25 May 2016

Our Robot Masters-

We already have self-driving cars.
But motorcycles?
And to what purpose?

At what point do we start hearing complaints about how dangerous it is for humans to be in control?


10 May 2016

Waiting For The Inevitable

Some time ago, before I realized how much FaceBook discussions were raising my blood pressure I wrote there:
"What has happened to my country?"
An old High School chum responded,

"It's gone. Get used to that fact."
I can't tell you how disappointed I was in him for that response...
He too is a Viet Nam Combat Veteran, and I expected "better" from him.
So I continued my quest to stop this runaway train and turn it around.
But, now that the two major parties have selected their nominees for the upcoming election it is obvious:
He was right.
I was deluding myself.

It's now being suggested I once again "Hold my nose and vote".
Hold my nose?
Since the Reagan administration, the political stench has gotten worse, and worse, and worse.
We've "Destroyed the free market system in order to save it".
We've totally forgotten the rudimentary lessons we learned in Psy 101, Soc 101, and Econ 101; that if you reward a behavior you get MORE of it.

I'm boggled by where we now find ourselves:
Babies born today find themselves already saddled with $40,000 of debt each.
"Illegal" is an ugly word, so we must now use the word "undocumented" instead.
We no longer have to pay attention to the sign on the bathroom door.
"Constitution? We don't need no stinking Constitution."

It's now a living document that means whatever makes us feel good.

Our country is now deluged with debt.
If he is able to get elected and pass out all the freebies he desires, Bernie Sanders will add another $17,000,000,000,000.00 (is that enough zeroes?) to our already IMPOSSIBLE national debt.
I don't know who said it... some smart person... but there's a saying... "What CANNOT continue, won't".
Students of history are quite aware, this CANNOT continue.


My family is preparing for the worst.
Some of our Christian friends are simply watching the horizon, expecting Christ to return.
Others are keeping a firearm close at hand with ONE bullet in the chamber... (two if they're married.)
Sigh.

But it's now more than obvious my old H.S. mate was right... the chanting of Socialists, Black Lives Matter, and even old Viet Nam Veteran friends who are willing to sacrifice all principles in order to keep Hillary from being elected have finally opened my eyes.
The group inside my circle of wagons just got noticeably smaller.

But I continue to tell those I love and respect-
Be prepared.
Or be a victim.

07 May 2016

Life Ain't Safe.

Yesterday, weather was gorgeous. We woke and, after checking the weather, had smiles on our faces because we had planned a "Christian Bike Ride"...
Four bikes would depart from our Church at 0930 with the planned destination of Patti's 1880 Settlement at Grand Rivers, KY, in the beautiful Land Between the Lakes area.
At the appointed hour the contingent was "all present and accounted for"...
Sara Jean and me on our '03 GoldWing, the other three bikes were H-D "Ultra Classics" with husband and wife teams on each. We chatted a bit in the Church parking lot, then, after a prayer for safe riding, at about 0950 we set off.


We made it all of about 8 miles before coming to a stop...
Third in an "echelon right" formation, we watched as Harley #1 first put on his flashing warning lights, then slowed to a stop at a safe spot alongside the road.
"My cruise control is stuck ON" said the Harley pilot.
He pulled his front brake lever full on, (which normally would automatically disable the cruise control), released it, then started the bike. The engine would have screamed to full throttle had he not immediately turned the ignition key to "off".
He pressed on the rear brake lever then started the engine again... same result.
He scratched his head, then pulled the side cover on the left side of the bike that granted access to the fuse panel and searched for a placard indicating which of the fuses might disable the errant accessory... to no avail.
One of the other Ultra riders walked over and closed his throttle...
"Try it now *****", he said.
Success! Turns out most bikes today with throttles controlled by cable actually have TWO cables...
One to open the throttle, and another, for safety purposes, to close the throttle should it stick open.
Problem resolved, we set off again for our destination.
ADVENTURE!

We rode the Interstate, mostly.
Yeah, I know... boring as watching paint dry.
But still, this was beautiful country, beautiful weather, and Sara Jean and I were surrounded by the staccato sound of three H-D's with moderately loud exhaust pipes.
Symphony!

We ate a great meal and had great fellowship, catching up on one another's lives, then, surprised to see we'd been chatting for two hours, realized we had to start home to let Lucy out to do her business.
We mounted up, rode to the first gas station we could find, topped off our bikes, and set off.
We had agreed our trip home would be off the concrete slab as much as possible, and jumped off the Interstate onto a nice two-lane highway at our earliest chance.
This is more to my liking...
Up and down rolling hills, sweeping left and right turns following the paths laid down by our forebears years ago. Breathtaking.


