Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Few Suggestions On What To Do When You Miss Being At Sea:

1. Invite 200 of your not-so-closest friends to come over, then board up all the windows and doors to your house for 6 moths. after 6 months is up, take down the boards, and since you're on duty that day, wave at your friends and family through the front window of your home.
2. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Six hours after you go to sleep, have your spouse whip open the curtain, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and mumble "Sorry, wrong rack."
3. Have your next door neighbor come over each day at 6am and blow a whistle so loud that Helen Keller could hear it and shout, "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out."
4. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it to "High".
5. Don't watch TV except movies in the middle of the night. Also, have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one.
6. Leave a lawnmower running in your living room six hours a day for proper noise level.
7. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.
8. Install a fluorescent light bulb underneath your coffee table. Lie underneath it while reading a book.
9. Have you mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the next day and read it to you.
10. Submit a written request form to your father-in-law, asking if it's o.k. for you to leave your house before 3pm.
11. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, losing every 5th item.
12. Spend $20,000 on a satellite system for your TV, but only watch CNN and the weather channel.
13. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of your bathtub and move the shower head down to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you shut off the water while soaping up. 14. Buy a trash compactor and only use it once a week. Store up garbage in the other side of your bathtub.
15. Once a month take every major appliance completely apart and them put them back together.
16. Empty all the garbage bins in your house, and sweep your driveway 3 times a day, whether they need it or not.
17. " Needle gun " the aluminum siding on your house after your neighbors have gone to bed.
18. Post a menu on the refrigerator door informing your family that you are having steak for dinner. After making them wait in line for at least an hour, inform them that you are out of steak, but you have dried ham and hot dogs. Repeat daily until they no longer pay attention to the menu and just ask for hot dogs.
19. Use 18 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for 5 or 6 hours before drinking.
20. Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread, if anything. (Optional: Canned ravioli or cold soup).
21. Make up your family menu a week ahead of time without looking in your food cabinets or refrigerator.
22. When making cakes, prop up one side of the pan while it is baking. Then spread icing really thick on one side to level off the top.
23. Every so often, throw your cat into the swimming pool, shout "Man overboard, ship recovery!", run into the kitchen and sweep all the pots/pans/dishes off of the counter onto the floor, then yell at your spouse for not having the place "stowed for sea".
24. Put on the headphones from your stereo (don't plug them in). Go and stand in front of your stove. Say (to nobody in particular) "Stove manned and ready". Stand there for 3 or 4 hours. Say (once again to nobody in particular) "Stove secured". Roll up the headphone cord and put them away.
25. Do heavy physical labor all day, then stay up all night monitoring a radio tuned in between stations.
26. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed and get dressed as fast as you can, then run out into your yard and break out the garden hose.
27. In the middle of January, place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4 hour intervals.
28. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to the scummiest part of town, find the most run down, trashy bar you can, pay $10 for a beer until you are hammered, then walk home in the freezing cold.
29. Lock yourself and your family in your house for 6 weeks. then tell them that at the end of the 6th week, you're going to take them to Disneyland for " weekend liberty ". when the end of the 6th week rolls around, inform them that Disneyland has been canceled due to the fact that they need to get ready for ORSE, and that it will be another week before they can leave the house.
30. Eat the raunchiest Mexican food you can find for 3 days straight, then lock the bathroom door for 12 hours, and hang a sign on it that reads "secured, contact OA DIV at X-3053."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Settling in...

I've enjoyed the good fortune to have beer in Munich, Espresso in Milan, "health water" in Chesky-Krumlov, Coca Cola in Atlanta, Kir in Paris, and countless other experiences.

However, I never grow tired of having a glass of water on the family deck.

There are houses and there are homes... It's good to be home.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Good fortune...

Last week, the results of the annual Command Board were posted. The Board will give me a chance to Command Boat Division 93. This Boat Division provides port security and harbor defense in an expeditionary environment. It's an extremely capable group of sailors with whom I've worked in the past. I couldn't have received a better honor.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The things we see on a ride...

