The Double Win

John Dale, who preaches in Murray, Kentucky, describes the difference between winners and losers—and then talks about how we can be “second mile” double winners. He adapted this material from The Double Win by Dr. Denis Waitley and shared it with us at our 1st Monday preachers’ meeting at Granny White.

Losers say, “There is no way I can win.”
Winners say, “I’ll do everything I can to win.”
Double Winners say, “If I help you win, I win too!”

Losers seek attention. Winners seek admiration. Double winners earn respect.

Losers see a problem in every solution.
Winners seek a solution in every problem.
Double winners help others solve their problems.

Losers fix the blame. Winners fix the solution. Double winners fix what caused the problem in the first place!

Losers let life happen to them.
Winners make life happen for them.
Double winners make life a joyous happening for others.

Losers live in the past for the future.
Winners learn from the past, live in the present, and set goals for the future.
Double winners learn from the past and work in the present to accomplish goals that benefit everyone’s future.

Losers make promises they never keep.
Winners make commitments to themselves and keep them.
Double winners make commitments to themselves and others and keep both.

Losers react negatively. Winners respond effectively. Double winners reinforce successfully.

Losers gripe about their failures. Winners cheer their successes. Double winners share the glory and praise the team.

What Matters or What We SAY Matters

If you ask people what should be on the news, they’ll give you great answers. They’ll tell you that they want to hear about what’s going on in our country. They want updates on the economy and politics and foreign policy. They want to hear about the latest developments in healthcare and education. By a margin of two-to-one, they’ll say that international news is more pressing than celebrity gossip!

Did you know that the major news outlets all have systems that can track what news stories actually get read? They can tell how long you read them, how often you shared them, facebooked them, or printed them?

So let me tell you what just a few of the top twenty “news” stories were in the past 6 months:

  • How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk
  • 30 Signs You’re Almost Thirty
  • Why Is Netflix Secretly Cropping Movies
  • 22 Things Miley Cyrus Looked Like at the 2013 VMAs

What we said we cared about does not appear to be what we actually cared about. Here’s the quote from the Atlantic: “Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.”

Does this surprise you? It probably shouldn’t. It does cause me to think. We say we want the good stuff. We like the idea of hard-hitting biblical lessons at church, but what happens when somebody steps on my toes? We say that we want close, meaningful relationships, but what happens when that requires me to sacrifice?

Let’s tell the truth and admit that we like our “candy” – but let’s do better about the vegetables too!

What the TV Weather Forecast Says About Human Nature

We all like to gripe about how often the TV weather-guy is wrong. Most of us know that once you get past about a 3-day forecast, the predictions are about as accurate as throwing a dart at the weather map, blindfolded.

I came across an interesting little story. Blogger Randy Olson reviews Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise. It’s a study of how good (and bad) predictions are, and why the task of prediction is far harder than most of us give it credit.

weatHere’s what caught my eye: Silver was able to compare the National Weather Service, the Weather Channel, and Local TV predictions—and then compare these three plots to what actually happened. In a perfect world, when the forecast says 50% chance of rain, 50% of the forecast area would get wet. That’s the definition of a perfect forecast.

Silver found that all of the forecasting services were fairly close; the National Weather Service and the Weather Channel were within just a few percentage points of perfect. You’d think that the local TV guys would be right in line with them, seeing as they base most of their forecasts on the NWS data. You’d think that—but you’d be wrong.

The local TV news consistently predicted more rain than happened. All they would have to do is parrot the NWS data, and they would have been within 5-10% of perfect. Despite that, they were frequently way off. When the TV predicted 100% rainfall, do you know how what the actual precipitation percentage was? Somewhere around 68%!

Again, all they had to do to be at 98% was copy and paste the NWS report. Why were they so far off?

Because you and I—through the pressure of ratings—make them.

Silver explained this phenomenon as the “wet bias.” TV reporters will always forecast rain more often than it happens. It’s a simple incentive: if they tell us that it’s going to rain and it doesn’t, we feel lucky and forget about it. If they tell us it isn’t going to rain, and it rains on our parade, we’re furious and we don’t forget! We as viewers tend to only remember the bad news (selection bias). So the incentive for the weatherman is—over-predict rain. It won’t hurt him, and it could help him.

So what’s the lesson about human nature?

We evaluate the performance of others based on their effect on us.

Here’s what we don’t tend to evaluate others based on: accuracy, effort, intention, feelings, or pretty much anything else.

