A Place of Solace

A Place of Solace
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. f/2.8 @ 1/15 second.

It’s hard to imagine why any couple would simply sit quietly, huddled closely together upon the icy-cold granite outcrop, despite the howling gale and the tumultuous roar of the mighty Atlantic crashing against the rocky shoreline.

But that is exactly what my wife and I undertook one early evening in mid-August of 2014. It was a charming, itsy-bitsy place called Peggy’s Cove, situated along the rugged coastline of Nova Scotia. We almost had the quaint little locale all to ourselves. Only one straggler was lollygagging on the lee side of the statuesque white lighthouse. The octagonal tower, with balcony and lantern, has stood proudly upon the granite rock for over a century, guiding troubled and weary sailors through many a stormy night.

Our place of solace was almost desolate, barren of the hordes of tourists that visit during the daylight hours.

We envisaged ourselves to be ageless, timeless, listening to the rhythmic ocean waves pound upon the rock, like nature’s drum echoing in the hidden alcoves of an eternal mind. As the ethereal light began to vanish, I turned around and took a snapshot of that frigid, unbreakable place of many secrets. It was an idyllic place, a halcyon that brought us peace.

Just a stranger and a pair of prairie landlubbers, never to pass a word. There would be no salutation amongst shadows in the fading light.

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Just for Giggles: Road Bike Position Video Analysis

The Story Behind the Story

As a former competitive Nordic skier and Biathlete, I grew accustomed over many years to video evaluations, the content ranging from both classic and skating technique to shooting position and technique. Under the watchful eye of a qualified coach, I learnt a lot about my visible strengths and apparent weaknesses throughout the duration of the competitive ski season.

Often, in early season on-snow junior/master XC camps, my coach would put together a funny video of unintentional mistakes and epic crashes made by athletes over the long weekend. Everything from inadvertently planting an uber-expensive carbon fibre pole between skating skis, leading to the infamous face-plant in the snow and frequent whining and crying over a broken pole, to horrific blowouts on technical downhill turns. The most famous of those downhill crashes is subject material for another post.

Sometimes, just to aggravate or irritate my coach, I would literally fly through the camera field of view, double poling like a madman. The subsequent video would just show a colourful blurred image blasting across the video screen. Thus, my nickname, “the Flash” stuck with me on the domestic racing circuit of western Canada.

My acquired knowledge from video tape analysis for Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon led me to start video analyzing my road bike and time trial bike position and pedalling technique while on a trainer or out on the road, especially while hill climbing and sprinting.

In some ways, this analysis has proven to be far more helpful than paying a bike shop an exorbitant sum of money for something similar.

The Problem

As I grow older, my flexibility over the cycling season often changes for the worse (very tight hamstrings and lower back muscles). I find that comparative before and after video analysis, while on a trainer, can clearly reveal those weaknesses in pedalling inefficiency and upper body overcompensation. Tight hamstrings, butt muscles, and lower back muscles often lead to pretty weird knee alignment in multiple planes over the entire pedal stroke. Left without some form of correction for muscle tightness and possible shoe/cleat/pedal alignment readjustments (including subtle saddle height adjustments, saddle fore/aft positioning, and stem adjustments), this problem of obvious improper pedalling mechanics inevitably leads to knee pain, calf/achilles tendon injuries, and SI joint inflammation and dysfunction sometime in the cycling season. None of us are perfectly symmetrical, thus, I tend to suffer from problems with my slightly longer and stronger left leg than my right. Paradoxically, the SI joint inflammation and discomfort that I experience is predominantly on my right side.

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Video analysis of bike position and pedalling efficiency (BCR; out-of-saddle climbing position) ©2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

The Solution

I have developed a much more sophisticated approach to video analysis than when I first started out. In the early days I used a DV tape-based camera with questionable video quality under poor natural or artificial lighting. Today I use a multi-camera setup utilizing a Garmin Virb Elite (1080P) in conjunction with a Panasonic G6 (1080P) with a Zoom lens set to the same field of view as the fixed lens in the Garmin. Normally I use at least a two video light setup indoors (much clearer video and no shadows).

