30 September 2010

Jackboot World

This is happening MUCH too often these days.
I hope it gets painfully expensive for those who have forgotten they're supposed "To Protect and Serve."

27 September 2010

Metals, 26 Sep 10

Silver is at $21.50/oz. at last check. That's a 2.5% increase in less than a week.
Gold is still in record territory.
Has everyone else finally awakened to the coming fiasco?

Serpico, Et. Al.

As a former law enforcement officer I know our Police are continually looking at an ugly side of our world. Dealing with angry, drunk, frustrated people all the time makes the job difficult. Taking into consideration that even the most routine traffic stop is a potentially fatal situation, it's no wonder our law enforcement personnel fall into the category of having the highest suicide statistics of most jobs. Still, if you choose to work in L.E., you should try your darndest to do the job to the best of your ability and not take advantage of the situation, lest you become a crook yourself.

Are you, like me, troubled by some of the stuff we're now seeing on the news?
A motorcyclist in Maryland gets stopped for speeding... (granted, he was apparently exceeding 100 miles per hour), and the (unmarked car-plain clothes) officer who stopped him is captured on the biker's helmetcam brandishing a gun at him. Then the biker is arrested for "illegally" filming the officer!
This is happening elsewhere too...
A lady, also in Maryland I think, was threatened by Police when they saw her videotaping them questioning a suspect on the street in front of her home.

And then there are the shootings...
An off-duty Marine is accosted and shot by Police in Las Vegas. Now there are troubling reports that Police there have been involved in a cover-up.
How are these actions greatly different from what history has shown us about similar Gestapo-like tactics used by totalitarian governments we defeated in the cold war?

Our Police do a VERY difficult job, one that most of us have no desire to do, and therefore they deserve our support and gratitude.
They also need to take a now-and-then close look at their attitude, and re-read the oath they swore when they first put on the badge. If they no longer feel the same way about doing the job as when they first started, they can no longer do the job properly and need to find work elsewhere.

I'm mistaken about him being an off-duty Marine.
He's a graduate of West Point.

Logic and reason prevail? Wiretapping charges against the
motorcyclist have been dropped.


A couple of ya have written expressing concern for my whereabouts. Thank you, but I'm okay... I'm just recovering.
The last couple weeks have been tough on this old bag-O-bones. Lots of extra days at work to cover other guy's vacations. An extra day for mandatory BK ground school. And I've picked up a new student... Tim, my UPS delivery guy, who is now lurking here. Hi Tim!
Tim couldn't help but notice a few packages coming from "Sporty's Pilot Shop" among all those QVC packages, and being a commercial, multi-engine, instrument pilot himself, of course he had to ask. When he found out I was a helicopter instructor he decided to check off another item from his "bucket list". (Tim is also a radio-controlled helicopter pilot, so he's taking to the real thing like a duck to water. He's already hovering with only 2 hours in his new helicopter logbook1"

But getting back to my absence here at "Pitchpull"...
I'll soon be able to drive the Pizza Bike legally.
I spent this weekend attending the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's "Basic Rider Course". Folks who have never ridden a motorcycle (but know how to ride a bicycle), can walk into this course and, after passing the practical skills and written tests, walk out with a certificate to take to the DMV to add the "M" for motorcycle to their regular operator's license.
My course was scheduled for Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday... 29 hours!

Having ridden for almost 30 years I wondered what I would learn in a "Basic" rider's course, and walked in Friday night wondering if I'd be bored to death. I needn't have worried. About half the class of 36 folks were in the same boat with me...
Experienced riders looking to get their licenses so they could ride legally and insured.

Friday night was spent doing the initial sign-up paperwork, receiving the course study guide, and as a class, answering a few of the questions for the final written exam. Those of us that wanted to use our own helmets also had to show them to confirm they were D.O.T. approved.

