Thursday, July 31, 2014

Theme Music

Music really becomes the soundtrack to the major events to your life.

Tires pumped up. Goo, cell phone and door key tucked in jersey pockets. Full water bottle.

The new bike had zero miles on it. Unlike floor models that had been test driven and rejected, this was a custom build. I'd chosen frame, components and accessories with the expert help of Bruce Schwab of Schwab Cycles. I watched as he put the finishing touches on assembly. I'd "ridden" it on a stationary trainer to verify the seat adjustments. That was yesterday. Today I would take it on the road.

Intermittent rain in the morning prevented a ride. Noon came, with unsettled clouds roiling overhead. Go, or stay?

Seriously? I hadn't gotten more than two miles before my phone rang. I ignore it while riding more often than not, especially when I'm clipped in. This time I stopped. It was daughter Katy, on Skype. I picked it up.

Grandson Graham noticed right away that I was riding. With minimal encouragement:

"Bicycle, bicycle. I want to ride my bi-CYCLE!" he belted out. Freddy Mercury could not have been closer to the right key.

It was the perfect song to inaugurate my Guru.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A True Course

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.

David Greer was nineteen years old when he returned to Maui, Hawaii with the 4th Marine Division. He had been evacuated from Iwo Jima at the conclusion of hostilities there, his sole war wound - at least physically - a cut on his finger from a can opener. Most of his friends were not so lucky. Of his company of roughly 250 Marines who landed in the invasion's initial assault wave, he and another Marine walked off the island under their own power. Two men.
He returned to the 4th's home away from home. Years later he remarked "It was a collection of empty tents and empty bunks. I was surrounded by strangers, the replacements coming in as we prepared for the invasion of Japan." Rearmed and refitted, he and his colleagues prepared for what many believed was a horrible task. I once asked him what his chances of survival were.
"I was fucked."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Fun Time Had By All

7. Bad cop, no donut. 33 Things Not To Say To A Cop,

There is a link making the rounds of a Lafayette, CO police officer "arresting" a cyclist for not dismounting his bike and walking it across a crosswalk. The clip begins well into the contact and ends at the point the violator - a kind and upstanding pillar of the community - is placed in handcuffs. It is a perfect illustration of the expression "so you thought I was having fun."

Colorado law does not require that a cyclist dismount in a crosswalk. It does, however, require due care and slow speeds. The city I work in has not enacted additional restrictions, but it is within our city council's authority to do so. I assume the city of Lafayette has done so.

Some young cyclist was contacted by a Lafayette motor officer (the stylish boots are a dead giveaway) who was attempting to issue a citation for the traffic violation. What follows is a classic example of a person talking themselves into cuffs. Watch the video (it isn't hard to find, but proved beyond my ability to clip) for these, and other, teaching points.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Bye to Rocky's Son

Matt Douglas (James Garner): "Let's stop talking. We're about to bond. It'll make me vomit." My Fellow Americans, 1996

James Garner boasted an amazing resume. A member of the Merchant Marine at sixteen, he served in the US Army in Korea, and was twice awarded the Purple Heart. He found acting as a career. Reports of his death yesterday at 86 recall his role in Maverick, as well as the long-running TV show The Rockford Files. He played a scrounger in the WWII POW movie The Great Escape, a ner-do-well drifter turned lawman in Support Your Local Sheriff and, of all things, an aging astronaut in Space Cowboys.

I remember him best as former President Matt Douglas in the movie My Fellow Americans. Cast opposite the late Jack Lemmon (as Republican former President Russell Kramer), he played a Democrat loosely styled after Bill Clinton. The story contained aspects of sinister power politics, murder and mayhem. At its heart was the chemistry between Garner and Lemmon, each a sturdy foil for the other. He'd probably been in better movies and had meatier roles (nominated for an Academy Award for Murphy's Romance). His wry sense of humor, as well as a commanding presence blended perfectly to Lemmon's  post-office corporate shill. A good time is had by all, save for the villain who.... But that would spoil everything.

He was also a lifelong Democrat. Alas, nobody is perfect.

Friday, July 18, 2014

There's A Word For That

“The Indiana Rowing family is deeply saddened by the news of Karlijn’s sudden passing,” Indiana head rowing coach [name omitted] said. “She was a phenomenal student and loved IU so much that she stayed here after she earned her master’s degree. Our condolences go out to her family and friends in this very tough time,” Paterson said.

keijzer.jpgTwenty-five year old Karlijn Keijzer, a doctoral student in chemistry at Indiana University, was apparently aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight downed over Ukraine. She had been a member of her university's rowing program.

The article discussing her achievements is long and filled with accolades about her intelligence, character and athleticism. The loss to her family, her friends and her university must be immeasurable. My heart goes out to them, and to the families of the others aboard. The above message must have been a horrible one to have to write.

With humble respect: She did not "pass." She was murdered, and so was everyone else on that aircraft.

There are sensible approaches to bringing her murderers to justice. At this moment, I can't think of any. All I can think of is focusing the accumulated military power of NATO onto the heads of those miserable bastards, disarming the ones who survive and dictating the terms under which the rest of us will live fulfilling lives in peace, free from their pointless bullshit.

I don't think that's too much to ask, in memory of 298 people whose only crime was to have a reason to be in Kuala Lumpur on a Thursday in July.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


"The target is destroyed." Pilot of a Soviet SU-15 interceptor to his flight controller, September 1, 1983. The "target" was Korean Airlines Flight 007 with 269 people aboard. Everyone was killed in the ensuing crash.

