Friday, October 29, 2010

She's a Beauty

38 years ago today, I wasn't here.  I would be in less than 6 months, but not just yet.  38 years ago today, though, my lovely wife was born.  Today, she is the manager of the Emergency Room in the hospital where she was born, ironically, and is a huge asset to her co-workers and patients, alike.  She is total opposite to me, too, so it's true what they say...opposites really do attract.  She is outgoing, always wearing a smile, and people simply adore her.  I, on the other hand, wear my emotions and feelings all over my face and have been told countless times that there is zero doubt how I am doing simply by taking one glance at me.  I don't have a million friends, have never really had a "best" friend (except for her, of course), and simply don't come across as a bundle of joy!  She also is a great mom to our girls...normally laughing her way through times when punishment really is the proper course, but can't hold back the giggles as the girls do something funny and wrong at the same time.  With her, the funny wins out.  For me, I'm the one who cracks the whip and dishes out the punishment as needed while trying to conceal the laughter of mommy over in the corner laughing or rolling on the floor in laughter.  This makes sense, you know...  She used to laugh when she was punished as a kid and it drove her parents bananas!  This laughter-trumping-over-punishment style she has drives the girls to nearly always run to her for requests before me.  That's OK, though...a little good-cop, bad-cop thing can actually work pretty well while raising a family...just as long as we're all loving each other.

Many don't know it, but we got married a year out of high school.  We weren't high school sweethearts but were instead best and on, that is.  We "went out" a lot but never as boyfriend/girlfriend.  I still paid for the meals with my wimpy McDonald's "salary"...wuz up wit that?!?!  I wanted the "next step" but never got there while in school and we graduated from high school that way.  Still, we considered each other our best friend.  After high school, I left for boot camp in the Navy immediately and that did it...once I left, she came runnin'!  By Christmas that year, we were engaged and by Thanksgiving the next year, we were married.  That was almost 18 years ago.  Since then, she's been a huge supporter of me and serving my country.  It's a delicate balance when you have kids, a spouse, and an obligation to serve your country.  Keeping that "3-legged stool" from toppling over is tricky.  We're doing it, though, and it's totally a team effort.  Through 10 years of active duty service and now (since 2007) as a Reservist, she puts up with late-night conference calls and weekends away as I serve.  She'll really step up to the plate when I have to leave for an extended period of time.  Through this all, she never, ever complains.  She has always supported me 110% without even a shred of complaining.  She even let me erect a 20 foot flagpole outside along with the "Navy Jack" below it which flies 24/7.  (see photo at upper right on my blog)  They say that military wives are truly as important as the service-member himself.  This is so true.  I am only 50% of the equation.  I look forward proudly to the day when I retire and during that ceremony, will look to her, probably in tears, and thank her for HER service.  Never a cross word, never a shred of non-support...nothing.  Unwavering service to her country and asking nothing in return.   That's a true patriot, a true woman, a true American, and my wife.  I love her so much.

So to her, Happy Birthday, my Love!!!  You are truly an inspiration to me and I'm not ashamed to say it (obviously!).  I'm so glad our paths in life brought us together and can think of no one else I'd rather spend my life with.  I look forward to celebrating 50+ years of marriage with you and seeing our kids though high school, college, family and more.  I can not imagine it any other way.  As Jerry Maguire said in 1996: "You complete me."  You really do.

Happy Birthday, Love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

M-Cubed for 10/25/2010

Monday Morning Musings for October Twenty-Fifth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- 8 days until election day.  Amongst other things like the GOP taking back control of the House and Senate and Ohio reverting back to a GOP governor, it's my town's 3rd try at an operating levy.  I've given every ounce of effort I have been able to muster up in support of this and can't think of anything else I could've done.  Now, it's time for the citizens to stand up for their community and their school.  Tonight is the last official meeting and will be a public town hall forum with the whole administration on hand along with the Board of Education to answer questions from the public.

