30 December 2010

I Don't Think That Means What You Think

"Scumbag", the Pastor said at some point in his sermon.
Ohhhhkay...
You may as well have slapped me in the face.
I'm sure "despicable person" was his intended meaning.
But I'm also pretty sure he would not have used the term at all if he knew the secondary definition.

28 December 2010

He Gets It-

My cousin sent me the link to this video.
Several things about the video struck me-
He found a way to become a citizen the CORRECT way.
He decided to become a citizen after being impacted by those providing freedom to us all.
He's got a set of stones to be able to kid those guys the way he does without breaking into tears.
I couldn't do it.
I bet you couldn't either.
Tissue warning!

(Thanks Kathy.)

26 December 2010

Maggie The Cat



It's another of those movies I had never watched from start to finish.
But I watched it last night.
Did Elizabeth Taylor ever look better? Wowzer!
Like a fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and a cherry on top, I watched as "Brick", Paul Newman's character, parried any advance "Maggie the Cat" made on him and wondered-
Does "Brick" ever get to taste that delightful dessert?

Do you remember how the movie ends?

25 December 2010

Blessed



Got a full belly?
I do.

It snowed most of the night and I drove home this morning in a beautiful, monochromatic world, having spent the night saying "NO" twice to calls asking me to venture out in below-minimums weather. I was reminded of the caution an old pilot relayed to me when I first started this job...
"Our customers need to be very careful of weather when they decide to get seriously hurt."

It's a 32 mile drive from workplace to home. At just after 7 A.M. I met five cars on the road in that distance, and was mindful that someone had been out with a snowplow early Christmas morning clearing that road so I could more safely drive home to my loved ones.
I am blessed.

Sara Jean and Big Bubba were both still in bed when I unlocked the door. The dogs all met me when I entered, three twelve-pounders jumping, licking, and nipping.
"Hi honey"... the sleepy voice from upstairs called down.
"Have the pups been out?"
"No."
Mr. Coffee had done his work at 0700, so I poured myself a fresh cup before inviting the three canines out into four inches of fresh snow. Low to the ground Dachshund Desi hates it and stays close to the house where the snow is thin. Lucy is more indifferent, venturing out to quickly get number one and number two taken care of. Yogi LOVES the snow... nose down like a plow, he takes off in a dead run, stopping now and then to investigate something, sniffing and snorting. When I turn to go back into the house announcing "Good doggies get TREATS!", Desi and Lucy stand at the front door waiting for me to grant them entrance. Yogi has to be further cajoled.
I stomp snow from my boots, then make my way to the treat jar to reward good pups.
We are blessed.

Coffee cup in hand, I sit in my recliner and turn on our TV which is attached to a receiver provided by Dish Network carrying more channels than anyone could have possibly imagined in my youth. I then turn on our Bose surround sound system. Having caught up on the news during my drive home I switch to channel 6004 and listen to "Traditional Holiday Music" in wonderful stereophonic fullness. My wife approaches, bends down to kiss me, covers me with a flannel wrap, then removes my boots.
I am blessed.

We chat.
Sara Jean and Big Bubba attended a friend's dinner party last evening. Sara Jean spent 6 hours in the kitchen yesterday baking cookies, then stirring chocolate and peanut butter fudge until it was a perfect consistency to take to this get-together.
I listen as she relates neighborhood goings-on. She and BB obviously had a good time socializing while I was at work last night. From this gathering she brought home more food than she took.
We are blessed.

At 0900 we woke Big Bubba and opened all our gifts... fewer this year than last, but the gifts we shared were nice and were also mostly tools and gadgets that will make our lives easier. When the wrapping paper finally stopped hitting the floor we all were wearing smiles.
We are blessed.

I napped in preparation for work tonight. SJ woke me this afternoon with a fresh cuppa. I sat up in bed and grabbed my laptop to read messages from near strangers and new and old friends via Facebook and email, wishing me and mine the happiest of holidays. And they MEAN it.
We are blessed.

"Dinner's on the table! C'mon down."
I dress and descend to a table covered with Turkey and all the normal fixin's.
Big Bubba offers a prayer of thanks for food, friends, loved ones, and warriors abroad protecting us.
"Amen" we all say.
We are blessed.

Back to work tonight, the helicopter is still in the hangar. It hasn't moved now in over 36 hours, making my preflight a pretty simple matter. We turn on "A Christmas Carol", this version starring George C. Scott. I watch as Scrooge comes to the realization that he is a fortunate soul and decides to (on his own!) provide for his less fortunate employees and neighbors. And I am once again reminded...
The world HAS changed.
Here in the U.S. at least, there is probably less hunger out there than ever before in our history.
But there ARE folks still homeless, cold, and hungry out there.

Our kitchen table at home is COVERED with food.
Our kitchen table here at work is COVERED with food.
There is SO MUCH FOOD I cannot imagine that some of it won't be wasted before being eaten.
WE ARE SO BLESSED.

Are we thankful?
Do we know how we got here, so rich we cannot imagine not having tables overloaded with food during this season?
I do.
My family does.
And my family also knows this condition may be temporary.
All the more reason to enjoy this bounty while we have it.
But this year I'm challenging myself and I'll gently challenge you too...
Look around you and find those who could use a helping hand, then offer it.

I fear we're approaching a time when we'll be spending A LOT more time taking care of one another.
And we'll still be blessed in many ways.

22 December 2010

3000... Finally?



I can't remember the form number...
DD-175? DA-175?
It's the form the ARMY kept to show details of flight time.
During my 22 years in the U.S. ARMY and Reserve I flew various models of the Huey-
The UH-1B,C,D,H,&M, along with a little time in the AH-1G Cobra.
When my ARMY wings were put away for good and I reviewed my records I was shocked when I looked at the total UH-1 time: 2,999 hours.
Does that number really mean anything? Of course not. But it would have been nice to tell others "I have 3,000 hours in Hueys" without fudging even that tiny bit.


Today I got a note from an old mechanic friend who knows my situation-
"GB, I'm gonna be changing the TT straps on '****'s' Huey in the Spring and wondered if you'd be interested in coming down to do the track and balance and test flight?"

Ha.
He knew my reaction before he pushed the "send" key.
He also knows I'd probably PAY to watch that big rotor blade cycle overhead again.

I suspect we'll fly about an hour.
(Are you ready Terry?)

21 December 2010

"Blinded By The Light"



The internet takes much of the fun out of trivial knowledge.
One of the things I have ALWAYS been VERY good at is remembering worthless crap.
At "Trivial Pursuit" I could (and did) individually take on groups of people and win.
Playing "trivia" is still fun in person, but is obviously impossible over the internet...
No information is secure from the search engine!

For some time, this tune was a favorite piece of trivial knowledge.
I've always liked it. Like most, I heard and enjoyed "Mannfred Mann's" version first, and because it pretty quickly becomes obvious the lyrics don't have much value to the song other than the fact that they fit into the rhythm and rhyme, it was easy to make up my own words if those coming out of the speakers weren't clear.
YEARS after the Mannfred Mann version was a hit I was listening to an "Oldies" station and heard a familiar voice singing a song I had never heard him sing. As the song progressed an alarm went off in my head...
This is a different arrangement of a song you've heard before, but WHAT IS IT?!!
I was shocked when I finally realized he was singing "Blinded By The Light".
I was doubly shocked when I found out he had written it.

