Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

All Photos are from my Instagram/ Instagram Story

Unpublished photo post from last month;  The Mount Kilimanjaro climb series will resume next week.

My long curls have been either ponytailed or unfurled for every hike/climb I've lead, every party I've gone to, every teaching I've given, and every work shift I've clocked in for.  No more.

The results have been polarizing, much like my man-mane itself.  Most of my friends were sad (upset, even) to see 2 1/2 years of growth end up on the cutting room floor.  There was also a small but vocal few who said a haircut was well past due.

One of the Delta ticket counter supervisors gasped, "Did you just cut off all your beautiful hair?  Oh well, it will grow back."  And my own boss' first word when she saw me walk in the door was simply, "Why?!"  Most of my friends and family know the answer to the question.

Showing off the new 'do, on the town with my bestie

Lena takes Daddy out for a spin, minus the curly locks

In Memoriam:

The shorter, early days (Flying to Guatemala)

Crag or shag?

Climbing/biking/mountaineering helmet-head


Soaked Jeep Wrangler locks

Frozen hike leader locks

London ponytail

F.udge locks

RIP, man-locks ✂️😭

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mount Kilimanjaro: On Our Way to Climb to the Roof of Africa

Photo (and photos below) from my Instagram Story

My heart is pounding as I fly across the Atlantic Ocean, knowing that in two days I will start climbing the highest mountain in the Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro towers above the plains of Tanzania at 19,340 feet (5,895 meters). Previously, the highest mountain I've ever climbed was a relatively modest 14,164' (4317 m) tall.

The cushy Delta One cabin crew has treated me well on this flight from Portland to Amsterdam. I've mostly slept and read books on my Kindle Paperwhite.

An appetizer before the crab cakes

Breakfast, and second breakfast

As soon as I land in Holland, I'll upload this blog and be on the lookout for my two Delta coworkers, Chris and Rod. I proposed this Mount Kilimanjaro climb to Chris a year ago, and Rod took the idea and ran with it.

Assuming we all make it to Tanzania, we're about to have the adventure of a lifetime!

Bonus pic:  It was snowing at the house before I left for PDX Airport. Look at these two little treasures who rushed out to play in it!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Off the grid

No April Fools.  Life is getting busy.... Family, ministry, travel, and all those wilderness/mountain outings I lead.  I'm gonna take a break from Garth's Blog (but not from my other blogs, nor Twitter) so I can focus on writing the remaining credentialing reports for my ministerial licensing process.

Garth's Blog will return.

Here is a re-post from one of my other blogs about my anxiety of being phoneless, originally posted last month:

March 4, 2017

Day 3 of no cell phone.  Cancelling my Mount Hood climb up/ ski down event that I was leading for NW Wilderness yesterday was a bit of a relief.  It's a challenge to coordinate these outings without a phone.  Though I was bummed that the mountain weather was too extreme for my friends and I to play on the slopes... What could beat sitting inside a Sprint repair store for 3+ hours on a sunny Saturday instead?  Blah.

Grumbling aside, being phone-free has ultimately been a calming experience for me.  But first, I had to overcome the expected anxieties:

  • My friends are gonna think I'm either a flake or a jerk for not texting them back (some of them apparently followed up on Facebook, which I also can't check when I'm away from WiFi).
  • How will my loved ones get ahold of me in an emergency, or if they need me for something?
  • I have plans with my surfing buddy and also hiking/climbing friends this upcoming week... How will any of them let me know if something comes up?
  • I already miss my Twitter friends.
  • How many Instagram friends will I lose from not posting my daily Instagram Story pics?
  • When I'm away from WiFi, how will I even message my overseas friends to plan our international trip for next weekend?

Looking back at this list, it's embarassing to see how overly social I am.  It's silly.  And it's sobering to realize how much I kill myself to stay in touch with the people I love.

Everything will be alright.  I'll see my friends when I see them.  In the meantime, I'm gonna enjoy being offline.

From my Instagram Story:  The latest winter adventure I led for NW Wilderness was, ahem, eventful.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just Read: Love and Respect, The Art of Manliness, The Purity Principle, Mosaic, and devotional book roundup

En route to surfing in Australia (I hope!)  Originally written in the jungles of Guatemala and during our Oregon Coast surfing trip last month, this entry should have been posted in February.

Instagram Story Pic: My new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader—A welcome break from the eyestrain of book marathons on my phone and tablet screens

With yet another youth all-night party on the books (I was asked to be the speaker!), I’m ready to begin my devotional reading plan for 2017. I’ll be reading through God’s Justice Bible this year, as well various novels and the required reading assignments for my credentialing process. That credentialing book list is a doozy!