A wise German-American Owl?

I can't tell you why the birds were displayed in a town celebrating its 400th anniversary, but it definitely made me smile...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Munich (and Dachau)...

A day of highs and lows...

I spent the morning at Dachau. It's sobering to realize the depths to which man can descend.

The afternoon was spent in Munich which was enjoyable. A slight breeze of Fall in the air left me feeling refreshed.

Finally, the evening was spent with good news... It appears I'll be given the opportunity to Command Boat Division 93 next year. I know the men and their capabilities... This will be one heck of an honor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Almost time to go...

In two weeks, I'll be sitting at home. While I'm looking forward to re-cultivating some friendships, I can say with sincerity that I'll truly miss living in Europe.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Even when sore, it's impossible to be unhappy when riding a bike on a sunny day.

This calf looks fine... So, why does it hurt?  An MRI scheduled for Wednesday should give some answers.
Oh... And ironically, there's a "wear a helmet" AFN service announcement on T.V. right now...

Monday, August 3, 2009

The new puppy-mobile (oh... And bike carrier)...

Thanks to the Obama-administration's CARS program, I was able to buy a bit nicer car... Just doin' our part for the economy:-)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wetting down...

It's a tradition that when an Officer is promoted, they throw a party to thank their friends, family, and co-workers for the support.  Often this is done at a local pub.
This is a fine tradition, but I wanted to do things my way.  Therefore, my wetting down celebration began with 3 hours on the bike.  Subsequently, the Mike and Angie Buckley were kind enough to host a BBQ at their home on base.  
It was a beautiful day and I really appreciated the efforts of those who showed up for a warm, hilly ride.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I don't sit still very well... Never have... T.V. is something to visually stimulate you while you do something else...

So... When a completely ADHD guy who is used to swimming, biking, and running 20+ hours each week, can't workout... It's time to find alternatives...

Voila!  Guitar, physical therapy, stretching, icing, applying for a new job, and completing a new online educational program... Problem solved!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Travel tracker...

It's been a pretty good year of travel.  Since arriving in January, I've managed to visit the following cities:
Czech Republic
--Karlovy Vary
--Eagle's Nest

Not a bad year at all...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eating for my country...

Another trip to the Caucasus and further confirmation of the wonderful hospitality of our hosts... Despite some stomach issues, I really enjoyed the meals.  Further, our meetings were a  productive outlet for continued cooperative relations with Armenia.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Paris lights... U2 (again)...

Just a quick drive to Paris for U2 this weekend.  

Off to Armenia tomorrow for work.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not a bad way to spend an evening...

U2 in Milan... Followed by a 5.5 hour drive back to Stuttgart... Followed by some great memories...

Bono was in rare form (lots of political commentary).  However, it was The Edge and his yellow Telecaster that drew my attention...

Let me in the sound... 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rail it out...

The climb to the Passo Foscagno isn't overly difficult... 

The descent is a dream... Wide open corners, fresh pavement, 5.5% grade (average)... Only a few switchbacks... It's the type of descent designed to test a new bike...

Diggler was freakishly stable around 80 kph... I shiver to think how fast I could have ridden if it hadn't been for the traffic (and my own conservative approach any time I ride a descent for the first time).

With uncertain weather in the mountains, I beat feet back to Bormio for an afternoon watching the Tour live on RAI DUE and some time in the spa.

Keep chippin' away...

38 switchbacks
The highest road in the Italian Alps
1533 vertical METERS (like 5,000 feet or something silly)
22 kilometers
Highest point is at 2758 meters above sea level (the air is a bit thinner up there)

Oh, and that's the "easy" side...

Like so many things in life, the Stelvio takes patience and a relentless desire to keep moving forward.  You needn't bother looking to the top until you are there.  Most of the time, one is happy just making it to the next switchback or tunnel.

The reward?  Tourist shops, a warm Coke, and the most hair-raising, technical descent (minus guard rails in many spots) you'll ever ride.  