Now, DON'T CHEAT!
Do you know who wrote it?
You don't even need to go searching. I've done it for ya.
The composer, singing the version of the song that had me momentarily confused, is
here.

Be honest... did you know?
(And did you notice "Deuce", as in "Deuce Coupe", is spelled wrong in the video?! So is "Adolescent".)

19 December 2010

Time For Another Lefty To Go!

John Kerry.
Disgusting, liberal, elitist, tax-dodging, Viet Nam Veteran bashing scum.
In his January 31, 2005 "Meet The Press" interview with Tim Russert he promised he'd publicly release his miltary records so we could all know his discharge status.
That's six years ago.
Have you seen those records?
No. You haven't.
Why?

I'll tell you what I suspect and you tell me why I'm wrong...
John Kerry's military discharge was less than honorable.
There is some question as to whether that discharge was later mitigated by the odious Jimmy Carter.
I want to know.
I truly have doubts.
Like President(?) Barack Obama, is John Kerry eligible for the office he now holds?

Senator... follow up on your promise.
A.B.K...
Anyone But Kerry in 2012!

18 December 2010

Digital Camera Screwups

It has to be gremlins at work. How else can you explain the photo/video button on my camera being pushed over to the "video" selection? I DIDN'T DO IT!
But it happens now and then, and some of the results are interesting. It's helped me decide I need to do more video.
This Spring in Destin I had a chance to take photos of a beautiful gal alongside a beautiful dog, and got a mini-video before I realized I needed to put that darned switch in the correct position. Here is the result:

17 December 2010

Viva Mexico!

As you know, our son lived in Arizona for a couple years. I moved him to the Los Angeles Metro. area in January. Going out to visit with him there is revealing-
In both places he has lived, there are areas you can imagine you no longer live in the United States.
Not being able to speak Spanish in certain stores has become problematic.
This saturation of immigrants, whether legal or illegal, has lead me to wonder out loud,
"If they wanted to live in Mexico, why did they leave Mexico?"
And then I remember...
We stole Southern California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, and they are simply taking back what is theirs.

Like much of the rest of the country, California is bankrupt, but Fornicalia affords us the benefit(?) of being at the vanguard of the meltdown, so the rest of us can watch what happens there to see what we'll be experiencing soon.
And I'm also wondering...
How different are we, the United States, from Mexico these days?
What REALLY separates us from our neighbor to the South?

With a couple exceptions, I've never had any desire to visit Mexico.
I suppose I'd enjoy visiting the Mayan ruins there, but the rest of the country? Meh.
We have beaches and resorts just as beautiful as any in Mexico, and I have no fear here of some bandido waking me in the middle of the night wanting me to empty the contents of my wallet.
Yeah, I know... that sort of event is unlikely in the "resort areas", at least right now. But the reason it's not likely is because those resort areas are paying someone to insure bandidos don't bother the tourists.

So how are we REALLY different?
Our law enforcement system is different.
Our cops are not corrupt.
Our Judges are not corrupt.
If you screw up, you have an expectation of being treated fairly within our borders.

But imagine with me please...
State economies are failing.
Local budgets will be impacted.
Police forces will be cut back, or personnel may be asked to take reductions in pay.
How do those people continue their standard of living?
How do they keep their babies fed and clothed?
Do we become like Mexico?

It's another of those scenarios you may point to in a few years and ridicule me...
"Ha Greybeard! You were such an alarmist!"
And I really hope that is the case.

13 December 2010

Mitigating Risks

***** Community Airport, Automated Weather Observation-
0-6-1-1 Zulu Weather-
Wind 3-0-0 at 1-3, Peak Gust 1-niner,
Visibility 1-0
Clear below 1-2 thousand
Temperature minus 1-2 Celsius,
Dew Point minus 1-7.
Altimeter 3-0-1-0.

When I left work this morning the helicopter was safely in the hangar.
It was snowing. Ceilings and visibilities were below our flying minimums and the temperature was just below freezing.

The snow stopped just as my shift started tonight but the temperature has been dropping all day. I've left the machine in the hangar and notified my dispatchers to add 10 minutes response time to any call that might come in so we can push the bird out.
That minus 12 celsius temperature converts to ten degrees fahrenheit, but the sky is clearing so that's probably not our coldest temp. of the shift.
If the telephone rings it will be decision time...
How cold is too cold?

We take this job knowing there are inherent risks and we accept those while trying our best to mitigate them. But the fact of the matter is that there are situations that could present themselves where even a successful landing after an emergency could put me, my crew, and a patient at risk...
Loss of transmission oil pressure is one of them.
The book says, "Land as soon as possible".
Under the best of circumstances I'd let my dispatchers know I was landing, relaying a set of coordinates so they could get help on the way.
But what if that landing is in a place where it's difficult for ground vehicles to reach us?
We're dressed warmly, but how comfortable will we be under those circumstances if the temperature continues to drop? And what about the patient?
Thirteen knots of wind gusting to 19 knots is gonna suck the heat out of the helicopter's living area pretty quickly.


When I made my "check-in" call to dispatch tonight I warned them-
"I won't be taking any long flights tonight due to the cold. I'll probably decline any flights longer than 30 minutes."
That restriction will keep me fairly close to towns, roads, and help if necessary.

Old pilots and bold pilots...
I'm no longer bold.


10 December 2010

Room For One More?



Almost there.
I'm getting fairly comfortable with my arsenal. If your intent is to bring harm to my family I can "reach out and touch you" from long, medium, short, and VERY SHORT distances.

I actually did something that caused me some pause a couple weeks ago...

I had two revolvers in .357 caliber, both with relatively short barrels.
I carried the one with the longer barrel in a shoulder holster when I was a Deputy flying the Bell 47 more than 30 years ago. Fellow fling-winger Dan heard I might sell one of my .357's and expressed interest. I decided
to hang on to the more concealable of the two magnums and sold him my old service piece. It hurt a little to give it up, but I had just bought the Glock 26 for Sara Jean and two .357's seemed like one too many.

I have/had a "belly gun", a Freedom Arms five-shot revolver in .22 Magnum. Sara Jean saw it and it immediately became HER belly gun.
So I'm back in the market for one and will accept whatever advice you can give.


I'm considering the derringer pictured above, the Bond Arms "Snake Slayer".
It's chambered for either the .410 shot-shell or .45 Long Colt, and would serve as a good "give me time to get to my bigger handgun" piece.
Anyone have experience with them, personally or indirectly?
I might have to deal with some "snakes" soon.

09 December 2010

Effin' "F" Key!

My son Big Bubba works in the audio-visual world. His work requires tons of bits and bytes, and he can't sit around and wait for things to happen. He therefore pretty much has to be out on the leading edge of things technical. In pursuit of the "latest and greatest" he buys a new laptop at least every couple years. I get the "hand-me-downs".

The last of these was a Dell Inspiron, on which I'm typing the note you are now reading. It has a 17 inch monitor and the most unbelievably loud, clear speakers I have ever heard on a laptop.
I love the thing, (except it's a pain when traveling).

