19 February 2015

Hillary Vs. Jeb in '16?

Is this the best we can do?
It's no wonder we're all angry with one another.

If, in 2016, I have a choice between Hillary and Jeb, I'm voting for Hillary. Seriously!
(Given the choice between being beheaded and being shot while attempting escape, I'll choose the latter.)
What a mess.

I really hope Elizabeth Warren jumps into the fray, and chooses Ward Churchill as her running mate.
The idea of having another team of liars in the White House REALLY excites me.
(Vomits forcefully across the room.)

15 February 2015

While You're Alive, Why Not LIVE ! ?



I am frequently saddened by how many people have "given up".
The world has gone crazy and they feel overwhelmed.
You can cajole, argue, shout...
If they've given up, for the most part, it's a waste of time.

Then I see a video like this and realize there ARE folks out there with SPIRIT.
Folks who won't quit; WON'T give up no matter what.
And my cup is refilled.

Life is good, isn't it?
So LIVE IT!

14 February 2015

The "Super Ten"-

So... how do I like the new bike?
I'm surprised.
I had REAL concerns.
One of my main fears about this bike was vibrations. I've owned and ridden Harley-Davidsons and the vibration levels on those machines cracked the license plate OFF due to metal fatigue.

I was fortunate the first time it happened to hear the plate skitter down the road behind me. I stopped, went back, retrieved it, then mounted it upside-down on the bike via the remaining undamaged mounting holes.
The second time it happened, I didn't hear it depart. When I got the replacement plate I mounted it on a blanket of rubber and that "Band-Aid" resolved my "escape artist" license plate problem.

The "Super Tenere" is a parallel two-cylinder motorcycle. This engine configuration USED to be renowned for having serious vibe problems. No more.
This 1200cc powerplant is counterbalanced. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the vibe level at about a 2 or three.
No, it's not a GoldWing. You can hear AND feel the engine running, but it's not distracting or irritating.
I wouldn't be afraid to take off tomorrow on a coast-to-coast trip on it, and I'd expect to arrive with a smile on my face.

It's a fairly large motorcycle...
When I'm on it solo I can put the balls of my feet on the ground, but NOT my heels.
If Sara Jean is on behind me, the suspension squats enough that I can "flat foot" at stops.
But it nevertheless weighs 586 pounds with no fuel. On a couple occasions I have put my feet down on gravel or sand as I came to a stop and ALMOST had my foot slip out from under me. Only by luck did I not end up looking like Arte Johnson on his tricycle in the old "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" show.
It's just a matter of time until it happens. I'll be buying a set of crash bars to eliminate, or at least mitigate the damage when I make a fool of myself.

Anytime you operate a "new to you" machine, you go through a period of time trying to learn its quirks to get comfortable with it.
On the "Super Ten", that adjustment period took about 10 seconds.
Let me qualify that... this machine has electronic gadgets on it that may prohibit me from EVER actually being able to get it to do everything it can do. But so far as basic operation?
It's the easiest bike to ride I ever swung a leg over.
Below 55 mph Sara Jean even enjoys it. Above that speed, the wind buffets her helmet around and she pines for the GoldWing.

Me?
Reviewing the six bikes in my stable...
I have a new favorite motorcycle

11 February 2015

Artsy-Fartsy



When I heard he died last week I was transported back to Summer, 1968.
I was learning to fly, getting ready to deploy to an area where I knew there were angry people who would like nothing more than to make small (or maybe NOT so small !) holes in my slow-moving helicopter.

I knew they'd also be ecstatic if one of those hole-makers happened to encounter flesh or bone along the way on its journey.
Knowing you'll be facing that environment in a few months will focus your attention; make you try to squeeze every wonderful drop of life out of every moment.

I have no idea where or how I first heard this tune. I was probably in exactly the right melancholy mood for it to have maximum impact... maybe I'd had an adult beverage or two.
All I know is that I went almost immediately and bought the record, and have it still.

When you listen, you'll need to be in the proper state of mind to fully enjoy it. Maybe you'll want to hold off until later?

You made my life better during a difficult time, Mr. McKuen.
I hope you know that.

10 February 2015

Murphy's Law- GPS Chapter

I wanted Sara Jean to see "The Riverwalk" in San Antonio. The plan was to spend one night in Dallas with loved ones, then head further South from there.
 From "Alamo Town" we'd then continue West on I-10 to Phoenix.
I estimated the entire trip would add 2000 miles to the odometer on the new SHO, and I really didn't want to do that. There was also another problem-
The community our son lives in does not allow cars to be parked on the street overnight. With his car and two motorcycles already residing there, there would be no room in the garage for any vehicle we brought.
Renting a car was the obvious solution.
After comparison shopping, the Hertz deal seemed unbelievable-
Mid-size "whatever"... one week... unlimited mileage... $248.
Sign us up!

