I'm sort of new here and sort of not.
I stumbled onto this site in 2004, when I was on a kick of studying Wig Wag signals. My initial introduction to this site was through Dan's Wig Wag site, which had a link to Mike's page. I've loved trains my whole life, and signals were always kind of an interest. After a while of studying this site, the interest grew into a full blown obsession. So much so that I kind of moved away from general railroad stuff for a while. I was so obsessed, in fact, that I started studying manufacturers, models and the buying and utilization habits of railroads. Mike and I jointly started researching this, and eventually this became the basis for the 102 page, although other people like rrxingrick helped expand that section more than I.
I began photographing signals locally here in Michigan and submitting them. As a result, I am responsible for most of the material in this section of the site http://www.rxrsignals.net/Michigan/
You can imagine how elated I was when Mike moved to Michigan in 2004 and 2005. Eventually, the two of us met up for some railfanning between Midland, where he was, and Lansing, where I lived. We made two trips together, capitalizing on our shared knowledge of Michigan crossings and my knowledge of local operations to enjoy some lucrative railfanning and signal fanning.
Unfortunately, I began to grow more into general railroad photography and gradually fell away from photographing signals. I kept in some contact with Mike afterwards, and accumulated a backlog of signal pictures to send to him, but only a few ever made it. The last time I talked to him was in sending some pictures of a pair of backlogged crossings and providing some text updates. That was in November, 2007...four years ago now.
As life has pulled me through other things, I've still maintained an interest in signals and today, even though I rarely go out of my way to photograph them, I can't help but observe their characteristics. Much of the knowledge I learned from this site has also been retained.
I've tried to pop into this site and check it out now and again. It's been both exciting and prideful for me to see how much it's grown in the time I've "retired". Considering many railfans thought I was weird for liking signals so much, it's been very heartening for me to see so much enthusiasm as to help Mike run and update the site. It's grown to be an impressive and useful information and reference source about signals.
I have checked this forum occasionally and I would often read some of the updates in it. However, I wasn't paying close enough attention to be aware of what was going on...until I clicked onto the site this morning.
When I saw the "In Memory of..." on the topic of the page, I literally felt a shock run through me. I searched the site to find out what happened, before I finally read of his health problems. This is so sad. I never would have expected this to happen. :( Mike definitely didn't deserve this or any of the other crap that he's had to deal with over his life. I feel so sorry now that I didn't attempt to actually maintain contact with him. I even saw him on skype in the last year but it never occurred to me to chat with him for some reason. :(
I've struggled to make and maintain friends over the course of my life. At the time that we talked a lot, Mike was one of the better friends I had ever had. He was stubborn in many regards and I always found his irrational fear of crime and tendancy to avoid big cities out of that fear insanely annoying, but I was able to mostly overlook it. I always thought and hoped that he would eventually score a signal maintainer's job with BNSF or some other railroad and be able to work on the apparatus he was so fascinated with. I'm sure he would have been one of the best signal maintainers out there. Mike was a great guy, one of the best friends I've had over the course of my life and I feel extremely privileged to have met and railfanned with him in person. I only wish now that I had kept in contact with him and that I'd realized what had happened. :(
Thank you, Mike, for everything you've done, for hosting this site and for being a good friend to me. I will never forget you, good sir. None of us will.
Rest In Peace, my friend.
Gregg Richard Pullano