Sunday, November 16, 2014

I've Changed and Picking Up Where We Left Off

I came into work last Tuesday night and Leslee asked me why I hadn't posted a photo of myself from my Navy days to my Facebook page for Veteran's Day the way I usually do. I told her that "I just wasn't feeling it this year". My military service doesn't make me as proud as it once did. It was only a few years ago that you'd usually find a US flag flying out in front of our home for such holidays but I no longer do that either. I've changed.

I remember how the pastor where I used to attend church would honor all of the veterans in attendance one Sunday morning each year by having us stand and be acknowledged. It was always a proud moment for me. So what happened? What changed?

I've never seen my time in the Navy as something I did out of patriotism for our country. Patriotism had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to join and while I can't speak for those I served with, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that many (if any) of them were serving out of some sense of love-of-country. For the most part, we were young kids just out of high-school, not sure of what else to do with our lives. Some of us were losers in society; not focused enough or ambitious enough to have plotted out anything beyond our senior year but we knew we needed to do something with our lives. To me, the Navy seemed as good a port in the storm as any.

I wrote a several part piece about my time in the military and what led up to it a few years ago. I doubt you'll find anything to do with patriotism anywhere in what I wrote.

What changed? For me, it was watching how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were waged and mismanaged. Also, realizing how our military has been and is being used by those who stand to profit from it. Did you know that there are literally tens of billions of dollars unaccounted for on the balance sheets of our defense department for our two ongoing wars? It's disturbing. People are getting rich from sending our sons and daughters to fight these trumped up wars. I suppose it's been this way for much longer than I want to believe but I'm just now noticing it. Our defense department has become so obscenely bloated that I no longer feel proud to be associated with it the way I once was. That's what's changed. Perhaps there will come a day when I see things differently but likely not in this lifetime.

The military was a good jumping off point for me into adulthood and it still can be for others. It's the motives behind the missions that leave me feeling disillusioned about it today. But still, I'm grateful for my time in the Navy and the growth I experienced in those years.

I received a subpoena to appear in court to testify about what I witnessed back in June when there was an altercation between a couple of tree trimmers in our neighborhood. I'm hoping a plea-bargain is reached so I can avoid the disruption in my schedule but I'm not counting on it.

Winter arrived this past week in the form of a 'polar vortex', picking up right where it left off last spring. I'm not looking forward to another repeat of last winter but if we must at least I've got my fat-bike to help me cheat this winter a few hours at a time just like last year. I made it down to the river a couple of times last week for several hours of trail riding. Here's Friday's adventure in map form.

I drove to Freewheel Bikes in Minneapolis on Thursday to talk with them about getting a front suspension fork for my Mukluk. I'd like the suspension for the increased control it will give me on the trails but also to help reduce the amount of vibration making its way into my videos. Win-win.

I spoke with Tyson, one of Freewheel's mechanics and he told me that there's no quick fix for me because of the diameter of my headtube; it's too small. When I bought my bike nearly 3 years ago there were no fat-bikes with suspension and they've only just recently begun to show up. Tyson cautioned me that although it's assumed that fat-bikes will be ridden in the winter, the technology for the suspension being seen on some of the newer models hasn't really been tested to his liking in frigid conditions and the amount of shock absorption they'll provide in colder temps may not be all that great. That wasn't what I wanted to hear but I appreciated his honesty. I'll be back in the spring to see what others who've ridden the newer breed of suspension bikes throughout the coming winter have to say and then maybe I'll upgrade if there's something out there to my liking.

Until then I'll be just fine...

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