Thursday, November 29, 2007

Falcon II

Here is his wing as he jumps off.


Yesterday afternoon I rolled up from behind a big oak tree on this falcon standing on top of whatever grey red fleshy thing it had just killed on the ground in the 10th street cemetery. It looked up at me from less than five feet away, stood straight up off the ground without letting go of it's bloody bounty and then flew silently climbing up to the limb you see it perched on above. Look closely with a zoom and you can see blood on it's beak and it's talons digging into it's meal. I find birds of prey very unique creatures in an urban environment for they must kill daily to survive. This bird I had seen before but it had always been without camera. I watched him on this limb for a few minutes then he swooped down, hid his prey in the brush, then took up again above it to a taller tree. I will share more of the images in the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If you want to know if I have ever been hit, the answer would be yes.

Being a messenger has it's perks, like people you don't really know asking you the most amazing questions ever while trapped on the elevator with them. One of the perpetual inquiries for the past I dunno 9 years or so is to whether or not have I been hit. I got asked that one just the other day and I quickly remembered the car viper driver Xiomara, a Spanish Mexican American who spoke very little English. I have really been hit only once but is was scary. It was July 22, 2004 on my westbound homeward commute at Reddman and Central Ave. I was riding down the hill of the Centrolian split at around 22mph towards Reddman on my little pink Viner(pronounced-weener) when just before the bank entrance I was passed by a maroon Mazda mini van on my immediate left. As soon as she cleared my wheel she started coming across to the right for the quick dive into the bank without warning style kill the guy on the bike. I was not slowing fast enough as the dark paint came up along side of the sliding door and my left body while I was with her going to the front of her crossing all the way right in to the bank. She obliviously committed sending me to the right hard and accelerating in fear of my life to clear her front which did not happen. Instead her right front tire sucked in my rear wheel causing the bicycle to instantly drop down vertically 18inches and then bottom out on the frame. This caused the same action in my torso and my chest slammed on to the top of my upward turned bullhorn handle bars. As the car viper continued her accelerated turn still oblivious into the parking lot, the bike was then twisted by the turning of the car which raked the bars across my chest until the bar end came to a stop on my sternum and then my left hip slammed into the fender. At that point I was finally thrown free of the bicycle forward and somehow I managed a forward roll that landed me on my back 10-12 feet in front of the van still oncoming. I rolled over, stood up and screamed something that I cannot remember. When she finally stopped the car, I sat back down on the tar and realized I had been cut and was bleeding a little from a deep Nike looking swoosh just above my sternum. My scan reflexes worked again and I also knew I was not injured past the flesh wound so I called off the MEDIC response through the first police officer that arrived less than a few minutes later. A crazy man stopped before the cops got there and was yelling from the drivers seat of his S-10 pickup, " I saw everything, that woman ran him over!". Thanks a lot pal, please tell the cops will ya? Well he did and the black female bullet proof vest wearing officer notated on the report that,"The driver of vehicle 1 had ran over the pedestrian on the bike." Due to that in print Xiomara's insurance company came off with a check for 2,750$ to cover my pain and suffering and the loss off a total bike. Woo-Hoo, it was like trading pain and scary fast fear for a trip to a far away place.
An interesting side note is that my bike ripped a hole in her tire as seen at the 10o'clock position in the above side view of her flattened tire. Another point of interest is that I still have the Nike swoosh in scar like form, it will be around for awhile because it was sort of a deep wound. Maybe I will have it as a reminder with these pictures for life.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

C-Span 2 Report

Seeing Rudy Giuliani is prolly gonna be our next president I decided to watch him speak in front of some breakfast paying goers in New Hampshire. The monologue/answer a couple of questions forum was filmed yesterday morning and was aired on C-Span last night. I had never seen him speak before, only images of him being escorted around the carnage created on the morning of September 11th. Ironically enough in his speech last night he brought up 9/11 no less then 3 times in direct reference and multiple more times in an anecdotal style of reproach justification. I was not aware that Mr. Giuliani believes that the future president of this country needs to build a bigger, stronger and more offensive military than the one we have now. "More planes", he said, how witty.

After saying secondly multiple times to introduce his next thought, Rudy talked about tightening the borders and making it more difficult to immigrate to the USA. He proposes to deal with the illegal ones here in the now by giving them identification so that can can work legally. In which case this allows our government to educate their children. His impressions of the future are bigger walls and tighter borders with more agents on the job to do the work.

