Friday, November 7, 2008

[Fwd: In memoriam...]

A good friend and colleague wrote this e-mail while he waited in transit at DFW on his way to Europe last week. I present it here with his permission. It gave me pause to remember the true cost of our freedoms that we (increasingly) consider lightly.

But, there's hope, as demonstrated by the DFW ground crew. Thank you, DFW, for showing respect for this fallen Member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Tim Jurgensen wrote:
Those profound events that go on all around us as we rush through our ostensibly important daily schedules.

As my flight from Austin to DFW was pulling in to Gate A11, I noticed a plane at the next gate over... a casket was being unloaded from it. The casket was coming down the loading ramp, out of the belly of the plane. It had an American flag draped on it.

At the bottom of the loading ramp was a special baggage cart; each side of the cart was a large American flag. On one side of the ramp was a soldier in dress uniform; the escort that is accompanying the casket to its home.

As the casket came down the ramp, all of the ground personnel working on the plane stopped and stood at attention. There were two security police cars flanking the ramp, each with lights flashing. The security officers stood at attention as the casket came down the ramp and was loaded into the baggage cart. They then led and followed the baggage cart as it made its way to the terminal.

As I watched, I remembered a cold January day in 1952 when my brother Doran's body was brought home from Korea to Sayre, OK. He was killed in August, but his body was interred in Korea until there was available space to ship it home. His casket arrived on a train. There was a Captain (I only remember his name as "Allen") who had accompanied the body from San Francisco. There was an honor guard from the ROTC detachment at Oklahoma A&M where Doran had graduated just a year before.

Today, here in Dallas, it seemed that the airline and the airport tried to lend some honor and dignity to a fallen soldier. Perhaps it is not always the case. But, it was today, at least for a part of his journey.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm certain that there will be many who mis-interpret this post, but let me be clear; the loss of life on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 must never be forgotten, nor should we ever forget the enemy which brought death to our cities that day. However, I'm a wee-bit concerned about our apparent need to memorialize everything.

When I was abroad recently on a business trip, a foreign national colleague commented, "Washington D.C.; you guys sure do have a lot of monuments in that town." My reply was, "Sure, we've live a lot of history in our first 230-some years." But what I was really thinking was, "We build monuments for nearly everything so as not to offend some group, rather than to make a historical judgement on long-term historical relevance. Meanwhile we race headlong trying to run from much of our history (such as National Park Service's removal of a display inside the Washington Monument that explained the inscription at the top of the Monument that reads Laus Deo, or "Praise Be to God").

We built a very powerful, moving, monument to those fallen and missing during the Vietnam Conflict; mainly out of shame for how our Government miserably executed that campaign. And yet, it we waited nearly two decades after that monument was built to erect the WWII Memorial; probably the single greatest event to shape the last century.

And now, we erect monuments to one day's battle in the midst of a war. That day was indeed significant - the war that has prosecuted in the shadows for decades (over 400 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, bombings around the world for decades, leading up to the U.S.S. Cole, and then 9//11 - just to name a few) had finally "come to light". So yes, 9/11 is seared in to our memory, but I sure hope we don't go knee-jerk erecting a dozen monuments or so when the next Islamo-fascist gets through the net. I'd rather we send in a few thousand more "snake eaters" to kill the cancer.

We must not forget that this is a war - that extends well before President George W. Bush, and will last as long as Muslims permit extremists to cohabit in their religion.

And finally, what brought me to make this post, is that there will be the dedication of a 9/11 Pentagon Memorial tomorrow at the Pentagon. The ceremony will be closed, but the monument area will open to the public at 7pm.

Please go there, if you can. Remember. And think about the war we are in, globally, to defend ourselves and our allies against the cancer of Islamic Fascism.

And finally, and most importantly, I sincerely thank the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, who get up every day, put on the Uniform, and go in to harms way - for you and me, and our families. May God bless them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No really, I need to post and I know it

I had a really great "tweetup", (or "dentup", if you're an convert like @marinamartin) last night with @dacort and @marinamartin at the Tap House Grill here in Bellevue, WA, where I am this week for some meetings hosted by Microsoft.

One of the topics that came up was something along the lines of "I haven't blogged in so long, but I have all of these things that I've wanted to blog". Well, keeping in mind that one of the people at the table is in fact @marinamartin, you'd expect that she has a list for that sort of thing, and if memory serves me correctly, she confessed to not only having a list of such things, but notes on what she would write on if said posting opportunity/motivation/priority were to materialize.

