Saturday, May 29, 2010

R.I.P Dennis Hopper

That's him on the right.

Dennis Hopper died this morning at the age of 74 at his home in Venice, California from complications caused by prostate cancer.

He co-wrote, directed, and starred with Peter Fonda in the 1969 movie Easy Rider which was nominated for a best screenplay Academy Award.

He also performed in Rebel Without a Cause, Giant Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet. Recently, he portrayed Ben Cendars on the television series Crash.

Memorial Day

photo source: author

Memorial Day is a day for honoring military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle in the line of duty while serving the United States of America.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson and the United States Congress declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. A ceremony was held there on May 5, 1866, one hundered years earlier honoring local veterans who had died while serving in the Civil War. Businesses closed for the day and residents flew flags at half-staff.

At the end of World War I, the day was expanded to include all those who had given their life in a war or conflict while defending the United States of America.

Finally, in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) of the United States Congress.

Vietnam Monument - Washington, DC
(photo by author)

While enjoying a three day weekend, grilling ribs, going to the beach, taking that long beautiful ride through the mountains, please pause for a moment and give honor to those who have put themselves in harms way and paid the ultimate sacrifice to provide you the freedoms that we all take for granted.

WWII Monument - Washington, DC
(photo by author)

God Bless America!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anytime, Anywhere. They are there!

This week is National EMS (Emergency Medial Services) Week.

Kudos to the men and women around this country serving countless sleepless hours to respond in moments of crisis - some paid and some volunteer putting themselves in harms way to bring medical aid and save lives.

It is an underpaid career that is often times thankless. And many of the providers are either volunteers giving up time with their families to provide for their community or underpaid providers working two jobs to try to make ends meet so that their community has emergency health care. Many take advantage of the service and use it as a hospital taxi service, but when the real emergency arises, these folks make haste to provide the ultimate level of medical care to you, your friends, and your loved ones.

When you are traveling on the roadways and highways of our country and an Ambulance or Rescue vehicle is approaching you from the rear with lights blazing and siren screaming, pull to the right and give them room to get by. It could be someone you know and love in dire need of their services. Never tailgate an emergency vehicle as a way to get thru traffic.

Thanks to those of you serving our communities in the EMS. We appreciate your dedication.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Motorcycles are Everywhere! Be Aware!

If you drive an automobile, please take four minutes to view this video:
Intersection Video

Look Out for Motorcyclists - Use your eyes and mirrors to see what’s around.

Don't Be Distracted - Hang up and drive, put down the food, the pet, the personal grooming gear, the CD, and the reading material and save it for later.

Give Two-Wheelers Some Room - Don't tailgate or get too close side-by-side.

Use Your Turn Signals - Signal your intentions. It's also the law.

Keep it in the Car - Don’t throw trash and cigarettes out the window, and securely lash down cargo that can fall out on the road and be a deadly hazard.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In Harm's Way

Photo Source:

In Harm's Way
The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
Doug Stanton


Anyone who has a love for the Sea,Naval interest, or interest in World War II will probably enjoy this 354 page read. I think I consumed it in three evenings.

The Navy cruiser USS Indianapolis CA-35, a Portland-class cruiser of the United States Navy, played a very strategic role in ending the war by transporting the components of the first Atomic Bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26, 1945. The bomb was later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by the B-29, Eola Gay.

After delivery this highly secret cargo, the Indianapolis was ordered to sail to Leyte Gulf, on the East Coast of the Philippines, to take part in "gunnery practice". Captain Charles Butler McVay III and a crew of 1,197 men began the 1,500 nautical mile journey.

At 12:14 am on July 30, 1945, the Indianapolis was struck by a torpedo which tore away the bow. A second torpedo struck seconds later. An SOS was quickly sent out on a backup radio system as the main radio was destroyed in the damage as was the ship's intercom system. The Captain ordered an abandon ship by word of mouth. The ship sank within 12 minutes according to survivors leaving 880 men suffering from burns to try and survive at Sea.

Because the ships fuel and oil tanks were ruptured in the attack, the survivors were left to swim in a huge oil slick. To make matters worse, the SOS message sent out by the Indianapolis was ignored and the men responsible for keeping track with the ship's arrival in Leyte did not elect to report its lack of arrival.

The surviving 880 men were left to fend for themselves without food or drinking water adrift in the South Pacific with regular attacks by sharks. Five days later, 317 of the original 880 men were able to signal Lieutenant Chuck Gwinn, flying a Lockheed Navy Ventura PV-1 bomber and a rescue effort began.

This book chronicals the story of the Indianapolis during this tragic experience. I found it to be a very good read and hope you do too.