Saturday morning we had to park a considerable distance from the course grounds because the instructors wanted the whole parking lot to be vacant. When I got out of the car I was struck by the sound...
Like a HUGE beehive humming. When I finally was able to see what was going on I could see 36 Honda CB 125t's lined up, all running to warm their engines for that day's class. They looked something like this:

You can't tell from the photo, but that ain't a big bike folks...
It truly is almost a bicycle with an engine. But it isn't a toy. It's capable of going close to 60 m.p.h..

They shut the bikes down and called the group together, then divided the class into three groups of 12 each and showed us how the big parking lot was divided into three "ranges". We were then each assigned a bike and were told to walk it to our assigned range. There, the practical instruction started.

And as you can imagine in a course that is teaching folks who have NEVER ridden a motorcycle, it was BASIC!
The first exercise taught us how the clutch works and how to use the "friction zone"...
The area in the clutch travel between where the engine is fully disengaged from the rear wheel to where it is fully engaged. In first gear, we were to release just enough clutch travel to allow the bike to move slowly forward to the point where our boots were on our toes, then we were to pull the lever back in and roll the bike back until our toes were pointed straight up, then let the clutch out again until our toes were again pointed straight down...
We did this for five minutes, and my thoughts were, "This may be a LONNNNNNNNNNG weekend!"

But soon we were riding the perimeter of our "range" in first gear. We then shut our bikes down in an area designated for our range and returned to the classroom for more study on test questions. That's the way the whole weekend went...
A little practical work on the bikes, then a little written test preparation in the classroom.
By Saturday afternoon we were no longer doing boring stuff... we were doing exercises that actually took a degree of skill to properly accomplish. I could see the value of the instruction and was glad to be part of the class.

Saturday night I went to bed early and got a good night's sleep.
Sunday morning when I got out of the car, the sound I heard was not bees, but WASPS...

We had graduated from 125cc bikes to 200cc bikes...
Still relatively small, but genuine, serious motorcycles.
Now the practical exercises got more difficult.
We repeated one we had done that had worried me on the little 125...
You had to drive into a 20X40 box painted on the lot, through a designated gate, drive to the end of the box, then do a "figure 8" in the box before leaving at a designated gate at the opposite end. Maximum test points could be earned by not putting your foot down, and not touching the painted lines designating the boundaries of the box.
It's not easy to do.
But it was actually easier to do on the bigger bikes than it was on the little Hondas.

And so it went...
Practical exercises on the bikes...
Panic stops... Using both brakes to stop in the shortest possible distance while also downshifting from second to first gear.
Accelerating out of corners while staying within a 3-foot painted arc.
More figure 8's.

Then more work in the classroom.

Finally, for 15 minutes we were allowed to work on individual areas we wanted to practice on before the practical test. I worked mainly on figure 8's and panic stops.

Each of the three ranges had two instructors that conducted the test, and it took about half an hour. At the end of the test we all had a pretty good idea how well we had done... we knew what was expected of us. But we didn't know if we had done well enough to not lose enough points to pass.

The written test consisted of 50 multiple-choice questions and was not difficult if you had been paying close attention to the classroom review. Most questions had been thoroughly gone over during class time.

After the written test we were given a break while the tests were graded. When we were called back into the classroom we were given our tests with the results from both the practical and written exams marked at the top.
I did very well on both... not perfect, but very well.
My certificate will be in the mail this week and when I receive it I'll immediately be headed to the DMV to add the "M" to my operator's license.

Would I recommend this course?
You bet. As a matter of fact, I'd recommend it to anyone who ever thought they MIGHT have an interest in motorcycles.
Four or five folks crashed during our "practical" work. They weren't crashing their own machine, and they weren't risking skinning up their own helmet.
Even the most experienced of us learned a few things in this class.
Me? I now have much more confidence in my ability to control the bike at REALLY slow speeds... a skill I was somewhat weak on.