As for me, the list is in my head along with all of the other dust bunnies that accumulate there. I think the list changes, and I do recall saying to @dacort and @marinamartin that what I REALLY wanted to blog about was my long ride I took on the bike a few weeks back. I'm somewhat hopelessly in love when it comes to my bike.

And just now on Twitter, @megfowler comes to the rescue with her own post on the matter of blogging, frequency, depth, and randomness. It's a good read, which is par for course on her blog. Oh, and the Heart bit, Meg, I'm right there, too. My previous blog post pretty much establishes where I am right now. Definitively? No. But hey, like you say, "It's JUST a blog post." :)

(* See Mike! There, you wrote a blog post while the rest of your colleagues are swatting e-mail for 10 minutes. Just do it. *)

I did.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nothing and everything

I'm pretty sure I don't have the guts to write this blog post. I mean, it's been over two months. That should tell you something, eh? But well, here goes...

Since April 27th, I've:
  • been served divorce papers, twice
  • moved
  • started my own company (relax, it's just me)
  • not lost faith in marriage, just the one I was married to
  • found more encouragement from "you people" than I'd ever imagined possible
  • been insanely lonely
  • been insanely busy (work)
  • cried
  • smiled, because He hasn't given up on me, and He won't
I could write about work, but that would bore you. For example, last night. "What do you do?" "I work with smart card technology." "Those are the coolest little cars!" (* shakes head *) I'm going to stick with "I'm a spy" from now on. Seriously. I'm not even kidding about that. If I say "I work for the government", that wouldn't be entirely un-true. I'm a consultant to NIST at the moment. I'm also an editor for GlobalPlatform. Great people to work with, all the way around. And no, I'm not just saying this because Google is watching.

That's about all for now. Difficult to write more.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Befriending Passion

What's your passion? Right now, mine is riding on the back of Lady Thunder. Anywhere. At any time. It's just my thing.

What if your passion was a little more defining? What if you had a talent for it and you felt it in your blood. You found others who believed in your capabilities and passion (sorry, overused word), and they've invested in you. But like any passion, there's a certain amount of blood, sweat, and tears, oh, and MONEY, that you need to put in to make it go.

Consider our dear friend Erica Ortiz, known by her handle @HorsepowerHeels on Twitter. She's proven that she can drive in a straight line at 200mph or better in her very own drag racer. Check her out over at Horsepower and Heels.

Back in November, her car was coming together for the 2008 season (it's 2008 now, people), or was it? Things didn't quite line up, literally. Since then, Erica has been scraping together support a five-spot at a time.

Her dream is to race Top Fuel. Those are the long, skinny, land rockets that blast down the track at over 300mph. Did you catch ESPN2 today? Yeah, those cars. She can get there, IF... IF... IF!!!! she can get her current car on the track and meet her sponsor commitments this race year. Realistically, she's up against it. What she needs is about $5k to get the car in running order. ASAP. Now. Today.

In my opinion, it's time for her friends to really stand up and help. You don't have to break your bank. Sheesh - just throw a few latte's at her (figuratively, of course), or skip that trip to the spa this month (week?).

So pppppplease, drop by her website and hit the tip jar, as it were, and let's watch her Tweet her way around the circuit this Summer and Fall.

C'mon, help this Lady make her dreams. It's going to be a blast to watch her go. You KNOW she'll Tweet it. :)

-- Mike

P.S. Erica has shared her widget with me, and I've attached it to my blog (>>> over there). Please do help!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lady Thunder rolls again

It's about time that I wrote something about how Lady Thunder is doing. Fact is, I picked her up from the shop nearly as good as new on April 5. Well, I guess I'm the only one who is noticing the lime dust that is still stuck in various crevasses, of well, everywhere on the bike. She rides great. She has the right tank now.

Of course, nearly as soon as I had her back, I had to hop on a plane. I've been on the road nearly three weeks straight now. First hop was to San Francisco for the RSA Conference. I had a little speaking bit on Monday, then cruised the floor on Tuesday morning, a meeting in the afternoon, then flights to LAX then on to Sydney (International Standards work). Nine nights later, I began to unwind the trip... SYD/LAX/SFO/LAX/AUS. Don't ask.

Monday this week was laundry and get-as-much-junk-mail-shredded-as-possible day, then on the plane to Columbus, OH for the National Standards meetings today and tomorrow. I'm going to hang with my brother tomorrow night - Ohio is where I grew up, and then fly home to Austin tomorrow night.