For a fun change of pace, I’ll also begin reading the Harry Potter book series this summer. My Twitter friends have finally convinced me to take the plunge.  Better late than never, no?

The book reviews below will also be featured on my Goodreads page soon.

By Randy Alcorn

Note: This is the first ever book I’ve read on my new Kindle Paperwhite! I’m trying to cut down on how many Kindle books I read on my Galaxy Note phone and S2 tablet. The less LED screen time, the better.

This small book was a reread for me, required as part of my Church of God credentialing process. I’m glad I revisited it. I expected to be clubbed over the head with guilt and shame for every stray thought… But The Purity Principle feels less like a book of legalistic rules and more like practical encouragement to foster thought patterns which result in a satisfied life of monogamy. Alcorn fits a lot of practical advice into such few pages, and every single page is worth reading.

Verdict: ***** out of 5 stars

Adulting couldn't be any more clearly explained than in Brett McKay's how-to guide to being a dude. Society often takes for granted that guys have been taught the survival skills and manners of a modern day man: Dressing, grooming, behaving graciously, fighting, saving someone’s life, surviving in the outdoors, dating, parenting, being well read… Including the little things, like how to not screw up a man hug.  Even the most seasoned gentleman would probably glean a few pointers from this book.

McKay has a few old fashioned rituals mixed in with the relevant stuff (Joining a fraternal lodge as a rite of passage to manhood? “Newsies”-style hats?).  Yet much of his advice regarding style and manners that might be written off as dated would be better described as timeless.

Stay classy, San Diego!

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

A woman needs love, and a man needs respect.  That's the premise of Eggerichs’ book and marriage conferences.  Though a bit too complementarian for my world view, there are several valid points and mutual exercises for both parties to help get off the "crazy cycle" which many relationships are trapped in.

Besides the overbearing complementarianism, Eggs also makes generalizations about gender-specific thought patterns which simply won't fit many couples.  For instance, occasional sections described me and my significant other in terms which fit each of us to a tee... But the roles were COMPLETELY REVERSED.  Yet other sections applied to us perfectly, with no flipping required.  To each their own, I say.

Something I really appreciated about Eggerichs’ presentation of his love and respect theory is that both parties of the relationship are instructed to provide their respective love/respect, regardless of whether or not they are receiving the love/respect that they desire.  Initially, I was concerned (offended, actually) to read that a woman ought to unconditionally respect her husband even when he isn't being loving or otherwise "deserving" of respect.  That sounded chauvinistic.  But when I later read that the man should absolutely, in turn, be unconditionally loving even when the woman is not showing him respect, it all made sense:  Whomever is the more mature person should make the first move.  It's a copout to blame your own behavior/attitude on the other person's lack of love or respect.  Be the more mature person.

I highly recommend this book, disagreements and all.  The reader may argue about whether the "love and respect" prescription is a magic bullet to save all relationships that are on the rocks.  I, in particular, am wary of plugging in a simple formula to solve complex issues.  But still, there is no denying that doing your part to be more loving and respectful is likely to have a profound impact on your significant other… And your relationship.  Love wins.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

Patrick Nachtigall tells of his two year international journey of visiting various Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) communities around the world. This book is much more than a travelogue, though.  He highlights the cultural flavor of each church, its place in the community, its place in the Church of God, and the local challenges that are faced.  Nachtigall’s goal is to create diversity awareness, communication, and cooperation between our worldwide churches.
Although this book was required reading for my Church of God credentialing process, I would recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the diversity (and theological distinctiveness) of the Church of God holiness movement. Nachtigall also mentions bumping into a few of my own friends during his international journey, which made his book an even more enjoyable read for me.

Controversial opinion about racism:   This will upset many of my beloved activist Twitter friends, but Nachtigall (a POC himself) makes a bold statement about racism in our country. Based on his extensive travels, his observation of racism in other countries has led him to rate the United States as a relative 4 out of 10 for severity of racism.

Before you send me hate mail… I’m not making the case that we don’t have significant work remaining in the name of racial equality.   But seeing the U.S. from a global perspective gives me even more appreciation for our country’s strides for equality.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

The most well-travelled book in my library (not counting my Moleskine journal) has been to several continents already. To save weight in my backpack, I’ve started scanning the daily travel-themed devotions into Evernote so I can read and reflect on them on my tablet when I’m overseas.

Each entry is a travel-themed meditation on Scripture, applying the passages to scenarios which travelers  are likely to encounter on their journeys. Some of the devotionals seem to favor theme over the Scripture’s actual context... But the daily Scriptures are reasonably relevant to each topic at hand, and Kuyper's reflections themselves are really what tie the journal entries to the travel theme anyway.