 - Katherine had her last soccer game on Saturday which was also the championship game.  It was a really good game and ended up in a tie.  The final score was decided via a shoot-out and we lost.  Bummer to lose but in the end, it was a super game and season for both teams so we celebrated by having some authentic Mexican for lunch afterwards and I scooped the last of Billock's Ice Cream to the kids and parents.  The ice cream shop is now closed until Spring 2011.

 - How in the world did the Cleveland Browns beat the defending Super Bowl champs in New Orleans?!  That totally befuddles me.  I'm very happy for the Brownies, though, and hope they bring some of that mojo back to Cleveland with them for their next home game.

 - It was a great "run" but all good things must come to an end.  Back nearly 2 years ago, I started the WRTR (Western Reserve Trail Running) Newsletter with about 200 subscribers.  Today, it is almost to 1700.  It's become THE resource for the latest news and results in our booming trail running community.  Effective immediately, I've handed over the reigns to a fellow trail runner.  I really felt it was time for a fresh, new perspective and for me to take a breather and focus on some other things in my life.  I wish the new editor all the best!

 - Yesterday, I had the pleasure of bleeding off some testosterone with some firepower.  Into the woods went myself and few other friends to use up some ammo and try out some new "toys"...among those, the M4 rifle.  Weapon of choice, I believe, of our soldiers in the war.  I loved it and it was certainly my favorite of the day.  We also shot a 357 Magnum, .45, 9mm, .22, and even some fresh gun powder was ignited.  All-in-all, a super time!

- "oooooohhhhh, weeee!!!  What up with that?  What up with that?" - for you SNL fans, I bet you're laughing right about now.  Love that skit!

 - How I missed it, I do not know.  At the end of the Oil Creek 50K one week ago Saturday, someone actually planned out a marriage proposal!  Very cool and all captured on video.  Check it out here.

- More good news on my budding photography hobby.  2 more magazines asked for a total of 7 photos that I took during September's YUT-C 50K/25K and July's BT50K.  One a trail running magazine and another a womens-only running magazine.  They found them online and asked permission to use them and for the high resolution originals.  Of course, I shared them!  I am really looking forward to seeing more of my photos in print.  Of course, when it happens, I'll share the news on here.

- Speaking of photos, Friday night marked an evening hobbling around railroad tracks and over large boulders besides the Cuyahoga River in downtown Kent.  From a friend's referral, we found a photographer to shoot family photos of us.  We CAN NOT WAIT to see them!!!  If you are familiar with my 36th and 37th Birthday Runs over the last 2 years, I stopped at this location both times and shot some pics.  It was a perfect setting, especially with the fall colors, for a family photo shoot.  Here is her home on Facebook for her business.  I think you'll agree...her photos are amazing and as for cost, she is extremely reasonable.  Enjoy!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: A Sailor's View

That's what I mean, too.  A view.  With the extremely varied pieces of news and opinions swirling around the internet, Facebook, and newspaper world, I thought it time to share my thoughts on the subject.  I feel that I have a good perspective, too, since I served on active duty with the Navy for 10 years and serve today in the Reserve.  It amazes me at how some people rant, post, and blah, blah, blah who have never served a day in their life in our country's military.  But, that's a freedom we have in our country so I don't get bent out of shape over it...I just roll my eyes and scroll on.

A person's sexual preference is none of my or out of uniform.  It just isn't.  As a citizen of the United States and human being, my preference is my business and yours is yours.  I have my opinions, based upon how I was raised, my faith, and decisions I've made as an adult, but like I said, that's my opinion and I'm entitled to are you and everyone else.

However, in the military, we have a mission, as ordered by our superiors and ultimately, the Commander in Chief.  That mission must be accomplished and every single thing that could impact it must be evaluated and dealt with.  In the military, it is not a democracy.  Yes, we have rights...we are Americans.  But things like protesting, unhinged free speech, disobeying orders...well, that just isn't acceptable.  We took an oath to obey the orders given to us and to defend our country.  A voluntary oath.