My guess is that about 2/3rds of the class successfully passed the course. In our State if you fail the course you can retake it at no charge. Many I talked with were dismayed at the idea of having to devote another weekend to another attempt at passing, but they had improved so much from when they started, they knew they'd likely pass on another attempt. (One gal in my group was a return student, and was grinning from ear to ear when she got her results... SUCCESS!)

So, that's behind me.
My bike is insured.
I'll very soon have a legal license to drive it.

I'm gonna take John Kay's advice and "Get your motor runnin', Get out on the highway!"

24 September 2010

"The Art of Compromise"

Rich vs. Poor.
Blacks vs. Whites
Hispanics vs. Whites.
Hispanics vs. Vietnamese.
Business vs. Government.
The U.S.A. vs. the World.

This administration has just about all the "stirrable" pots stirred.
Did I miss any?
Can you think of a time in history when the Nation was more divided?

21 September 2010

"Sumdood" In Europe Nails It-

A quote from a European who is now personally experiencing "Social Democracy" there...
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president."

And that is what fills my heart with sadness.
Loved ones I thought were perceptive voted for this guy.
Friends I thought had higher than average intelligence voted for this guy.
Now they are SHOCKED!
at the path he has taken the country down.
(At least they have a clue. Some are still trying to defend his Marxism as best for the country.)


Precious Metals, 21 Sep 2010

Gold still in record territory...
Silver is above $21.00 as I push "publish".

20 September 2010

"My Trip To Al-Qaeda"

It's on HBO.
It's important.
You need to see it.
"Sure, Wright brings a liberal’s gimlet eye for blaming America to the proceedings, something likely advanced by noted Bush-bashing director Alex Gibney..."
Still, it's worthwhile watching.
More here.

19 September 2010


We're onto 'em. (Well, many of us anyway.)
More and more, we've begun to have our eyes opened to the fact we're playing a game with Muslims, whose value system is totally different from ours. Lying? To a Muslim, lying is only a sin if it's done to another Muslim.
Heck, it's not a sin even then if it furthers the goal of striving toward the new Caliphate and the 12th Imam. What's MOST interesting to me is surveying who has seen the light, and who has not. Seems to me, the folks who haven't a clue are those who are most rabidly anti-Christian. While trying to seem like they're anti-religion, they know it's perfectly safe to attack benign Christians, and they do it with impunity.
Women? Ha! "Peace loving" women are the worst, and by appeasing women-hating Muslims, are gonna be the death of us!
But will they express horror at the fact that Dearborn Michigan seems to now be ruled by Sharia law?
Surely you jest! Only the trouble-making Christians seem to be pointing out the double standard there.

Some years ago I flew an AStar for a company that volunteered that aircraft for use by powerful city, State, and National politicians who could "scratch the company's back". I'd ferry these pols from one campaign or speaking event to another, and got to watch them "up close and personal".
It was amazing to watch them work a crowd, smiling and shaking hands with one constituent and agreeing that we needed to fix a problem by working to remove "A" and install "B",
then working another part of the room and promising another constituent that he would do everything within his power to insure "B" takes precedence over "A".

Bald-faced liars.

About a year ago I realized I was passively doing much the same thing...
Socially I would sit and listen to some idiot mouth off about current events and have his facts completely wrong, and I'd bite my tongue and nod my head with a smile, trying to avoid embarrassing the fool and making others around us uncomfortable.
And I watched in horror as my world was slowly being destroyed.
Last year I made the decision I had had enough. I was no longer gonna sit and suffer fools easily. I was gonna start my own one man education process, (and open the door for others to prove me wrong if that was the case). A little over a year has transpired, and you know what?
I no longer feel dirty. I no longer feel ashamed of myself.
And the factor I never considered when I set out on this quest?
Fools have a tendency to avoid me, so there is much less stress in my life.

Do you like what's happening in your world?
What are you doing about it?
Do folks sit and "talk smack" and assume you agree with them because you're smiling, nodding, and biting your tongue?
How's your blood pressure?