And herein lies this devotional’s strength: Kuyper's clearly loves the wonder and discovery of travel, and she provides insights to make the most of every day of any adventure.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

Nearly every summer, we take our Aloha Church of God youth group down to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico for a mission trip with Welcome Home Outreach Ministries (link). In addition to delivering a full-length message or two (plus a home dedication message for when we ceremonially hand over the new home keys to each family), I prepare daily devotions for the end of each work day in Mexico.

Some of the short devotionals in this book have been useful jumping-off points for our evening debriefing sessions in Mexico, as well as any pre and post mission trip gatherings. Note that further preparation by the group leader will obviously enhance the depth of discussion.

All in all, this book is a helpful tool for anyone who leads or co-leads a domestic or overseas short term mission trip.

Verdict: **** out of 5 stars

There isn't much substance in these family Advent devotions. Frankly, they require quite a bit of creativity to stretch out into a family discussion of any length. But for $.99, impulse Kindle buys like this one make it easy to keep my disappointment in check.

And what's up with that pudgy white-boy baby Jesus on the cover? Ugh.

Verdict: ** out of 5 stars

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Central America bound

Guatemala, here I come! After easily snagging a Business Class seat from Portland to Seattle tonight, I'm about to board the next leg of my standby journey: Atlanta. My Atlanta to Belize flight in the morning looks too full to score Business Elite class, but I should at least get an Economy Comfort seat.

(Update as I leave Atlanta: I'm sitting in a Business Elite seat to Belize, after all!)

From Belize City, I'll hop a bus to Guatemala to spend the evening and next day in Tikal. The jungle bungalow near the entrance to the Mayan ruins still had one more vacancy, so I jumped on it.

Follow my photo journey on my private Instagram Story!
(When I have WiFi)

On Monday night, I'll bus it back to Belize to meet Kathy in Caye Caulker (we're doing separate vacations, really). We're splitting up the next day so she can lounge on the beach while I do Garth stuff: Jungle hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and cave tubing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Go, tell it on the mountain (summits)

Instagram photo from a climb I led in August

I’ve led more than a dozen scrambles, climbs, and hikes (and no more for 2016)...

...Though I’ve already 
posted a New Year’s coastal hike for next week (RSVP for free HERE!).

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Climbing Mount Hood again, last week
(uncropped Instagram Story pic)

I’ve traveled to my final overseas country of the year…

...Though another international friends-visiting trip is in the works for January.

Switzerland, Italy, France, Iceland (pictured), and Mexico were among the list
(Previously unseen pic from my Instagram Story)

I’ve concluded my teaching series for youth group…

...Though I’ll be speaking at the Portland area all-night youth party this week.

Most of my outings and expeditions have been wrapped up for 2016...

...But the dearest adventure to my heart will never end:

Family time with those adorable Ls!

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Just Read: Star Wars: Catalyst (A Rogue One Novel); Comic #3: Rebel Jail; The Rebellion; Tales... Vol. 1: Aliens

Release date! (Photo from my daily Instagram Story)

These book reviews will also be featured on my Goodreads page soon.

For my review of the outstanding Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt, Book 2 of the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, click here.  Also, check out my link about why I’m reading the new canon Star Wars novels.

Star Wars: Catalyst (A Rogue One novel)

By James Luceno

With the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One opening in theaters tomorrow (!!), I was looking forward to last month's prequel novel, Catalyst.  I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon to arrive exactly on the release date, November 15.

So, was it worth the wait?  Absolutely… With one caveat:  It’s a slow starter that doesn’t kick into high gear until over 100 pages in.  But when it’s hot, it’s hot.

Taking place between the films Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, the novel Star Wars: Catalyst provides the tense backstory for this Friday’s Rogue One film about the Rebel Alliance’s brave efforts to steal the plans for the original Death Star.

My summary of the plot:  At this earlier point in the Star Wars saga, the original Death Star is still in the planning stages.  And it’s missing its key component:  A massive super weapon that will be capable of destroying an entire planet (And to Princess Leia’s dismay, we original film trilogy fans know how that’s gonna turn out).  Scientist Galen Erso is researching the power of the Kyber crystals which power the Jedi’s lightsabers.  Imperial mucky muck Orson Krennic wants to weaponize the Kybers’ power to produce a superlaser to mount onto the parabolic focusing dish of the yet-to-be-built Death Star.  In order to one-up Grand Moff “Governor” Tarkin on his own Death Star construction project and also become Emperor Palpatine’s right hand man, Krennic tricks Erso into believing that his research will be used for development of clean, renewable energy.