When someone cuts me off in traffic, he’s an inconsiderate maniac who is a menace to society who should be taken off the road. When I do it, I evaluate myself differently. It was an accident. I’m only human!

When they get my order wrong at the McDonald’s drive-thru, I don’t think about me being unclear, the sound equipment making their job difficult, poor job training and equipment, or the possibility that they’re near the end of a double-shift. I just assume they don’t care and want to ruin my lunch.

I’m not always the most charitable observer, am I? Sometimes that causes other people to change their behavior…and not generally for the better.

The weatherman knows that, and so he covers his bases by fudging the numbers, but most people in life don’t have that simple recourse.

This week, when you get angry at somebody, stop and think: am I judging them like I judge the weatherman? Maybe I could cut the people around me a little more slack than I usually do.

What do you think?

In the meantime, I’ll be over at weather.gov…and thinking about what Jesus said. “Judge not…”

An Accurate Self-Image?

There is no one who talks to you more than you do. Your voice is the voice you hear the most. It follows, then, that it is important to monitor what you think about yourself.

When I was studying for Vacation Bible School and the life of Moses, I came across a quote by Dwight Moody. He described Moses’ life this way: He spent his first forty years (in Pharaoh’s house) thinking he was somebody. He spend his next forty years (in the wilderness as a fugitive) learning that he was a nobody. At the end of 80 years, when he stood before the burning bush, he began to learn in his last 40 years just what God can do with a nobody!

“I just want to be a nobody willing to tell everybody that there is a somebody who can save anybody!”

I like it!

Here’s what we need to remember. We are nothing. Paul told the Romans “not to thihnk of himself more highly than he ought to think.” (Romans 12:3). “But by the grace of God, I am what I am!” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

When we think we’re somebody, we might not realize our need for God. When we think we’re nobody, we might not remember that God is the source of all power. But when we come to know that God works with any nobody who is willing to trust him, it changes everything!

Are you reading this?

National Public Radio pulled a great April Fool’s Day prank. They posted this story on their website on the morning of April 1:

no-read

There was nothing more. No story, no interview, no experts. Rather than posting a story, they just left a message that basically says, “We don’t think most people read before they comment. Don’t leave any comments on this story.”

Literally thousands of people commented on the story. Some of them bragged about how much they read. Others blamed the poor quality of modern literature. Some people blamed the education system. Others blamed politicians. Still others said it was because of the advent of technology. The vast majority were clueless about how they proved their own point.

It made me think about what James said, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Maybe we should tack an additional warning: “and slow to share our opinions.”

Ride Report Spring ’14 – Saturday (Lake Toxaway, NC to HOME!)

The last day is upon us! As I mentioned in the last post, our stay in the lovely 8-room Mount Toxaway Inn left us a little bit further from home than I had planned. We covered 360 miles on Saturday. It was a long, good day of riding, but we made it home just before sunset.

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We decided to head north to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway. Neither of us had ever been on two wheels on the parkway, and that would set us up to go through Cherokee and the Great Smokey Mountains, and give us a decent route home.

Mount Toxaway Inn. Despite the feelings of murder, it turned out pretty nice!

Mount Toxaway Inn. Despite the feelings of murder, it turned out pretty nice!

So we load up the bikes in the morning and hit the road. John saved me a little bit of hot water. I couldn’t complain. It was more than we would have had on the side of the road with the bears!

The climb out was great. There was almost no traffic. These were ideal motorcycle roads far enough off the beaten path that we could really enjoy them. Tons of ascents and descents kept things interesting. Lots of road-side creeks and bluffs. I hope I can live near a place like this at some point in my life!

The morning was uneventful. We made good time to the Parkway.

By the way, in case you’re curious about the pictures… Most of them came from my GoPro Hero2. I tried something new this trip. I mounted it to my left auxiliary driving light. That gave it a pretty close shot at the road. For most of the run, I had it set to take a still photo every 10 seconds. The battery seems to last longer this way, and honestly it’s easier to sort through 4,000 stills than it is to watch 4 hours of video to see the good moments.

2014-04-12 10.17.29We stopped at the Cowee Mountains Overlook, elevation 5,950 feet. (Does that make the Strom a member of the mile-high club?)

A nice couple in a BMW convertible was there and told us which overlooks to make sure we stopped in. He said this was his favorite, but that everybody s topped at the highest point on the road, which was the next overlook on the left. So of course, we had to head up there and document the process, right? Pics or it didn’t happen!