About that mission and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, here's my stance: if DADT is not in place and the ban is lifted, I believe that if this "situation" can negatively impact accomplishing the mission, I do not support it.  It is not a matter of right vs. wrong, it's human nature.  We are all human beings and whether this
should impact fellow soldiers, sailors, Marines, or airmen is not the's whether it would.  WOULD it impact mission readiness and accomplishing the goal?  Well, that depends on every single situation uniquely. Does it impact making dinner at a camp in Iraq?  Probably not.  Does it impact a platoon on the front lines in Afghanistan?  It could, couldn't it?  Should it, though?  That really doesn't matter if you keep reminding yourself that this is not about equality, it's about accomplishing the mission.  Forget civilian life where you have all your rights in tact.  This is not civilian life.  I hope I'm making my point, here.  If it has no impact on accomplishing the mission, then I really don't have a problem with it.  Unfortunately, my viewpoint will never become law or policy because it truly is a case-by-case.  I suppose the legislators in Washington could say "No submarines." "No combat." etc., etc., etc.  You know, they did that (and still do) to women.  When I was on active duty, I was a nuclear mechanic, serving on nuclear aircraft carriers and fast-attack submarines.  Women were banned from the nuclear power program but were brought back in right as I was leaving the Navy.  They still aren't allowed on submarines and in combat.  Why, submarines?  Because it impacts the mission.  Closed space + underwater + days/months on end + lots of men + human nature = you get the idea.  Like I said, it's not about if this is's about what it IS.  Period.

So before you go on your rant about "Equality, equality, equality!!!!," think about what the whole point is for our nation's military and try to understand the climate in which they live.  These are my thoughts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

M-Cubed for 10/18/2010

Monday Morning Musings for October Eighteenth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

Well, not exactly.  Today will not be a smattering of thoughts.  In fact, they are focused, on point, and have one general theme.  Together, they do constitute a blog post and really trump everything else from the past week.  Oil Creek deserves no less!!!

I left on Friday afternoon for the Oil Creek State Park...about 2.5 hours east of my home in Ohio.  It's an easy, comfortable drive consisting of about 75% interstate and the rest, country driving through the fall foliage.  I've said it before, the Oil Creek Trail Runs hold their place at the top of every event I've ever been a part of.  25 marathons, 3-hundred milers, and several ultras...Oil Creek is #1.  It's not just the course, the race itself, the people, or the perfect's a combination of them all.

While I await race reports from many of my friends who tackled the distance (some not covering it all and some capturing their finisher's buckle), I will just give you a snapshot of what I observed and how it impacted me.  I didn't run it this year but instead crewed Shaun (which means leap-frogging the course and being there at different aid stations, waiting for him to give him whatever he needs as he covers 100 miles), parked cars on Friday night, and helped out at the aid stations.

From the initial drive in to Titusville, the small town of where the oil industry was born, it felt like I was home again.  I arrived at Titusville Middle School a bit early and school was still in session.  As I sat outside, I imagined how different this place, soon to be dubbed "Race Headquarters" would change over the next 48 hours.  As school let out, other volunteers started showing up and before it got too busy, I headed over to the Perk Place Cafe to meet up with some of my NEO Trail friends to share some late lunch and pre-race chatter then headed back to TMS to park cars.  As night started to fall, the skies cleared and temperatures dropped and I headed on in to the pre-race briefing where Tom Jennings had just finished giving away door prizes.  Not just any door prizes, either.  Nathan and Montrail were two big sponsors and he gave away items surpassing the $50 mark...several of them.  In fact, he had a free-for-all at the end of many miscellaneous items because he had so much stuff.  After a great briefing and recognition of the 2009 winners who were back again, the school quickly emptied except for those sleeping in the me.  I learned my lesson from 2009 and brought a new inflatable mattress.  It was the bomb!  Before I knew it, it was 9pm and the gym went dark and quiet.  The 100-miler would start at 5am, the 100K at 6am, and the 50K at 7am.  Luckily, I inflated my mattress earlier with my loud pump so I was good-to-go.  I chit-chatted with friends a little more then hit the sack.