Take my recommendation and see if you don't feel the chains fall away...
Let fools know you're mad as Hell, and you're not gonna take it anymore!

Then stop by and let me know how your quality of life has changed.
Good luck!

18 September 2010

Obama Creates Thousands of New Jobs!

And the people are ecstatic!

Engine Configuration, Torque, and Horsepower

You may recall, when I started searching for a motorcycle to put in my garage, I was interested mainly in a bike to use on my commute to and from work. Secondarily, I thought it might be nice if it was big enough and comfortable enough for Sara Jean to hop on and ride along every now and then. Because of an experience I had in the rain several years ago, I made the decision that any bike I buy will either be driven by a belt or a driveshaft. That's not so limiting today as it was a few years ago... most Harleys are belt driven, and most other major manufacturers build at least one shaft-driven bike.

The other consideration in this quest was engine configuration...
For me, bikes with one cylinder vibrate too much for long trips. Some two-cylinder machines vibrate badly, some are smoother. Bikes with three cylinders or more vibrate less, but then you start encountering more complexity and more costs when repairs or preventive maintenance are needed. I started studying different bikes and the options they offered.

My first real motorcycle was a Harley Davidson "Sprint", powered by a single-cylinder 250cc engine. As you can see in the photo at the link, the piston and cylinder were horizontal on this engine. The bike vibrated so badly it fractured the mounting holes on the license plate as I was riding one day. I was lucky that the plate bounced on the pavement a couple times and made a clattering noise so I could go retrieve it. I mounted it upside down with the holes on the bottom of the plate and it fractured and left the bike again, this time making no noise at all. I had to go to the DMV and get a replacement plate, which I mounted on a rubber blanket to resolve the problem.

In High School I rode and loved the Harley Davidson Sportster. At the time, it was sort of the "Sport Bike" in Harley's corral... smaller than their big bikes, but powerful enough to out-accelerate almost everything else on the road.
New Sportsters look like those old bikes but are much improved... they vibrate less, don't leak oil, and you no longer have to risk injury by kicking a lever to bring the engine to life. As you can see in the linked photo, the Sportster has a two-cylinder engine in the form of a "V", with a 45 degree angle between the two cylinders. Old Sportsters vibrated just about as badly as the single-cylinder Sprint. Today's Sportster engines have counterbalancers to negate some of the vibration.

Now I'm gonna rattle on about stuff I only partially understand...
Apparently "felt" vibration in engines is the result of the weight of lots of moving parts rapidly changing direction in the engine. The main vibration you feel is called a "primary vibration". There is also a "secondary vibration" that you can feel. There are tertiary vibrations and so on, but those dwindle to the point of not being discernible. Engine manufacturers worry mainly about primary and secondary vibrations.

Pizza Bike has a two-cylinder V-Twin engine. The V between the cylinders is measured at 90 degrees, so some actually refer to this engine, (and a similar configuration on Ducatis and Aprilias) as "L" twins. These bikes have virtually no primary vibration. There is some secondary vibration that can be felt, but it is MUCH less than the vibration felt on say, a Harley.

The other bike I was considering was the BMW horizontally-opposed twin. Called the "Boxer" engine, vibration is mostly canceled out on this engine because the two pistons move in equal and opposite directions. Here too, there are secondary and other vibrations, but those are minor in nature.

For me it boiled down to this:
I've never owned a BMW or Moto Guzzi. Both bikes have "shaft" final drive systems.
I like the sound of the V-twin over the opposed twin.
My choice was made. Time will tell if my decision was a good one.

But my studies also turned up a fact that I need someone to help me understand.
The following illustrations are horsepower/torque charts, the first is for an Aprilia motorcycle, the second is for a new Corvette. Take a quick look at both:

Now look again at where the torque curve meets the horsepower curve on both charts-
5250 rpm!
Apparently all engines that turn at more than 5250 rpm will have curves that mate up there.
I need someone to explain the "What" and "Why" of that phenomenon, please!

