Monday, December 31, 2012

Stewie Caldwell and the Magic Roach Clip

One of my best friends when I was stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah was Stewart "Stewie" Caldwell.  He was a smart, funny kid from San Francisco with a bright yellow Superbeetle who smoked a lot of weed.  We worked in live fire munitions testing.  I worked connecting the missiles to the testing equipment, Stewie was one of the ammo handlers who brought the missiles to the test-firing range.

Stewie and I would hang out together in the barracks and went to Salt Lake City almost every weekend so he could resupply his stash and we could meet girls who were possibly more interested in Stewie's stash than in us.

On one of these trips, a sudden Rocky Mountain blizzard blew out of the west turning I-15 white with zero visibility.  Then the gas pedal broke.

The pedal!!!

It came apart and we were idling downhill trying to think of what to do and how to get off the road so we would not be crushed by a semi.  I am not sure which one of us came up with the idea, but the throttle was operated by a cable that went all the way back to the engine in the rear.  There was a bit of cable sticking out of the floor with a crimped piece of metal on it.  Stewie kept his Roach Clip hanging on the dash.  A minute later I was upside down under the dash.  I put the roach clip on the throttle cable and became Stewie's throttle.  This was tricky in the snow with a stick shift, but he would ask for more or less gas and after a while, I could get the throttle in about the right place.

The next challenge was going through the gate.  Stewie showed the air policeman the broken gas pedal and said it was my turn to be head first under the dash.  They let us in the base!

Stewie would never go anywhere without a roach clip before it saved our lives.  Now he also bragged about his roach clip to every girl he tried to impress.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Unit's Facebook Page Nearing 500 "Likes"

Over the holidays I will be putting captions on family photos.  The pictures were taken at the departure ceremony for Alpha Company and at our unit's Christmas party.

Here's the link if you haven't yet "Like"d the page.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy any other holidays you might like.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Sunlight and Shadow by Mark Helprin

On the train to Philadelphia yesterday, I finished Mark Helpin's latest novel, In Sunlight and Shadow.  I came pretty close to crying.  Helprin is a soldier who writes love stories.  In this most recent book, the central love story was vivid, between two people iridescent with love.  The love story is set in New York, from the eastern end of Long Island to the reservoirs north of the city.  And it is a love story about New York City, set in the years just after World War 2.

For those who have read other of Helprin's books, this one is more down to earth.  The exaggerations in A Winter's Tale, in A Soldier of the Great War and A Dove of the East rival Mark Twain in being colossal and very American.  In Sunlight and Shadow, the hero lives for love and honor and finally is caught between the demands of both.  The same choice comes to the hero of many of Helprin's tales, but in the latest novel, the choice is more vivid and final.

If you think modern literary novels have squishy irresolute heroes (if they can be called heroes) and you would like to read a love story with strong admirable characters, this novel is for you.  As is almost everything Mark Helprin writes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting Promoted with a Splash!

Specialist Daniel Krott was promoted to Sergeant at formation today, December 8.  He is being led in pushups by his supervisor, SSG Elizabeth Barger.  Giving him the traditional ice-water shower for new Sergeants is SGT Joseph Diebert and SGT Jeff Guckin.

Three other sergeants read the NCO Creed to the company formation before the big splash.  PFC Robert Woodring on the left read the promotion order.  SGTs Jeana Frederick, Rene Kicklighter, and Francis League read the NCO Creed.

SGT Krott was promoted by CPT Aaron Lippy, 1SG Jeff Huttle and SSG Elizabeth Barger.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Alpha Company Flies to Training Base

On Friday afternoon I was standing on the south side of Muir Field on Fort Indiantown Gap PA watching eight Blackhawk helicopters take off together on their flight to their training base.  Alpha will train for deployment to Afghanistan when they arrive in Texas.

On this bright, clear afternoon I was standing with the families and friends of the eight aircrews flying away from home for a year.  Wives and Moms were the most obviously sad.  Fathers tried to remain composed, but a couple of the grandfathers were very emotional.

I took a lot of family pictures before the final ceremony and will post these on line soon.  If things had worked out differently, I might have been going to Texas with Alpha.

 Flying to Texas

 Putting away the flags after the Blackhawks disappear from sight

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Inside the Two-Ton Bubble

 Once on my daily circuit around the airfield at Camp Adder, Iraq, I was in a sandstorm so strong that it stopped me on the bike.  Because I can “track stand” the bike, keep it upright when standing still, I held the bike in place for a minute then jumped off.