Three months ago my fingers started catching on the F key. Now and then they'd catch solidly enough that that key would depart the keyboard. I'd curse under my breath, stop what I was doing, find the key and re-attach it by snapping it into place. About a month ago it popped off and wouldn't snap all the way home, meaning it stuck up and interfered with my fingers even more than usual. After the fourth time in one hour of chasing it down and snapping it (nearly) back in place I gave up and left it off. I'm amazed...
With it gone the keyboard looks weird, the spring and locking mechanism beneath the key are now exposed, but when I'm typing I notice absolutely NO difference!

I've begun to wonder though...
When passers-by notice my "F" key is missing, will they think I wore it out?!!
(And I guess the followup question is, did I?!!)

08 December 2010

Home Grown Terror

Another "U.S. Citizen" arrested for an attempted terror act.
It truly is just a question of time until one of these people acts without unsuspectingly getting involved with the FBI and succeeds.
Their targets will be big crowds.
Be aware and be alert.

05 December 2010

Places?

There is an "Inferior Cul-de-sac". Is there also a "Superior Cul-de-sac"?

Do females feel slighted because there is a "Bundle of His", but apparently there is no "Bundle of Hers"?

Inquiring minds want to know.

02 December 2010

Silver, Gold, and The Hunt Brothers




My first wife (wisely) left me in 1976. When she left she took almost all our community property, my dog included. Most of what she left behind required a monthly payment... mainly the house, which was at a location where neither of us wanted to live.

I moved out and was fortunate to immediately find good renters to move in.
When I finally made the decision to sell the home in 1978 the renters bought it. I found myself with $10,000 cash in my hand and the need to put that money to work.

I had been investing in Mutual Funds for years with some success and thought about adding this money to one of my funds. But the very week the 10k fell into my hands I got a tip from a friend...
"Gold is gonna explode!"

I had a trusted friend in my ARMY Reserve unit that made his living as a stock broker...
"Hey Jim, whatd'ya think about investing this money in gold?"
At the time, gold was trading in the area of $240/oz. He responded, "Gold is at near-record highs. I'd be frightened to tell you to put that money there."

Cautioned, I invested the money in CD's, which at the time were paying about 8%. I then sat back and watched as gold climbed steadily to just over $825/oz., and wished I had listened more carefully to what my gut was telling me.
Now we're sorta in a similar situation. Every other commercial on TV exhorts us to "BUY GOLD!" Watching what's happening in this economy my gut is telling me once again that is good advice, and this time I'm acting on my hunch. Gold is now at record dollar highs, but would have to reach $2300+ to reach an inflation-adjusted record high.

Some think that silver, with all its industrial uses, is actually a better play in the precious metals market. For a while today it was selling at a near-term high of $29.00/oz., but has a long way to go before it reaches an inflation adjusted high equal to its $50+ per ounce cost when Nelson and Bunker Hunt, with the help of a few Arab investors, tried to monopolize the world's silver market.

Remember when you read my words that I'm just a financial nobody, and the precious metals markets are volatile under the best of circumstances. But the price of silver is up 50% in just 13 months and most believe that price is likely to coninue going upward so long as our treasury is continuing its present course of printing greenbacks...
And they're printing a BUNCH of greenbacks right now!

30 November 2010

High And Low

We were excited as Thanksgiving approached.
Big Bubba was coming home. And we've established a tradition...
Desi flies home with him on Thanksgiving and stays with us through Christmas so BB saves on one airfare for him and it gives us a chance to love on him for a month or so. We were looking forward to watching the "pack dynamic" that would develop in the three dogs... Desi, Lucy, and Yogi.

BB's flight home was actually on Thanksgiving day and he was working Wednesday. BB manages a warehouse in L.A. and is fortunate to be able to take Desi to work with him. The workers there and all the vendors that come and go know and love Desi, (as does anyone who meets him... he's a hugger and loves attention). Desi normally snuggles up in a blanket next to BB's desk. Big Bubba had returned from a trip to another venue with Desi alongside and had come back to his workplace, Desi leading the way back to the desk, when BB got intercepted by a distraction. When BB got to his desk, no Desi.
The door was open, so BB quickly went and looked left and right... no Desi.
Panic time. The warehouse is in an area with busy two and three lane thoroughfares on all sides.
Every worker in the warehouse was activated for the search. All were looking at the streets, hoping they wouldn't see a little black, bloody blob there.
No Desi. (And through an oversight, he was wearing no collar.)

The search continued for a couple hours before BB resigned himself to making up posters with Desi's photo...
"Lost Dog"
Reward. Call **********
And then he called us to tell us the news.

Is it stupid to invest so much love and emotion in an animal?
We were devastated.
Desi wouldn't be coming home for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving morning BB checked his email to see if there was a response to his "Craigslist" post. Finding none, he dejectedly went to the airport alone.
It tainted the joy of his homecoming for everyone. We were overjoyed to have him here, but we knew if we were missing Desi, BB's thoughts had to be ten times what ours were.

The next few days were more of the same... joy mixed with sadness. Sara Jean had resigned herself to the fact Desi was gone. I refused to do that....
"He's wandered off before and someone found and returned him. That's gonna happen again."

Yesterday I came home from work exhausted after having flown all night. I went to sleep at 10 A.M. hoping to sleep well until about 4 P.M..
At 1 P.M. BB woke me...

"THEY FOUND DESI!!!"
I'm normally irritated by being awakened early, but obviously this was different...
"WONDERFUL!"

BB's workplace is not far from where he lives. Desi decided he was going home and actually had made it to an apartment complex enroute and was passing by as one of the tenants was leaving his apartment. The tenant called to him and Desi, gadfly that he is, immediately responded.
Desi spent the Thanksgiving holiday with this guy and had a great time...
The tenant had actually given Desi a new name in case a rightful owner didn't show up...
His new name was "Max".

Yesterday morning the tenant went for a walk in the neighborhood, saw one of BB's posters hanging on a utility pole, and called.
Of course we're rejoicing...
For two reasons...
We've got our fur-grandkid back, and...
There are still damned fine, honest people in this world.

Thank you God for an answered prayer!

27 November 2010

25 November 2010

Give Thanks, Everyone!

Cancer is an ugly thing. It used to be a sure death sentence. But more and more we're finding ways to make it go away, especially if found and treated in the early stages.
This country has Cancer. We've watched in denial as the tumor grew, and grew, and grew.

This month's "shellacking" of big spenders is an indication a majority of voters have suddenly realized the severity of the problem. The only question?
Is it too late to cure the Cancer?

Treating Cancer is painful.
Surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiation.
No matter the treatment, the patient suffers.
And sometimes, after the passage of time and considerable suffering, the patient still dies.

I love my country.
I've watched fearfully as we denied this economic Cancer was growing.
Have our eyes been opened?
Do we have the discipline to continue striving for a cure, in spite of the pain we'll suffer killing the disease?
I hope so.

Big Bubba is on his way from L.A. and will be here this evening.
We've invited two Navy Trainees to share dinner and the weekend with us. There will be lively conversation, laughter, and joy beneath our roof.
And I'm thankful we still live in a country where this can happen... a country that still produces young people willing to raise their right hands and sign that "blank check".