Friday, July 3, 2009


It seems the proper way to conduct the first ride on the Colnago was to drive to the Italian Alps and ride the Gavia Pass (the same one Andy Hampsten used to win the Giro in 1988):
From The Day the Big Men Cried, a tale from the 1988 Giro d'Italia, where there's a blizzard during stage 14:
I grabbed a plastic hat, long-finger gloves, and Oakley Pilots and took off down the pass for Bormio, a mere 15 kilometers away. I thought I could ride 15 kilometers in any condition, at any time, anywhere on Earth. I have never been more wrong in my life.

After a brilliant climb, Van de Velde, forsaking extra clothes in order to gain time on the descent, was the leader on the road and had the pink jersey waiting for him in Bormio. Only 2 kilometers of descending later, Van de Velde was on his knees in tears. Savagely hypothermic, he crawled into a car to warm up. One hour later, he got out of the car and rode to the finish way outside the time limit....

Meanwhile, I kept my head down and hammered, following the tire grooves through the snow. After only 1 kilometer, I was bloody cold. After 2 kilometers, I was frozen to the core. After only 3 kilometers, I was laughing like a lunatic and passed Rolf Sorensen, screaming at the top of my lungs in an attempt to generate some warmth. After 5 kilometers, I was crying and about to slip into a frozen coma. About halfway down, I was not thinking straight and was making poor choices. At one point, I got off my bike and began to run back up the hill in a lame attempt to warm up.
Fortunately, I had GREAT weather (despite a chilly descent).
The bike will be named "Diggler" because it's stiff, but can be ridden all day long... Probably not appropriate for all audiences, but it's just an accurate description of the Colnago EPS.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Milestones and Mentors...

Today, I reached a Navy milestone when Vice Admiral Richard K. Gallagher "pinned on" my Silver Oak Leaves signifying that I've attained the rank of Commander.  I'm proud, but I must admit a continuous need to "prove myself."  Nevertheless, one never attains goals without the aid of others and this seems like a good time to recognize a few of those who have taken extra care to help me develop (many of them continue to mentor and guide me today).

Master Chief Jim Matthews--My first "Chief."  Jim's calm demeanor and dry wit allowed me to weather many challenges during my first shipboard tour.  Simply put, Jim reinforced my belief that smart men need to be told WHAT to do... Not HOW to do it.

Admiral Robert "Rat" Willard--My first C.O.  allowed his Junior Officers to fail (as long as they learned and progressed).

RADM Jack Natter--If I hadn't attended his daughter's wedding and been inspired by his commitment to Service (in the Navy Reserve), I'd have never affiliated with the Reserves.  

CAPT Jan Schwarzenberg--A prolific mentor, CAPT S. provides guidance to nearly every Diver and EOD Officer in the Reserves.

Commodore (CAPT) Scott Jerabek--A Warrior, a family man, an inspiration.  He entrusted me with my first Command (IBU-11).  His legacy will be the hundreds of Officers and Enlisted he has inspired through sheer force of positive personality.

Col (Ret)--Paul Van Gorden--An intellect and realist at CGSC.  He tolerated my biting comments and challenged my thinking while keeping things "fun."

LTJG Marc Heise--My friend who pushed me through my first solo 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race and who has the courage to tell me (many times) when I am wrong.  

Master Chief (Ret) John Wright--My SEL at IBU-11.  A fine example of an old school Chief.

My many friends on land and sea who tolerate my "relief valve" personality and rein in my "big ideas" when they border on nutty.

There are many others as well.  Lists can be dangerous.  Everyone touches us in different ways.  However, I needed to mention this group today as every one of them kept me on course at times when I was considering a different route.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ready to be ridden...

It is ALIVE!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's the dealio with my heelio?

Well, I think it's official that running season is over for a while and cycling will be curtailed (I'm still climbing the Gavia and pretending to be Hampsten at the '88 Giro though)...