But riding the two-lanes DOES mean extra risk-
Stopped behind a car with its left turn signal on waiting for oncoming traffic, we watched terrified as the oncoming car crossed into our lane in front of the car in front of us, departed the road to our right, then, still going about 30 mph, crossed between the stopped car and the first two bikes in our formation, only to run up into an available driveway there and crash to a stop after colliding with a car in that drive.
The event stunned my wife to the point she wanted to flee the scene...
"Go, Go, Go!" she urgently shouted.
And we all dropped our bikes into gear and did just that.

What could cause an incident like this?
Driving under the influence?
Brake, or other mechanical failure?
Inattention to the task?
Since we didn't stop to investigate, there's just no way to know.

But it once again points out the obvious...
If the gal driving that out-of-control car had not expertly divided the gap between the car we were stopped for and our formation of bikes, several people COULD have been seriously hurt, not to mention the damage to a bunch of fine machines.
The pilot and wife on one of the lead machines were helmetless.

Life is a risk.
We choose to ride because we enjoy riding immensely, and realize the risk we take doing it.
No matter how safe you are, personally, there's always the chance someone else is gonna come along and mess up your day.
Be prepared for that. Try to protect yourself from the mistakes of others as much as possible.

Yesterday was beautiful.
And now we have a couple more "ADVENTURE!" stories to share with friends.


02 May 2016

The Bathroom Discussion-

"I've got to go see a man about a horse" I said.
From where we were located in the O Club the downstairs facilities were closest. Normally used by informal bar patrons, they'd be nearly empty because this was Sunday Brunch time and the downstairs was closed Sunday.  My need to go was great, so I dashed into the first available door without paying attention to the marking on the door.
I found myself in heaven, in a small anteroom. Two love seats with tufted upholstery were placed at 90-degree angles from one another, with a standing ashtray at either end and in between the seats.
In order to go into the actual "relief" room, you had to go through another door. Good thing too, because back then I could have been in an embarrassing situation at least for entering the "Ladies Room". I quickly exited these plush surroundings and entered the proper facility...
Bare walls, urinals, and a few equally bare stalls to conduct my business.

Back in 1974 I attended the 100th running of the Kentucky Derby. The Centennial of this race attracted a MUCH larger crowd than planners had imagined, and lines to get into the ladies' facilities meant females were standing in queue 15-20 minutes just to find themselves at a stall.
Women started entering the men's facilities, using the stalls while we men used the urinals on the opposite wall. We men understood, and didn't care... no one was put into a compromising position.

So how is this present gender-bathroom controversy gonna turn out?
I think eventually we'll see an arrangement where there will be one restroom, with individual stalls for all... no urinals... and the stalls will be MUCH more private than those in restrooms presently. Women will be forced, frequently, to wipe urine off toilet seats, because men are pigs.
It will be expensive for facility owners and taxpayers and these costs will, as always, be passed on to you and me.
Expensive foolishness.

And the biggest loser of all?
There will be NO anteroom with ashtrays and lovely crushed velour upholstery.
What a pity.

21 April 2016

Some 21Apr16 Thoughts On the Joys of Shopping At WalMart:

Let me start by declaring I DO NOT hate WalMart.
There's no question they have run many Mom & Pop stores out of business. But do we really want to go back to "The Walton's" days where we walked down to Ike and Cora Beth's store and tried to buy fresh Zucchini? Good luck with that!
WalMart has changed the world...
Lots of variety, and almost always priced lower than the competition. (Find a lower price in an ad? Bring it to the cashier and they'll match the price.)
Disagree with me? That's fine... and I'll tell ya why later in this post.

I just finished shopping at my local Wally World. In this small town I always plan to run into several people I know and like, and plan to spend at least an hour in the store even if I only have a few items to purchase. This visit was no different... I ran into a couple people I had not seen since we left for Destin last Fall. I enjoyed running into them and caught up on all the latest small-town gossip.
But let me share some thoughts on things I almost always think while shopping at Wally World...

-Is everyone miserable? Did everyone just lose their aged Dog/Cat?
No one smiles. Well, at least no one does until you smile, say hello, and force them to quit frowning.
It sometimes feels as if the world is falling down on everyone. They walk around looking glum, with their shoulders drooping as if the weight of the world is upon them.
Yes, I know the world is a mess. But can we not at least be civil with one another and try to make lemonade outta this fiasco?