The car waiting at the rental agency turned out to be a Chevy Malibu equipped with all the stuff you'd normally expect AND Sirius XM radio.
It DID NOT have a GPS receiver. No sweat... we have two portables.
I grabbed one, plugged it into the power port to insure it still worked, and figured we were ready for our adventure. Only after starting out did I realize I had grabbed the older of our two Garmin GPS units. Oh well, what could go wrong?

South to Dallas and at the start of our hop to San Antonio, all went well.
About an hour North of San Antonio we stopped for a bite to eat. Starting the car for our last leg to the "La Quinta Inn", the GPS failed to come up.
Cycle off/on... Nothin'.
Urgently... cycle off/on... Nothin'.
Desperately... unplug the unit, then plug it back in... Nothin'.
... Curse to myself for not using our AAA membership and having them send "Triptiks" for the entire trip to Phoenix.
Pull out the fuze to see if it's obviously frazzled. It's getting dark and I can barely see the fuze, much less tell if there's a gap in the filament.

Oh well.
I drive into town, spot the first La Quinta Inn we can see, and go in to get directions to where we have reservations.
All is good.

Next day I get on the computer and find a Radio Shack. I take the unit with me and me and the friendly clerk replace the inline fuze... Nothin'.
Uh-oh.
Heck with it. The rest of this sojourn is just a matter of insuring we stay on I-10. Who needs "Carmen the Garmin" anyway?

Gotta be the battery, right? The unit is old. Lithium-Ion batteries don't last forever.

Safely settled in our Winter quarters I take a closer look at the unit. I'm fearful of trying to replace the battery myself... there's no obvious place the unit pops apart to remove it.
So I get on the computer and find a "Batteries Plus" store nearby and call 'em...
"Do you replace GPS batteries?"
"Yes sir we do."

Great.
At the store I hand him the unit and he asks, "It's gonna be $35. Would you like me to give you the battery to replace it, or do you want me to do it for you?" I'm pleased the cost isn't MUCH more.
I tell him I'm scared I'm gonna break the thing trying to replace the battery. He smiles, shrugs, and says "No problem. I'll do it. Can you come back tomorrow to pick it up?"
"Sure."


Next day I go back and he hands me my GPS. I turn it on and the display lights up like a CHAMP.
YAY!
But after it acquires the satellites I try to program it for "Home" and it won't respond to touch.
We cycle it off/on.
No dice. I hand it back to him.
He says "Let me have a look and I'll give you a call."

Two days later, the phone rings...
"Greybeard, I somehow tore a ribbon-conductor in your unit when I replaced the battery. Getting that part would cost more than buying you a new GPS.
So we're getting you a new unit. It'll be here in four days."

Wow.
A NEW GPS unit for the cost of the battery replacement!
Isn't it nice to know there are still honorable business people around?
Guess where I'll be buying my batteries from now on?



07 February 2015

"That Ain't A Harley You're Ridin', Is It Boy?!", Continued.

The body had not yet been embalmed.
The mission was to assemble at Phoenix International Airport and from there, escort the remains an hour South to a Mortuary outside Casa Grande, AZ for embalming and internment.
I was a little concerned I'd get the same reception from this group as I had gotten during my last "Patriot Guard" event.
Fearing traffic around the airport I arrived almost an hour early.
Interesting- three bikes were there already... another GoldWing and two "Harley Clones", a Yamaha and a Suzuki "Boulevard" Trike. Not surprisingly, I sensed no "Attitude" about my choice of conveyance.
Over the next hour 30 or so bikes made their way to the assembly area. Of that number, I counted five Harley-Davidsons.

I have NO idea whether or not the group composition had anything to do with the atmosphere, but from the beginning this  ride was different. Everyone was friendly. Everyone seemed to be focused on the fact we were there to escort this hero to his final resting place.
We were FAMILY.

We saluted as the body was loaded into the hearse, then lined the bikes behind it to tackle what was now Phoenix "Rush hour" traffic for the start of our ride South on Interstate 10.
Can you imagine the difficulty? Try throwing a hearse and 30 bikes onto a slow-moving, six-lane highway!
It was exhilarating.
The Arizona "Patriot Guard" works with local Law Enforcement authorities and trains and equips "Road Guards" to go "Code 3"... lights and sirens to move and block traffic.
And folks on the road cooperated magnificently.
We moved through the cars like a knife through... well, ALMOST like butter!

Clear of traffic South of Phoenix we SAILED.
Have you ever been relatively at the end of a line of 30 bikes in staggered-left echelon going 70 mph on an Interstate Highway?
I now have.
And  lemme tell ya... IT'S A THRILL.

At the facility in Casa Grande we were met by the widow, standing next to the drive as we filed by, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Folks, if that don't make you cry, you ain't human.

02 February 2015

"That Ain't A Harley You're Ridin', Is It Boy?!"