(* deep breath *)

But then I can ride my bike on Saturday - maybe. A little.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lady Thunder - Update #1

As you may recall, I didn't do Lady Thunder any favors a few weeks back by taking her down Lime Creek and exiting the road in a non-standard way. :(
View Larger Map

Ok, that's cool. I didn't know I could embed a Google map into my blog. Color me impressed. Well, now you know where we went down. So here's the brief update...

Lady Thunder's parts arrived on Friday the 21st and the guys (psst..., let's not say anything about Ty's Glamor Shots(TM) photo there. He's bigger than me) have nearly completed the work on her, except for one thing; the fuel tank.

They ordered a Victory Vegas tank from Victory Parts HQ, but what they received was a correctly colored, but differently styled tank. Two problems with that. Lady Thunder is all about the "White". This Victory Vegas Kingpin tank is 2/3 gray instead of 2/3 White, as the straight-up Victory Vegas should be. The other problem is that the Vegas tank has a very nice 'spine' on her the runs down the dorsal line of the tanks. That's cooler that you may think. The Kingpin tank does not have that.

Sooo, back goes the tank and we all can cross our fingers that a proper Victory Vegas (spined) tank can be found, in the right colors, in the right proportions. If not, then I'll probably settle for an unpainted Vegas tank and have the paint genius match it, and stripe it. This painter is AWESOME. I'll link him someday when I find out who he is.

Until then, my withdrawal deepens. Trying not to twitch.

-- Mike

Friday, March 14, 2008

An incomparable week

(* Psst, like so many e-mails in my Drafts, this has been sitting since 14-March. Deal. *)

This week has been like no other in my life. Monday morning I awoke to a beautiful morning in Prague, Czech Republic. I had spent a wonderful weekend there with a great friend, and former colleague at StepNexus, Inc. I flew home to Austin from Prague by way of London's Heathrow Airport and Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A long day, and all I could think about was Prague on the way back to Austin. Yeah, Prague. That's it.

Prague was immediately preceded by a week in London for the purpose of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of MULTOS. Sadly, that week also coincided with some very difficult decisions being made within the owning organization, StepNexus. We'll get to that in a bit. But there was some really cool stuff in between...

So I land in Chicago and breathe in the fresh air that is 'unlimited' internet on my Hotspot account at ORD's Admiral's Club lounge - ahhh, Twitterbuds are a Twittering, and with SXSWi going on back home in Austin, there was no telling what this week would be like. Sure enough, there's a Tweet sitting in my box, "how about lunch on Tuesday"? Me, turn down a lunch out? Not a chance. I picked up @karasoluri and @khaynes, and their new SXSWi buddy, @vero, and we were later joined by none other than @whurley. Good times.

I worked a bit at my favorite coffee shop, Dominican Joe, and I get a Tweet and a call from @adelemcalear and @collencoplick who were also at SXSWi, launching their new company, 99directions. Colleen called me and said, "Let's get BBQ!" "Oooook, I said.", but of course if you know me, you know that I could eat BBQ indefinitely. Cutting to the chase, I jumped the HP/@scobleizer bandwagon and crashed their BBQ at The Salt Lick. County Line on the Lake for lunch, The Salt Lick for dinner. Beat that with a stick. I can't.

So that was a day of opposites: Lunch with @whurley and sitting next to @iJustine at dinner. Talk about opposites, those two. Well, @whurley does have nice hair, too.

Also on Tuesday morning, I received an e-mail from a fellow that I was trying to meet up with for a drink for over nine months. We'd had a good chat on a ORD/AUS flight and I told him all I knew about smart cards in about (* cough *) two hours, and he STILL wanted to talk biz with me later. Finally did. That happened on Thursday the 13th. Very cool. Hopefully more on that later.

And on Friday, the wheels fell off of the good ship StepNexus. On Monday, I posted this to a wee-wittle news group I'd created so share work-related news to those interested in my industry. That caused a little bit of a stir, but as you may indeed read, it is entirely truthful and actually very positive on my former employer. They just weren't ready for the aftershocks of pulling the plug on the company so abruptly without a communications plan in place. Gotta have that, kids.

All for now. I'm lining up work for April, and still open to ideas for what I should/could be when I grow up. :)

-- Mike

Friday, February 29, 2008

"There are two kinds of motorcycle riders..."

"...those who have wrecked their bikes, and those who are going to wreck their bikes.", some unattributable quote that Robby shared with me last night.

Thursday was a pretty good day to ride, and I had the opportunity for a fairly decent ride from Austin up to Lampasas via State Hwy 183. Clear weather, bone dry roads, but there was maybe a little challenge presented by the 20-30mph gusts that showed up as crosswinds going to Lampasas and as headwinds for the last stretch coming in toward Leander.

