Sharrows Are Desperately Needed In Front of SC High School

Riding on Friday was good for the heart but tough on the nerves.  Despite the ride of only slightly more than 10 miles, it was easily my most harrowing cycling experience thus far. I was on the tail end of my less than an hour ride and was heading west on Ave Pico around Lowes when I said to myself “if I can just get through the SCHS interchange, this will be a fun ride”.

Here is a link to see where I rode:

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/186951483

Within the distance of about a half a mile a car got within a foot of me, the next car came within 6 inches of my handlebars and then FIVE cars yelled at me to get out of the way as they were trying to make their way toward the 5 freeway.  After the two cars buzzed me, I purposely took a larger portion of the rightmost lane as instructed by the American League of Cyclists.  Please keep in mind that in California cyclists are deemed motorists too.

It is a shame that riding has to be frowned upon by motorists. You shouldn’t have to be hesitant to exercise on a bike or reluctant to use it for commuting, etc. It seems an even larger disservice that the City of San Clemente designed a class II bike lane that ends suddenly and then there is no protection for cyclists traveling so close to where motor vehicles enter/exit the 5 freeway.  Until sharrows or something more substantial are implemented near San Clemente HS remind me to NEVER ride around there, especially during rush hour.😦

Bikeway Signage Needs Significant Improvement in Orange County, CA.

With National Bike Month under way and an Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) marketing campaign at high speed, this morning I bit on their Bike to Work Week lure and converted my normal drive home from Lake Forest to San Clemente into a bike ride. About a week ago I took a street route between these same destinations, which took me primarily on Golden Lantern and Moulton Parkway.  Unfortunately there are two significant distances that are Class III, meaning that they were bike paths indicated by signage only (no painted lane on the street), which makes the route just a little more dangerous. So today I decided to roll the dice and try a new route.  Preferring to avoid the many distracted motorists driving 50 mph+ on Golden Lantern and Moulton Parkway, I opted to utilize the Class I (off street paved) bike paths available in South Orange County. Image About 2 years ago I wrote a college paper on commuting by bicycle in Southern California.  While doing my research, one of the many bicycle commuting obstacles I ascertained was that people have such a poor first riding experience that they never try commuting by bike again.  Today I had one of those experiences, but thankfully I have enough rides under my belt to shrug off this particular misadventure.

What the OCTA and/or any related transportation agency could do to help bicycle commuting in Orange County is to better sign paths such as the ones I rode today.  The confusion for this first time bicyclist on this particular route, was enough to make me consider calling a cab to take me the remaining distance home. The signage on Paseo de Valencia, near Laguna Hills High School and in several pubic parks along my route left much to be desired.

I was “lucky” to run across a man when I got to the southernmost edge of Aliso Viejo Community Park who kindly provided directions to get to Pacific Coast Highway. Surprisingly, these directions led to the most adventurous part of my ride, which included hoping to avoid getting hit by golf balls as I was riding through the Aliso Creek Inn and Golf Course.  Is this type of ordeal that the Orange County bikeway plan is designed for?  Hopefully not! Image If we are going to keep bikes on the street and not on the back of vehicles or gathering dust in garages, improved signage is imperative.  The OCTA and/or other regional transportation agencies would best serve Orange County cyclists, particularly those who are novices, by applying for transportation or safe routes grants and using that money to better sign the existing bikeways.  Signage needs to tell where the bikeway is headed to (just like freeway signage, just smaller) and provide arrows to navigate the many twists and turns along the bikeway. If anyone reading this blog needs a volunteer to further a cycling cause, I am willing to assist to help riding safer in Orange County.

Dr. Truong & CHOC Hospital Strikeout ITP

Brx ITP 4.10.jpg

On Sunday, April 25th my youngest son’s lower legs (pictured to the right) showed excessive bruising for someone less than 3 years of age. 