Diplomatically Rudy believes that the State Department should be held more accountable for what the world thinks about us as a country. Specifically he wants the US Ambassadors representing us around the world to take a more active role in communication. This means that he wants the foreign ambassadors to sit down with the people of the countries they are guests in and explain to them how great it is here and what we are all about. Unfortunately for me he never clarified what "We are all about", means.

Secondly, this was one of the strangest speeches I have ever seen. It was acting, someone else speaking for him. There could have been no way that he actually thinks what he was saying he was thinking but instead he was just playing a role. Even though I can never vote for him I feel like it has already been written that he will be our next president.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Friday after morning chores and domesticated duties at the house Ms. Arcen and I set out for Ray's Splash Planet for a few hours of water play. We left by bicycle for the Idlewild Park and Ride to catch the first Cats bus for the uptown. It was the first time my 8 year old and I have left Dooleyville on separate bikes, we have been adventuring for awhile on the tandem tag along but watching her sidewalk surf on her own was a whole new thing. We made the Central number 9 and were at the transit center in a jiff. From there we rode along the Lynx Light Rail path to 9th street, then across Tryon to Church into First Ward, then to 10th St and into the big cemetery to that little 5th St extension in front of the elementary school for the traverse to Rays. We made it and very safely I might add. After a couple of hours of swim and fun we headed out along the green way for Frazier park, then up the hill on Greenleaf to the back of the Panthers Stadium and around to the uptown for a vehicle extraction after the munnies settled. It was a good day for both of us and I was very proud at my kids ability to seek alternative transport all the while thinking nothing of it.

Other things happened this weekend as well. I fixed my Montero which has been dead for 8months with what I thought was a blown motor but instead turned out to be a broken 6$ coyle harness wire. My El Mechanico laughed at me and I bet is still sharing the story of the ingnorante gringo with his amigos.

I was able to ride with Andy of Durham from Thanksgiving Day fame early Saturday in the 33 degree chill at Poplar. It was the first time there since the trees have been slaughtered on the front half. I could not believe what it looked like, an LZ from Camp Lejuene is the best descriptive I can muster. I heard that Mr. Andrews is logging a portion to save some tax monies but holy crap it looks ripped.
Oh yea, I spent a some time creating the little video you are about to see, it takes a minute to load but be patient, you will laugh, I PROMISE! The stars of the film are Ms. Arcen, St. Lissa, Danger(one of our 3 dogs) and myself. Turn it up loud Captain~

On the car way home I snapped the picture of the moon trapped behind overhead, America and McYuk. I'm not sure why but I think it is an interesting image.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 2-Death of a Squirrel

Before our pasta party yesterday evening Ms. Arcen and I took off on a training ride through Dooleyville. As we made our way down one of the steeps in front of a row of pine we came upon a dead squirrel, a victim of vehicular homicide. When we stopped Ms. Arcen's first words were, "Is his brains out?" A quick check showed no signs of brains but we were both interested in this lifeless creatures presence in the middle of the road. It's eyes were wide open almost as if he or she was alive and just faking us out. I think both of us expected it to say something like, "Would you please get me out of the road?" After taking the above image we paid our respects and continued the ride, ever aware that the car vipers can destroy life. I have been taking images of road kill now for over 5 years, one day a coffee table sized book may be in order. At least I won't have to worry about getting a hold of my subjects to sign a release so that I may use their images to profit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 1

Happy Thanksgiving and Ride on~

This morning I was given the best Thanksgiving present ever, time to go for a local ride at Sherman Branch. It was under one condition, that I would be home by 1300hrs to start cooking from scratch the one and only Noni style red sauce that would be the nights base for our annual family pasta party.

When I arrived at SB I saw a closed gate and a black car with bike on back being driven by Andy of Durham. He told me that he planned to ride anyway and that he was going to leave his car in front of the gate. I told him that if you are going to poach this trail you can't leave your car here, they will tow it and fine you to boot, we have to go park at Ballsberry's house. So we went around the way and over the river to Ballsberry's house and entered the trail from a High clearance spur and made our way around. Even though it rained for 18minutes this morning the trail was completely dry and as solid as if we were in the middle of an extraordinary drought. I was glad that I ran into Andy, some chat company on the trail was nice and so was having a photographer with an eye. At one point by the low empty used to be swamp I was waiting in the quiet woods. There were three trees in front of me and in a vortex of wind a palm sized burgundy maple leaf lifted in a twisting propeller like motion from the ground to eye level where it levitated in front of my eyes for 10 seconds and then fell silently to the forested floor. The wind was dry and warm through the trees in front of a grey clouded sky. It felt strangely humid on this late November day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The SE/BM 29'er lives!!!

