14 January 2017

Motorcycle?

If you are a "motorcycle" guy, you may look down your nose at the above machine.
It definitely ain't "macho". But now, from experience, I can tell you that most who will look askance at this machine have never owned one... likely have never ridden one. To me, anyone riding any machine with less than four wheels is part of the fraternity of bikers. When I'm on my Valkyrie, Scooter riders are frequently surprised when I give them the two finger acknowledgement because I'm one of the few folks riding a big bike to do that.
But I also have a scooter, and know how neat they are.

Our Scooter's engine displaces 250cc's. It will approach 85 mph, so we feel no danger of being run over by traffic, even on the Interstate highway.
Last summer we rode it around Smokey Mountain National Park and subjected it, "two-up", to some serious elevation changes. It is fuel injected. It performed perfectly.

I used to think CVT transmissions were for sissies.
No more. On more than a few occasions I have found myself in a position where, on a steep hill with a standard transmission, if I had selected the wrong gear and had to pull in the clutch  and make a quick gear change, I might have found myself looking like Arte Johnson on his trike on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in".
The CVT transmission is ALWAYS in the gear that will produce power at the peak torque curve.

The storage space on our little machine is more than adequate for jaunts to the grocery. Yeah, if we need a 24-pack of water, we have to take the cage. But that only happens once every couple weeks.
Otherwise, the car stays parked and waiting.

On a quick trip to the U.S. Post Office today I ran into a couple riding the machine pictured above.
It's Piaggio's 70th Anniversary homage to the first Vespas they produced.
Storage on that machine is limited to what you can put in that bag at the rear of the machine.
But to a guy my age, who grew up watching the original Vespas zipping around our neighborhood, it is BEAUTIFUL.
They admired my three-wheel machine. I admired their beautiful, "somewhat practical" work of art.
We chatted for about 15 minutes, then all mounted and rode away with smiles on our faces.

Fraternity...
Preserve "The Wave"!

02 December 2016

Lady Of Spain

My Mother was... interesting.
She was a "surprise" baby... youngest of seven kids.
Born in 1925, she used to relate one of her earliest memories from early depression days:
"Mother, I'm hungry."
"I'm sorry sweetheart, I have nothing to feed you."
Mother's life could be a book.

But she was gifted and strong in odd ways.
She could sing like an angel. She came from a family of musically talented people.
At Church, people would actually sit near her to hear her sing.
She knew that and took pride in it.
I knew it too and was proud of her.

By ear, she played piano and accordion.
One of my fondest memories is listening to Mom on the piano, after my sister and I had gone to bed, struggling to make her way through one of my Dad's favorites... "Clair De Lune", without making a mistake. (I don't think she ever did.)

But she was a decent accordion player.
At almost any gathering, given the chance, she'd uncase her accordion and entertain those gathered.

I thought she'd appreciate a joke I heard, so I repeated it to her-
On a trip across the country a man stops to get a bite to eat.
He orders his meal, then remembers his accordion is in his car and he has forgotten to lock his doors.
Keys in hand, he races out to secure the automobile only to find out he is TOO LATE...
Someone has left ANOTHER accordion in his car.

Mother didn't think it was funny.

28 November 2016

Good Health Is the Slowest Way To Die

I'll be 70 in a couple months.
I'm VERY healthy, thank God.
I frequently hear, "Well, you don't look it."
Good genes. Refusal to allow stress to bug me.
Good planning?

Friends, acquaintances, and relatives all around me are dealing with life's curveballs.
Some of them are counting days, not years.

When you get to be Seventy, you begin to look at assets and plan...
How do I work my life so that when the retirement account dollars reach ZERO, I pass quietly in my sleep?
I'm now working on that.

I've never been to London.

26 November 2016

My "Cool" Hypothetical-

Let's say you're on the Board of Directors of a large heating and air conditioning concern with its major physical plant located somewhere in the Midwest.
Just for grins, let's call this company "Harrier Heating and Air Conditioning".
After much study you find you can increase profits by reducing your labor costs if you move your manufacturing facility to Mexico. You announce your decision to make this move.

Your discussions about improving your "bottom line" take place commensurate with a presidential election. One of the major promises of one of the major candidates is to "bring jobs back to, or keep jobs in the U.S.".
You watch with interest and concern as that candidate wins the nomination of his party, then the election.
You announce that the election results will have no impact on moving your physical plant to Mexico.

What if-
That president-elect is an expert in the use of TV, Twitter, FaceBook, and Instagram?
What if... that president-elect starts constantly reminding the electorate about companies "outsourcing" their jobs, and suggesting alternative products still "Made In USA"?

Do you think that might influence you and your board in their decision to move your manufacturing plant?
This will be interesting to watch.

06 November 2016

All The Time In The World !

We left Destin in the Spring; 31March.
We hated to pack the truck because the weather was wonderful.
Making the trip more palatable was the thought of going home to see trees and flowers come to life. So North we drove.

I am a homebody.
It is hard to describe how much of a "homebody" I am.
The thought of traveling... "thought of it", is wonderful until the day comes I have to lift the suitcases into the car to start a trip anywhere. At that point, travel becomes a serious pain in the pasta fagioli to me!
I hated to leave Destin, but was glad to arrive home to familiar house, bed, neighbors, and town.

Of course there was work to do-
Fix the stuff that was worn out or broken. Clean up 2.5 acres of fallen branches from nearly innumerable trees, carry them to the burn pit by the pond and make them go away.
Mow lawn/mulch remaining leaves.
That "home" work... makes me smile.

