. On this day, Jeremiah MacKay was shot and killed here. The killings followed a week long man hunt for Dorner who engaged authorities in multiple running gun fights. From Irvine to San Diego to Riverside to Big Bear to here, lonely and quiet Glass Road along the Santa Ana River, Dorner led a terrific siege of cop killings on southern California. This is where it ended.
Dorner Cabin before

Dorner Cabin during

June 15, 2013

Onyx Peak near Big Bear Lake

On the road to Big Bear from Redlands on highway 38, you must pass through Onyx Summit, at 8,443, this road is the highest paved through road in all of southern California. At Onyx Summit, there is a turn off to the east of the highway for a dirt road 1N01 that leads to Onyx Peak (9,113). However, the road is usually gated about 1 mile from the peak. Park here and walk the 2 miles round trip for an easy hike. There is about 300 feet of elevation gain.

Location: eastern part of the San Bernardino National Forest near Big Bear
Distance: 2 miles round-trip

Difficulty: moderate to easy
Elevation Change: 300 feet
Time of Year Best: any
Recommended Map: National Geographic TOPO! Weekend Explorer 3D (Los Angeles, Los Padres, San Bernardino National Forest)

May 25, 2013

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park

Vernal Falls Mist
Vernal Falls from Mist Trail
Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park reigns majestic as a mighty awe of God's handiwork. Approaching the falls via the Mist Trail the sound booms deafening. Approaching the falls the mist rains steady and the sight demands pause. Prepare to get wet and walk steady as the trail travails into the mist.                

Location: eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park
Distance: 3 miles round-trip

Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Elevation Change: 1,000 feet
Time of Year Best: May
Recommended MapYosemite SW - Yosemite Valley & Wawona - Trails Illustrated Map # 306

May 19, 2013

Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park

Hiking to Mirror Lake was mostly easy.  Round trip it was a flat 2.5 miles from the bus stop. We walked the paved road to a bridge that crossed the Tenaya Creek. Instead of crossing the bridge and following the road like we were supposed to, we followed a well worn dirt trail that skirted along the creek opposite side of the paved road until Mirror Lake. This trail ran between the creek on one side and the cliffs of Half Dome on the other. The scenery and the broken rocks through here were surreal. Once we arrived at a meadow we realized we had reached Mirror Lake, but we failed to find a way across Tenaya Creek and were content to walk back the way we came. The weather was overcast, but Mirror Lake lived up to its name. Thunder and rain accompanied our hike.