When I came back with an empty bike box from the Trans Germany where I finally destroyed the Spicer, Smoke at the Ultimate side of did the most amazing thing ever. I never expressed a concern for need but he took charge and gave me the SE/BM Fabrications SS rigid 29'er fully built. The day he called me to set me up I was not really thinking like okay, an entire bike may be coming my way, what for? At any rate he did it, he presented me the bike without exchange of in God we trust units and I was proud to have it, ride it, change it a little and ride it some more. Thanks Smoke!
When gave me the Mt Zion one of the dilemas was what to do with the SE/BM. My Friend Shannon of Rochester who I had been riding with a few times during the last 2 years has been on a clunky, old, dirty, heavy, sloppy and squishy 26 inch Fischer Sugar POS with all the crappy occasionally working gears that sounded like a Vegas slot room gone bad in the woods. The last time I was at Uwharrie she rode the SE for a bit and felt the difference which was apparent by a grin ear to ear. She was the perfect candidate for the passing of the SS 29'er torch so last night we built it up and it is hers to love.
The build took a little longer than I planned and for some reason I was having trouble concentrating on the beer she brought because of a few small PIA(I don't mean Pakistani International Airlines) problems. The first problem was I had to space out her drive side bottom bracket cup because I did not realize that there was a difference between the Sugar and the SE, just wasn't thinking. Those spacers were finally found in the pile on my work bench in the barn. The next problem was that I put the chain ring and bash guard flush together without spacing then mounted the cranks until I figured out my lack of beer induced mistake. Okay all that straightened out the rest went smooth, tires mounted, grips installed with glue, brakes adjusted, seat height fixed, and out the barn door she went, a changed rider for ever, for the rest of her days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Catawba images(click to make big)

An empty faux river

I'm not sure but it looks euro

Jordy's sweet ghetto transfer on his brain housing group

Hwy 74

Technical pipe crossing that gave me the shakes until I put my bike in front of me

Exploring new trails on the west side of the river
Is there a train coming?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Local Adventure

This idea came to me a few weeks ago while on a Spamerton road ride that heads north back up to Hwy 74 along the Catawba River, which is the biggest river basin in the Carolinas. Not being an expert on drought or anything it was real obvious that the river was indeed well below it's normal level, as a matter of fact it has never been this low on record. Interestingly enough this below stage scenario has created a hard sand surface that runs along the waters edge on the east side and west sides of the river which sparked the thought that the river could be traveled by bicycle as far as a bridge, then cross, travel in the opposite direction, find another bridge, cross and then ride back in the direction of the originating point. In addition to the spectacular newness of such an overland journey this ride could also have the benefit of seeing surface that has not been seen before, since the Catawba as never been so low.

So I rooked Jesse 'Dude' Hooks inventor of the "Not Right Ride" and Jordy "SSWC06 Cyclo-cross Champ" Moore into the ride which was set to head out North along the river from the US National White Water center(formally the Catawba River Mountain Bike Park) at 0830hrs yesterday. I woke up just before 0600hrs, dressed, had some oats and coffee after I fed the mules and got the kid started by casting off her latest knitting project. Out the door by 0700hrs for a scoop by dude at 0745 from the Rue de Grit 7 miles to my almost immediate west. I was one minute early and he was one minute late, we loaded up my bike and were at the trail head on schedule. Jordy showed up and after a few minute pre ride we were off, descending a small hill through the woods down to the flat water put in along the river. At the waters edge we turned north for the journey to Mt. Holly which was our northern most goal or at least where we knew there would be a bridge. Not long up river the surface changed into tree strewn endless hurdles that caused me to realize this could be the worst idea ever. We were off the bike, on the bike and off the bike some more pushing over debris. At one juncture a never seen before rock outcrop appeared where we stopped and made a gear adjustment as we weighed our options for continuing. Just past our position was an impassable semi wide tributary running inland east, so we decided to bush whack up to the main bike trail and get to the center where we could go north on power line trail. That power line trail took us to Moores Chapel Road and north to a train track running west past Clariant where they make Coca Cola plastic 2 liter bottles. Jesse led out on the tracks with Jordy and I in tow, it was slightly bizarre riding my mountain bike down these tracks towards Mt Hollywood. In a short time we made it to a train tress over the mighty drought effected Catawba that was built in 1917 by a firm from Richmond. We collectively really wanted to cross this steel and wood bridge but the no trespassing signage caused us to consider a Sunday in custody somewhere in Gaston county. Seeing I'm old and scared of authority, we back tracked a little and dove off onto the Hwy 27 bridge and across the river into Mt Holly where somehow Dude found eggs, bacon, hash browns and flap jacks. Jordy and I dined on coffee while we discussed our options for our SS mountain bike ride from the west side of the river. The vote was official, we would head south along the river until we got to I-85, either go under or over it, then continue down to Hwy 74, go back over the river east, then head north back into the mountain bike park at Heavy Equipment Rd, ride the Toilet Bowl Loop, then Single track back to the car.