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We stopped for a few minutes at the peak and then got back on the road. After all, there’s still a long way to Nashville!

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The combination of being well-rested and comfortable from three days of riding just made everything “click.” The Parkway has a low speed limit (45mph through here). That, combined with gentle curves and high quality road made it a really “zen” ride.

The road did throw one curve-ball at us. We were zipping along pretty good and came up on a sign that said “TUNNEL” — and before we knew it, we were in it. It wouldn’t have been a problem if it was one that you could see through to the other side, or if I wasn’t wearing sunglasses, or if I didn’t have my sun visor down…

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In hindsight, I should have stood on the brakes to get my sunglasses off! Once I got inside, I couldn’t see anything except the yellow line right in front of the bike. I remembered really, really hoping that there weren’t any bicycles or critters in there. That wouldn’t have ended well.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! It's not a train!!

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! It’s not a train!!

When we got out of the tunnel, John asked me if I could see anything, because the only thing he could see was my taillight! Insert something about “the blind leading the blind” right here…

I don’t remember where exactly we were, but there was one great spot where as we were coming around the mountains, you could look over the gap to your left and see a waterfall off in the distance. I think, based on the shape of the road, that we had to have passed over it (or very close) at some point, but I never saw it again. Absolutely gorgeous!

We exited the Parkway onto US-19 through Cherokee. This was good road, but very busy. We got stuck behind slow trucks several times.

Cherokee is a neat town to drive through. It’s such a strange place since they added the casinos. Some places look really, really rich.  Other places look really, really poor.

Fattening Food Foto

Fattening Food Foto

We stopped for lunch at Paul’s Diner. We ate outside near a little creek that ran down under the road and to the river across the street. John and I each tried a variation of Indian Fry-Bread. It was basically a biscuit, deep-fried. John had a taco on it, I had a burger. It was pretty good, but I’m pretty sure my arteries are now 4% more blocked than they were the day before.

We continued from here to US-441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were excited and dreading this section of the trip. We knew the park would be busy because it was really one of the first beautiful Saturdays of the year. It was busy, but not too bad.

2014-04-12 13.21.53TN-73 was our next turn, towards Cade’s Cove. We had been on the road a couple of miles when we saw the traffic jam up ahead of us. THERE WAS A BEAR! Trip = made.

He/she was a lot closer when we passed–down by the fallen tree that’s horizontal in the picture. By the time we got off the bikes and got the camera, it was already heading back up the hill. The park ranger said it was probably a 1-year old who had just recently been kicked out of the den.

The rest of the ride through the park was uneventful, eventually dumping us out in Maryville. From there we continued on to Lenoir City where we picked up US-70 and started the long direct trip back home.

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Considering I live just off US-70, a long way west of here, I was expecting this part of the ride to be a little bit dull, but it really came through. Ozone Falls was beautiful just beside the road. The farming country around Crossville and Sparta was nice.

We enjoyed not being on the interstate so much that we decided to stay on 70 all the way to Nashville. We bailed once we hit Briley Parkway, took the interstate across Nashville, stopped for a quick bite to eat, and then took 70 the rest of the way home.

I didn’t have my camera on for this stretch, after all, I’ve seen 70 between Nashville and White Bluff literally a thousand times. (That, and my memory card was full!) But it was a beautiful welcome home. Middle Tennessee was just a little bit further into spring than anywhere else we had been, so the Harpeth river on our left, the bluffs on our right, and the sunset straight ahead was hard to beat.

In total, we covered 842 miles, give or take. The bikes performed perfectly, and the riders were good enough. The weather was perfect. You couldn’t ask for a better ride. We made it home safely. It just has me wondering….where to next?

Thanks for reading!

Ride Report Spring ’14 – Friday (Benton, TN to Lake Toxaway, NC)

We planned for Friday to be the “fun” day. It definitely delivered! We covered 213 miles and 9 million curves, give or take. The Dragon’s Tail (US-129) is 318 curves in 11 miles. The math checks out, right? :)

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We got a little bit of a late start. John did see a night-time visitor to the campsite. In his words, it was “bigger than a cat, smaller than a dog.” My vote is raccoon. Or really small bear… If you know anything about our past rides, you know my feelings about raccoons…

Campsite, Sweet Campsite

Campsite, Sweet Campsite

The hammocks did well for the night. It was a little bit cool. My phone showed the overnight low at 49F. We eventually broke down camp and got on the road. The plan was to head to Tellico Plains, get breakfast at the world-famous Hardee’s, hit the Cherohala Skyway, the Dragon’s tail, and see what else we could find.