The election was a great first step...
Let's cure this disease. We can do it!
We still live in the best country on the face of the earth.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

23 November 2010

A Puzzle Solved-

There are two radio-alarm clocks in our bedroom, one on each side of the bed. We actually began to wonder if they had learned to read time. At 0715 hours each morning, (plus or minus about five minutes), both dogs begin the "stare and licking game" to wake us. It was uncanny...
Were their full bladders nearly as good at keeping time as our digital clocks? We found that hard to believe, but what other answer could there be? We discussed the possibilities and came up with bupkus. We finally just shrugged our shoulders and accepted it as a fact of life...
We don't understand it, but there it is...
We don't need an alarm to wake us. The dogs do that job nearly perfectly...
Until Saturday morning.

We came home late Friday night after dining out and shopping. It had been a long day. I walked the dogs that final time of the evening, then found my wife comfortably horizontal with the bedclothes pulled up beneath her chin. The dogs joined her immediately. Two minutes later I was there too. We were all asleep within minutes.

Bright sunshine...
I checked the time on the alarm...
Eight A.M.! What the... ?
What happened to our canine alarm clocks?
And then we realized what was going on.
The riddle was solved.

When I walked the dogs Friday night, Sara Jean made a bee-line for the bed. When I came in the door she called downstairs, "Can you fix the coffee for tomorrow morning?"
And I forgot it.
The timer on the pot brews coffee at 0700. The entire brewing process takes about ten minutes until the pot makes that sputtering sound all coffee drinkers know so well. The dogs were keying on that, knowing we normally rise and shine pretty quickly after the coffee has brewed.
In effect, the coffee pot became their alarm clock. When I didn't set it for Saturday morning, they overslept.

Again I'm amazed...
How do you measure intelligence?
That seems pretty smart to me!

22 November 2010

Exercising Motorcycles

I'll tell you what I did today, then you give me your thoughts-

It's a gusty, cloudy 72 degrees outside...
Not totally out of the ordinary for November here, but these days come few and far between.
I pushed all three bikes out of the garage onto the drive and started them all. Once they were all warmed sufficiently to run without the application of choke I left the two 'Wings idling and rode Pizza bike eight miles, including a blast down the highway to click my way through all five gears up to (ahem...), highway speed.
I brought the Guzzi back home, left it idling, mounted the '89 'Wing, and did the same thing on it.
Then while the Guzzi and newer 'Wing idled I did the same thing with the '87 Interstate. All three bikes ran/idled for 30 minutes before I shut them down and put them back under roof.

I know it is important to allow an engine to warm enough to boil moisture out of the oil, and running them for 30 minutes should also be enough to recharge drained batteries.
But is there a better way to accomplish my mission than doing it this way?

Can Do!



"You might be a redneck if... ":
Like me, you'd enjoy getting to know this guy.

18 November 2010

Does The Job Require A Strong Stomach?

I'm never asked that question directly.
Instead, folks will say something to the effect, "I'm not sure I could do your job."
Funny...
When I started I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it either.
Me and my crews see some ghastly things.
An example:

About the time I started the job we launched late one Fall night for an accident scene. This was "back in the day" when weather reporting was MUCH sketchier than it is today, and when we got away from the heat island of the city the temperature dropped and I began to notice fog rapidly forming and spreading beneath me. I called the waiting ambulance and informed them I was aborting the flight, and asked if they wanted to drive the patient to us somewhere that fog wouldn't be a factor. They declined and said they'd just transport the patient to the nearest facility for care.

I then called my dispatch and told them we were headed home, and why.
They responded, "We have another flight for you. Can you make it to ********town? "
(This was on high ground and would be no problem.)
"Yes, we can do that. Go ahead with your report."
"Your patient is a pedestrian, struck by a car. He has severe facial trauma. Your ground contact there is Unit ****."

State troopers closed each end of the highway and allowed me to land immediately behind the ambulance. My crew walked our stretcher over while I secured the aircraft controls, then walked over to watch them work.
Ya can't prepare yourself for this...
The guy was drunk, walking home. He passed out ON THE ROADWAY, just over the crest of a hill. The vehicle that hit him may not have even seen him. It struck his face just below the eyes, destroying his nose, mouth, and jaw, and the tissue there looked exactly like the ruptured abdomen of an opossum or raccoon lying in a heavily trafficked roadway.
Conscious now, his eyes were pleading... "I can't breathe!"
My crew was frantically trying to find his airway in this mass of destroyed tissue so they could insert a breathing tube. They failed.
I watched as the life slowly drained from him.
It's the stuff of nightmares. It bothered everyone... later.

But people are gonna continue to hurt themselves in strange and wonderful ways. I've been at this job 24 years now, and I'm still amazed that our ingenious customers can find new scenarios in the "self destruction" repertoire.
And when they get hurt, someone has to have the stomach to transport them to the help they need. That's our job. Most of the time it's not too bad. But sometimes (like with kids), you have to tell yourself, "Do the job. You can cry later."

Could you do my job?
Yeah, I think most of you could.
'Cause someone has to.

16 November 2010

Deadly Weapons

In a comment at the post below readers discuss having had nail clippers taken away from them at airport screening points so they could not be used as weapons on the flight.
Yet as others have pointed out, there is an axe on board the airplane for emergency use, and even a Bic ballpoint pen or plastic cutlery could probably be used as a deadly weapon if someone was able to file a sharp point on it.

But the discussion made me think of a story from long ago...
Over drinks one evening a female friend told a group of us at a party about the time she was home alone and heard a noise at the back of her house. The fact that her Irish Setter alerted to the noise raised her heart-rate and blood pressure. She walked toward the back door of the house, dog leading the way, and passed through her utility room where she armed herself with the closest weapon she could find... a twirler's baton.
(She taught baton-twirling professionally).
At which point I asked, "What did you intend to do... TWIRL HIM TO DEATH?!!"

I'm betting a twirler's baton is another item that would not be allowed in hand-carried luggage!

Open Note To The Airlines-

How badly do you want to stay in business?
Gauging the current furor I get the impression others feel as I do-
I WILL NOT go through TSA scanners.
I WILL NOT ALLOW TSA employees to grope my wife.

Want my business again?
GET THIS FIASCO UNDER CONTROL!

14 November 2010

Baa-aaa-aaack Ache

I woke Wednesday morning and felt an almost electric shock as I started to roll out of bed...
Uh-oh. If I'm not really careful I'm gonna be disabled today.

I inherited the potential for back trouble from my Dad. I can remember knowing how much his back was hurting him just by watching the way he walked. I can also remember him lying on his back on our hardwood floor while my Mom would lean over him, slowly pushing his knees toward his chest in an attempt to try to stretch and straighten his vertebrae. (That exercise must have given him some relief 'cause I can remember them doing it many times.)

Thank God I don't have the kind of troubles he had. But I do get warnings from my back now and then and I've also learned what I need to do when I receive those warnings.
But Wednesday was a puzzle.
What had I done to strain my back?

And then the light bulb went off.
Monday I rode the '87 Goldwing into Bigtown. I rented the truck and loaded the bike in the back, then drove the truck home and unloaded the big bike.

Tuesday I drove several hours to pick up the '89 Goldwing. Noticeably bigger and heavier than the '87, the newer bike has "carburetor issues" and runs rough off-idle to 3000 rpm.
I had to push the heavy monster up the ramp manually. It was a scary process. Unloading the bike at home was somewhat easier... gravity did most of the work, but I still had to make sure the bike was balanced on the ramp as we backed it off the truck to its new home.