As I normally do, I woke up without an alarm at 3:30am and people were already wandering around in their socks...wandering aimlessly and often in a fog.  I'm sure thoughts like "What in the world have I gotten myself into?" were among the thoughts or "Where's the coffee?" were others.  In fine Oil Creek style, volunteers were already standing by in the cafeteria to check in runners and the coffee was brewed.  Soon, the parking lot was filling back up and some who pitched their tent out in the front lawn were coming out of their shell to greet the stars, moon, and 40F morning.  I (of course) had my portable espresso pot and brewed a double batch on the gymnasium floor...and filled the room with the aroma of fresh, Italian espresso.  I just knew someone would want half of it...and someone did.  Mark Anson, who was running the 100K and already up, took me up on a fine portion of espresso and loved it.  That did the trick and I have a feeling that I'll be brewing it for him again in the future.

I don't know where to insert in this post today about the intangible part of the weekend.  I haven't mentioned it yet, so I suppose this is as good a spot as any.  It's the people.  It's the relationships.  I cannot adequately explain to you without you experiencing it firsthand how good it "felt" to be back at Oil Creek.  I have made countless new friends out of this event in 2009 and seeing them again (off of Facebook!!!) was simply priceless.  There is an extra special touch of humanness at ultra-marathons and especially at 100-milers that is 2nd to none.  Time after time after time again, I was getting pulled aside by those people who I'd been wanting to see again and they spotted me first.  I talked and smiled more than I have in a very, very long time all weekend long which made it very sad to finally leave on Sunday.  It was getting quite humorous as I hung out at Aid Station #2 at Petroleum Center which was at miles 14, 45, and 72.  No less than 5 people knew me via this blog whom I never met before.  "Aren't you Nick?" they'd ask.  "Yea." I'd respond.  "I know who you are," they'd say back.  Now if I had never been to Oil Creek and didn't have a blog, this would freak me out!!!  But, I was flattered and it was great to meet more people yet again.  I had the opportunity, as well, to hang out with Kathleen much of the weekend who I was supposed to pace at Burning River this year (remember that?) and catch up with her.  She was there to pace Mark (who I brewed espresso for).

A few highlights and then I'm off to tackle Monday:

- Shaun Pope: Shaun was in first place through the 50K mark and was looking as good as ever.  However, he was starting to have intestinal issues and when he arrived at mile 45, it was bad enough that his day had to end.  Myself and his girlfriend did all we could for him and prodded him to get back on the trail, but he knew it was time.  Several hours later when I arrived back at Race HQ at the middle school, Tom (race director) informed me that Shaun requested to re-start where he dropped out and finished what he started.  FYI: this is unheard of!  Especially from someone as talented as Shaun who wins many races.  Clearly, he was determined to finish what he started, not caring about the clock.  At this point, I wasn't crewing him as I had no idea where he was, when he re-started, or where his gear was.  It appears (via the online results) that his day still ended short of the finish line (about 31.2 miles further than he'd previously gone) but still, his example to us all cannot and should not be ignored.  "Shaun, you have a huge fan base out here and you proved yet again why we all hold you in such high esteem.  You define what it is to be a great ultra-runner and person.  My hat is off to you.  Recover well, get well, and I'll see you again on the trails."

- I am sorry I didn't see many more of my friends on the course.  When I did see you, I hope I gave you what you needed and a swift kick in the tail-end down the trail.  I loved seeing the determination in so many of your eyes and the pure determination to get the job done.  There was no other place I would have rather been than at those aid stations.

- To all you first-timers (100-mile, 100K, and 50K), JOB WELL DONE!!!  To get your "first" at Oil Creek is no small feat.  Oil Creek is no is tough, gnarly, and unforgiving.  It will humble the cockiest of runners and gain the respect of all.  And while still being tough, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I am so proud of so many of you and wish I could have split myself in multiple pieces and crewed each one of you the whole way.  You, simply by your determination, inspire me to be better, do better, and press on.  Recover well and wear that buckle proudly!