We left the Mt. Hollywood diner and twisted down towards the western side of the river through the Cape Fear neighborhood and to a man working on his Flowers race car. He was very helpful and told us a way to get to the waters edge through a Soviet Power Station like area. We made good going along the river for a few miles on a wide wooded path, at times we dropped right down along the water when the surface was clear. At one point we passed a tent that looked recently occupied and shortly there after hit a tributary coming in from our west that caused us to go inland and back out to the edge of the water. It was then that Jordy discovered the skeleton of something huge, fish like and smelly. I had never seen anything like it. After pictures of the scientific find we took off and went west up a hill and then another to a road that led us over I-85 and down to 74 for our left hand turn and back across the river. On Hwy 74 we passed a man on a bike with way worse technique than we had, then he passed us when we stopped to fix the only mechanical of the day, thanks to Dude's flat. No biggy, ten minutes and a shot of whisky did us good. Over the river and now north towards the Heavy equipment Rd. and the Toilet Bowl loop. We rolled into the park and were back at our starting point by 1300hrs.

Even though it was not a great idea by any means it was still sort of an interesting ride that I learned first hand what the Catawba looks like in our region. Without rain the river is in trouble, you can see it and it coming in the forward future which will have a direct impact on our livity here in Charlotte very soon at the present rate.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Chess Tournee

Ms Arcen had a good run on the Chess circuit for Team Chessnuts who were on the road at West Charlotte High school today. In ascending order she lost, took a draw(but would have won with control of the board had her and her opponent been notating their moves) and a win against the little blond fellow....I cannot believe how well she plays the game at the age of 8, especially seeing that I did not learn till after she was born.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday night ride.

Ms. Arcen and I took of out of the house for a ride around Loch Dooley before diner, that's right diner last night. The wind was up on the backside of a cold front that came through today and there were some great clouds in the sky being lit by a falling orange sun. We rode down to the loch off of Marlewood and I was amazed at how fast my kid was riding on her SS Swamp Bike. She has 4 to choose from including a 20 dollar chrome Red Line but she always pulls the Swamp Bike out of her quiver for the out of the house roll. It was found being thrown away by my friend who brought it by the barn for some love and attention this past spring. I had to bend the half assed chain ring into true, replace the chain, tubes and tires after I used an improvised technique to get the stripped 15mm bolt off the rear axle. Then there was a small amount of painting to do and when I finished the marker style art on the down tube the SB was ready to go. On tonight's ride there was one non rated road hill climb that Ms. Arcen attacked like a champ, even after coming off a pedal 3/4ths of the way to the summit. We came home just as the sun was setting as indicated by the last picture above ready for Parmesan eggs, potato crisps and a small amount of 2% organic milk

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ilan's best idea ever

was putting together the first annual Double Down bike ride that left Charlotte's Bicycle Sport at 0530hrs on Friday March 30, 2007 bound for Isle of the Palms South Carolina, 226 miles away. There were 12 in the day before the ride and I was pretty excited to be part of such a challenge. The night before the ride I tried to go to sleep early but that did not work out so well, instead I fiddled with last minute tuning of my gear and fairly new Lemond Zurich. I was traveling with two bottles on the bike, one in a jersey pocket, a small tool/flat kit in a small saddle bag and some fooding stuffs in the other jersey pockets.
I woke up at 0345hrs, showered and was dressed by 0400hrs, sipping a fresh dark brew and enjoying my preride oatmeal. The Montero was loaded and at 0420hrs I left Dooley bound for the shop with at least 30mins cushion. As I made my way down Independence around Eastway the truck started bucking, then cut off. Holy Crap not another race nightmare come true. Oh wait a minute, this is not a race and I have my bike with me and don't have to count on this big white POS. The car started back up and got me off the next exit at Briar Creek and over to Monroe then 5th street. One block up 5th, the bucking started again and this time the motor stopped for ever. What a feeling, I was 4 miles from the shop with a dead car and had about 25mins till 'H' hour, I called Ilan on the celly and told him not to leave without me. Helmet snapped in darkness, last sip of coffee from the steel and off into the darkness blinking bright red from behind with a white LED beam to the front.