Curled up in a ball, back to the wind, I thought about what to do next.  I could turn around and fly back in the other direction, but I would eventually have to turn the north then back to the east, then get stopped again.  Just then, one of the special ops black Suburbans pulled up and told me to get in.  They said, “Dude, get inside.  This storm’s gonna last all day.”

I got inside and they drove me to battalion HQ. 

Today I was riding in a 20 mph wind with 30 mph gusts.  I was going up a shallow hill at 6 mph—way slower than normal, but straight into the wind that was the best I could do.  Many cars rolled past me on that mile-long stretch of PA Rt. 999.  I was thinking about how many times I heard about people “In the bubble” during the political season just passed.  Here I was, the perfect example of why people stay in a bubble—it sucks being outside!!!!

The people in the cars going past me were getting no exercise, they were missing a clear, cold, clear brilliant late Fall day.  Compared to keeping my bike upright and rolling uphill into a headwind, their lives were DULL.

Let’s assume, most of them wanted it that way.  After a while I did.  I turned back early and rolled to the bike shop to buy a better pair of cold weather gloves and hang out in the warm shop for a while.

For people who are in bubbles of belief, their avoidance of facts has an effect similar to being in a two-ton, two hundred horsepower car in a head wind.

Mr. Bubble, looking out through the windshield, can see everything the guy on the bike does, but Mr. Bubble does not experience the world as it is.  He is in a climate controlled, sound-deadened environment moving fast enough that he seldom sees the messy details of reality. 

One of the great things about serving in the Army is realizing—even in America—that individual freedom can only be preserved by people who give it up.  And that health and safety for many means that some must risk their lives. 

I am sitting in a comfortable, well-lit room, in a centrally heated house writing on my unbelievably powerful computer which is connected to the whole world through an incredibly reliable cable modem.  I love my bubble.  But I know it is a bubble which is more than I deserve and much more than 98% of the world will ever have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Layout for a New Year

In 2013 I turn 60.  It will be my a record of some of the highlights and oddities of my last two years as an American soldier.  I decided to switch formats for the two years ahead to one that better suits my life as it is.

For a few hours I had a format called Mosaic.  Friends and family agreed--NO!!!! I could not change back, but this is close. 

These pictures and a million more are my life.  So I will try the new format to chronicle my civilian/military/executive/enlisted/family/battalion life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Video on chemistry and War

The American Chemical Society has a chemistry ambassadors series.  They taped me for it in the summer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

35 Army Years Ago . . .

This is a photo of me taken near Fulda, Germany (then West Germany) in 1977.  I was on top of my M60A1 tank.  It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood of more than 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops we thought were going to roll over us like Patton though a Peace Rally.

They never attacked.  

We all came home.  And all of my 1st Battalion, 70th Armor homies are gathering in Wiesbaden Germany next year for a reunion.  I did not sign up because I thought I would have other plans--an all-expense-paid trip to another middle eastern nation.  But I did not go.  

I won't be going to the reunion because we are saving for a trip to Rwanda.  But maybe I'll catch their next reunion in the US.  All those guys look a lot older now!!!

So What Happened with General Petraeus. . .

Last week the election meant I stopped getting questions about Lance Armstrong's drug use.  For many people in my life, I am the only bicycle racer they know.  So they ask what I knew about Lance's drug use.

Not much.

And if they asked about my race results, they would be SURE I was not on drugs, or that I should switch to better drugs.

And now I am fielding questions on General David Petraeus.  "What is going on with Petraeus?" I heard from several people.

I answer by checking my iPhone to see if BFF Gen. P. has txted me abt wazzup!!!

No text.

Really, Gen. Petraeus does not regularly check in with Army National Guard sergeants.  Or colonels for that matter.  If the Army was the Empire State Building, the top generals are right up where King Kong was hanging on and I am on the second floor without a window.

But if David or Lance hits me up on the down low, fshizzle I will update my status.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Enjoying Veterans Day

My wife Annalisa and I both dressed up for Church on Sunday.  I dressed so my sons could say their Dad is in the Army.  My wife put on Peace signs.  

Many people said "Thanks for your service" to me.  I got a free latte at my local Starbucks on Columbia Ave.  I wore the uniform to work today and two of my colleagues took me out for lunch.  