- To all you veterans of the distance, it was good to see you again and especially those who were new to Oil Creek State Park.  I didn't talk to a single one of you who hadn't fallen in love with it.  Great job at conquering the distance and giving it all. had 20 minutes left.  You were on that trail for 31hrs, 40min and still finished.  True grit...period.  NICE JOB! were an inspiration each time I saw you...smiling, cruising through aid stations, moving quick...always a pleasure to see you.  Gombu, I nearly gave you a kick in the rear out of the aid station a few times that you do so well to others at other races.  I am very happy to see you got your "Sweet 16"....your 16th 100-mile finish.  You continue to amaze me.  Bill Losey...nice job at yet another finish!  You, too, were consistently positive and charging forward.  There are others I am not mentioning that I just didn't see but I know you were there!  Well done!!!

Oil Creek...forever close to my heart and a place I hope to challenge in the future again someday.  Not in 2011 (will be on travel during that time) but perhaps in 2012.   Thanks to all involved with Oil Creek.  There are so, so many that make it all work seamlessly.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Monday, October 11, 2010

M-Cubed for 10/11/2010

Monday Morning Musings for October Eleventh, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- Reflecting back on Saturday's post, I keep thinking about the foundations I spoke faith, my wife/children, and serving my country.  I think a good self-check of a true foundation is whether or not you'd spill your blood to defend it.  If not, it probably doesn't justify as a foundation.  I can say "yes" to all 3 foundations.  That's just my opinion, of course, but I think it is a good barometer to know exactly where you stand.  There are many other "priorities" in life but those are built upon a strong foundation.

- Yesterday marked my one-year anniversary since my 3rd 100-mile and most memorable finish ever.  I finished the Oil Creek 100 Miler in 30hrs, 49min one year ago yesterday.  This weekend, I'm traveling back to the small town of Titusville for the 2nd annual event.  I can't wait to see everyone!  I finally purchased an inflatable mattress for the Titusville Middle School gym floor at Target so I'm all set!  I'll be volunteering and hopefully, crewing Shaun Pope through the day/night.

- Reflecting on my OC100 finish a year ago, I spent an hour on the trails of West Branch State Park last night at sunset.  My goal was to mentally relax, take some gorgeous raw photos with my Canon GS11, and take a few jogs around the park.  It was perfect in every way.  I got some great shots and they're on my photo blog, listed in my blog roll on the right side of this page.

- It's $5 Mighty Movie Monday!  The Kent Plaza Theaters in Kent, OH admits all patrons on Mondays for $5 along with a free popcorn.  The icing on the cake is that they give free admission to military.  So, today we're all heading over to see Secretariat.  Looking forward to it!

- We haven't had quality family pictures taken for nearly 9 years.  Recently, friends of ours had theirs taken in Kent and they are absolutely breathtaking.  After seeing the pics, we are enlisting the services of the same photographer and are heading to Kent as well this Sunday for a family photo shoot.  Looking at our friends' album, we can't wait!  "Captured by Kelly Photography" is the photographer.  Cost wise, she is extremely reasonable.

- I've been doing all that I can do to support my local school system and the upcoming 3rd try to pass the emergency levy.  Here's a letter I drafted to the local newspaper.  If it fails again, we are heading down a very nasty dark path in our small community.

- My oldest daughter once again did an incredible job yesterday at church, singing a solo.  Singing for her comes naturally and she's really good at it.  A little more confidence in herself is all she needs!  (she doesn't get this talent from her parents, by the way!!!)  View it here for a limited time.

- I forgot to mention it last Monday.  DietsInReview asked me to write an article about ultramarathon nutrition.  The word limit was extremely small so I found it difficult to say everything I wanted to but all-in-all, I'm happy with it.  Read it here.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time to Vent

Full Disclosure: this is a venting kind of post.  You've been warned!