 

We were extremely concerned about the bruising, which we initially were fearful was caused by someone being too rough with him, the onset of cancer or even leukemia.  On Monday morning the bruising visible on his legs was getting darker and at a regularly scheduled visit, our child’s dentist even found bruises in the back of his mouth. 

 

Late Monday afternoon we took our son to see Dr. Trung Truong, his Pediatrician who is part of the Bristol Park Medical Group.  After a quick look-over, having blood drawn and leaving for home; during dinner time Dr. Truong called us back to their Urgent Care facility to have additional blood drawn.  About 9:30 we received another call from Dr. Truong who told us our son was in the process of being pre-admitted into Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).  We asked the Doctor if this could wait until the morning, since both of our boys were asleep, and he said absolutely not.

 

At 10:30 pm our great friends, Kathy and Steve, quickly gathered their daughter and came over to our house to watch  our oldest son while we hurriedly left for Children’s Hospital with the youngest.   Upon arriving at CHOC and being admitted, nurses stuck my son approximately 10 times with needles to try to draw blood and/or get an IV into him between midnight and 2:30 am.  The three of us had only 3 hours of broken sleep Monday night.  

 

Late Tuesday morning we learned that the blood work showed the illness our son had was ITP.  In people (particularly children) who have idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), all of the blood cells are normal except for the platelets. Platelets are the tiny cells that seal minor cuts and wounds and form blood clots.  A person who has too few platelets bruises very easily and can bleed for a long time after being injured.”  (Family, 2008)  The cause of ITP is not known but the doctors and nurses felt that my son’s antibodies were attacked by a flu virus he had recently, then kicked into a higher gear and for some unknown reason attacked his platelets. 

 

My son was discharged early Wednesday afternoon, after being attached to an IV for 16 hours prior.  His platelet count was above 39,000 at that time.  We are led to believe that platelet counts on someone his age should normally be above 200,000; my sons count when he was admitted was below 1,000. 

Thanks Nurse Judy 4.10.jpgAbout 5am Thursday, the side effects of the IV treatment 
kicked in and our youngest had a low grade fever as well as puking until mid morning.  Our youngest son on the right of this picture felt much better Thursday night, so we took the Thanks Nurse Judy (picture on the left).  Nurse Judy was the overnight nurse during our stay and my son as well as my wife became very fond of her. 

After a few days of laying low we went to the Padres game Sunday afternoon to see the Padres battle the Brewers of Milwaukee.  We were able to sit behind the plate in the same section as my longtime friends, John and Eric.  It was great to catch with them and to hear how well their lives were going.  Even better than catching up with old friends and eating a bunch of ballpark food, the Padres shutout the Brew Crew 8-0. 

We are led to believe and extremely hopeful that this will be an isolated occurence 
but only time will tell. 

Based upon our recent experience the Padres, Dr. Truong and CHOC Hospital are teams with the ability to strike out the opponent with their great arms and medical minds.  Thanks to all for making our son better as quickly as possible. 

References

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). (2008). FamilyDoctor.org. Retrieved from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/blood/113.html

Dana Point Grand Prix…

I had the great fortune of volunteering for the Dana Point Grand Prix on April 11.  This was the first time I had volunteered for a cycling event and I had a fantastic time.  Thanks to Kevin Evans for connecting me with Cyndi Elders, the Volunteer Coordinator. 

In the morning, while at class at Concordia University, several kids races took place (see the brief video below).  I look forward to taking our boys next year to participate in this wonderful event.

I worked the afternoon shift controlling traffic at turn 2.  My purpose was to insure that none of the onlooking spectators crossed in front of the cyclists as they were circling the track about every 5 minutes or so.  The picture below, from one of the mens races, was taken by my camera phone.  The racers were close, fast and as they rode by in large groups, you could feel the wind drafting behind them. 

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Another great aspect of the race was the expo and live music.  About 50 yards away from turn 2 there was a party with a band and a HUGE screen showing the final round of the Masters (see picture below). 