In this particular video, I did not use any external video lighting because I find the lighting runs just too hot for an hour long training session. A good warm-up of at least 20 minutes is essential to providing a clear indication of true body position pedalling mechanics.

The approximately one-hour long video was edited in DaVinci Resolve on a MacBook Air, the end result is a comparatively short clip demonstrating both my body position(s) and pedalling efficiency in a multi-camera viewing environment. The edited clip is then evaluated on my iPad utilizing the various measurement tools of Dartfish Express, a sport video analysis app. All training metrics including power, speed, distance, cadence, and heart rate are recorded simultaneously on my relatively ancient iBike Pro head unit and within the VirtualTraining app on my iPad mini.

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Dartfish Express for iOS

As you can see, the lighting in the video is sub-optimal, but still useful for evaluation. Shooting at a wide angle in 1080P allows me to crop in and output at 720P for further analysis in Dartfish. I made the error of securing my rear wheel too tight on the trainer (a big no-no on a carbon fibre framed bike) and was having trouble shifting my rear derailleur while in the big chainring in front. My normal cruising cadence of 90-105 rpm (on average) is a little slower in the video due to pushing a pretty big gear. For those in the know, I utilize a narrower handlebar (42mm) for better aerodynamics in a rather upright and relaxed position suitable for longer distance cycling like Century rides. You might notice from the back viewpoint, my relatively wide shoulders are rolled in somewhat, possibly accounting for more-than-usual upper body fatigue and sternum and collarbone pain on rides longer than 2-3 hours. For enhanced breathing (worse aerodynamics) I could easily use a 44cm or 46cm bar and a slightly longer stem. Unlike the tendency of many Pro Tour riders, small frames and stupid-long slammed stems are not for me – that simply affects bike handling and comfort in a negative way.

A Comical Side

The video itself is rather comical, especially for the uninitiated, all decked out in my Old School (circa 1970’s) cotton handkerchief headband and modern black-framed funky glasses. The black kit (t-shirt and cycling shorts) does work well though, providing a stark contrast against freshly painted white walls. Our former family room/rumpus room had recently been renovated, devoid of normal furniture and pictures on the walls.

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The 505th: Am I Worthy?

There was something crying out to his conscious mind. The feeling was ever so familiar. Something was not quite right, though he could not put his finger on it. The unrevealed was troubling the young soldier, though he scarcely perceived it, let alone understood the nature of it’s significance.

Continue reading “The 505th: Am I Worthy?”

The 505th: Boots on the Ground

505_Inf_Rgt_DUI
The 505th Infantry Regiment’s unique and distinctive unit insignia.

The 505th Infantry Regiment, originally the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army, one of four infantry regiments of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, with a long and distinguished history.

Under the command of Colonel James M. Gavin, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia on 6 July 1942, during World War II, as part of the U.S. Airborne Command. Colonel Gavin, then just 35, was an early airborne pioneer, who led the men of the 505th through some extremely grueling training.

Wikipedia

Introduction

There is a troublesome story that I read many years ago. It is a story of the church in modern society. A tale of self-centredness, licentious excess, self-deception, and delusion. It was also a story of courage, resolve, and perseverance under intense circumstances. A story of inequality at it’s most grotesque differentiation.

Based on that work of truth-based fiction, here is my unique perspective of that same story.

Continue reading “The 505th: Boots on the Ground”

American Idol: The Projection of Worship

worship

You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Lyrics written by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan got one thing right, “you’re gonna have to serve somebody”. He instinctively understood, from his own life experience, the natural tendency of music fans to make idols out of those they follow.

Those whom we idolize tend to influence and/or dominate entire areas of our lives. We follow and even imitate the very idols we worship, often through our manner of dress – our incessant consumerism, driven to be like those whom we admire and chase after, with a zeal and passion deserving of only one person, Jesus Christ.