Honestly, it was initially tough to stick with this book.  Pointless subplots involving side characters like Has Orbit and Saw Gerrera feel like a waste of time.  And it’s front loaded with backstory and sci-fi technical jargon, withholding even the first minor action scene until page 61.  Fortunately, the earlier sections also feature cool bits of insight into the construction of the Death Star, the Jedi’s complex relationship with Kyber crystals, and the effect of the Force on non-Jedi who happen to be “Force sensitive” (A term not used in this book).  Cool stuff for Star Wars fans!

The story really gets cooking after this long opening stretch, as husband and wife Erso and Lyra are seemingly pitted against each other to discover the truth about Krennic’s intentions.  I won’t spoil the tension… Other than to say that this novel finally stops feeling like overstretched short story as it transitions into an effective family-in-jeopardy thriller, with fascinating political implications for the Star Wars universe.

Speculative spoiler for the upcoming Rogue One film:  Given the chronology of the Star Wars timeline, Erso and Lyra’s baby daughter Jyn should be of age when the movie takes place.  I’m avoiding most of the movie trailers, but I’m guessing Jyn will be a key member of the “Rogue” squadron who tries to steal the plans for the Death Star (Maybe even the girl on the movie poster?).  If she’s not, then why the cutesy baby/young girl subplot in this novel?  There’s gotta be a payoff.

Verdict: **** (Out of 5 stars) for Star Wars fans, *** for non-fans

Star Wars #3: Rebel Jail

 By Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, and Angel Unzueta

Of the three stories collected in this volume, I found the closing young Ben Kenobi/ Luke Skywalker tale to be the most fun.  Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi is secretly watching after Luke Skywalker on Tatooine as Biggs and Luke’s other kid friends cheer him on as he tries to fly through Beggar’s Canyon.  Ben saves Luke behind the scenes from various scraps, and has a run in with a bitter Uncle Owen who blames Ben for his brother Anakin’s death.

Even the often lame film prequel trilogy gets some thoughtful love from Ben:  “There’s still hope, Master Qui-Gon.  You thought Anakin was the chosen one.  Perhaps in a way, he was.  If his son shows the same abilities, then just maybe…

The first two stories in this annual collection are also worthwhile.  Story #1 is about the unglamorous life of Rebel spy Eneb Ray in Coruscant, who needs to be a heartless jerk to his “subjects” for fear of blowing his cover if the Imperials discover his true identity.

Story #2, the Rebel Jail title story, is a fun female empowerment yarn set in Sunspot Prison.  Princess Leia, Doctor Aphra, and Sana open up a can of whoop on the villains… just so that Han Solo and Luke Skywalker can show up to cockily “save the day” for the women after the dust settles.  Haha, go patriarchy!

There are plenty of other funny gags.  C-3PO tries his hand at “fisticuffs.” Han plays backseat driver while Luke learns how to fly the Millennium Falcon.  And they actually get to herd some nerfs!  Hilarious stuff.

Verdict: **** (Out of 5 stars) for Star Wars fans, *** for non-fans

By John Wagner, Paul Alden, Randy Stradley, Darko Macan, Cam Kennedy, Raul Trevino, David Fabbri, and Dave Gibbons

“Epic” is an overstatement.  While this graphic novel compilation is better than much of the Legends (read: older, non canon stories) material I’ve read, it falls short of the artwork, characterization, and continuity of the new canon stuff.  That being said, I enjoyed reading these earlier conceptions about the events that went down immediately after the film Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope.  And we get more Boba Fett.  Who can argue with that?

The standout by far is In the Shadow of Yavin, an extended comic book series which offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the construction of the second Death Star, above the planet Endor.

And all the Ewoks said… “Yub nub!”

Verdict: *** (Out of 5 stars) for Star Wars fans, ** for non-fans

by Landry Q. Walker

This one gets an enthusiastic “meh” from me.  While officially canon, it's six short stories featuring side characters from the film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  If you like aliens as main characters (I do not), this is your bag.

The main hurdle that these short stories try to overcome is that few of the protagonists are memorable characters from The Force Awakens, even for fans.  It’s also challenging to acquire much investment in these characters, due to the short length of these stories.  Some chapters are barely a single page.
For what it’s worth, the best stories are “All Creatures Great and Small” and the really good “The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku.”  Also, “A Recipe for Death” is notable for a cool fight scene in zero gravity.

As a non sci-fi fan who has loved Star Wars since my childhood, critter stories are a tough sell for me.  But fortunately, the Star Wars universe also has enough mythology and human stories to keep me hooked.

Verdict: ** ½ stars (Out of 5 stars) for Star Wars fans, ** for non-fans