So there you have it...
Trying to "Hoss" two 800-pound motorcycles in and out of a Van exercised muscles that may have been idle for years...
Muscles I certainly had forgotten were there until Wednesday morning.

Yoga practitioners will tell you "You're as young as your back is old".
Wednesday morning reminded me I've been neglecting my body.
It's time to ease back into my old ARMY "Daily Dozen" and loosen up those muscles!

13 November 2010

Moscow Commute



Moscow also has a "Ghostrider"?
This is just insanity.
But look at all that traffic!
The economy is obviously doing pretty well there.

11 November 2010

Abducted

On May 23, 1966 I was forced against my will to leave my home.
I was 19, and it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I was rounded together with 50 or so complete strangers, pushed into a bus, and transported to a facility miles away where I was mentally, physically, and verbally abused, had my head shaved, and was forced to wear ill-fitting, ugly clothing and eat uniformly bland food.

I was a draftee, conscripted to serve in my Uncle Sam's ARMY.

Thank God we don't do that anymore.
Thank God there are enough volunteers willing to raise their right hand and put their lives on the line for us.
Thank God for all the selfless women and men who have acted as our sword and shield.
There is NO WAY to repay them for our freedoms.

10 November 2010

But Is It Motorcycling?

I brought the (new to us) '89 Goldwing home last night in the back of a rented Penske truck.
Today I loaded Pizza bike into the truck, returned it, and rode home.
It was a glorious day. It was a GREAT ride. The bike "talks" to ya with its slight vibrations, intake howl, and exhaust note.

Shortly after I got home from returning the truck, Sara Jean came home.
She wanted to see how the newer Six-cylinder 'Wing differs from the older 4-cylinder bike. Our latest addition needed fuel, so she got aboard and we rode to top it off, giving me a chance to experience the stark differences between the Guzzi and the Goldwing.

I'm trying to come up with a comparison that tells the tale, and I think this statement comes close:
The Guzzi is a hammer.
The Goldwing is a pneumatic nailgun.

After refueling, on the way home I asked Sara Jean, "Is this actually motorcycling?"
She smiled and said "Of course".

I'm not so sure. The 'Wing is a wonderful machine.
But the Guzzi is a MOTORCYCLE!

09 November 2010

The Beginning?

Silver at the 15 October close: $24.34.
Silver at the spot market when I checked this morning:
$28.24.

You know I'm no economic expert. I just regurgitate here what my gut tells me is true...
But it seems to me that when it becomes obvious to the rest of the world how bankrupt we truly are, we're in for a wild financial roller coaster ride.
We all need to BE PREPARED!!

08 November 2010

The "Non" Vacation?

We had high hopes.
We were going South to spend 10 days in Destin. While there we'd spend 48 hours going farther South to watch the historic (maybe last?) launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, then we'd come back to Destin, bring my Mom from Pensacola to do further Pelican studies, and as my friend Old Prairie Dog puts it... "unlax".
We were SO looking forward to the break...
In addition to her full-time job, Sara Jean has been helping care for a dying neighbor/friend.
I haven't had a true break from work since May.

But life conspired against us.
The launch was delayed one day before we could even get in the car.
Six hours into the 8 hour drive the next day we heard the news of the second launch delay.
The only true bright spot in all this is the fact that we met and LOVED Mary Lou and Dan, or new best friends from Titusville. We spent two wonderful nights with them, and their Dachshund "Buddy" was every bit the fabulous host to Lucy and Yogi that his owners were to us!
When they announced another delay in the launch schedule we gave up and returned to Destin, (and had to change a destroyed tire along the way.)

The next day I bought a replacement tire and drove to Pensacola to get Mom. We had a nice, but WAY TOO SHORT visit with her.
Saturdy morning at 0430 Sara Jean's cell phone rang.
No good news can come from a call at that hour.
Our friend Norma had finally lost her battle. That news weighed, (and weighs) heavily on us.

Ten days that surely didn't turn out as we wanted.
We're home safely, but...
We need another vacation.



06 November 2010

Oops, I Did It Again!

There are two motorcycles in our garage... the Pizza Bike, and the '87 Goldwing.
Both are beautiful pieces of machinery, in much better-than-average shape and relatively low mileage. I bought the Guzzi before I realized Sara Jean would not be comfortable as a passenger on it. The Goldwing put a smile on her face and showed me what it was gonna take to fulfill my wish... to have her behind me on the bike sharing neat experiences.

It also opened my eyes to a few other things...
It's VERY heavy and difficult to maneuver at slow speed. You REALLY have to be careful maneuvering it into tight spots... like parking it in the garage.
It needs a reverse gear.
Newer 'Wings have a reverse gear.
So I just bought an '89 with reverse gear.

In addition to the reverse gear the new bike has two more cylinders and 300 more cc's.
It has a CB radio and an intercom system.
It has a stereo system that includes speakers in the rear armrests so SJ will hear better.

I'm working on details to bring the bike home as I write this. But I also know this:
I don't need two of the things!
Anyone interested in a perfectly serviceable 1987 Honda Goldwing in excellent condition?
Call me at BR 549.

04 November 2010

Dateline: Titusville, Florida, 4 November 2010



Yeah, the best laid plans...
We intended to come to Titusville Sunday night to view the Monday launch with newly-met friends. Tracking down and fixing a fuel leak canceled the launch Monday and the launch was rescheduled for Wednesday. We started driving South from Destin Tuesday morning to be rested for that Wednesday afternoon launch after spending the night with friends we have met here in Titusville via the internet. Six hours into that drive we heard the news the Wednesday launch had also been scrubbed due to electrical glitches.
No matter... that just gave us more time to get to know our new friends better.

I was introduced to Mary Lou by another virtual friend, Andrea Shea King. The world of helicopters is a small one. Mary Lou's brother Herb was killed while on a mission flying a helicopter gunship in November of 1969. Herb's unit was based at the South end of Chu Lai, the same base where I served my tour in Viet Nam. One of my close friends and flight-school buddy, Vic, was in Herb's unit and knew him well. Communicating with Mary Lou via email, I knew pretty much what to expect before she opened her door to welcome us into her beautiful home Tuesday evening.

We've had a great visit. I hope Mary Lou will be able to say the therapy she received from our visit was as healing as what I have felt while being here sharing memories and talking about mutual friends.

We took advantage of the day yesterday to go to Kennedy Space Center and walk around the museum there. If you are in this area and are interested in the Space program I heartily recommend the museum... you can easily spend an entire day there soaking up all the exhibits.

We went to bed last night expecting the launch to take place today (Thursday) at 1529 hours. This morning dawned gray and rainy and the forecast stinks, so they've scrubbed the launch once again and scheduled it for tomorrow.
We've run out of time. We'll be returning to Destin today, disappointed.

But we've gained wonderful new friends who have invited us to come back down for another try.
We'll certainly consider a drive down in the future for what may be, (please Lord, let our leaders realize what a mistake this is!), the last shuttle launch, in 2011.
Are we, as a country, really gonna do this?
We've been the world leader in Space exploration. Will we hand the baton to the Russians and Chinese with a smile?
I hope not.
If you agree, it's time to let your new Congress hear your thoughts!