So much better to be a soldier now than during Viet Nam.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fueling Helicopters

This weekend I waited with the fuelers of Echo Company for aircraft to fly in for fueling.  There were few flights.  The two hours I was there no aircraft showed up.  So here are pictures from this Spring when a dozen aircraft showed up in a half hour.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Had a TRIing day Yesterday

Yesterday I was able to to do all three events of a very short triathlon before, during and after some business meetings.  I went to the gym early and increased my swim distance from 100 to 200 yards.  Just 4,024 yards to go for an Ironman!

After that I drove to NYC and went to a business meeting that ended on time and gave me the chance to ride 18miles before dinner--from 29th St up to the base of the George Washington Bridge and back.  Just 94 more miles for the Ironman bike.

After dinner the night was beautiful so I ran 4 miles along the Hudson.  Just 22.2 more and I am done with the Ironman run.

So I do have more training to get done.  But it's a start!  Over time, I hope to do a standard distance triathlon in a day, then all at once:  1k, 40k, 10k.

Same with the half Ironman maybe a year from now, or more.  Then the Ironman.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Every Time I Put My Helmet On. . .

. . . Shit Could Happen.

Yesterday, I rode in the morning with Bruce and Lois.  It was a beautiful morning, 45 degrees, clear sunny.  What could go wrong.

We rode the route that EVERYONE in Lancaster calls the 'Stick ride except the guy who has been riding it for 30+ years.  

The seventh mile of that ride drops steeply down from a ridge about a quarter mile to a 14-foot wide steel bridge that is 270 feet long.  From the stop sign at the top, I usually hit 35 mph going into the S-turn that leads onto the bridge.  When the road is dry I zip across the bridge at 50 feet per second then slow as I approach the stop sign at the other end.  When the road is wet, I slow to 10 to 12 mph and pedal gingerly across the bridge.  At full speed I cross the bridge in six seconds.  In the wet, the crossing takes a very long 12 - 15 seconds.

The type of bridge I am talking about is pictured below.  As you can imagine, falling on this kind of bridge can be horrible.  I knew a guy who broke all the fingers on his right hand on one of these and had some nasty gashes on the rest of his body.

Open steel span

Up close looking through the steel span at the water.

So yesterday I descended to the bridge braking lightly at the bottom going 30 mph when I rolled onto the span.

The road to the bridge was dry, but the night was cold and the bridge was WET.

As soon as I was on the bridge my tires started squirming on the steel squares.  The rear wheel wobbled under my seat and slid left.  I stayed as still as I could and just touched the brakes as the bike squirmed more and seemed to lose no speed.

Both sides of the bridge are steel beams.  I hoped I could get to the end of bridge before I slid into the side of the bridge, but I knew if a car came on the bridge I would hit it because I could not steer or stop.

At the end of the bridge the road drops away steeply down to a stop sign 20 feet away.  I went off the bridge in the air and landed with my rear tire skidding and sliding left.

There were no cars on Conestoga Boulevard, so I swerved into the road and sat up.  Lois and Bruce crossed the bridge slowly so I had 30 seconds to calm down before they caught up to me.  Bruce said, "You flew over the bridge."  If he only knew.

I changed the subject.

But it reminded me that experience gives us a store of info to avoid big mistakes like this.  I haven't ridden on a steel bridge on a cold morning for years.  The road was dry so I rode fast.

The reason I wear a helmet on the bike and wore one in Iraq was for that moment when a small mistake, or a big one, means my head is going to suffer a big hit.

My wife decided to train for an Ironman.  She a good runner, a great swimmer and almost never rides.  She has a lot of training to do before she can ride 112 miles at speed after a 2.4-mile swim and before a marathon.  I know she can do it.  But I do worry about the many hazards that bicycling puts in the way of every rider.  Experience really helps, but the only way to get experience is to ride without until you have it.

So now we can worry about each other on the bike.

And the first thing we are buying for her together is a good helmet.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ironman August 2015

Two weeks ago my wife announced she was going to do the Ironman in Kentucky in 2015
She swam on her college team, she ran a half marathon at the beginning of the month so she is good on two of three.  I am not sure of the exact number, but we think she has ridden more than ten but less than 20 miles last year.  So she will have to train a lot to look like the woman in the photo above.

BTW:  An Ironman is a 2.4-mile open water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike, then a marathon.

Naturally, I would like to do the event with her.  But she is way ahead of me.  I ran a bunch of half marathons last year.  I could ride 112 miles tomorrow, but I swim 50 meters in the pool and think I am going to die!