The plan for today is to depart home base around 1300 hours in order to arrive at Phoenix Intl. Airport by 1400. I'll be on the GoldWing.
My purpose today is to meet up with several other members of the PGR... "Patriot Guard Riders", to escort the remains of a Navy Veteran from PHX to Casa Grande, AZ, where his services will be held.
Weather is nearly perfect and I look forward to the experience with one exception:
The last time Sara Jean and I participated in a PGR ride, we felt excluded from the group.

I've written before about the "Club", and how some bikers only associate with other bikers who ride a certain American-made motorcycle. I'm sure MOST of the bikes in today's procession from PHX to Casa Grande will fall into this category. Mine won't.
Sara Jean was so angry after our last ride, she won't be accompanying me today. The rest of the group today will obviously be worse for not having had the chance to meet her.
I've decided I'm not gonna allow "attitude" to  deter me...

I'm NOT riding because I want to suck up to anyone. I'm riding to honor the memory of a Vet... someone that felt compelled to sign "the blank check".

I hope my experience  today is different than our earlier ride.
But with my personal history, I DO NOT  yearn to be part of the aforementioned "Club".

More later.

01 February 2015

PLEASE, Take My Money!


Okay- First, an embarrassing admission:
I just bought another bike. That now makes seven, here, and there. Minus the tank bag and the bag on the pillion, it looks like that bike up there^.
Just over a year ago I brought the Suzuki SV650s to Phoenix and left it for me to use while here, and my son to use to commute to/from work. He has used "Roswell" MUCH more than I expected.

When we arrived this trip and I took Roswell out for a spin, it scared me.
My son IS NOT mechanically minded. The chain had obviously NOT been adjusted for quite some time. It was SO loose, I actually feared for my well-being.
And his. He admitted he wasn't comfortable with the mechanics of keeping the chain properly adjusted.
Oh boy.

I like shaft-driven bikes.
He NEEDS a shaft-driven bike.

He and I have both dropped Roswell on its right side due to "enthusiastic" use of the VERY powerful front brake at walking speed.
We BOTH could use a bike with a good anti-lock brake system. Long time readers know I've been looking at the Yamaha as a candidate.
The local dealer had a NEW 2014 Super Tenere ES on the showroom floor.  We've been nibbling at one another now for two weeks about the sale price on the bike. They came down over 3 grand. The hard bags and topcase on the bike cost over 2 grand by themselves.

I agreed to buy it.

I called and told them I wanted to send them a personal check from my online checking account and that I was willing to wait until those funds were safely in their account and had cleared before coming to pick the bike up.
"No can do!" was the response.
"We can only accept a Cashier's check, a 'Certified' check, or CASH as payment!"
Uhhhh..... WHAT?
"Let me repeat, to make sure you heard what I said" I replied...
"I'm willing to wait until you are certain that the check has cleared before I come get the bike."
And they repeated the above statement.

A cashier's check costs me $40.
My bank DOES NOT issue a "Certified" check. They issue what they call an "Official" check. It costs me $5, but takes a week to arrive at the dealership.
The dealer agreed to that arrangement.

So the question comes to mind:
What's the difference between receiving my personal check via mail, then waiting for the funds to clear? Reluctance to accept my personal check ALMOST made me walk away from this deal!

I pick the bike up in two days.

And now the sales pitch:
For sale-

One 1984 BMW R80RT in "Fair" condition.
One 1989 Honda GoldWing GL1500 Interstate in "Good" condition.
And one 1999 Honda Valkyrie Interstate in "Excellent" condition.
Call me. My number is BR549.

30 January 2015

"American Sniper"- My Thoughts.

I watched it through Taya Kyle's eyes.
I watched it through my Wife's eyes.
I watched it through my Son's eyes.
And I watched it through the eyes of an old aviator/warrior whose job once was to provide lethal protection for our troops from above.

It's a great PRO warrior movie.
It's a great ANTI-WAR movie.

I think it may be the most powerful movie I've seen.
I recommend it

28 January 2015

I SHOULD NOT Have Shown Her This:



Back home we have Wasps, Hornets, Bumblebees, Mosquitoes, and the occasional Brown Recluse spider.
We don't like 'em, but we're accustomed to 'em and have learned how to exist while dealing with them.
This is a new wrinkle. Our son found one like this in the kitchen a couple weeks ago, (sans all the babies being carried on the back), and made the mistake of showing it to his Mother. She immediately dispatched him to buy a Black Light, (Scorpions are "fluorescent"... they glow in the dark when illuminated with black light), so she could recon the area she intended to trod while walking around after sunset.


I find spiders fascinating. I'm beginning to have similar feelings about Scorpions.
Notice I said "beginning".
Right now I'm still mildly creeped out by them.
And a Momma with her back completely covered by babies?
(Shudder.)