It's no secret.  I wear the cloth of my country part time as a member the U.S. Navy Reserve.  I also wore it full time for 10 years from 1991-2001.  While I don't talk about the details in any public forum, rest assured that it consumes much more than the "weekend warrior" assumption that 99% of people have.  Serving my country is something I believe in to my core.  It is absolutely a foundation in my life.  Other foundations would be my faith and my wife and children.  It's such a foundation that after leaving active duty honorably in 2001, I couldn't stand to be out any longer so I re-joined in 2007, but this time as a reservist.  Doing this eyes-wide-open in the post-9/11 era comes with it a knowledge that it should be expected to go to war some day.  "But you're in the Navy," so many people say.  True.  Also true that today's Navy Reserve is viewed as one with the full-time Navy.  This is because of the conflicts going on in the Middle East.  We are heavily involved in support of the war effort as directed by the Commander in Chief.  The Navy doesn't only drive ships and submarines, they are also heavily involved in logistics and construction...2 things in super high demand in a time of war and reconstruction.  I am a Navy Supply Officer.  Logistics is my "thing" so of course, there is a high "demand signal" for me and others like me.

Now my rant: Men and women for decades have voluntarily (and in other times involuntarily) stepped forward to maintain freedom for us in the country and for future generations.  With that freedom comes with it free speech.  Let me preface my following sentences with this...I believe in free speech and believe it is a major part of what makes us who we are today.  HOWEVER, when I see things like fundamentalists protesting during a Marine's funeral...I draw the line.  That very freedom to do such a thing was paid for by that Marine's blood!!!  Do you not get that????!!!!  (
read about this here and see some of the hatred against the family)  There is free speech and then there is abuse of that freedom and this is what I believe this is.  Exploiting a right to personally hurt and tread upon the family and grave of a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice is sickening and infuriates me beyond measure.  Enough said.

Personally, I felt "attacked" myself this week.  I cannot go into details although I would really LOVE to.  If it was a stranger I ran into and something happened...then I'd have no problem sharing.  Basically, it was just a complete ignorance of what is going on in this world right now and what truly is going on to fight and hunt down the enemy.  I simply have zero tolerance for people who, instead of learning the facts, spew away at the mouth about the war and what they "think" is true.  (dang, this is difficult not to give details!!!)  Then, to make comments to me personally, attacking my military service...well, that's simply fighting words!  THE COMPLETE IGNORANCE OF PEOPLE AND THEIR FEELING OF ENTITLEMENT TO THEIR FREEDOM FIRES ME UP LIKE NOTHING ELSE!!!!  (yes, I am shouting!)  breathe.....   OK.  This has nothing to do with giving me a pat on the back or anything like it.  I want nothing like that.  It's the complete lack of respect of people and acknowledgement of truth for what it is.  Truth: we are a country at war and not for the first time.  Truth: our freedom is MAINTAINED over generations from ALL who serve.  Truth: probably, someone (perhaps even a neighbor) is serving right now or has served and you have no idea.  Truth: you have NOT served!  Yes, this ignorance comes mostly (100% in my experience) from those who have never raised their right hand and swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  Certainly, the overwhelming majority of people are not like this but there are plenty who are.  Like they say...if the shoe fits, wear it.

I think you get the idea of my rant so enough said.  I leave you with the Oath I have taken more than once and will take again next August.

"I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Photo in UltraRunning Magazine!

Well, my efforts to get a photo I took of ultra-running legend, Ron Ross, from the 2010 Buckeye Trail 50K has gone to press!  I received my edition in the mail over the weekend and the scanned page is below.  For those of you who get this national publication, it's on page 44 of the October edition.  I LOVE IT!  (If I could insert my grin here, I would!)  You can click on it to go full screen and read the article if you'd like, as well.  Thank you to the many of you who supported me in this endeavor!  (hint: click on it then click again to zoom's a high quality scan so it should not be can even see the photo credit at the bottom right of the photo. :-} )