Was that a deer in the road? Standing on the stripe? I couldn't tell, but I knew I needed to get to the outside of the curve, rather than the inside which is typical. To do so, I had to loose speed, and quickly. Training said to straighten the bike and brake evenly. I did that. I had even more incentive because I could see the fine haze of limestone dust on the pavement. No hope of 'cheating' on the brakes a bit through the turn. I just had to use all the braking available, in a straight line, and hope for space to come to a controlled stop. Turns out, that wasn't going to happen.

I have three images in my mind: seeing the road curve away from me to the left and seeing a wide shoulder with large rocks and limestone dust all over everything, watching the bike slide out from underneath me and going down on its left side, and then me flying "Superman-style" over the right side of the bike. Then I felt my helmeted face land first and bounce, then my body sliding to a stop - face down. No stars, no blacking out; just thoughts of frustration that I'd surely dinged-up the bike pretty darn good.

I stood up, brushed off a bit, and then turned to my right and looked down at the bike. She was still running, and for some reason the engine was racing. That didn't make any sense to me because she was laying on her left side, and the throttle is way up in the air on the right handle. I couldn't tell if the rear wheel was still spinning, but instead of just killing the engine with the switch, I tried to 'clear' the throttle with a quick twist. No effect. Weird - so I killed the engine with the switch.

It was all really quiet. The headlamp continued to burn and I could see the limestone dust blowing in front of the bike. I lifted my visor to adjust my eyeglasses which had shifted a good bit due to the face-first impact. That's when I noticed the blood on my gloves. Not a lot, but not a little, either. No pain. Nothing felt broken or numb, either. It was from near my nose is all I could tell. Didn't seem serious. Now, about the bike. This is a heavy bike, but adrenaline and I picked her up and set her on her stand. A few cars had passed by, but none stopped. I guess the fact that I was up and moving around indicated that I wasn't toast.

The left side of the tank was hammered, handlebars not too bad, but mirror bent back pretty far. The left footpeg was jammed in the upright position, but I was able to wrestle it back down. The shifting rod/shaft sheared off flush with the crankcase. That means they will have to go inside the crank case to fix this. Not simple, I'm guessing. So, whatever gear I was in at the time (3rd or 4th, I can't recall) was what I was going to have to use to get the bike out of there. Fortunately, the clutch was perfectly fine.

So, after making sure that nothing serious was messed-up with ME, I got back on the bike, held in the clutch and started her up. She started just as if we'd stopped to get gas. Not a problem.
I rode the clutch and got her back on the road. I just moseyed along at about 35mph and decided to ride to the shop, rather than ride to the house. The bike was clearly going to need to go to the shop.

I pulled in to the shop, parked and started to take my gear off. I fully-expected to just park the bike, lock it, call a cab, and come back this morning to talk things over with the guys there. "Hey man, are you ok?" someone called out from behind me. It was Nick, one of the mechanics at the shop. Good grief, the place was dark. I had no clue anyone was there. Turns out that they were sitting in the shop shooting the breeze; Nick, his girlfriend, and several of the folks from the dealership. They took me in and looked me over like one of their brothers.

Nick's girlfriend is a nurse, and she sat me down and checked me out real good. No concussion, no lacerations other than a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my eyeglass frame digging in a bit. They offered to take me home, but it was going to be a long drive for any of them, so we just called a cab.

After that, I cleaned up a bit, and headed back out - in my car, to finish an important errand last night. Then I drove back to get sleep, and I slept in a bit. Kinda melancholy about the bike. "We can rebuild her..." hehehe

The bike will take some work to get back in to shape, but she's in much better shape than she could have been. I'm perfectly fine, not even any bruises. Just a little sore in my neck and upper left arm. Nothing Advil isn't taking care of.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all of my good buds on Twitter. Y'all are great, and thanks so much for checking in on me last night.

These things happen soooo quickly. We've see life end (@AshPEAmama), and take drastic turns (@laniAR) so suddenly. I surely didn't expect to dive over my bike last night. You've heard it before, so just do it. Hug those dear to you every chance you get.

-- Mike

Thursday, February 21, 2008

oh, and one more thing

What a day. I've been using telecommuting to the max lately. There are plenty of reasons why, but it just amazes me how technology enables things that are just nuts. Like this morning, I'd managed to take a 90-minute conference call that was dialed-in to my office phone, which immediately forwards to my mobile. Yeah, that was me, on the floor in my room, with the laptop running and six e-mails in progress. USB-charging the Treo and mini-USB charging the bluetooth headset just prior to the call.