Yesterday, my wife started the day with a 6-mile hilly run.  I rode 32 miles.  In late afternoon we ran 5k together.  

Today, she rode 5 miles with my son Nigel.  She said she could feel it in her legs.  I swam 100 yards and was tired all over.  She is 4% of the way to 112 miles.  I am 2% of the way to a 4224-yard swim.

She is getting a new bike.  I am getting a swim coach.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bitching About Computers--and Finding Out How Much I Mistrust Them

This morning I lost the treasured hour in the quiet car where I can read a book without interruption and not listen to 2nd-hand cell phone!  Ahhhhhhhh!!

The reason I lost that hour is partly that I am spending the last 15 minutes of that hour bitching to you.  But I lost the first 45 minutes when I got an email from Southwest Airlines saying the reservation for the flight bringing John Wilson to Philadelphia today was cancelled.

Cancelled!!  How?  By whom?

John emailed me yesterday about our plans for tonight.  He did not email, text, or call me, so it must be a computer glitch--at least that's what I thought.

So I called Southwest--leaving the quiet car and walking to the other end of the next car.  Did I ever say how much I despise people who talk on cell phones in the quiet car and worse, go to the end of the quiet car, still inside it, and talk.  If I am ever ejected from a train, it will be because I told one of those jerks to leave the car and they got mad enough to fight.  Hasn't happened yet, but not for lack of trying on my part.

Anyway. So I politely stick my head in the luggage rack of the next car and call Southwest.  I get on virtual hold where they call me back.  I read the newspaper while waiting, head where the top bags are:

When Southwest called me back, I talked to a very patient ticket agent who said the reservation was cancelled on line and I should call John.

I called.  His wife Wendy answered.  John was in the John very sick.  It turns out John is hoping to be better tomorrow, but cancelled the reservation and was planning to call me later.  


So I really do mistrust computers.  Which is silly.  I do not mistrust the navigation computers in Chinooks and Blackhawks and all airliners for that matter.  It's only the computers I interact with--like the ones that I use to take Army on line training.

End of bitching about computers.

For now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Great Guy Gets Promoted--Chad Hummel to Sgt. 1st Class

Echo Company, 2-104th Aviation dumps water on newly promoted soldiers.  In the case of sergeants, the soaking occurs right as they finish reciting the NCO Creed.  This is Chad Hummel, the Echo Co. training NCO, just as he finished reciting the creed from memory.  The Army gets better every time someone like Chad gets promoted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Staying in Shape at 59

Last week I missed the 4:45 train from Philadelphia to Lancaster by less than a minute.  The next train is at 5:35.  Fifty minutes.  What to do.  In my pack was running gear and the Red Caps at Philadelphia's 30th St. station will hold bags for the next train.  I changed in the men's room and ran 3 miles on the river trails right outside 30th Street Station along the Schuykill River.

On Tuesday I was in New York City to get some adoption paperwork validated by the Haitian Consulate.  I was done at 430pm.  My car was across the Hudson in cheap parking lot in Seacaucus NJ.  There was no sense starting the drive home before 630 pm, so I stored my bag at a hotel where i have occasionally stayed and changed into running clothes in the hotel.  So I ran 4 miles along the Hudson River trail.

Part of staying in shape at my age or any age is using an unexpected hour to work out whenever possible.  I really do take my bicycle with me whenever I take my car anywhere farther than the local grocery store.  Many gyms sell day passes or hour passes for $10--and then you get a shower.

When I get stuck or have time to kill, I could read a book or work on my computer.  I also carry a full-size battery-powered keyboard for my iPhone.  But for me missing a train or walking out of a meeting into a bright, sunny day makes me want to ride or run.

These impromptu workouts can be the best part of a very long day.

And mixing up workouts by activity, distance and intensity allows my 59-year-old body to keep going and going and going.

In a Video About Kevlar

The video is the life story of Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar.  I am in for a minute beginning at 12:30 modeling Kevlar!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Family Groups at MEDEVAC Departure

Since September 28, I have been posting photos of the family groups of soldiers who left for pre-deployment training with the F/1-169th MEDEVAC.  The photos are on the 2-104th Aviation Facebook page.

You can see photos from the departure ceremony there.  Later this week I will be attending another departure ceremony.  This group is bigger, so it will mean more photos on the facebook page.

Here are the three MEDEVAC Blackhawks making a final pass around Muir Field before flying to Texas.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Waiting for Their Soldier to Deploy

Today this group of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters are watching their soldier pack their aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan. This first phase will be a trip to their training base in Texas. Later they will make the big trip across the ocean.