01 November 2010

Liars. Cheaters.

We caught 'em lying about George Bush's National Guard record.
We've marveled in their bias ever since.
Now a media outlet in Alaska (CBS AGAIN!!) tries to lie/cheat about Republican Senate Candidate Joe Miller.

In Delaware, a TV station conveniently "forgets" to run Republican Christine O'Donnell's political spots.
These people are despicable.
They are nasty.
Would you want them for your next-door-neighbor?
Why would you want to vote for them?

30 October 2010

Dateline Destin, Florida, 30 October 2010

Sara Jean had to work.
I needed a nap after my night shift.
With errands to run afterwards, we didn't leave home until after 4 P.M..
But to me that's fine... I was rested. Leaving that late puts us through three cities and their potential traffic problems post-rush hour. I actually prefer driving at night...
No glare. Less traffic on the Interstates. AM radio signals from far-away transmitters come in loud and clear. Sara Jean poured me a cuppa Joe then turned over and went to sleep in her seat with both dogs lying on a pillow on her lap. I smiled, tuned the radio to WOAI 1200 out of San Antonio and chuckled as Dennis Miller expounded on the upcoming elections.

Traffic was NO problem at all.
I drove 'neath an absolutely clear BRILLIANT-starry sky the entire trip!
We arrived Destin just after 2 A.M., and were in bed at three or so after walking the dogs and unloading the car. We both slept fine, but I have to remember the problems I have when I have a a cup of coffee and a beer just before bedding down. (Three trips... but the Master bedroom has an attached bath.)
I woke at 11 when SJ brought my morning cup.

It's 78 degrees and beautiful here. The Gulf is doing its normal thing...
This area is called "The Emerald Coast" for good reason.

I've been to Wally World and gotten the provisions.
We're getting ready to walk to Kenny D's for some Red Beans 'n Rice and a Blackened Mahi-Mahi salad.

Life is good. We're truly blessed.

29 October 2010

Ann-Margret Rides Moto Guzzi !

And she even speaks a little "Moto Guzzi" too... who knew?!
(Do we give her a pass for the improper gear?)



28 October 2010

eBay Scam?

My "Spidey Sense" is tingling. Here's why:

When I started my Goldwing search in earnest, someone pointed out that in addition to eBay I should check Craigslist.org for bikes. Listed there was a 2008 Goldwing GL1800, (that's the SIX cylinder 'Wing), supposedly in "excellent" condition.
The asking price? $2605.00!
I immediately wrote to the email address given and said, "If you are serious about the condition of the bike and are also serious about the $2605 selling price, mark it sold and tell me where to pick it up. I'll come with cash."
I got no response. So I continued my search, culminating in my purchase of the '87 Interstate I'm now thoroughly enjoying.

Two days ago I got a response from the seller of the 2008 Goldwing.
"I'm sorry for the delayed response but I've been out of the country on a mission with Unicef. Yes, the Goldwing is still for sale. As you can see I'm making no profit on the bike. My priorities in life have changed and I will donate the proceeds from the sale of the bike to charity."

The seller, a woman apparently, goes on to tell me the bike is ready to be shipped from a delivery agency in Mobile, AL., and the only way she'll be comfortable completing the sale is via eBay through their "Vehicle Protection Plan".

So whatd'ya think?
This seems like one of those "too good to be true" deals. If the bike is, in fact, in "excellent" condition, it's worth $15-18,000. I'd obviously LOVE to buy this bike for a fraction of its value!
I've now written and asked if we can go through Mobile on our way to Destin next week and view the bike. I'll let ya know if/when I get an answer.

In the meantime, I'd appreciate any advice you have about making sure I'm actually dealing with eBay and their "Vehicle Protection Plan"!

"Why Do We Ride?"

Blogfriend Tim Frazier was asked the question.
I like
his answer a lot!

27 October 2010

Illegal Aliens

Everyone has one-
A bellybutton.
And an opinion on how to curtail illegal immigration.
Here's mine:

1. Build the damn fence. (We built the Panama Canal when no one else could. Stop with the stupid excuses!)

2. When an illegal is stopped for ANY offense, deport them. (Q.- How do you eat an elephant? Ans.- One bite at a time.)

3. Broadcast from every possible source that anyone caught here illegally will be identified via fingerprints, Iris scans, whatever, and will NEVER be allowed entry into the U.S. again.

4. Solve the problems in our LEGAL immigration system. It's obviously a BIG part of this problem.

I think if an illegal knew their chances of ever being a citizen was zero if they were caught here illegally, not only would it help stem the border crossings, but many here already might go home to avoid being caught and forever banned.

How 'bout you?
Where am I wrong?
Got any better ideas?

26 October 2010

Democrats Cheat!

Democrats cheat.
Democrats cheat.
Democrats cheat.
Be careful Dems.
If change cannot come via non-violent means, it leaves only one alternative.

Voting Early

We've already begun to pack for our drive to Destin Friday. We'll be in Florida 10 days, so election night we'll probably be in front of the TV in Destin with the sound of waves breaking against the shore right outside our sliding glass door.
We voted yesterday. I called to ask about absentee ballots and the clerk said "Why not just come and vote early and avoid all the trouble of mailing it in?"
Good idea.


I had concerns about these new electric polling booths...
"What's to keep the programmer from screwing with the results from this machine?"
"There are judges AND programmers from both the Democrat and Republican parties that oversee all aspects of the process."
Okay. That makes me feel a little better about voting on a slightly-modified video game.

I REALLY wanted to send a message this year-
"How do I vote straight ticket?"
I've never voted straight ticket in my life...
There have always been a few Democrats out there I thought could do a better job than the Repub. candidate.
Not this year...
It's HAMMERIN' time!

"There's been no way to vote straight ticket for years now."
Surprised me.
So I went down the ballot punching all the R's. When the Democrat candidate was unopposed, I didn't vote. Like I said, it's "message" time.

The whole process took less than five minutes and was quite pleasant.
And the neatest thing?
"Chad" was nowhere to be seen...
He was "hanging" somewhere else!

25 October 2010

Goldwinging

I keep shaking my head.
This thing is just unbelievable.

When I started thinking about buying a motorcycle you'll remember the pre-requisites
I had:

-I was looking for something that wouldn't vibrate so badly it would crack the license plate bracket.
-It had to be big enough so Sara Jean could come along comfortably.
-It had to either have a belt or shaft as a final drive system.
A lot of bikes meet those requirements.

I've always shied away from Honda Goldwings because they're so HUGE...
Four-cylinder (the new ones now have SIX!), water cooled, 800 pound monsters.
But Sara Jean likes 'em and it became obvious if I wanted to be able to pat her leg behind me as we rode, my choices were limited to either a big Harley or a HUGE Honda.

Buying a Harley would have been approved in this family immediately...
Sara Jean's brother owns one, as do two of her nephews. We'd have been part of the family gang.
But Harleys are expensive. They're in great demand and therefore their owners can demand top dollar for them. They're also expensive to maintain...
Harley-Davidson Corporation sets a pretty high price on replacement parts for the things.
Then there's the reliability factor...
While I was driving Pizza Bike to Indiana two weeks ago, Sara Jean's brother was riding his '74 cu. in. Harley 350 miles to visit with his sister. He had to stop twice along the way to try to get a pretty serious oil leak under control, and he then worked much of the weekend in our garage to fix the problem before his trip back home.