It was pretty cool in the morning, but things warmed up fairly quickly. We retraced some of our steps from the previous night to make our ride a little nicer. We took TN-30 to TN-315 to Tellico.

hiwasseeocoeemap

 

The Skyway is always quite a bit cooler than the surrounding area. I wasn’t quite riding at my best in the morning, but John seemed to be nailing it. He dragged the pegs on the Vulcan at least twice on the Skyway. If you know the Vulcan, you know that’s pretty impressive.

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We made good time and speed across the Skyway. It’s hard not to have a little bit of fun, although occasionally you start staring off into the overlooks and scare yourself. Oops! North Carolina had a couple of State Troopers out on the Skyway. One had a sport bike pulled over. When we passed him, he just waved with a, “He got me, so he didn’t get you. You can thank me later!” sort of look.

Next stop was the Dragon’s Tail at Deal’s Gap (US-129). We decided to do a down-and back. John’s favorite road is the Skyway. Mine is the Dragon. If I had more time and money than I had sense, I’d book a hotel at the end of the dragon and ride it back and forth all week. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the week, I’d either be dead or the best rider around. It’s just fun. Friday afternoon was a good time to hit the Dragon. Traffic was pretty light. No troopers at all! (Because everyone knows that the posted limit of 30mph is a joke!)

Got a couple of good shots from Killboy and one of the other photographers:452852 452849

Have I mentioned that I like this road?

Forgive me, John, but I do have to do this… On the way in, John got a little bit happy with the rear brake. No damage, no injuries, but it did require a trip to the Tree of Shame.

2014-04-11 14.13.37 DCIM101GOPRO

2014-04-11 14.15.10Obviously – we had a good time. After a fuel stop and visit through the gift store to purchase temporary tattoos to try to scare our wives, we took to NC-28 and started heading toward Franklin, NC.

The pavement was mixed quality here; lots of patch jobs and tar snakes, but it was good, pretty road. I think it’s part of the Moonshiner’s trail section of motorcycle roads in the area. It takes you by Fontana Dam, the lake, and several different creeks and mini-waterfalls. It was great riding.

Once you hit Franklin, NC-28 joins up with US-64. This highway quickly becomes less of a highway and more of fun two-laner. There are about four roadside waterfalls you can see. The road is narrow, with the rock face so close to you that you get tempted to reach out and touch it with your hands while you ride. (I had to keep reminding myself that I had wide saddlebags on during this stretch!)

The waterfalls in this section of western North Carolina are worth the price of admission alone. If you’ve never been here, you absolutely need to. The only point of confusion–the names of the waterfalls on the maps doesn’t match what locals call them. I asked people in a gas station where Quarry Falls was. They didn’t know what it was until I showed them my map. They told me I was looking for “Bust Your Butt” falls. Oops!

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This place is really good. You could probably spend all day in this 10 mile stretch of road just taking it all in. If you can only hit two, Dry Falls and Bridal Veil were the neatest. Anytime you get to go underneath a water fall, you get a front-row seat to one of the coolest things in creation.

From here, we continued to Highlands. This town sort of reminded me of Estes Park or a little ski town with lots of little upscale shops. Unfortunately it was also the sort of town where the sidewalks close at 9. We found The Pizza Place (elevation 4,118 feet) and stopped in for calzones. We hadn’t quite planned on the altitude and the temperature difference, so during dinner, we started looking over options.

We thought we found some campgrounds past Cashiers, so we got on the roads. Unfortunately most of the campgrounds we saw on google were either RV/trailer parks or closed or had no facilities. We got pretty cold, and it was getting dark, so we ended up bailing to the Mount Toxaway Inn.

I think my Facebook post described it pretty well…

toxaway-facebook

We passed the hotel and turned around to come back to it. When we got there (about 9pm), the lights were off and there was a sign on the office door that said “If we’re gone, call…”

2014-04-12 09.02.29John grabbed his cell phone (he had better service than I), and dialed the number. We got a little bit worried that we were stuck when we could hear the phone ringing in the office. Eventually someone answered and said he’d be down in a few minutes. While we waited, it was really incredible–total silence. I couldn’t hear an air conditioner, car, or anything. It was totally dark in that way that you only get in the mountains.

Eventually the manager came out and let us in. We got one of the 8 rooms and were grateful for it. The hotel was actually fairly nice. It was perfectly clean, just a little bit dated. (For example, the microwave and the TV were roughly the same size.) The checkout procedure was awesome: leave by 10, and leave your key on the dresser.