17 September 2010


"Freckles are skin damage" he said.

"Nah, they're too cute to be skin damage", said I.

"Ever date a gal with freckles?" he asked.

"Sure", I responded.

"She have freckles on her butt?"

Freckles are skin damage.
(But I still love 'em.)

16 September 2010

Precious Metals- Keep Your Options Open

The person in that picture is holding $1200 of gold in the center of his/her palm.

Obviously, anyone going out on a limb trying to predict the future is exactly that...
Out on a limb.
So take anything you read here under consideration and do your own research.

A year ago I took a considerable position in silver, and I took physical possession of the purchase. I went back and looked at my last precious metals report, which I posted on 15 January, and found this:

Gold was $1131.00 per ounce.
Silver closed that day at $18.42 per ounce.

The close on both metals today was:
Gold- $1274.00
Silver- $20.76

That means my position in silver is now worth almost 25% more than my purchase price one year ago.
And I truly believe this ride is just beginning.

Be prepared.

15 September 2010

By Popular Demand, Pizza Bike !

Things have changed dramatically since I quit riding 30 years ago-

A 1,000 cc. bike was considered a "large" bike then.

Now bikes half again that size are commonplace.

Blogfriend Tim Frazier has a Triumph displacing 2,300 cc's!

But Pizza Bike is actually bigger than I thought I wanted.

As with cars, bigger engines get poorer gas mileage.

I'm still hoping driven responsibly, Pizza Bike will get 50 mpg.

Regularly outings, (and more picture taking), will start in two weeks. I'll keep you posted on performance figures.


In the Army we used to have a saying that we'd shout, (only half-seriously)...
"Do SOMETHING, even if it's wrong!"
The point bein', if you set off on a path that's wrong you can study results and realize it pretty quickly, then set a new course to improve the situation.

In our National elections for years now it seems we've had a choice between BAD, and HORRIBLE.
Al Gore?!!!
John ($^*~_$#@) KERRY?!!!!!!
How is it those two lying sacks of fecal material end up at the head of a ticket?

This morning I'm listening to Karl Rove lamenting Christine O'Donnell's win in Delaware as a terrible thing because he thinks that seat now will certainly be won by Democrats. I think Karl Rove is, in many ways, brilliant.
But I also think he's wrong in this case.

I can hear them all shouting...
"Do SOMETHING, even if it's wrong!"

It's time for REAL Hope and Change.
(Oh, and ABSQ? "Anything but the status quo!")


Where to begin here?
I've actually seen folks out riding like those in the photo above. And I've also loaded victims of both motorcycle and car accidents who have found themselves sliding down the road at speeds MUCH faster than you can run. It's painful just lookin' at those wounds.

Gimme a chance to do a practical exercise with the gal in that picture...
Nevermind the idiot at the controls of the bike. He's improperly dressed too, but if he falls he has no one to blame but himself. He's also responsible for her well-being and he's failed miserably, hasn't he?
I'd like to talk to her and give her a piece of coarse sandpaper.

You wouldn't take a piece of heavy grit sandpaper and scrub your thigh with it for several seconds, would you? But the effect of falling off that bike onto the pavement will be several orders of magnitude worse than that. Falling off the bike at speed can scrub off flesh all the way to the bone...
And then bone begins to be ground off too.
Yes, I've seen it many, many times.
That's the chance those two are taking.

So yesterday we started preparing for our Fall "Pizza Bike" rides and went shopping for gear.
We heard of a store that has quality merchandise for discount prices and stopped there first. There we found a nice leather jacket with removable lining for Sara Jean. We also found a set of cute "Harley Davidson" branded lace-up boots at a surprising price. We bought matching reinforced leather gloves with zippered backs.
As we were making our way to the cash register one of the workers from the store who had seen our motorcycle gear said, "It's probably not a good time to go out right now."
"Because some lady just ran a red light in front of the store and clobbered a guy on a bike. His leg was up around his head."
Thanks for the warning.