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The race came down to a frantic finish, especially after a mammoth crash near the start/finish line on the next to last lap.  Check out the video below to see how fast and furious the end actually was.

And lastly, how about my pesky Padres in FIRST PLACE after sweeping the past two series versus the NL West Diamondbacks and Giants respectively.  The Padres are currently in Cincinnati ready to begin a weekend series which is one they should win also.  I can’t wait for June to roll around so I can head down to Petco Park and check the 2010 team out.  GO PADRES!!!

Padres Spring Training Memories….

yuma2.jpgI intended this blog to be posted on opening day last week but unfortunately cramming for college finals kept that from occurring.

Many, many moons ago I religiously headed to Desert Sun Stadium (pictured to left) in Yuma, Arizona, for Padres spring training.  My memories of being able to make just a short drive from San Diego to the extremely intimate baseball environment are still cherished today.  My best friend and fellow youth baseball coach, John Thornton, and I somehow made it out to Yuma every year.  Prior to the 1994 season, the Padres moved to a new facility in Peoria, AZ for spring training.

 

The Padres shared the Peoria Sports Complex (blurry picture below), the first two-team facility built in the country, with the Seattle Mariners.  This partnership is still in place today.  At first I was dismayed by the Padres relocation to Peoria due to several more hours being needed to drive to spring training.  What we would soon find out though is that the benefits of moving to Peoria far exceeded the dreaded extra hours driving.  By moving to Peoria, which is a short drive from Phoenix, many things changed for the better.

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The move to Phoenix allowed us to fly by plane, which during the pre 9/11 times, meant that we could fly there quicker that what it took us to drive to Yuma.  The hotels, eating establishments and night life was significantly better in Phoenix.  It was not uncommon for us to go to a Suns or Coyotes game and every couple of years a first or sweet 16 round of NCAA basketball March Madness would be in town too.  Even if March Madness was out of town, there were plenty of sports bars to watch the action if we wanted to do so.

From a baseball perspective many more options were made available to us due to the relocation.  It was not uncommon for us to be able to take in a day game and a night game on the same date due to the proximity of several ballparks to Peoria.  The ASU Sundevil’s baseball season was under way, the A’s and Angels were in Tempe, the Cubs played in Mesa, the Giants trained in Scottsdale, the Brewers scrimmaged in Chandler (now they are in Maryvale) and obviously the Mariners sharpened their skills in Peoria along with the Padres.  We would typically plan out which teams we wanted to see in conjunction with the Padres or the Brewers, John’s favorite team, playing.  Anxious moments were even more prevalent during the few years we went to Arizona without tickets and rolled the dice trying to get them from scalpers around the stadium

 

For about the past 10 years I have been unable to attend spring training due to family and umpiring commitments.  During that time there has been an exodus of teams leaving the Grapefruit League in Florida and heading to the Cactus League in Arizona.  Since my last spring training excursion the Rangers and the Royals share a complex in Surprise, the Dodgers and White Sox share a complex in Camelback Ranch (Phoenix) and the Reds and Indians share facilities in Goodyear.  With the exception of going to Omaha for some early round College World Series baseball games, there is nothing as enjoyable from a sports perspective as a weekend of spring training baseball. I anxiously look forward taking my boys to spring training to get up close to the Padres players, to get autographs signed and to deepen their love for baseball in general. 

Aztecs vs. San Francisco @ Tony Gwynn Stadium

From time to time I will digress to cover something other than the Padres.  Today is one of those cases.  Yesterday afternoon the boys and I snuck down to SDSU after my class at Concordia University in Irvine.  Usually school makes for a wasted weekend but with a 3pm start at SDSU on Sunday, we caught a break in getting to see an afternoon game together.

Gma C and the boys.jpgWe picked up Grandma C on the way down and after arriving at the stadium everyone had a BLAST!  Once we got in the gates, the boys and Grandma allowed me to take the picture on the left and then we went to our seats near the home plate area courtesy of our friend Brad.