The early indications are that a Malaysian Airlines 777 was shot down as it flew over Ukraine in an area near the Russian border. This was a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Two hundred ninety-five were aboard. According to FlightTracker it had reached FL 330 (33,000 feet) and was travelling in excess of 500 miles per hour. Amateurs didn't bring this airplane down.

malaysia airlinesBelieve nothing coming out of the press, or any agency of any government (including ours) concerning this horror. The facts - an airplane crashed and nearly three hundred people spent the last moments of their lives knowing what was about to happen to them. Everything but the grim pictures of scorched earth, scattered aircraft parts and the twisted bodies of the dead is supposition. Some of it will be intentional disinformation planted to create a context for world reactions that are in someone else's interest. Whoever did this - and they alone (at this moment) know who they are - killed because the abject horror of it all would advance their cause.

Years ago, on the way to a wedding, my wife and I flew over Cuba. One would have to have been alive and aware during the early 60s to remember that lovely island as the source of a nuclear standoff. We have maintained strained relations with the Castro government over the decades. There was no way we would fly right over Cuba.

Of course we did. It is the twenty-first century. Civilized nations, even those at odds with each other, understand the benign and advantageous nature of free commerce. It is even possible to fly to Cuba, if one decides to play a fiction that "ignores" American law. We later learned (same trip) that we were free to travel to Nicaragua. Imagine that.

Civilization still grapples with the Dark Age temperaments of savages. Here, in Ukrainian skies, seems another example. We must raise our voices, our fists and maybe more, at all of them no matter what "side" they are on.

I'm in. What can I do to help?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Time Gone

"A headwind, really fighting it. Tough, hot going into Jeffrey City. Cook dinner, get said hi to by about 47 girls in an old Dodge Dart." Bikecentennial diary, Split Rock Monument, WY, June 19, 1976.

Over the course of the Bicentennial summer I rode a Viscount aluminum-framed ten speed from Reedsport, OR to Yorktown, VA. Although I had made virtually every mistake I could selecting the equipment for the journey, I had one thing going for me. I was twenty-one.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Turkey Knots

"When you need to use your tourniquet you have the rest of your life to figure out if you set it up properly or not."

Two officers down, both seriously wounded (not "injured." To quote Band of Brothers injured is when you fall out of a truck). The investigation continues, but this much is clear.

Still0706_00000There was bravery, there was selflessness. There was quick thinking. And there was (at least one) timely application of a tourniquet.

The SEALs say "Ready to lead, ready to follow. Never quit." Last night, no one quit.

For Jon and Kim - prayers for speedy recoveries.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Signatures on a Parchment

"That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Declaration of Independence, adopted 1776 in Philadelphia, PA.

Much is often made of how the self-interested find their way into government, or its periphery. Truth to tell, there is money and power to be had there. With three-plus trillion dollars flowing through Washington every year there are uncountable ways to prosper.

It is fashionable in some cliques to attribute this to our Founders, the men who this day 238 years ago in muggy Philadelphia affixed their signatures onto a parchment declaring a treasonous act. They were a wealthy elite, one percenters, who organized a country to further their own interests. So goes the tale.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Name That Tune

Overheard in King Soopers -

Seafood Counter Employee #1: "I've heard this song before (referring to store background music).
Employee #2: "Yeah, me too. I just can't place it.

Nearby, a shopper turns.... "They've gotten patriotic today for some reason."

The "song" was:

I believe we are doomed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Different War

Lt. Elroy Carpenter: Oh, you are brilliant, Sir. In fact, I would say you are one of the most brilliant, most intelligent, most outstanding officers that I have ever... 
Captain Wallace B. Binghamton: Stop buttering me up - I'm on a low-fat diet.

Bob Hastings (L), with Joe Flynn and Ernest Borgnine
Noting the passing of Bob Hastings at age 89. He was a WWII veteran (a B-29 navigator) who portrayed Lt. Elroy Carpenter, the obsequious aide to officious, blundering Captain Binghamton in the '60s comedy McHale's Navy. Like the show Barney Miller was to policing, McHale's Navy probably portrayed the South Pacific PT boat war closer to truth than fiction. The stories my Marine father told - of alcohol-powered escapades indulged in by men sure that their next battle would be their last - certainly support that notion. He thought the show funny, anyway, allowing us to stay up and watch with him. The tiny black and white RCA set was a perfect medium for a war that had ended less than twenty years prior. Hastings's performance was always frantic and evasive as he struggled to stroke the ego of a Navy Captain better suited for a Stateside assignment in...administration.

Mr. Hastings was a character actor, to be sure. But, for a few years, he helped America remember that the fighting men who defeated an empire were flawed human beings in often generous, humorous ways. Many made the ultimate sacrifice having lived their last days making the best of a trying situation. For all of its lightness, McHale's Navy helped us honor the men and women who ventured so far from home to keep us free. Bob Hastings joined that cast in a worthy cause. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

(Pew, Pew)

You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. Quote sometimes attributed to Japanese Admiral Yamamoto (often disputed).

The sun peeked over the horizon, a thin-air chill clinging to the foothill shooting range. Shades of gray and purple greeted a city below just stirring from slumber, cars humming along the interstate rimming Green Mountain. Awakening unusually early I was meeting friends.

Officers in almost every jurisdiction are required to demonstrate proficiency with firearms on a regular basis. Most will enjoy long, fulfilling careers never firing a shot in anger. Too many will rely on their sidearm or long gun to defend themselves, or someone around them. The majority of encounters are sharp, intense battles measured in seconds. Situational awareness, instantaneous decisions, and first-round accuracy can spell the difference between survival and an elaborate funeral.

So my friends - range instructors all - met me in the early morning hours for pointers, a qualification course and some cop camaraderie. I got to shoot a lot, learned a ton about trigger control (stop know who you are) and was invited to expend a magazine of .223 through an amazing AR platform. Of course I accepted.

And I passed the qual course.

Mornings like this keep me coming back for more. Thanks, guys.