Apparently San Diego (California) County officials have told a pastor and his wife that they must cease using their home for small Bible studies (consisting of perhaps 15 people), telling them that it was an "unlawful use of land" and they must "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit."
Don't just brush this topic off though - it has broader implications, even if it wasn't centered around Bible studies and religion. As the article points out, "what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis?"
The county has since backed down on the religious issues, saying that this is "a land use issue; it is not an issue of religious expression."
That doesn't close the door on the broader implications that I mentioned above, however.
Wisconsin is poised to ban smoking in restaurants and taverns on July 5, 2010. According to the DNT, lawmakers have reached a deal to ban smoking although it hasn't yet passed both houses or been signed by the governor.
The Star Tribune is running an interesting article.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (which enforces gambling in the state) instructed 11 national and regional ISPs to stop allowing access for Minnesota-based computers to some 200 online gambling sites (as such sites are illegal in the state of Minnesota).
This raises some serious concerns if it holds up in court (which I can't believe it would). This is the beginning of state censorship. Next stop: China.
After this takes effect, what's next? Shutting down IRC because of predators? Blocking access to sites on how to make a bomb, etc, etc, etc? The end of online porn?
This has some serious First Amendment issues...
I've started getting more and more into podcasts lately. I spend about 90 minutes at a minimum behind the wheel every day and listening to the same old music over and over gets old.
I'm curious what podcasts people out there listen to. I've found that once I start listening to one that I like to go back and get as many of the old episodes as I can get my hands on in most cases (which may amount to just two or three or may amount to 50+).
Currently on my list:
NPR: Car Talk
NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
Focus on the Family
The Popsci Podcast (Popular Science)
The Popular Mechanics Show
Obama's Weekly Radio Address
Stuff You Should Know (howstuffworks.com)
I've found that I still have room in my list to add additional titles, so I'm curious what podcasts others listen to?
I snuck out Friday (the 13th) evening to take a ride with Pat up to the Trestle (as we like to get there once a year and hadn't been there yet this year). Pat ended up inviting Randy, an acquaintance of his, to ride with us.
I left home at about 4:45pm and met up with Randy and Pat at the Normanna Pit, and then the three of us left the pit at about 6. Trails were rough and only got worse the farther north we got. Trails were the worst Pat or I had seen all year.
There is plenty of snow up north (in some spots you still sink in over your knee if you step off the trail, and in other spots the banks above the trail are still 2 feet or more). I think most of the problem was the recent snowfall we had earlier in the week had been beat down but had not yet been groomed.
After we left the Trestle Inn we continued up the Tomahawk to the Yukon - the Yukon was was nice - the northern part that we rode was FRESHLY groomed. We got gas at the Knotted Pine Inn (way too many drunk people there for comfort), then headed down the Yukon towards home. Passed the groomer between the Knotted Pine and Hwy 11, but even the parts of the Yukon that weren't freshly groomed were in excellent shape.
We lucked out and followed groomed trails most of the way home from there - the North Shore State Trail had been groomed going north out of Hwy 2, plus the Laine Rd groomer was out, plus the Pequawyan groomer had gone north off the Pequawyan Trail, so we only had the few miles between the Pequawyan Trail and the pit that was ungroomed (but still in decent shape).
We got back to the pit at 1am and I was back home and in the door at about 1:50am. This would be the latest ride I've ever done. I was surprised to see people out on the trail so late - Pat saw a sled heading north on the North Shore trail at the Yukon intersection at about midnight, we passed a northbound group on the NSST between Hwy 2 and the pit, and I passed two different groups (after 1am) on the Reservoir Riders trail.
Total miles this ride: 249
Total miles this year: 1953
The title sounds so short and simple. The ride was anything but.
Jamie, Pat, Brian B, and I left the Hwy 2 lot at 7am, bound for the end of the Gunflint Trail. We expected about a 350 mile day. Before I go further though, I need to explain that Jamie and Brian rode up from Jamie's house to the lot on their sleds - they had 40 miles on when we met up with them at the lot. I was somewhat bummed at first to learn that they were going to have significantly more miles on than we did, but shortly afterward I recalled what my 408 mile day was like, and then suddenly I didn't feel so bummed. I felt more...relieved.
We didn't have too many problems on the way up (actually, it was surprisingly nice). Trails were freshly groomed (in some places we were the only tracks on the trail), and the trails were smooth and fast. We didn't see the first sleds on the trail until somewhere right around Finland.
We made good time up to Grand Marais, got our second tankful of gas there, then headed up the Gunflint, having lunch at Poplar Lake, and then proceeding to the end of the trail. I knew from the last time I was at the end of the Gunflint that the trail was windy, slow, and not in good shape. I was hoping to find better trail conditions this time around, but it wasn't to be. I honestly believe that the Cook County club grooms the trail on a regular basis, but because it is incredibly narrow in some places and sees what appears to be an inordinate amount of sleds, it breaks down quick.
We made a short detour onto Gunflint Lake to get a few gallons of gas, then headed further north. Once we got to Saganaga Lake, we opted to continue up into the Boundary Waters to the Canadian Border. Travel by sled is allowed on the marked trail in the BWCAW with a (free) self-issuing BWCAW permit, which we had filled out while having lunch at Poplar Lake (although the permits are also available to the landing at Saganaga Lake). Travel from the landing to Canada is roughly 6 miles (according to the map).
We ended up riding significantly more than 6 miles (more like 12 miles), which put us significantly more than the 0 feet into Canada that we were aiming for (more like about 31,680 feet, or about 6 miles). Once we got that figured out (after talking to a resort/home owner in Canada), we promptly made tracks back to the US side of the border (one person in the party said that we were fugitives fleeing Canada, which isn't far from the truth I guess). The first giveaway that we crossed the border should have been the buildings that were suddenly on the lake (as opposed to the US side, which is BWCAW and thus has no buildings), or the Canadian flag.
Once we got off the lake I think we really started to do some of the math in our heads. It was nearly sunset (I think it was about 4:30pm at that point), and we were only basically at the mid-point in the ride. We continued to make some decent time back down the Gunflint (although the trail just got worse and worse as we went). Pat and I stopped into the store on the east side of Devil Track Lake for some gas, then met up with Brian and Jamie and the Caribou crossing.
We ended up getting back to the Hwy 2 parking lot at about 11:20pm, with Pat and I loaded and on the road back home at 11:30pm. I became very thankful when we rolled into the parking lot that the ride was over - and very thankful that I didn't start from the Martin Rd like Brian and Jamie had. I ended up with 382 miles, so they must have been at about 420 at that point. I know what my previous 400+ mile day was like, and that was on excellent trail the entire way, something we hadn't seen today. And to top it off, being at 420 miles, they had another hour to hour and a half of riding, and 40 miles, to get back home.
I never did understand what Jamie was thinking. I can somewhat understand Brian's wanting to do it - he had never experienced such pain before, but Jamie knew the pain and fatigue that comes from riding 400+ miles.
All in all, it was a good ride. No real problems to speak of (a minor accident, Brian's engine literally starting to suck so hard on his gas tank that it started to collapse, and two more minor mishaps with virtually no damage done), and some good laughs (probably the best was Brian whipping out his pink camera to take some pics).
Total miles this ride: 382
Total miles this year: 1704