I must share with you that the joys of going to a baseball game have changed with the arrival of our boys.  First of all I seldom get to watch the game, as I typically have to keep an eye on the boys and go to the bathroom several times more often than normal due to an addition of two small bladders.

Once seated we made several food runs.  Hot dogs, pretzels,
sodas, Red Vines and Eyeblacks.jpgColdstone Ice Cream.  All were extremely yummy.  We went to the souvenir stand and surprisingly enough I came away with money still in my wallet as the boys only desired  a big red Aztecs #1 finger and black eyeblack patches as seen in the picture to the right.

In the middle innings, RB High School Head Baseball Coach Sam Blalock came over to our seats and sat down to catch up for a few minutes.  Many years ago I was very fortunate to be on his staff when he started the baseball program at RBHS.  I have been out of the high school baseball loop for a few years but I do know that Coach Blalock is one of the winningest HS baseball coaches in the nation, which still turns out professional prospects on a regular basis.  I was flattered that he took the time to come over and meet my family after so many years had lapsed.

SDSU Groundscrew.jpgAfter the boys annoyed a man with frantic running, dancing and screaming for a few innings on the concourse between the upper and lower seating levels, we moved to a grassy area down the right field line.  The boys played on the grass for a few minutes and then found the yard tractor pictured on the left.  Cal got a bit of a scare when he turned a key that was left in the engine but amazingly enough no one was harmed before or after the shooting of this picture.   And oh by the way the Padres won a spring training game yesterday!

A Stroll Down Padres Memory Lane #4… Lou Brock

Lous 93rd steal.jpg
Again, Hall of Famer Lou Brock is taking advantage of the Padres by swiping his 93rd bag of the season.

Rich Morales was the shortstop on the play and at this time San Diego had two daily newspapers.  This picture was taken from the Evening Tribune.

A Stroll Down Padres Memory Lane #3

In flashing back to the past I recall going to Padres games with my Grandpa John to watch the OTHER teams star players show their skills against the home team.  It was tough to watch the Padres lose an enormous number of games each season, many of them lopsided, but I was indeed very fortunate to live in a major league city.  It would have been devastating to see the Padres move to Washington, D.C. or any of the other destinations they were rumored to be relocating to at one time or another.

Thumbnail image for Lou and Enzo.jpg
This week I will share two pictures of Hall of Famer Lou Brock.  As I recall Lou habitually wore the Padres out with his legs as well as his bat and glove.  The picture on the left is of Lou stealing his 89th base of the year while chasing Maury Wills’ record of 104 stolen bases in a season.  Padres shortstop Enzo Hernandez is stretching for a throw from Fred Kendall.

Something from the past that I vividly remember today is the San Diego Stadium public address announcer saying as our diminutive shortstop walked to the plate “now batting… number 11 Enzo Hernandez.  The announcer had a very peculiar way of saying Enzo’s uniform number and name as a fast run on sentence.  GO PADRES! 

A Stroll Down Padres Memory Lane #2

Play at the plate.jpgI think this will become a Tuesday and Thursday feature for the forseeable future. 

Since I am umpiring a game today, what better way to start it off with than a picture of umpire Lee Weyer calling Dodger Joe Ferguson safe at the plate after a tag attempt by Fred Kendall.  Does that name Kendall sound familiar?  His son, Jason, has played catcher for more than 10 years at the major league level.

As a fellow umpire, Dodger detractor and avid Padre fan this must have been the only call that Lee Weyer ever missed.  HE WAS OUT ON THE TAG!!!

A Stroll Down Padres Memory Lane

With spring training opening today I wanted to share some pictures that I put in a binder as a youngster MANY years ago and happened to unearth this morning.  What better way to start my collection off with a picture of Willie McCovey rounding the bases after a home run at “San Diego Stadium”?

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Sorry about the holes in the picture but it was secured in a 3 ring binder.  Hopefully this will be an omen for the Padres to score just enough runs to win the National League West pennant in 2010.