When I arrived 10 were there milling about and making final readiness for the days journey. We took off within 5 minutes of our target and picked up two more riders within about 7 miles making the dirty dozen accounted for. Around 20 miles in, still in darkness the two fast pros took off the front. I remember asking Ilan in my best Phil Ligget voice, "Will Fehr or Paltrow go after the two lads?" I know, I know, calm down BIll enjoy the ride it is going to be a long day. Those two off the front were never seen again, they were really fast. The sun came up and things were fine at around 22mph in this group of ten as we approached Heath Springs SC. in the grey sky. All of a sudden at a train track crossing Drew went down hard, Dave went left to avoid his mess and went down, then another Bill stacked into him and went over the bars. All of this happened in flight in front of Mike Perry and I who split the carnage to the left at the end of the line. My first thought was, "Whew, I did not go down!" Then I realized riders were down and we still had a ways to go. There was a broken wheel and road rash major for young Drew which took him out of the ride and waiting for spousal extraction to the QC. Bill and Dave recovered and continued on.

Ilan's routing for this ride was perfect, I do not think we missed a turn at all. At mid day we stopped for lunch at Santee and assessed what was left. It seems like a time warp even looking back on it now but as the sun was setting we approached the bridges in the low country near the coast.

The last bridge was up and over the inter coastal water way in the dark for the last 3 miles into our finishing goal on Isle of the Palms. At mile 223 in the darkness without lights came towards us a mother and son on beach cruisers. They caught us by surprise and our little 9 person peloton split open to avoid wrecking with the on coming locals. I swerved and hit some debris that immediately flattened my rear tire. Duncan, Ilan, Bill and Nate gathered round and each had a hand in the fix and re airing of my wheel, it was fixed in less than a couple and we descended the back side of the bridge and rolled in to the house awaiting our arrival. This was one of my most memorable ride rides ever and I can't wait for next years. That night I had trouble sleeping, my heart keep beating fast and my legs were twitchy.
The very top photo is a self portrait that I took about 2 hours after the ride was over, the one below it is a group shot in Camden SC around the 100 mile mark.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This ORAMM win is

brought to you by Team Dicky, Twin Six clothing and my new Zion/custom. I shot this grainy little vignette this July as Rich was off of Kitzuma and on that road section into Old Fort for his speedy SS win of the Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell. It was fun trying to film that fast fellow even though I had the camera on the wrong pixel(way to small) setting which made the film less useful. I followed him in to town and about 1.5 miles from the finish he pitched the contents of his water bottles to lighten the load. Dicky was first SS Rigid and 9th place overall. It was hilarious to hear the announcer call in everyone else after him in the top 30. "Great job in tenth place comes so and so, but you were beaten by Rich Dillen on a single speed!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

I was the pawn, he was the knight

in the 1990/1991 dress rehearsal for the biggest global crime ever to take place just 12 years later. That is me with the loaded M-60/E-3 machine gun standing next to my squad leader and friend from Lizard Lick, near Frog Pond Terry Sean Radford. This photograph was taken roughly mid day on Feb, 24, 1991 less than 6hrs into Kuwait from Saudi Arabia via the west breach. Our entire unit making up the reinforced infantry battalion of 2nd BN/4th Marines had just finished taking off our charcoal lined chemical suites, rubber boots, gloves and gas masks when I am almost positive it was my desert buddy John Varchminn snapped this photo. I do not think that is actually a mustache on my upper lip just below my nose, it is black soot from sweating inside a gas mask and having charcoal dust everywhere. The sun was filtered by the thick layers of oil smoke that had clogged the lower atmosphere making the next two and a half days the same constant night/day. Behind us is an Amphibious tractor painted sand, from a Texas USMC reserve unit activated to come be our transport. Up until that operation our company had been training on Rigid Raider crafts which were small grey boats designed to leave the backs of big Navy LPD ships and come ashore or insert troops up river, which made no sense during this desert war.