-You're driving around in that electric shopping cart with the backup warning... BEEP!, BEEP!, BEEP!
You are morbidly obese, and the last thing in the world you need to be doing is shopping while seated on your two-axhandle wide butt, manipulating the controls of a motorized vehicle. YOU'RE COMMITTING SLOW SUICIDE.
Stand on your own two feet. If necessary, start out by using your walker, (with attached shopping basket!)

But DO SOME EXERCISE.
Then you can go home and eat those yodels and Donettes!
Providing those carts makes WalMart codependent, making it easy for gluttons to support their "Food as drug" habit.
And what's also amazing? Even while silently puttering around in their carts, these obese folks don't smile. (I guess slow-suicide will do that to you.)


WalMart shopping completed, I went to our local grocery. On Thursdays they provide a 10% discount to
active duty/retired/Veterans. (On Tuesdays they give "Seniors" a 10% discount.)
What's more... they have a butcher on duty to answer questions and serve your needs. I try to do as much business with this store as possible, to keep Wally World honest. Employees in this store try HARDER. Customers here seem happier. There are no codependent carts for customers. And this butcher KNOWS GOOD MEAT.

It's been an interesting, thought-provoking shopping day.
Thank GOD for the free market... or what today could be called the ALMOST free market!
And yes, I found my fresh Zucchini.

13 April 2016

Random Thoughts, Spring, 2016

We're home from Destin, safely, after spending the better part of five months there.
When you go to the trouble of closing up your primary home, and spend the extra $$$$ to avoid the snow/ice/cold in the "Great White North", one of the things you do is tune in "The Weather Channel" to see if your expenditure is worthwhile, (and see how your neighbors are faring back home).
Weather in the panhandle of Florida this year was NOT dramatically different from the weather back home, so gloating over calls to friends was kept to a minimum. Still there's just nothing quite like watching the surf lap against snow-white sand while dolphins swim through your picture window!


On our departure day, (Saturday), we had the truck packed with two Motor Scooters and all our personal possessions by 1 P.M., said our goodbyes to Florida neighbors, and headed Northbound. Our journey home takes us through Montgomery and Birmingham Alabama, and Nashville Tennessee.
I'm always concerned about traffic in those cities because an accident on the Interstate highway can make you a prisoner in your vehicle.
This trip home was an absolute disaster-
We experienced a slowdown South of Birmingham, so I detoured to U.S. 31 around the city. Trying to insure traffic would dissipate, we even stopped for dinner just north of B-ham. Back on the concrete slab, we almost immediately slowed to a near stop.
At 11 P.M. just south of Nashville we again topped a hill and saw four lanes of Interstate full of red tail lights. We inched forward at less than walking speed, covering two miles in two hours, gagging in the exhaust being produced by hundreds of cars and trucks. As we passed the accident site it was obvious to me someone was probably assuming ambient temperature-
The collision was so violent the tractor-trailer's front axle was lying twenty feet in front of what was left of the donor vehicle.
We finally arrived home at 0500 hours, exhausted, sixteen hours after setting off.


We've pretty much learned what to expect when we get home:
Digital clocks will be flashing "12:00".
Many light bulbs will die in a flash of glory when you first turn lamps on.
You wake the first morning home and look around trying to figure out where you are.
It takes two days to get all your "stuff" in its proper place, and even then you have to stop to think "is that pair of scissors in the Destin drawer or the back-home drawer?"
But the trees are greening and some flowers are blooming. Soon it will be time to get tomatoes, green peppers, corn, and other tasty things in the ground.


We're glad to be home.



16 March 2016

More (And Bigger) Is Better?



Yeah, it's time to admit I'm suffering from a disease.
But like other addicts I CAN and DO rationalize it to myself.
Let me try, and you can shoot holes in my thought process-

We've been here in Destin for the Winter.
All of our grocery shopping is done within three miles.
When we need a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, we have to start the car/truck and drive about five minutes to do that. Isn't that the absolute WORST thing you can do to a vehicle?

For years we've watched as visitors zip by on the beach road on rented 50cc scooters, throttle opened wide to the point of bending the handlebars, going all of 35-40 miles per hour. Invariably they are smiling, laughing, and generally shouting at others on similar scooters.
The epiphany came to me-
Virtually ALL the trips I'm making to buy a dozen eggs could be made on one of these scooters, saving the wear and tear of waking the big Cummins diesel engine from a sleep and not quite warming it to operating temperature with the trip to buy a few needed items.
So we bought a used Taotao 50cc scooter, and I am now one of those desperately trying to avoid getting bugs in my teeth as I race to the grocery.
And I mean that...
After three months of use if the thing assumed the "dying cockroach" position tomorrow I'd still feel we have gotten our money's worth from the little Chinese Bugger.