Instead of worshipping our Creator, we bow down to the idols of our own making. In America, professional sport personalties, Hollywood actors, celebrated musicians, and even Nascar drivers have become the gods of contemporary culture. In our persistent, narcissistic love of ourselves, we have violated the first two commandments, thus neglecting to worship the true God of Heaven.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

It would be a disservice to Dylan to not acknowledge how easy it is for us to be swept up in the antichrist cultural norms so prevalent in North American society today. Extracting oneself from that upside down world of idolatry becomes a daily task of huge significance.

It begins with a repentant and contrite heart. A willingness to change, and a personal commitment to forsake idols and idolatry in any which way this is made manifest in contemporary society. But, that alone is not enough.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15 NIV

Change is inevitable

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Will God Forgive Me?

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God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. Romans 5:20 NLT

A story of hypocrisy confronted with overwhelming love and grace…deeply moving.

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine
Songwriters: John Head / Sue Mitchell-Wallace
Amazing Grace lyrics © Hope Publishing Company

via Will God Forgive Me? — Godinterest Blog

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Red Bull Racing: The Excitement of Formula 1

 

Red Bull Racing, also known as Red Bull or RBR is a Formula One racing team, racing under an Austrian licence, based in the United Kingdom. It is one of two Formula One teams owned by beverage company Red Bull GmbH, the other being Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The team won four successive Constructors’ Championship titles, in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, becoming the first Austrian licensed team to win the title. The team also produced the quadruple world champion driver of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, Sebastian Vettel.

Managed by Christian Horner, the team has used Renault engines since 2007. Red Bull Racing then used TAG Heuer-branded Renault engines starting from the 2016 season.

Wikipedia

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Tamiya TRF 102: Red Bull Racing
© 2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

There is nothing more exciting in the world of automobile racing than Formula 1. Red Bull Racing has been a large part of that excitement since November of 2004, over thirteen years of fabulous racing on the F1 circuit worldwide.

In all sincerity, I cannot think of another commercial sponsor/owner, like the beverage company Red Bull GmbH, that has generated more interest in F1 Racing.  It is also important to acknowledge that Red Bull has been directly involved in many other types of motorized racing, notably the Red Bull Air Race Series.

The trickle down effect of motorized racing has led to some of the most beautiful and fast  automobiles, motorbikes, boats, and planes in the world. In my opinion, society would be awfully boring if design and manufacturer of domestic and foreign automobiles, etc.,  was left to socialist governments, pencil pushers, bean counters, brain-dead environmentalist wannabe’s, and the ranks of mind-numbing state-controlled engineers. The Lada’s and VW Beetles of yesterday are a prime example of the aforementioned.

When the minds of men and women are allowed unrestricted creativity and limitless exploration in design and engineering, the fruit of their labour is Formula 1 Racing.

Update

As mentioned in several previous posts, I am slowly building up a race worthy 1:10 scale radio controlled F1 car and accessories. Life has gotten in the way of some of my grandest plans, but things are coming together quite nicely. Some of you may be involved in the sport of 1:10 scale F1 racing on indoor carpet track or outdoor paved tracks scattered around the globe. You are aware of the time and cost to build up a competitive platform, not to mention the precision driving skills necessary to put up a good fight on a tricky course. With time and dedication, I am certain that all these things will come to fruition.

I have been blessed with a very generous family, and I am aware of a few special items that will be waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year. Hopefully, those items will include a slick Futaba transmitter and receiver, a pro-level AC/DC charger from SkyRC, and a nice selection of lithium batteries to power the transmitter and car.

Extra tools (quality specialized tools are really expensive), spare tires & wheels, and miscellaneous spare parts will have to wait until sometime in the new year. Ideally, sometime in 2018, I would like to build from scratch an identical Tamiya F1 car, or perhaps something new from XRAY X1 or the RC10F6 Factory Team car from Team Associated.

In the final analysis, my new hobby is rapidly approaching the economics of purchasing and maintaining a quality road racing bike and a time trial bike. That is the problem of being a creative and imaginative person with many interests – I need to be looking constantly for ways to reduce my general interests down to the ones I love the most 😉

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