May at home is wonderful.
Warm days. Sometimes crisp nights.
But we got an itch and made reservations at a place we love-
The Riverboat Inn in Madison, Indiana.
Pack the suitcases and load them into the car.
Four wonderful days there watching from the balcony while the Ohio river and the barges it embraces make their way downstream to Louisville, Evansville, Paducah, then eventually join the Mississippi and continue lazily to the Gulf.

June.
Sara Jean held her nose and went home to Socialist land.
I mounted the GoldWing and headed over to visit a friend in (near Utopian) Indiana.
She had a good time.
I had a GREAT time... good conversation, fire in the fire pit, waterfront property... beer and SMOOTH Irish whiskey.

September-
Round trip Amtrak tickets carried us to my OCS reunion in San Antonio.
We rode the train to L.A. many years ago. We had mixed emotions about that trip. With our disgust about air travel these days we wanted to give Amtrak another chance.
Amtrak disappointed us.
(It's not altogether their fault... they don't own the TERRIBLE track and therefore cannot repair it. The train sometimes rocks like a ship on stormy seas.)
The reunion was wonderful. San Antonio was (again) wonderful. Getting face-to-face with some old friends I hadn't seen since October of '67 was FANTASTIC.

Late September/October-
We flew (uck) to Phoenix to spend a couple days with Big Bubba, then made our way to L.A. to board the "Coral Princess" for our journey through the Panama Canal.
We set sail and spent the next 15 days watching the world go by from our balcony seats with stops at Puerto Vallarta, Hualtulco, San Juan Del Sur, and Puntarenas before the canal passage, then Cartagena, Colombia and Aruba before disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale.
(Yeah, travel sux. But WOW... was this trip worth the effort!)

October-
Back home.
Branches. Leaves.
Pack. Load the truck.

Back in Destin for Winter.
Our heads are spinning.
Yeah, life is pretty wonderful, but...
Where is the time to do what we want?

05 November 2016

Bizzaro World 2016

Apparently some 43% of supposedly intelligent adults will vote for a candidate that appears to be directly or indirectly involved in:

-Human trafficking.
-Money laundering.
-Pedophilia.
-Obstruction of justice,
And other crimes, possibly to include treason.

THIS is the reason our Founding Fathers felt it was important to insure we had the ability to protect ourselves from "enemies, foreign AND domestic".

God, forgive our country.

04 November 2016

Division... (I'm not talking about Math here.)

This intertube business is... amazing.
Many of us have made friends via Blogs, Facebook, and other electronic means.
Count me as one of 'em... I consider some of these people CLOSE friends too.  (Motorcycle guys, you know who you are.)

Electronic means have also made it nearly effortless to stay in touch with others.
So... if you don't hear from someone for an extended length of time, you know that unless there is REAL trauma going on in someone's life, not hearing from them may be intentional.
"May"?
Should I write them? Should I let sleeping dogs lie?

Some years ago I had "friction" with a close friend over a political issue.
I have a big mouth.
He felt I was attacking his wife.
He defended her.
I felt she was my equal and was doing a pretty damned good job of defending herself.
He was angry. I was befuddled.
(Events now pretty much prove I was correct in my stance, which may or may not make this situation more murky.)
Liberal thinking these days excuses most offenses, even loss of four heroes in Benghazi. I have not had at-length intimate contact with this old friend since this incident.

Gossip happens.
A friend tells a friend.
Political shading may, or may not have happened.
"He said. She said".
Word got to me that I had been cruel.
I was angy.
I WAS NOT cruel.

Something happened this week.
Electronic means made it easy and almost instantaneous for me to express my sympathy to my old friend about something that happened in his life.
He responded almost EXACTLY as I thought he would.
Brothers... in many ways.

I know he stops by here to read frequently.
I know that he knows I'm talking about him.
I hope we can patch up our differences. A couple difficult years have passed since we were able to comfortably contact one another.
That's a waste.

But to me, it really boils down to this:
I am angry and sad about what is happening to the country I risked my life to defend.
I am circling my wagons around like-minded souls.
The country he and I grew up in has been destroyed by the very attitude that caused the friction between us some time ago.
Does he agree or disagree?

I hope he (and his wife) have his/their eyes wide open.
If so, maybe he'll consider bringing his stuff inside my (virtual) wagon circle.

What a MESS we now find ourselves in.
It's awfully hard to not be a loudmouth.


02 November 2016

The Courage To Speak Truth



Regular readers know I like Bill Whittle.
They also know I LOVE Winston Churchill.

This video is obviously dated... (Boehner is long gone.)
But the history it shares, and the ramifications of ignoring the lessons of history, is worth your time.

The "herd" is headed in the wrong direction.
Maybe it's time to escape
?

30 October 2016

Move The Capitol !

Some years ago I wrote about moving the nation's capitol from Washington D.C. to a central U.S. location.
It makes sense to me for a couple reasons:
-Geographically, it makes NO sense to have our center of government so close to the edge of the country. A missile fired from say, a submarine, could literally land on Congress' head in seconds.

-How many of us here in "Flyover Country" feel our elected reps have NO idea how we struggle to deal with their poor decision making?
Would their attitude be affected if our government's heart was moved to somewhere like Omaha, Nebraska, where legislators would be surrounded by corn and wheat fields?
I can't imagine it wouldn't.

Will it happen?
(Are you kidding?)
Should it happen? Would our country be a better place if it DID happen?
The fact I'm posting this shows how I feel about how our "representatives" are representing us.

I'm hoping for change.