31 January 2011
I now own three perfectly good motorcycles.
I need another bike about as much as New York City needs snow.
So I gotta quit looking at bikes on EBay.
But with the near certainty of gasoline prices increasing dramatically I have been cruising there watching the price of bikes in general. I still think it's very likely that folks will be looking for ways to save on fuel prices, and many will consider buying a motorcycle rather than an econobox as a fun way to save on gas.
I'm just lookin'. There's no harm in lookin', right?
And then I saw this BMW...
A 1980 with only 30,000 miles. Always garaged. Clean as a pin. The owner listed his preventive maintenance program along with new stuff he had added to the bike. He's owned it ten years and loves it, but due to a financial setback he has to sell it. When I first took notice the bidding was at $2500. I showed it to Sara Jean...
"Honey, look at this beautiful thing! I think it's worth close to twice that price and it's only *** miles away, so we could go get it in a day."
Her response was instantaneous and at about 120 decibels...
"Are you KIDDING? A fourth motorcycle? The house needs a new roof. There are a ton of other things we actually need! "
I let that sink in for a few minutes. Of course she's right. But I KNOW this bike is worth much more than the present bid!
I thought about it some more.
The kicker was the notation "Reserve not met" beneath the present bid.
What would it hurt to bid the minimum increase just to see if I could find the reserve requirement, right? So I bid $50 over the present bid, and was immediately informed I had been overbid by someone else.
Well, it can't hurt to bid again and see if I'm overbid again, right? Right?!!
"You are the highest bidder!" read the response. "But you may be overbid. Would you care to increase your maximum bid?"
The auction would end in 18 hours. Uh - oh. What now?
I went to sleep last night wondering how I would explain myself to my loving, understanding bride.
I woke this morning and checked again...
I was STILL the high bidder.
Oh well. All I can hope for is that someone else will recognize what a wonderful deal this bike is and bid the price up shortly before the auction ends, (as often happens).
I was away from the internet most of the day and the auction occupied a little corner of my mind that entire time. When I finally was able to get online and check there was a note in my email box...
"You've been overbid".
And when I went to EBay to check the final sale price my suspicions were confirmed:
Sale price- $4100.
I would NOT have paid that for the bike. But if I could have purchased it for something in the vicinity of $3,000-$3,500, there was money to have been made in a few months.
Still, I want to keep peace in my marriage.
I'm gonna avoid the motorcycle section at EBay for a while.
30 January 2011
Iran was a problem. Syria and Libya have, at times, been irritations.
Trouble in Egypt has our attention. Rumbles in Tunisia, Jordan, and Algeria are a concern for Westerners.
But Saudi Arabia...
That's Hillary's "3 A.M. phone call".
We live in interesting times.
29 January 2011
Who knows? (Our "smart diplomacy" folks in our State Department appear clueless.)
One thing is reasonably sure-
The price of oil next week is gonna be interesting to watch. Oil price increases mean increased transportation costs of ALL goods. Your beans and potatoes will soon cost more too.
I've been surprised lately at the price of precious metals...
After topping $31.00 an ounce a couple weeks ago the price of Silver has retreated, as has it's upper-crust brother Gold.
It'll be interesting to watch over the next weeks to see if we all should have taken a second mortgage on our house to buy precious metals during this retreat.
If you're interested, you can follow the price of commodities with me here.
27 January 2011
"I am suing Obama to force the release of all records that will reveal all of his diffent (sic) citizenships. According to Obama's website he is a "native born" citizen, not a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN as required by the U.S. Constitution. Are we a nation of laws?
Attended both the Obama, Columbia treason trial in Harlem, NY, and the court martial trial of LTC Terrence Lakin. Also, was a regional campaign manager for Dr. Orly Taitz, Esq. I have an active lawsuit in California (pro se, non-attorney) suing the Secretary of State and Jerry Brown for election fraud in the 2008 general election and the 2010 primary."
Check her site out here.
Some good stuff.
Well, a guy could hope.
But hope don't pay the bills.
I teach people to fly.
Turning someone loose to go solo in a helicopter for the first time is an anxious, exhilarating time for both student and instructor. For the instructor it's a chance to see you've done your job well, (or at least you HOPE you have!) For the student, it's an OMG! moment...
The little R22 weighs only 1300 pounds full of fuel with two aboard, and unloading 200 pounds from the left side of the aircraft changes the feel of the machine pretty dramatically. And now the student has to fly that foreign feeling machine, knowing if anything goes wrong he'll have to resolve problems without the aid of an expert in the left seat.
By the time I kick 'em outta the nest I have normally emphasized to my student one of "Greybeard's pieces of wisdom" several times...
"If you crash this son-of-a-bitch, fly it until the wreckage comes to a
COMPLETE. DEAD. STOP."
The reasoning should be obvious.
It's better to crash with some control than to turn things loose and be along for the ride.
And that's how I now feel about what's going to happen to our country... to our economy.
I hoped it would be obvious to everyone at the controls of this enormous system that we were probably gonna have to crash, and that it would be better to have some control over that crash than to be along for the ride.