M-Cubed for 10/4/2010

Monday Morning Musings for October Fourth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- It was a grand evening at the Columbus Statehouse.  Celebrating the 235th Birthday of our nation's United States Navy, I attended the Navy Ball on Saturday night.  I also had the honor of escorting the most senior Naval Officer (a rear admiral) to the Ball.  Prior to dinner, I took part in the tour of the Statehouse, a Greek-inspired building which was built in 1839.  If you ever get the opportunity to tour it or sit in on the Senate or House of Representatives, do so.  I love Greek architecture and if you do, too, you will adore this building and bedrock of our history in Ohio.  Of course, I shot a few photos and they are here.  The evening was chock-full of Naval Tradition like honoring the fallen Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a beautiful Navy hymn sung by The Ohio State ROTC Choir, the Honor Guard who paraded the colors, and of course...great food.  The guest speaker was a retired Navy Captain of 31 years who was a Navy fighter pilot who was also a POW (Prisoner of War) in Vietnam with Senator John McCain.  His story from the "Hanoi Hilton" was amazing.  Very much later in his years now, he still wore his dinner dress uniform to the Ball as he retold his story.  He is also credited with shooting down a MIG...pretty awesome!

- Pardon my lack of blogging as of late.  My "part time job" in the Navy has greatly increased its demand on my time and thus, less blogging.  If you are interested in a post every couple of days, I don't see that anytime soon!  I will, however, try to keep my M-Cubed updates going for now.  I do enjoy writing and reflecting at least once a week about the week gone by.

- Oh, School Levy, you are here again.  Failed twice this year already, I am getting my feet wet on the 3rd attempt.  Tonight is another levy committee meeting which I'll attend.  I am trying my hardest to convince the school system and Teachers Union to put out POSITIVE information in the press.  There has been too much negative talk and since we lost the first 2 votes 2 to 1, unless something is changed, we'll lose yet my opinion, by a larger margin.  Like I say often: Doing something the same over and over again yet expecting different results is the definition of stupidity.  Unless we change how we do things, it'll never pass.  I am but one concerned parent of kids in the school system.

- "The Social Network."  GREAT movie.  Friday night, this movie opened which tells the story of the birth of Facebook.  At first, you may think that you'll only get a dry documentary-style movie.  Far from the truth, actually.  It has been praised uniformly across the critics and I agree, it was very good.  To any "die hard FB user," you'll love it.  Seeing the path from it's inception to today when there are 207 countries using it, over 500 million users, and it gets more hits than Google...well, it's amazing.  It's founder is the youngest billionaire...ever.  Afterwards, I ducked into the sequel to Wall Street.  I give it 2 stars at best.  The original Wall Street was/is a masterpiece.  This is your typical, mediocre follow-on to a great movie.  It was good to see Mr. Gekko again, though.

- 12 days till Oil Creek!!!  I have great news, too.  I'll be crewing Shaun Pope who wins many of our local trail races in the area.  He's in his early 20s and has incredible talent.  I won't jinx him and say he's going to win but I will say that he has a very good chance of it.  I will do my best to serve him from start to finish!  As his crew (in case you don't know), my job will be to go to each aid station where crew has access and provide him whatever he needs.  New clothes, socks, food, positive encouragement, or perhaps a swift kick in the butt down the trail.  Sometimes you need that during a 100-miler.  I'll be heading down on Friday first to help out with setup and anything else they need.  The race starts at 5am on Saturday, October 16th in Titusville, PA!

- The Navy Ball was only one piece of a great 3-day extended Navy weekend.  Most of it was spent in a Joint Forces Leadership Conference where the theme was deployment overseas and everything that goes with that like family, career, and first-hand stories from those who have gone and returned and the re-telling of their experiences.  The most moving talk came from a Marine who told of the loss of 23 of his men.  Out of respect for them and the sacrifices they made and the sacrifices that the remaining members are making right now, I'll leave it at that.  That talk did drive it all home, though.  This is war and our countrymen and women are giving their blood to maintain my freedom...and yours.  Let us NEVER forget.

- Is it really October?  Fiscal Year 2011?  Yikes.  The leaves are already coming down, too.  I had better get the drive fixed on that snowblower before the 2 feet of snow shows up again like it did last year.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!