I will be posting family group pictures on facebook tonight and tomorrow. The pictures I took are one very strong indicator that this occasion is serious. When I take the camera to the unit Christmas party or other occasions, I get many people who don't want their picture taken or explain that they don't take good pictures.
On this occasion, the usual vanity and shyness is out the window. People either want their picture taken or they don't. Several soldiers said "No, don't want the picture." Most gathered their family around and no one in the group objected.

The families who come to this kind of event do their best to be brave. The mix of smiles and tears changes rapidly from family to family.

The brigade commander and the battalion command sergeant major just arrived for the final departure.

More later

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Improbable Evening in Boston

Tonight was a vivid moment of an entirely different kind.  I am at the annual Ig Nobel Award ceremony in Sanders Theater on the campus of Harvard University in Boston.

One of the awardees talking about his prize.
Sanders Theater outside
. . .and inside

1200 people watch the ceremony every year.  I have watched on line before but never live at Harvard.  Lots of fun.

If you want to know more, here's the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vivid Moments Coming Home

This morning I went out before sun up in Philadelphia riding my bike through the city and over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden and back.  Part of the riding was down the recently repaved Market Street.  This six-lane east-west boulevard is glass smooth where it used to be cracked and crumbling.  I flew down the middle of the street--no traffic, fast enough to make green light after green light.

As I rode up the BFB toward Camden, the sun sent shafts of light over the eastern horizon into what would soon be an robin's egg blue sky.  Just the occasional cloud bent the orange light.  When I turned back toward Philadelphia, the orange glow lit blue coated 50+ story towers that form the center of the Philadelphia sky line.

Moments like these will be remind me of Iraq for the rest of my life.  Certainly not because Iraq looks anything like this, but the contrast is so vivid.  When I served in Germany in the 1970s, Germany became like a second home.  From the North Sea to the Alps, Germany lacks nothing in natural beauty and the settled beauty of civilization.  Iraq is a dry, dusty, drab and dreadful.

Travel really does make home more beautiful--and the uglier the place I travel, the more beautiful home becomes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Symposium in NYC on Service and Sacrifice Today, hosted by Pat Tillman Foundation

Today I had the chance to make a trip to NYC on 9-11 to hear a symposium on Service and Sacrifice.  I wanted to go partly because the moderator was Jim Dao, one of my bike-racer buddies and the National Military Correspondent for the New York Times.  I also wanted to hear Marie Tillman, widow of Pat Tillman who is helping veterans in many ways through the Pat Tillman Foundation.  Also on the panel was a New York firefighter Tim Brown who was at the World Trade Center on 9-11 2001 and two pilots, a Marine fixed-wing pilot and an Army Blackhawk pilot.

Marie Tillman talked about being a widow and how she has been helping military widows through the foundation because of the experience she went through.

Glad I got a chance to attend and hear people who are trying to do good speak on the anniversary of 9-11-2001.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Short Drill Weekend--Passed PT Test

Only one full day of drill this weekend.  I was (mostly) on Sunday so I could attend the farewell ceremony for the Medical Detachment later this month.  The first event of the weekend was the PT Test--what could be better than that?  I scored a 316 because I was over the maximum on both pushups and situps.  My official score is 300, but it is great to score "Superscale."  If I use my raw scores and apply them to the 27-31 year age group (the highest standards are for this group, both 17-21 and 22-26 are slightly easier) I would have scored 259.

When I was in my teens and 20s my first time around in the Army, I smoked.  I think my highest score was around 265.  I never got 270 and usually scored just over 200.  Always passed but not by much.

I know eventually getting old will catch up with me and I will walk slowly and yell at Liberals on CNN, but for now I am feeling good!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not Going to Afghanistan!

This morning I found out I am not going to Afganistan in a very Army way.  I was driving back from a meeting in NYC.  I stopped for coffee and checked my email on my iPhone.  In the list of message were two emails canceling my reservation for two training courses I need to go on the deployment.

I knew it meant I was not going.  But I called a friend who is a full-time training NCO.  He said Yes, in fact he got a call to reassign the training school since I would not be needing it.

Paperwork is reality in the Army.  I read that message three hours ago.  No one has officially told me I am not going, but I am very sure I will be in Lancaster when the last plane is wheels up.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Second Deadline isYesterday

The original deadline for my waiver was yesterday, September 4.  So I expected to know one way or another by COB (Close of Business).  I didn't.