I found several Goldwings on eBay at what I considered VERY reasonable prices. Two escaped my grasp before I finally won an auction. You've read the story below about our trip to bring the bike home.

Saturday was blustery and warm.
We mounted the bike and went riding, stereo blasting.
I'm simply amazed.
The engine on this thing is like a Swiss watch. It is quiet, and there is JUST NO VIBRATION at all! We rode 62 miles, stopping along the way to grab Chinese for dinner, and came home with bellies full and smiles on our faces.

I've now had a chance to look the bike over closely and have been reminded about things I knew, but didn't really sink in until now:
The engine is down really low in the frame. The four-cylinder opposed configuration means most of the weight is right at axle height.
The big thing that looks like a gas tank behind the handlebars is NOT a gas tank, but opens to provide storage for the tool kit and other small items you might want to put in there. The gas tank itself is behind the side covers, also down low.
It's genius-
The heaviest parts of the bike are lower than any other motorcycle I can think of, and that low center of gravity gives the driver lots of leverage to maneuver the bike fairly quickly in spite of the bike's (still damned heavy) proportions.

But it's a Honda, and with that comes that renowned reliability.
I'm still shaking my head.
I wish I had bought one of these things LONG ago.

24 October 2010

I Hate The Inevitable.

My wife is gone tonight, so I'll sleep alone. And I truly mean alone...
She took the dogs with her.
(She also took the white-noise producing fan... think I'll sleep well?)

Friends have gone out of town to visit their daughter and her new son, leaving behind their 94 year old Mother. My wife has volunteered to "Grandma-sit". Grandma LOVES our pups.
Am I proud of my wife?
You bet.

We've been helping to care for a very sick neighbor for some years. A lifelong smoker, she's now attached to an O2 producing machine to help her breathe. Over the last few weeks her health has taken a serious downturn, and my angelic wife has been checking on her three times a day for about three weeks now.

Sara Jean left tonight for her Grandma-sitting job at about 8 P.M..
Thirty minutes later she called-
"'Naomi' (the emhpysemic neighbor) called and then we were disconnected. Now I can't get her to answer her phone. Can you run down and check on her? The back door feels like it's locked but all you have to do is push it and you can get in."

I had showered and gotten into my bedclothes. I picked up my cell phone, raced downstairs, grabbed the car keys, and sped to "Naomi's" house, fearful of what I might find.

The front of the house was dark but in the back her bedroom light was on. You can imagine my fears as I pushed the back door open and called out her name.

"Yes?", I hear her weakly respond.
I walk into her bedroom to find her lying there helplessly trying to dial a number on her cell phone.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, but I can't make this darn thing work!"

She's declining fast.
We've noticed her forgetting more and more over the last weeks. There's almost no doubt her brain is now being damaged by lack of oxygenation as her lungs continue to worsen.
It's just a question of time until she's gone.
We've known her over 30 years, so it's gonna be mighty tough when that happens.

I pray I'm not the one who finds her after an incident similar to what happened this evening.

23 October 2010

Airport Noise- Updated:

I truly wouldn't believe it if it hadn't happened to me personally.
Yesterday I flew 2.8 hours with Tim, who now has 11.6 hours total helicopter time. Tim is doing great... as his instructor it's relaxing, because he's so far ahead of the game I can take my time and concentrate more on those things he'll need to do really well to fly safely.

We had about 8 knots of wind yesterday. Wind irritates new students... it makes crosswind and downwind hovering more difficult. Hovering into the wind is a breeze... the helicopter is a natural weathervane and is very stable with its nose pointed directly into the wind. But turn away from the wind and the wind reminds you you are a weathervane and tries to make life difficult. Downwind hovering is most uncomfortable... the wind gets underneath your tail feathers and pushes your tail up, which pushes your nose down, requiring you to position your cyclic farther aft than normal to keep the helicopter motionless above the piece of real estate you want to hover over. Gusty, variable wind like we had yesterday means the condition is intermittent and really gives the student a workout.

So yesterday we stayed close to the hangar for 40 minutes or so, hovering, landing and taking off from a hover, and hovering with the wind coming from all directions in relation to the helicopter's heading. It's a great exercise (actually makes 'em sweat!), and a confidence builder for the student.

When we finished the lesson and had shut the helicopter down, one of the airport tenants came over and said, "Everyone's complaining about you hovering here. They can't hear to talk on their phones."

"What?!! Who's complaining "Fred"?"
"Everyone."
"Who's complaining "Fred"?
"Everyone."

Can you guess who was actually upset?
For me it's a first...
An aircraft owning tenant of the airport complaining about aircraft noise.

Wow.

Update:
Today I received a comment from an old friend who also happens to be a tenant at that end of the airport and he asked me to look at the issue from a different point of view. He makes a (somewhat) valid point that IF he was trying to conduct business while I was hovering around making noise, he'd be forced to come out and ask me to move, and I know this guy well enough to know that's exactly what he'd do. And IF he was conducting business and my hovering around was causing him difficulty, I WOULD move.
But that's not what happened here. I won't/can't go into details, but let's just say previous situations colored my view of this whole incident.
I will apologize for one thing...
In the post I used the complainer's real name, and my friends reading these words know him well. I should not have done that. It was petty. I've now changed his name to protect the guilty.
I'm sorry "Fred"... I wrote the post in anger and I should not have done that to ya.

22 October 2010

A Friend Indeed.

I have extraordinary friends. Terry is one of 'em. He uncomplicated my life considerably yesterday. Let me tell ya how-

The Goldwing was in a little town five hours away. My initial plan was for Sara Jean and I to drive there, do what was necessary to take possession of the bike, then drive home... me on the bike with SJ following behind.
I was gonna have to drive it no matter what, but it sure seemed a waste for her to spend all that time in the car.

And then I thought of Terry.
My friend Terry is a former student (and now a commercial helicopter pilot), who comes along for our annual goose roundup and insures we get the job done efficiently. He's a great mechanic, and when things break down he either has the tool to fix the problem or knows where he can get it. Terry lives about halfway along the route to get the bike.

"Hey man, what plans do you have for tomorrow?"
"None really. Why?"
"Ready for a road trip?"
"Sure!"

So I set off and stopped about mid-way at Terry's house.
Terry has a trailer to pull behind his truck.
Terry said, "I think the easiest way to do this would be to just load it on the trailer, don't you?"

We drove another two hours, and Terry secured the Goldwing while the owner and I took care of the paperwork.
We drove back to Terry's house to pick up my car, then drove home in our individual vehicles, me following along behind to insure the Goldwing was secure. We arrived just after dark, both of us tired and ready for a beer or two, then bed.

I don't know how transporting the bike 300 miles could have gone any easier.
How do you put a value on a friend like this?

Thank you Terry!

21 October 2010

Bikes Vs. Cars

I've told the story before how after riding for a few hours in the rain on a 60-ish degree day some years ago, Sara Jean and I were stopped at a light in a small Indiana town when a tiny Chevy (Metro?) pulled up next to us with Dad, Mom, and two kids aboard. We were waiting on the light, shivering in the rain, while the kids sat warm, dry, and comfortable, waving at us from the rear seat of the sub-compact car. All I could think was "That car is getting almost the same mpg as this bike and it carries four, while keeping the four of them warm, dry, and reasonably comfy."

