Monthly Archives: May 2011


Big Z has been spiking a fever every other day, fighting off some bug that has been going around. She had a fever again last night, so no school for her today. It is the last day for Zak at daycare (Yay!) and tomorrow will be the end of the year for Zoe and the end of my little photo project. I plan to do it with Zak when he starts Kindergarten in August.

The change in routine means I can take the long route into work again. I did that this morning and I can see that I’ve gotten stronger. Climbs that would leave me gasping for air before STILL leave me gasping, but now I’m grabbing more gears and generating watts after I reach the top instead of soft-pedaling until my lungs catch up. Nice way to start the day.

I enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1996, on my 24th birthday as it happened, and served for five years, leaving the Guard in January of 2001. I spent a year aboard a cutter, the Escanaba, homeported in Boston, and then four more years at a small boat station in Nags Head, North Carolina. In five years of doing search and rescue I was part of a number of cases where lives were lost. There were some cases, elsewhere in the Guard, where crew were lost too. The only Coast Guard death that I was directly part of was when I was onboard the Escanaba.
It was one of my first patrols onboard the cutter, and we were doing fisheries operations in the closed areas off??the New England coast. To expand our reach in searching for vessels fishing illegally we had a Jayhawk helicopter on board. We'd been at sea for a few days, and were maybe a few weeks into our 6 week patrol – I didn't keep a diary and my memories of these events aren't exactly photographic. I think this may even have been my first patrol; I was still overwhelmed with learning what it meant to be a sailor at sea, adjusting to the rhythms and routines of life underway. Still, when I heard the Executive Office get on the 1MC just after dawn I knew it was an emergency before he even said the words. He called for the helo crew to make ready for emergency operations and suddenly the whole ship sprang to life. Dozens of people made their way to the hangar to get the helo and landing deck ready for launching, other crew members, some still pulling on their clothes, went to their stations. My job was to be part of the crew that would launch a rescue boat should the helicopter crash during takeoff or landing, and we had to wait on the mess deck??by the galley so we'd be out of the way while the helo launched. Then the XO called for stretcher bearers to lay to Engineering berthing, and suddenly we all understood that this time the emergency was for one of the crew.
An Electrician's Mate, probably my age, new to the crew and fairly recently married if I remember correctly, had gotten sick with strep. The HS1, essentially a well-trained EMT we all called "doc", had been treating him for a few days, but he'd gotten far worse overnight. This morning it was clear he was in bad shape and Doc had called for him to be medivac'd in the helo. Then he stopped breathing. The stretcher bearers carried him through the mess deck, Doc working a breathing bag, the whole scene one of controlled panic. The electrician's mate was unconscious, slick with sweat and pale like I'd never seen a person before. They got him up to the helo and that bird got off the deck faster than anyone had ever seen it done before. The helo flew him directly to a hospital in Boston, with the HS1, the helo crew's EMT, and another EMT-trained crewmember from our ship giving him CPR for the whole flight. He didn't make it. His strep infection had affected his heart, a problem??Doc didn't have the tools onboard to fully diagnose. Had we been in port he probably would have been ok, but we were at sea and??a long way from the kind of??help??he ended up needing.
My shipmate didn't lose his life during a rescue operation, or while conducting a law enforcement boarding, he just got sick while we were underway.??Every life lost by a servicemember, regardless of circumstances, is a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who choose to serve. Today, I remember my shipmate and everyone that I served with during my time in uniform, and give thanks to all of those who lost their lives in service to their country.

Jens Voigt gave an extensive interview to an Australian cycling website. This section includes an interesting take on what it was like racing with Lance, and how he was able to beat Jens by fooling him into thinking he wasn’t hurting.

BNA: Are there any victories in your career that you would have swapped with a challenge or race that you lost?

Voigt: I am in a lucky position that I had a few good wins. Generally speak I am happy and satisfied.(…)

And then there is the Tour of Georgia [2004] which is a relatively small race, and let me think how it was. It was a hill top finish [Stage 4], a nasty steep climb with 39:25 in the back and Lance was in the Yellow Jersey and in the end it was just Lance, Bobby Julich and me from CSC and one Columbia [rider], but he was 5 minutes down in the race so he didn’t matter for us. Bobby Julich attacked, Lance chased him down and I counter-attacked and I dropped Lance. I dropped him for 20 or 30 seconds, he was really behind. But then he somehow managed to come back to me.

At the time it was only my first or second year with CSC and I just didn’t have the knowledge that I have now. He came to me and I swear he was about to die but he managed somehow to get to my wheel then he was totally playing cool. He probably was breathing as much as he could before, so when he came next to me he was [blows coolly out]. He looked that he was so in control and that intimidated me. I went ‘Damn, he’s there, I cannot drop him’.

I swear he was about to die but he managed somehow to get to my wheel then he was totally playing cool.

Later I saw pictures of us and behind me he looked like he was about to die. If I only would have been in this situation again, I would have waited until he came to my wheel and then sprinted. Make it or break it. If I explode at the finish, 5 or 6 or 7 down, who cares, but I think I had a fair chance of beating him, and how many people can say they did beat Lance. I am sure he was absolutely on the limit but he had a little bit more experience, a little bit more psychological power, he was a little bit more determined, a little bit more clever. He played it out and I fell for it. ‘Oh he looks so strong, he is unbeatable, I will finish second’.

So he won the stage race and I was second and I think I was so close to taking it. We even talked about it and he admitted he was about to give up – if only I would have been in that situation again I would try to change that.



We had a thunderstorm with hail early this morning which disrupted our routine. We adapted by taking the whole family for bagels before heading to school. Zach walked with Zoe into her classroom, a taste of what’s to come for him in a few months.

A small group survived a direct hit from the Joplin tornado in a convenience store by taking shelter in the walk-in fridge. Mostly audio only, since the power was out, but what you hear is dramatic enough. When the tornado hits one woman keeps calling out to Jesus for protection, as it gets increasingly worse some men start doiong the same. At the height of the event a young man calmly announces, “I love everybody.” 

Update: The person who shot the video came back to show what the scene looked like in the daylight. That gas station took a direct hit and the destruction all around them is horrifying.