But it's obvious we are now gonna push the throttle full forward to see how thoroughly we can destroy this sucker. Some "experts" are still saying we haven't spent enough to bring us out of our doldrums.
Others are gonna kick and scream about mistreating Senior citizens or kids in school or some other "touchy-feely" thing to try to guilt those of us seeing the approaching disaster.
Once again I hope I'm wrong.
I hope it soon becomes obvious a crash under control would be FAR better than having things spiral hopelessly out of control.
Medicare, Social Security, Defense...
We're gonna have to feel some pain in all areas to minimize the damage.
Do our "leaders" have the discipline to fly the S.O.B. until the various parts come to a halt?
I really doubt it.
25 January 2011
If you're lucky enough not to die unexpectedly you may, like me, find your hearing and vision slowly headed South. I just got my first pair glasses that I'll wear sort of semi-permanently because I see better with 'em than without 'em.
My hearing? Did you ask about my hearing?
It's a joke. My wife makes fun of me in front of friends by standing behind me, talking to them in a pitch that is totally inaudible to me.
I don't mind. It's one of the hazards of an occupation that has not been "work" for me. A disability I knew would eventually catch up with me if I continued to do the job...
A job that I still love. A job that provides me with the satisfaction of knowing for almost 25 years now I have had a positive effect on many, many lives.
And another thing about my hearing...
Many peers who, like me, have been aviating 43 years are almost completely deaf.
Thanks to little yellow pieces of foam, I'm not deaf.
I can still hear the BK117 coming at least 5 seconds before Sara Jean can.
So you won't hear me complaining.
I still love my work.
Much to my surprise, I've been with the same woman over 30 years now and I'm still dumbfounded at how beautiful she is.
My friends put up with me in spite of my tendency to express strong opinions in a voice so loud my wife has to shush me.
And many of them are so loyal it brings out the John Boehner in me if I think about it hard enough.
Yes, I am blessed.
Mom, how's it feel to have a 64 year old son?
23 January 2011
Ever met a wine snob?
Haven't we all?
I watched the movie "Sideways" with amusement as the characters stuck their noses deep into their glasses and waxed eloquently about the differing characteristics of various glasses of Pinot Noir they tasted. I was more amused at hearing the price of Pinot Noir went up considerably after the movie started getting street talk.
We all want to catch the next popular thing...
We're such rubes!
I like wine.
I like most any wine.
Like many of my generation I started drinking wine out of bottles marked "Annie Green Springs" or "Boone's Farm". I've had my fair share of "Mogen David Cream White Concord".
I think I've even had "Thunderbird" a time or two.
Buying these wines meant you had to walk the aisle past other wines...
Cabernets. Burgundys. Rhines. Rieslings. Even the Pinot Noirs.
Out of curiosity I bought a few. I found I like some of the dry wines...
My Mom even accused me of drinking vinegar.
When I first met Sara Jean she was still in "Boone's Farm" mode and would only drink the sweet wines. I hoped she would eventually graduate to drier wines so I could find one we could enjoy equally. I waited for years...
Christmas a year ago I was gonna be on duty for a week. SJ made arrangements to go visit her family in Chicago for the holidays. When she came home I found she had developed a taste for a wine that doesn't gag me...
The wine pictured above...
Almaden's "Mountain Rhine".
I don't want to say it's cheap. Let's say it's "reasonably priced".
But I know what I like and I know what she likes. So I buy it two 5-liter boxes at a time and we enjoy a glass or two together now and then. Few stores carry it, so I have to buy it at a Supermarket along the way when I'm on my way home from "BigTown".
I stopped just before Thanksgiving to stock up for the holidays...
The slot for the product was empty.
I've stopped several times since. The tag for the wine is still there with the price listed, but for over two months now there's been no Almaden Mountain Rhine to bring home for my family.
"Reasonably priced" begins to take on new meaning when you consider all the time/trouble/gasoline I'm spending taking the exit to find an empty wine slot where the wine I want to buy SHOULD be available.
I've suggested we should try another Rhine wine. She's being resistant. That's the way she is.
But she's no snob, and I bet if I buy another she may learn to like it.
I'll keep ya posted.
20 January 2011
2012 is a crucial year. The G.O.P. needs to be VERY careful about who they nominate. If they pick the right candidate they can win this election with numbers every bit as convincing as we have seen in the mid-term. If they do things as they have in years past we'll see the two-party system destroyed.
Nominating a candidate in '12 because it's "his/her turn in line" ain't gonna cut it.
And that means don't nominate:
or any other comfortable, old-time Repub stalwart.
They'd better be thinking Ronald Reagan.
Oh I know... that's a mighty TALL order!
But there are a few candidates out there right now that would excite T.E.A. Partiers-
LTC Allen West.
(And with the election of either of two of the above candidates you'd get the added benefit of having the first TRUE black President in the White House, IF that's still an important ticket that needs to be punched.)
Fair warning, Republican party...
It's time for true hope and change.
18 January 2011
You may think so too. If you do, ignore the following link.
For the rest of you, a reminder from our wise old Navy friend.