The GOOD NEWS?  Absolutely... I get to focus on my guitar playing.  I said earlier this year that it's EASY to fall into ruts in life and simply repeat the same activities.  The result is that we don't maximize our personal development.  While I don't like being injured, I think this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on my good overall health and the many other outlets for personal growth I can pursue.

Of course, if anyone knows any Ancient Chinese secrets for healing, I'm all ears:-)

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'm frustrated.  I can't seem to overcome some recent injuries and I'm not sure what I'll be doing this Fall (Professionally or Athletically)...  This uncertainty has left me a little bit edgy.

Then, I took a moment and closed my eyes and reflected on the tremendous uncertainty these men felt.  I internalized it, compared it to mine, and then thanked my God that I don't need to face the day ahead that these men did. 

 Additionally, one look at this photo helps me realize that ordinary men are capable of extraordinary things.

Friday, May 29, 2009


If I weren't headed directly to Italy, I'd have stopped for more than pictures... I think I'll be returning to ride here in the next couple months...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A few more shots...

Pasta, olives, fish...  A great way to end the day in Como.

It's great to make friends...  Cycling can bring us together.

My buddy Mike getting fit to a Colnago by Ernesto himself...  A rare treat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First shots from Como/Bellagio/Bergamo...

There is nothing as enjoyable as riding sans casque...
However, it's reserved for uphill on hot climbs when I'm feeling spicy...
The climb to Madonna del Ghisallo begins...

Enjoying a little time in Bellagio...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rest in peace...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Business travel...

Tbilisi, Georgia
President Saakashvilli
Standing on Stalin's doorstep...
Baku, Azerbaijan

I had the great honor of spending the week guiding a delegation from the Council on Foreign Relations through Stuttgart, Baku (Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (Georgia), and Kiev (Ukraine).  Here's a snapshot of the week:
1.  Met with 2 Presidents (Aliyev and Saakashvilli).
2.  Ate dinner at three different Ambassador's residences.
3.  Met with key leadership in 3 countries (Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Economic Development, Opposition Party members, and many others).
4.  Visited Gori and Stalin's childhood home... It's pretty amazing to think we were fighting the Soviets in the Cold War 20 years ago.
5.  Enjoyed 1 morning of culture in Kiev (this was a seriously intense work week).
I thought I'd provide a few thoughts:
1.  The members (minus one real jerk) were an impressive group who have accomplished a lot in their professional careers.
2.  Having police escorts while traveling is really convenient (NO STOPPING IN TRAFFIC:-).
3.  The Caucasus will continue to face significant challenges.  It would be great if the U.S. was a little more aware of these critical countries.
4.  We need to find a way to ensure our Ambassadorial posts are manned soon (many are about to be unfilled as current Ambassadors complete tours or retire).
5.  Russia understands strategy and it will take adept diplomacy by the U.S. to ensure the needs of these countries and our own can be met.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Geez... Out of nowhere my Achilles Tendon has flared up... I can't do any "real" training right now.  Hopefully, a little time off and I'll be back on track, but I'm going crazy right now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I like this quote...

Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.  
 - George Iles

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thanks Jered! Flanders pictures...

Thanks to Jered Gruber at, I have PROOF that I actually rode the Mur in Flanders.

Jered is a great young writer/photographer/adventurer/professional cyclist (hint, he's always looking for additional work/adventures).  We rode the final 50km of Flanders together and I'm looking forward to exploring the Alps/Dolomites with him and his girlfriend in the months ahead.

Game on!!!
Am I really smiling while climbing on the cobbles?
I'm definitely smiling while climbing on the smooth stuff.
I swear... My pockets are full... I'm really not that fat!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pink Flamingos and Tulips?

Honestly, I love running in Portland, but I've NEVER seen sights like these on my "normal" commute run at home.  Between the multi-colored tulips and the Pink Flamingos, I just couldn't stop smiling.

Yep!  It's REAL!
One of the MANY Stuttgart Stallions in the park.
A rainbow of colors.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring trees...

D.C. has the Cherry Blossoms and Stuttgart has... Well, I don't know what type of trees they are, but I find them really beautiful.