It was a good day. We were both definitely tired and looking forward to a soft bed and hot showers for the long trip home. We ended the day a little bit further east and south than I had planned. (I think we were less than 10 miles from the South Carolina border.) I have to admit, we talked about calling in sick for Sunday to go to the beach, since were close, but I figured since had already posted to Facebook about where we were… :)

When you look at the map, you know it’s going to be a good day when you almost never leave “green” areas. We were in national forests or parks almost all day. I can’t argue with that!

Saturday’s report is coming soon! :)

Ride Report Spring ’14 – Thursday (White Bluff, TN to Benton, TN)

John and I got together for a quick 3-day road trip a couple of weekends ago. I thought I’d share some of the good stuff from the trip. We covered 842 miles in 3 days. John was on a 93 Vulcan 500 (my old bike). I was on my 04 V-Strom 1000. This was my first ‘long tour’ on the bike, so I was excited to see how she did for multiple days…

Thursday: 269 Miles: White Bluff, TN to Benton, TN

Thursday - Part 1

We got a pretty good start on Thursday morning. Had an unexpected change of plans for the babysitter, so I was a little bit late getting on the road. I met John in Burns, we fueled, and then headed to I-40 and TN-840.

Now we know how Jim Cantore feels...

Now we know how Jim Cantore feels…

We took 840 to try to get some distance knocked out quickly. There wasn’t tons of traffic, but the wind was awful. This was the first time I had ridden the Strom fully-configured (with all the hard bags) in wind, and I hadn’t anticipated just how much it would catch. It was the sort of gusty wind that causes you to change lanes without planning on it. By the time we had gone twenty miles, we already had a lady on a phone in an SUV try to take me out. I was beginning to wonder if this was a good plan or not! The bikes were loaded, so we kept on going!

Better than it looked!

Better than it looked!

We took TN-840 to I-24 towards Murfreesboro. We picked up US-70S towards McMinnville, and stopped there for lunch at a Mexican place–La Cazona. It didn’t look like much, but they had some of the best chips I’ve had in a long time.
We picked up TN-80 towards Athens via Pikeville and Dayton. If you haven’t ridden through here, it’s good stuff–some switchbacks, and great views. A few logging trucks got in the way, but nothing major. We made it to Athens and then took TN-39 to Englewood to stop and see where my grandparents used to live. Englewood, TN

After a quick photo stop, we took US-411 to the Hiwasee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park. (Talk about a park that needs a better name. Descriptive? Yes. Memorable? No). We camped for the night. The campground was almost empty. I think there were more rangers than campers. The rangers were super helpful. One delivered wood to our site and gave us tips about what roads to hit. Everything was beautiful and green, nice and in bloom.

The ranger’s tips were great, but unfortunately, John and I didn’t remember the details of which roads to go on exactly, so we just sort of explored and meandered it worked out great–mostly.

map-day1b

We left the park and headed south on US-411, picked up TN-30. We drove alongside the Hiwasee down through Reliance and Chilhowee at US-74/US-64. John saw a sign for the Chilhowee Overlook and we decided to give it a shot. This was one of the best decisions of the trip:

We stopped here and made some phone calls to gloat about how pretty it was. After a while, it was getting pretty close to sunset, and we still needed to hit a grocery store if we were going to eat tonight, so I asked the GPS what the quickest way back to Benton was. Low and behold, this nice, paved, twisty, overlook road connects back very close to 411. “Let’s try it,” I said!

We did well, until we got to this turn…

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“This doesn’t look so bad! Let’s try it!”

The Strom is set up pretty well for this…not so the Vulcan! But John and I decided to give it a whirl. After all, the GPS said it was only .6 miles until the next turn.

That was all well and good until we got to the next turn…

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“Oops.”

Turning around didn’t seem like a viable option, and the Vulcan was hanging on great, so we decided to keep going. I didn’t feel the need to tell John that the GPS now said it was 7 miles until the next turn, leading me to think that this would be the norm for several more miles. Fortunately for his rear tire, which is totally a sport/touring tire with 10% tread left, the GPS lied. We only had about 2 more miles of gravel, but it was good!

We finally made our way to the Family Dollar in Benton and back to the campsite. We had a gourmet three-course dinner: gas-station style ice cream cones, Ramen noodles, and a chicken/corn/carrot hobo dinner. The hammocks were up and ready to go. Day one was a success!