But there IS a fly in the ointment.
At 40 mph, if I tried to get out on one of the highways... say to drive over to Ft. Walton Beach to go to Harbor Freight Tools, (make your Tim Allen sounds here), I'd be illegal and dangerous to myself and others.

Some years back my sister bought a 500cc Kymco scooter to drive to/from work and has gotten good utility from the machine. She even bragged about being able to out-accelerate her son on his Harley-Davidson to about 60 mph, even though his machine has more than twice the displacement.
I'm sure her scoot will probably go close to 90 mph.
I don't need that kind of performance... all I need is to be safe on highways where the speed limit is 55 mph.

So I did some research and found that 150cc scooters similar to my little Taotao will go almost 60, and they are quite reasonable in price.
That's what I need.

Now here is where the picture gets a little cloudy-
I rode the little 50cc machine to get a gallon of milk this week. After buying the milk I looked up and down the street and saw the sign... "Coastal Custom Cruisers".
They rent bicycles and Motor Scooters to folks visiting the beach.
I thought, "What would it hurt to pop in and talk to them?"

I walked in and met "Cameron".
"Do you by any chance have a used 150cc scooter for sale?"
Cameron smiled. I think he knew he "had me at Hello."
"Follow me, I have something to show you."
In the back room it sat... black, and strangely wonderful. It looks just like the one you see pictured above.
Italian engineering. 250cc's. I've been fascinated with 'em since I first saw one in magazines.
It's called an MP3. The last time Blog friend Cary and I climbed high up to Tortilla Flat in Arizona we followed a lady riding one of these up the mountain... she had no trouble at all staying in front of us.

"What year is it. How many miles. And how much?" I asked.
The number Cameron gave me was a shock.
"We have the machine on consignment" he said.
"Let me go home and check the Blue Book" I responded.
And when I checked, the "low retail" value was over $1000 more than the asking price, and this machine is NOT "low retail".
I bought the strange three-wheeler the next morning.

I spent much of the day on it yesterday.
It will go faster than I want to go on any scooter, two OR three wheels.
It's smooth-running, substantial feeling, and will be fine for two-up riding to Ft. Walton Beach, or for that matter, on the Interstate highways.
Cameron promises to help me load the MP3 AND the little 50cc Taotao into the bed of the Ram Diesel when we depart Destin the end of this month.

And now comes the hard part... my admission to "addiction"-
There are five motorcycles in my "hangar" already. Now when we get home there will be seven.
The 50cc Taotao has been an education and has served its purpose, so it's gone. The older GoldWing needs to go. The newer GoldWing stays.
That leaves the Valkyrie, the Moto Guzzi, and the BMW R80RT.
How do I decide which to part with?

This "Junkie" is already having trouble with withdrawal symptoms!


03 March 2016

Blood Politics

"You could NEVER do that", my wife said... (and she was correct).
We just watched Clarence Thomas' wife being interviewed on Glenn Beck's radio/TV show. She was talking about how amazing it was that Antonin Scalia had such a close relationship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two people about as far apart on the political spectrum as you can get.

My response?
"Blood on their hands!"
Hillary Clinton AND Barack Obama watched, on a live feed (LIVE!!) from Benghazi, as four people who worked for them were attacked and killed... and did NOTHING.
Worse, they then lied to cover their tracks for political benefit.

I am still in touch with folks in the military, many of whom are involved with Special Ops.
Some of those folks are dying because of poor political leadership.
If you are an Obama supporter... if you are a Clinton supporter, I'd just as soon try to beat you up as have a relationship with you.
Some of my friends are DYING. You have blood on your hands.

Antonin Scalia was smarter than me.
But I'm not sure his political tactics make the world a better place.

Still, I have to admit that Scalia beating little Ruth up would have been a bad move.
But the image it gives me makes me smile.
And I don't think progressives have any idea what they face in the future if we continue down this path.

25 February 2016

T-RUMP

"Mitt Romney, who was one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics, is now pushing me on tax returns. Dope!"
Donald Trump

Since that statement, Donald has said his tax returns are "complex".
This is an excuse for not releasing them?
Seems to me, if they truly are that complex, releasing them now would give examiners more time to pore over them and agree he has nothing to hide.
Conversely, stalling about their release a few days will give him time to garner more votes toward wrapping up the nomination.
So STALL DONALD, STALL.

I don't like his use of profanity. It's unbefitting.
I don't like his support of abortion and using my tax money to fund Planned Parenthood.
I HATE the fact he thinks he can steal property from little old ladies to enrich himself.
And I REALLY don't like the fact he thinks having a ton of money makes him smarter than the rest of us.

Pray.
Pray for enlightenment.