So there I am, checking up on one last Twitter before I head out the door for some lunch, and here's this from @newmediajim...

I'm streaming live right now, come chat! Bob Geldoff on the way! standby for Qik!
Sure, why not? Jim's in Africa with the President of the United States, and I've got not much more to look forward to than a BBQ sandwich and a Diet Pepsi, so hey, I'll see what this Geldof chap has going on. Jim's always talking to interesting people.

Africa can't heal itself or sustain itself until the despots are gone. Rolling tanks? Naah, you have to convince the people that they can lead and protect themselves, but they've lived under the shadow of death for generations. They need know that someone will rescue them, and then hold their new leaders accountable. Geldoff gets this.

Check out his answer to my question during this interview.

That was just wild. I was blown away that Jim would snag my question out of the chat box, and even more blown away that Geldof spent about four minutes answering it!

Geldof was interesting, and I could have listened to him rap on that topic for an hour. He didn't sound like a typical naive Glamor Shot do-gooder with a Sir (although he's not officially a "Sir") title and your donation money to spend 'feeding the poor'. He seemed like he was indeed searching for a solid plan in the midst of a crazy world - ours. One where the culture of corruption and greed still rules over so many. No, not corporate corruption and greed, but Warlord corruption and greed.

New media, people. It happens quickly, it's real, and it's hard to keep up with. But dang, it's so cool.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Ride

I have wanted to make a post on this topic for a long time. Problem is, I haven't figured out the right words to complete it. Mid-life crisis? Sure, that's an easy answer. You can tag me with that one if you want. I won't stop you. As if I could. No, it's more than that.

"Lady Thunder" as my friend Duane calls her, is a mechanical work of art. She should be under a cover, meticulously cared for and kept in pristine display condition. But she was built to cruise. Those 1507CCs really should do what they were built to do.

She's gentle on the acceleration, but doesn't flinch when taking on Tumbleweed Hill, nor FM 620 at Mansfield Dam. She gallops at idle, and hammers steady at cruise. With my earplugs in and SNELL-approved helmet on my head, her thunder is muffled, but still oh-so-solid. (Trust me, no ear plugs, and the ears ring - a lot).

I love feeling the curve of the earth under the wheels. The challenge of gauging the entry in to each and every turn. Noticing things that I'd never noticed before about pavement, road conditions, wind, humidity, temperature changes just crossing Austin, practicing constant speed while holding a line just off the tire tread of the four-or-more wheelers, and so much more. :) Oh, and then there's the view. More on that another time.

I can't help but say, to no one else but me, "I love this bike."

And no, she's not for sale.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just checking in

Apparently, there is at least one person out there who reads this blog, besides me. I'm taking that as a very positive thing, because, well, I just think it's cool that someone would subscribe to this. Thank you. :)

But there are bigger things going on in the word, FAR bigger things that what Mike decides to write about in his blog. For one, our friend Ashley has been taken from us. The Twitter community is where a lot of us met Ashley and got to know her - 140 characters at a time. Some of the links off of the site above are wonderfully written. I'm new to social media. I'm a user, not a creator, and I'm not trying to make a living at it. It fascinates me. And at times like this it amazes me. The Twitter community rallied to raise over $7,000 in less than a week to help the family that Ashley left behind. Amazing. Encouraging.

But the ramble continues... Ok, my boss said he'd call in 20 minutes an hour and a half ago. I guess I'll hang another fifteen minutes or so. No pressure on my time tonight. Thought I'd do some personal e-mail at this hour, and well, with MacWorld in the background today (ok, foreground for some of you - just background noise for me), this topic came up, so I wrote it in my e-mail:
Just saw your tweets on/re: iTunes movie rentals. I'll be interested to see how that plays out. When NBC Universal pulled their material from iTunes and moved it over to Hulu, that really frustrated me. I was watching all of my TV series on iTunes last year. This year? Even before the strike, nearly nothing. Turns out that most of the shows I was interested in were on NBC. Studios have got to let go of exclusive deals, and push distribution channels (iTunes, Hulu, Walmart, Netflix, whatever) to compete on features/service and not just on exclusivity.
Call me a fan of the Writer's Strike (and I'm no fan of unions, believe you me). Big Media is languishing and like big government, can't figure out how to grow a good thing. They try to keep all of the money for themselves (or take it, in the case of the government).

Ok, that should suffice for thoughts on that. Maybe I will just go over to the Apple Store in The Domain and take a sip of Steve's Coolaide.