I'm always a little surprised to see the complications and expense hard-core bikers will endure to ride. Getting back into leisure riding I'm remembering how expensive it can be... helmets, gloves, footgear, and body armor.
If you really want to use the motorcycle as serious transportation it gets even more expensive... heated gloves, socks, vests. Some bikes these days also come with heated handgrips and heated seats, allowing you to ride even when the bottom drops out of the thermometer.
Is it worth all that expenses to arrive ON two wheels instead of IN a four-wheeled steel cage?
Lots of folks seem to think so.

I thought of all that as I read George's Blog. He's a guy that takes his riding seriously, and probably has spent a ton of $$$$$$$$ on comfort and protective gear.
Gorgeous photos and interesting stories told in interesting fashion, his latest piece details being delayed by an encounter with a fairly large herd of Bison on a street in a small Montana town.
I think you may find it worth your while.

20 October 2010

Cash

Do you ever feel like you're the steel ball in the pinball machine, your life being propelled, careening from one side of the playing field to the other, then back again?
That's me right now.

In less than two weeks Sara Jean and I are headed South. We'll go to Destin and spend a couple nights there, then head further South to get face-to-face with a "virtual" friend and sit almost underneath the smoke plume as the shuttle takes off on one of its last journeys into space. Afterwards we'll head back to Destin for a week or so of recreation before coming back to real life at home.
Considering that, I have a very small window to drive 10 hours round-trip to pick up my Honda Goldwing. That poses a problem:
They won't let me just write a check and drive off with the bike. They want CASH!
And that complicates matters.

I keep a small amount of money in a checking and savings account locally. Most of my funds are in a bank in San Antonio, Texas... and I do most of my banking online from accounts there. I can't remember the last time I actually took out a checkbook and wrote a check.

So today I had to do some financial gymnastics to get the cash so I can drive tomorrow, pick up the bike, and get it safely home before I'm once again spit from one side of this machine to another... lights flashing... bells, whistles and other noises making life interesting.
I juggled money from four accounts and have the necessary cash in hand. Friend Terry and I will make the trip to grab the bike tomorrow. Pictures will follow ASAP.

An aside-
My lead pilot and friend Mike owns a big Harley Cruiser. He loves it and rides it most every weekend. Discussing bikes this morning he chatted about the work he was planning to have done to his Hog...
He's gonna have engine work done to increase the bike's power to 120 horses.
That work will cost more than the TOTAL amount I paid for the Goldwing.
I'm not feeling too bad about my purchase right now!

19 October 2010

Pizza Bike And ????

















Just won the auction for an '87 Goldwing Interstate.
Now Pizza Bike will have a stablemate to keep him company!

17 October 2010

eBay, Wings of Gold, Moto Guzzis, and Billy Joel.

Sometimes ya just need a bigger 2X4, that's all.
I understood her disappointment, but figured she'd get over it once we started riding. Her brother owns a Harley. Two of her nephews own Harleys. She's talked of riding behind friends who had Harleys. So I initially considered buying a Harley-Davidson...
Thought maybe I'd even buy an 883 Sportster to relive my old High School days. But others quickly pointed out Sara Jean wouldn't be comfortable on trips longer than a few minutes on one. When I started thinking about Fat Bobs or Street Glides, a couple of guys I respect a great deal who know more about bikes these days than I ever knew dissuaded me...
"They break down more than other machines, and when they do you'll pay lots of $$$$$ for the Harley name for parts to fix the problem."
So I was detoured. I started thinking about the Guzzi...
Buying one would keep me in the V-Twin world, and Guzzis are known for their reliability (once they're over their terrible break-in period). My ride in Hurricane Agnes convinced me of the utility of belt or shaft final drives, and the Guzzi has a shaft drive. When I saw the SPIII for sale on eBay I excitedly showed it to her. She seemed interested and was excited because I was excited. When I brought it home and wanted her to ride behind me she expressed reservations...
"Have I never told you about my cousin?"
Turns out she has a female cousin who, as a passenger, fell off a bike after hitting a big pothole in Chicago. She's a paraplegic because of the accident. Sara Jean wants me to get a Sissy bar for the Guzzi so she won't fear slipping off the back of the bike.
I understand.
But it's more than that.
She really IS a Harley fan. When we're out driving in the car she'll Oohh and Ahhh each time she sees a big bagger or dresser Harley.
"Isn't that beautiful?!!"
And there's another bike that she ALWAYS comments on whenever we see one-
The Honda "Gold Wing".
She obviously likes BIG, substantial bikes, and the lightbulb in my head finally came on!

For those of you who don't know motorcycles, the Honda Gold Wing is, for all intents, a two-wheeled automobile. Take a look here to get an idea of the size of the behemoth.
They come with cupholders! AM/FM stereo systems. Intercoms. CB radios. Adjustable gas shocks. Floorboards for driver and passenger. Adjustable windscreens. Some even have a reverse gear! (Which could definitely come in handy 'cause the thing weighs close to 800 pounds!)

The engine on the Gold Wing is a work of art... a four-cylinder opposed, water-cooled powerplant that is quiet and virtually vibration free.
Having never ridden one I asked a friend about them. "They're a HUGE slug of metal" was his response. (He's currently riding an Aprilia V-Twin and loves it.)

But I want her to WANT to ride along with me. So when I told her I was considering parking a Gold Wing next to the Guzzi in the garage I was amazed at her reaction...
"REALLY? REALLY?!!!"
And she wanted to see photos of the bikes I had looked at on eBay.

I'm ecstatic. She's by FAR more excited about this purchase than I am!

I found a PERFECT '85 Aspencade 1200cc bike in Menominee Michigan, still with a low bid.
I'm familiar with Menominee Wisconsin... where the deuce is Menominee Michigan?
Ouch. It's up in CJ territory... far southern Upper Peninsula, and would be a pain in the butt to retrieve. Still, this gorgeous bike would be worth the trouble if I could buy it at the right price. It has EVERY option you can get on a Gold Wing, and that's saying a LOT.

The current bid was $2750 and bidding was ending in 5 days. I bid $2800 on it and my bid was immediately overshadowed by another's $2850 bid. Okay, let's see if I can be foxy here...
I decided I'd wait until the last minute of the auction and put a bid in to cover the highest price I wanted to pay for the bike... $3500.
And that happened yesterday at 4:30 P.M...
The bike sold to someone else who also knew its value, and the winning bid was $50 more than mine. RATZ!

But I've found several more nice Gold Wings, one of which Sara Jean is REALLY excited about... an '83 1100cc machine that has been immaculately maintained, complete with rear-seat armrests... she'll be the Queen of Sheba back there!
I'll keep ya posted on our Gold Wing hunt.

After we had lost the auction on the bike in Menominee Michigan I turned on HDTheater and watched a program called "Cafe Racer". The last ten minutes of the program were devoted to Billy Joel, and covered his love of motorcycles. He talked about his first bike...
A Moto Guzzi V50!
Sara Jean said, "Two months ago I had never heard of Moto Guzzi. Now that we own one suddenly everyone is raving about them."
Yeah, that's right.
And that's as it should be, too!