If you would have asked me that day what was I doing with the big gun and enough lot stock ammo melt ten gun barrels, I would have told you what we were told and what I truly believed, "We are here to liberate Kuwait from the occupation of the Iraqi Army."

I pretty much hung on to the reasoning for such waisted human life and resources until October of 2005 when I worked for the American Red Cross for 14 straight days in south eastern Texas and the bordering parishes of Louisiana. I was on the ground as a disaster assessment field person within 24 hours of hurricane Rita hitting Sabine Pass at the Texas/Louisiana border. On day 3 of that operation I was driving alone across the Sabine pass on my way back to the FEMA POD when at the apex of the bridge some unusual feeling came over me. I pulled over thinking that I would regain myself in a minute, there had been so much going on since I arrived that I attributed this weird feeling of shock to sensory overload and sleep deprivation. As I sat in the Red Cross car looking into Texas from a top this huge bridge I stared at oil refinery after oil refinery, from the coast down towards Galveston to well inland and all along the Sabine river headed north towards Beaumont. There were oil barges sitting low in the water lined up in the gulf waiting their turn to follow the others up river for the processing of their cargo in the refineries that loomed dark with huge flames burning into the sky.

It was at that minute that I had the realization that the present war was not only about oil(which I already knew) but that it has been planned since around the time that I joined the military in 1987. Something came over me that day while on a mission to do my part and help those in need. It was an awareness not misguided but one that was seeing the truth of a nation. There were many UN resolutions passed sanctioning Iraq between Aug of 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait and February 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. Starting with the wording in line 2 of Resolution 661 which was passed the day Saddam invaded Kuwait on Aug, 2, 1990, no natural resource could be exported from either Iraq or Kuwait under the control of the Iraqi government. The final resolution after the war was over allowed for Iraq to sell 2% of it's production capacity to fund the welfare of children and the elderly. At that time conservatively Iraq could produce 3.1 million barrels a day, roughly 1.08 billion barrels a year. Those sanctions went on through the end of the 90's and into the new millennium leaving somewhere around a billion barrels and tens of billions of dollars worth of the black fossil fuel on the ground in reserve in Iraq by the time this war started in early 2003.
I know, I know it is a lot easier not to think about this or excuse our behaviour with the ole stand by that war has been happening forever but I cannot not think about it. Every day since this latest one started I have thought about it, I look around and I see. I think about the innocent civilians killed and wounded, from the babies to the elderly, I think about the hunger, cold and heat the surviving citizens feel, I think how could they possibly be handling what is going on there mentally and emotionally, I picture a burning infrastructure where people can get no rest or find no happiness.
I think about the Americans killed, wounded physically, wounded mentally and coming home not whole. I think about how their families and friends must be affected by the change in their love ones. I think about what these troops will do to get back to a great life here in the USA, when they have dealt with what I have been thinking about first hand. I think about what all of these things mean collectively for the future of our own happiness here in America.
It is Veterans day for me every day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Speaking if Euro Nate....

The day I posted about the inaugural trip to El Pico being suggested by my friend Nate he of course walks up on N. Tryon with packed bags on his way to the Greyhound Station. I had no idea that he was in town and he had no idea that I had just mentioned him in my new blog that morning. Sometimes synchronicity just works like that. He was catching a bus which he refereed to as 'punitive transportation' back up to his apartment and University in Asheville. Nate was in place couriering here in Charlotte the day I took my first job on July 3, 1998 and we have been friends since. The other day when we ran into each other he showed me his new Pentax fast digital camera so I asked him to take some action shots which I have posted a few of above(I'm still waiting for him to send me the ones of The lady courier and I). One of the coolest images is of me an an Army Staff Sgt dressed in full urban cammy that we met as we were shooting along 3 blocks of N. Tryon. I do not want to post it because the warrior agreed to be photographed with me but he made it clear he did not want to be on the inter web. The soldier answered a few of my questions about his place in the war and one specifically about the present recruitment numbers. He told me while looking into my eyes that numbers are way down and troops are getting out as fast as possible. that ties in to what I was talking about the other day as far as the war being subbed out and private contractors doing the jobs of the military. The Staff Sgt seemed genuine and I hope he gets his wish of not returning to Iraq for his third trip.