Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day

While spinning to work today, I took advantage of the light traffic and used the time to reflect some. It was Memorial Day and I could not help but wonder how many people take the time to think about those who gave their lives at the beckoning of their country, whether in training, or in action.

It seems that to many, Memorial Day is either a three day weekend, or the kickoff of Summer. I find this especially sad when I thought about my good friend Mark Scholl and how he lost his life training for the defense of his country. I also thought about two other men that I had the pleasure of knowing and serving with, Mike Nazionale and Eddy Clark who also lost their lives in training incidents.

I remembered when I first heard the news of Eddy and the other CCT brothers we lost in Spain. We all knew that our career field had a much higher risk factor than just about any other in the USAF, but that kind of news is never truly welcome. Attending the memorial service for Mark, Mike and the others who lost their lives on that UH-60 in Utah is another memory that will never fade. The local newspaper had stated that the service was open only to active duty service members and retirees, however every CCT that decided to attend from past and present was automatically welcomed. No regulation or stipulation could ever break the bond of true brothers in arms, especially when paying respects to their fallen.

My remembering included many who gave their lives in defense of freedom, like my two great uncles who lost their lives in the South Pacific in WWII. I remembered the parade that marked the internment of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier and watching the horse-drawn carriage and flag-draped coffin pass within mere feet of me as the procession made its way to Arlington National Cemetary on Memorial Day 1984. Last and certainly not least, I remembered a man who I never had the pleasure of meeting. A true hero who was publicly not recognized for his deeds for many years because of a "secret" war that was being waged from Laos during the Vietnam War. Chief Etchberger is a true American hero, not just because of the mission, but because of his dedication to his brothers in arms and sheer bravery. He is currently in consideration for the Medal Of Honor and though quite a few years late, most deservedly so.

To tell the truth, I don't just think about my relatives, CCT brothers, or others who have layed their lives down for their country on Memorial Day. I think about them often as I enjoy the freedoms their sacrifices have provided us all.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Bike To Work Day

I'm torn. Though national "Bike To Work Day" garners a little media attention to let people know some cyclists are on the roadways, I still find it contrived. When I lived in Colorado, I biked to work almost every day. My employer never made any to-do out of my everyday riding, despite my obvious dedication to lessening traffic in that fair city, as well as staying more physically fit. Yet on national "Bike To Work Day" they fed and rewarded all of the once a year bunch with various prizes and other forms of recognition. Am I missing something here?

On my way to work behind the infamous Orange Curtain during this year's national "Bike To Work Day", I saw one other cyclist who was commuting. It was a day laborer who came very close to becoming a hood ornament on a very large SUV who was failing to yield in an intersection. The moronic SUV driver leaned on the horn before flooring it out of the intersection when the day laborer was clear. When this fellow commuter passed by me as I waited for the signal to change, I nodded towards the departing SUV tool and muttered, "pendejos." The guy on the bike just about crashed because he was laughing so hard. Yup, only one other bicycle commuter seen on national "Bike To Work Day".

Friggin' sad.


Friday, May 12, 2006


Riding during Springtime in suburbia has the propensity to be an olfactory delight. Instead of utilizing the main arteries to pedal my way to and from where I am employed, I've been cutting through resedential areas. This has been happening more on the way in, during the balmy evenings when the barbecue grills are most active. Picking out exactly what is being grilled from house to house has become somewhat elementary. Some neighborhoods feature poultry and ground beef almost exclusively, whereas others are overpowered with the waftings of New York Strips and Ribeyes. The occasional eclectic family or individual presents a challenge in deciding if they are grilling lamb, pork, tofu burgers, fish, shellfish or some exotic cuts of wild or ranch raised game. Ribs are easy, though the tough part is deciding what brand of barbecue sauce is being used, or if it's possibly homemade. Arriving at work hungry is something that is going to take a little getting used to, as it is every year around this time.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Tall Bikes

On a recent trip to visit some friends in Colorado, I had the chance to try out a tall bike. My good friend Jon had fabricated this machine out of two old electro-forged Schwinn frames. The lower frame was a ladies frame aka a step-through and the upper frame looks like a Speedster three-speed frame.

To mount this steed from the left side, one must place their right foot on top of the step-through and get the bike moving by pushing off with the left leg. Once the bike is moving, stand up on the bike with your right foot still in place and move your left foot onto the pedal into the six o-clock position. Next, swing your right leg behind the saddle, place your foot onto the right pedal, and you are on your way. It's even easier than it sounds.

The ride was surprisingly nice. The only imbalance I could see was that the front end was very light. I mean, this thing wheelies with the greatest of ease and looped even easier, as I found out. Even so, when looped, it was easy to control and step right off of the back. Jon rode a 25 yard long wheelie on it right after my demo ride. Cornering doesn't require much lean, but it can be leaned and track stands are surprisingly easy, though can be somewhat dangerous.

Reactions from observers seem to run the full gamut. Everyone seems to have to take a look, or at least a double-take. In riding it around Jon's neighborhood, verbal reactions from "Cool!" to "WTF?!?!" were heard. The positive reactions were definitely more prevalent and came from people from all walks, including hippy dippy tattoo parlor dudes to redneck high schoolers in their giant American pickup trucks.

Jon offered to give me his tall bike to bring back to Orange County, but I declined for a few reasons. The first reason is that I would never take a friend's bike that I know they really enjoy riding. Second is that I don't think Orange County is ready for the tall bike revolution...yet. Lastly, I want to build up my own version of a tall bike made up from Schwinn frames that I have acquired on my own. I'll ask Jon to do the fabrication and it will give me another reason to visit Colorado soon.

It fits.