I just keep waiting because people way above my pay grade created the deadline, so they can also amend or renegotiate the deadline.

Waiting for War is Hell.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Another Day Older

It's 630pm and still no answer one way or the other.  My wife believes "Yes" is an answer, but "No" is not.  So I will have to wait till Tuesday for paperwork to resume.

Still Waiting

The deadline is tomorrow and Fort Indiantown Gap is closed today.  It looks like I will be waving good bye in November--to the soldiers who are deploying.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If I Only Have 50 Days. . .

. . .I should use them wisely.  Today I wrote an article that's due Friday and did some other work, then rode to my son Jacari's cross country meet in Hershey.  It was a beautiful day.  Hershey is about 30 miles away so I got in a 60-mile ride and got to watch Jacari improve his 2-mile time by more than a minute in his second meet.

Last week he ran the two-mile course in 14:11, finishing fourth out of 40 runners.  Today his time was 13:07.  He finished 26th out of 193 runners.  He has had essentially no training so he could improve again next week.

Tomorrow I will go to work and write a couple of urgent news releases and work on remarks for an event in two weeks.  I have a couple of important meetings also.  But the real event tomorrow just might be a phone call from the command sergeant major of our unit.  He thinks the decision whether I am deploying will be made by close of business Thursday.

If that's true, I have a one-month school beginning in mid-October and will be leaving for pre-deployment training just after Thanksgiving.  And I will have a lot of work to finish before I go.

Tick Tock.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waiver Goes Forward

At noon yesterday I was telling a friend who has been to Afghanistan that there was no way I will be going.  All right, a 1% chance.  We made plans to ride together next week.

At 3pm I got a call from our administrative NCO saying that my waiver got endorsed by the Division Commander and is on the way to the Adjutant General's office.

Last night I went for a walk with my wife and told her about it.  All summer I had been thinking there was very little chance I would get the waiver to serve in Afghanistan over age 60.  My thinking was "Why would they sign it?"  Someone who never met me at the Pentagon would look at the paperwork and think--'a 60-year-old sergeant? WTF?'  Denied.

But if the paperwork goes forward with two generals endorsing it, then the next guy up the line is not saying Yes to me but is saying No to the generals.  That is different.

I was so sure I wasn't going.  Now the admin NCO said it's at least 50-50 I am going.  Later last night, my wife was asking whether I could cut off cable TV and keep the cable internet.  She thinks I am going, but she always did.  A month ago she said she thought I would be going despite all the evidence on the negative side.

Life remains exciting!

Monday, August 27, 2012

There's Always Room for Yellow

When the news broke Friday morning that Lance Armstrong was giving up his fight against doping allegations, I took off my Livestrong bracelet and tossed it in the yellow trash can in our downstairs bathroom.  I wore the yellow band since it first went on sale more than a decade ago--except in Iraq.  In Iraq we could only wear POW/MIA bracelets.  All the rest of the colored wrist bands for causes had to come off until we left Camp Adder.

I wore that bracelet because I used to travel overseas a lot and ride with racers in other countries--particularly in France where I got to ride in the Alps, the Pyrenees, and in the daily training rides at L'Hippodrome in Paris.  Wearing a Livestrong bracelet said I was proud of the accomplishments of America's greatest cyclist.

So when his titles were stripped from him, I tossed the bracelet.  I wore it as long as there was some doubt that he would be caught cheating.  Which also makes me guilty of having a double standard on cheaters.  After 20 years of watching every stage of the Tour de France, I quit watching after Stage 17 in 2006.  That was the stage in which Floyd Landis cheated so flagrantly that the commentators were talking about it during the stage.  I have tried to watch the Tour de France since, but I knew I was just watching dueling drugs.

After I left for work, my wife took my Livestrong bracelet out of the trash.  She had two reasons:
 1.  I like yellow.  shallow reason.
 2. It seems hypocritical to ditch him for the act of getting caught cheating, when we stood by him while he was getting away with cheating.  

Good points, but when Lance was riding, I still thought there was a chance he was simply training harder than everyone else.  I was wrong.  And my wife is right that I have known he was cheating for several years and kept it on.  Be that as it may, I will not put it on again.

Who Fights Our Wars? CSM Donald C. Cubbison, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division

In the fall of 1977, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division got a new Command Sergeant's Major.  Donald C. Cubbison, veteran of the Vietna...