And to paraphrase my comment there, "Be prepared. This sort of thing is gonna happen more and more often."
17 January 2011
I MAY have just done something exceedingly stupid. Only time will tell.
The balance on our mortgage was $23,319.45. Calculator at hand, I multiplied my mortgage payment by the number of payments remaining and was somewhat shocked at the figure:
$62,400 and a little change.
So this month my check for that loan read $23,319.45. I'm sure there will be adjustments to come... escrow issues, etc., but those should be minor.
Our house no longer belongs to us, the bank, and taxing authorities.
It belongs TOTALLY to us, AND the taxing authorities.
Over the next months I'll get the answer to my question...
Would I have been better served instead to have taken that money to my silver merchant? Silver and Gold are both down a little as I write this, so it's actually a good buying opportunity. And if the bottom does fall out of the economy, the $$ I'd have used to pay the remaining loan would have been of lesser value, maybe even near-worthless.
But it's one less responsibility to worry about, and I now have a few extra disposable dollars to use monthly to buy silver, ammo, water purifiers, or whatever.
So whatd'ya think?
Smart move, or dumb,dumb,dumb?
14 January 2011
As the popularity of the automobile made numbers of horse-drawn carriages dwindle, one of the industries that suffered was those making buggy whips...
There was just no need for them any longer... the world had changed.
Folks making buggy whips had to find new jobs.
In the mid 1980's an acquaintance lost his job as a butcher in a small grocery. For weeks he tried to find employment to no avail. Finally he and his wife decided to take a risk...
They pooled all their savings, rented a vacant store near a busy intersection, bought a ton of movies on VCR tape, and opened a store renting movies.
It was an almost immediate success.
They worked together, both putting in more than 70 hours a week, paying themselves modest salaries, putting most of their profits into new movie releases.
Business increased to the point they bought the space next to their store and expanded their inventory. For five years their numbers increased and they did very well, but both were still putting in very long hours to insure the store's success.
Then the construction across the street started.
The sign out front said "Future location of 'Blockbuster Video'".
They struggled against the competition for a year but would have been better off financially if they had closed their shop the moment Blockbuster opened.
Lots of folks out there are in that situation now...
Their skills no longer apply in the world of today.
They can either accept that fact and get an education toward new employment opportunities, or they can sit at home and collect unemployment for two years, then try to learn a new trade when they're two years older.
Econ. 101, Soc. 101, Psy. 101...
Tell me again...
What are we REALLY rewarding these days?
11 January 2011
10 January 2011
That's a photo of a Harley Davidson "Sprint", the motorcycle I bought at the age of 16 when I decided it was time to graduate from motorscooters to motorcycles.
It had a single-cylinder 250cc four-stroke engine that produced about 15 horsepower.
At the time it would still out-accelerate most cars on the road because it was very light and even at 15 horsepower it probably had a higher horsepower-to-weight ratio than most family trucksters of the day.
Top speed was 85 miles per hour, me literally laying across the fuel tank with my legs stretched straight out horizontally behind to lessen wind resistance as much as possible. (Another of those things I did as a youth that makes me shake my head in amazement that I survived beyond my 18th birthday.)
You may remember my critical review of this bike from previous posts...
That is to say, it was better than having no motorcycle at all.
I didn't care what kind of gas mileage it got so I never checked. I wish I had.
For whatever reason, motorcycle manufacturers are showing renewed interest in the 250cc segment of motorcycledom. I think a few (but not all) of the reasons for this is-
Like cars, if they can get someone to buy a 250cc "Fireball", the customer is more likely to graduate to larger "Fireball" motorcycles.
More and more gals are beginning to ride. Smaller bikes with their lower seat height make this more comfortable for those of shorter stature.
Many of these 250cc street bikes get upwards of 70 miles per gallon, yet they ARE real motorcycles, not toys. They have enough power to safely travel the Interstate highway system. They can (sort of comfortably) carry two people around town and (depending on your threshold of pain), for short distances out on the highway.
They are really, really, really maneuverable and fun to ride.
If gas prices do in fact approach $5 per gallon, I think it's possible we'll begin to see lots of people taking another look at small bikes.
And when they do they'll find several manufacturers with very nice examples for sale:
07 January 2011
It's sort of akin to going to the Doctor after hitting yourself on the forehead repeatedly with a hammer saying, "Doc, it hurts when I do this" and having him say, "Then don't do that."
I'm laying my hammer down now.
05 January 2011
Two days ago I was listening to Mark Steyn, filling in for Rush Limbaugh on his show.
A caller challenged Mark, who was calling the (CFL) bulbs "Curly-Fry Lightbulbs" to quit making them sound cute...
He suggested the moniker "MFL's" or "Mercury Filled Lightbulbs".
I like that.
Glen Beck had a bit on his show demonstrating what you are supposed to do if you drop and break one of the stupid things.
"Call your local authorities for a community hazardous-waste collection point"!?
I wonder what would happen if I cover a cookie sheet with MFL's and walk the halls of congress with them...
Think "Security" would consider me a threat?
Give me back my incandescent bulbs!