Additional Sources:

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I'm on a Boat

Having never been on a cruise in my life, the thought of it was intriguing. So when we began to consider ideas for a vacation getaway, the thought of going on a cruise was one I gladly entertained.

We finally opted for four nights on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas. While the smallest ship in the RC fleet, it held 2,600 people - half the population in the town where I grew up.

Monday we awoke to rain and radio reports of every paved roadway near Atlanta in total upheaval. The typical 30 minute ride to the MARTA station took two hours which severely impacted our chances of making the airport on time. But with the traffic in its current state, driving through or around Atlanta to reach the airport were also out of the question. Once on the train, I began to receive email updates from the airline informing that the flight was delayed. This was both good and bad news. The good news, we would be able to make the flight. The bad news, we might miss the boat.

photo source:

Once the plane landed at Miami, we had 45 minutes left before the cruise line would not accept passengers. A nice taxi driver understood the pinch we were in and did his best to get us to the Port of Miami with a few minutes to spare. Apparently the weather had delayed a couple of flights and our flight had contained numerous fellow cruisers. So, the port quickly filled behind us. The ladies checking people in commented they had been bored for the last two to three hours.

As both breakfast and lunch had been missed in the mayhem of trying to reach the Port of Miami before sailing time, once onboard we headed straight to the buffet with suitcases in tow. As I ate, images of "Lord of the Flies" ran through my head. My pulse rate and blood pressure began to slowly return to a normal range as we located our stateroom and tried to forget the events of the day.

The ship pulled out of Miami Monday evening at an amazing 15 knots (17.262 mph) to make the 160 mile journey to the Southernmost City. We awoke Tuesday morning to the sight of channel markers from our balcony. And finally, the outline of Key West appeared in the distance.

We made our way to the gangway while our shipmates who had partied all night long beside the pool slept and made our way to Two Friends Patio Restaurant where we arrived as they were opening their doors for breakfast. Our previous visit to Key West had both taught us that this was an excellent choice for breakfast and that if you arrived at the door at 8am, you would be the first customer of the day.

We then ventured a few blocks to the Audubon House with its gorgeous garden and the restored 19th century home of Captain John H. Geiger. The house itself is worth the $12 admission price. The tropical gardens that surround it are icing on the cake.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the streets of our favorite city before making the "all aboard" mid-afternoon.

The following morning following breakfast, we walked out on our balcony to see the pilot boat from the port of Nassau.

We went ashore and wandered the streets of Nassau. We found a "Harley" store selling shirts but no motorcycles, although they had one softtail sitting in the window. In the United States this would be impossible as a merchant cannot get official Harley-Davidson clothing to sell unless they are a full fledged dealer selling and servicing motorcycles. Apparently the rules are different in the Bahamas.

The streets of the downtown area are dirty, small and crowded. Every block you walk you have three different people asking if you want to rent a scooter or want a taxi to "Atlantis", the fancy resort built on the other side of the bay. And every block is a girl wanting to braid hair. Every automobile imaginable has the word "Taxi" handpainted on the door. The streets are the equivalent of a narrow alleyway with cars parked down one side and scooters and cars fighting for the remaining space. Most of the stores are unairconditioned, dimly lit, with sand covered concrete floors. In all of this apparent poverty stands a Burger King and a Starbucks. One block over from the waterfront are stores selling Cartier, Boliva, and Rolex in bright white painted buildings that resemble American jewelry stores but who can say if the products are authentic.

While many piled into taxis and stretch limosines and headed to Atlantis, underwhelmend by the 8-10 blocks of downtown, we headed back to the Majesty of the Seas and enjoyed the pools and hottubs that were scarcely populated and the attentive staff.

We had planned to spend a very relaxed and informal week and had not visited the ships dining room, but our cabin steward pointed out that with the exception of formal night, the dining room was open to informal dress. So, we made the dining room for our appointed time at our appointed table and were quite impressed with the service and the quality of the food. Lesson #1 of dining, even if you do not plan to pack a jacket and tie for formal night, enjoy the dining room onboard every evening that it is open.

The next morning we arrived at Little Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands which Royal Caribbean leases and renamed Coco Cay. A tender met us to take us ashore where a fleet of jet skis awaited our arrival. After a rivetting video on the operations of a jet ski and U.S. Cost Guard guided saftey procedures, we set out for one and a half hour rop around the island.

We returned to the Cay and wandered the crystal clear waters and the pristine beaches until the cruise line opened the chow lines serving burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and chicken.

After a little more wandering the one mile island, we hopped a tender back to the ship and relaxed before hitting the dining room for the evening.

Another night at cruising speed, 9 knots and we were pulling into the Port of Miami at sunrise.