Sure enough, driving out of the store we saw a Harley Davidson dresser alongside the road in the dying cockroach position. The ambulance with the critically injured dude was already on the way to the hospital and another ambulance was still attending to the gal that ran the light and struck him.

We drove on to the Harley shop where we bought two helmets, a full-face for me and an open face for SJ, and a flat shield to fit hers. SJ also found another pair of boots there... ($149.88!!)
"They're just SO cute!". (Of course they are!)
Her response gave me two thoughts:
1. I've created a monster.
2. At least she wasn't so put off by the horribly mangled Harley that she won't get on behind me.

I know, once again I'm rehashing here...
I can mitigate, but not completely eliminate the risk of riding. Riding like you're invisible is part of it. And protecting important body parts just makes good sense, doesn't it?
...Helmets to soften the blow to the skull.
...Protective jackets, gloves, heavy trousers, and boots to insure the first thing making contact with the industrial-grade sandpaper is not our flesh.
We've literally got it covered and are ready to go when I've got license in hand.

The gal (and guy) in the picture above?
(... Shakes head in amazement.)
I may meet 'em during my next shift.
You could easily read about 'em some day.

More information as I publish:
My company flew the guy involved in the accident I mentioned above.
He apparently wasn't wearing a helmet.

He died.

14 September 2010

An Anecdote Is The Antidote

Cheese food?
CHEESE FOOD?! What the H-E- double hockey sticks is that?
"Past-U-rized processed cheese food"!
If y'all have been on the internet as long as I have, you probably got the email some time ago 'bout how Kentucky Fried Chicken had found a way to birth chickens that, for all intents, looked like mis-shapened footballs...
All breasts, thighs, and drumsticks... and nothin' much else.
I think "cheese food" was probly born in the same labratory, just across the hall.

What IS cheese food?
YOU can't even tell me, can ya?!!
But I bet you're eatin' it!
Go open your ice box right now and pull out that stuff you're makin' greased-cheese sammiches with thinkin' it was "American Cheese", and take a look at what it says on the label.
Go on now! I'll wait 'til you get back.

It ain't what you thought, is it?!
You're eatin' somethin' you don't even know what it is!
Cheese food!

Well I refuse to eat something I can't begin to identify, and it's one of the reasons I have to go to Sam's Club...
Sam's big box is one of the few places I can find REAL American Cheese!
I buy a big ol' block of American Cheese 'bout the size of a loaf of bread... that sucker must weigh 12 pounds or so. We break it up into smaller portions and freeze most of it. But that way I know we're not eatin' something that some guy lookin' like Henry Waxman conjured up in a test tube, out in City of Industry, California!

We buy our milk at Sam's too. I bought six gallons of "Fat Free" milk yesterday and saved a buck on each gallon... paid for the 45 minute drive to Sam's with that purchase alone! One gallon went into the fridgidaire, and the others went into the freezer next to what was left of that big 'ol block of real cheese.

Of course we bought mass quantities of other things too... cereal, sugar, laundry soap.
And when ya finish checkin' out ya have to take your receipt to a person standing at the exit and show it to 'em to make sure you're not stealin' any cheese or anything.
Yesterday that checker-person was a young male, appeared to be about 18 or so, and if I had wanted to steal cheese he wouldn't have been able to stop me...
He was about the size of cousin Ziggy, ya know... little bitty guy.

When I walked up to 'im I smiled and said, "I want your job!"
He got a kinda confused look on his face and said, "Why?"
"Well, you get to meet and greet everyone comin' through the store, don't you? And we sorta have to have your permission to leave. You're a Bigshot!"
He shrugged and said, "Well, it's really not a great job."
I said, "Well, at your position, you COULD have fun...
You could point underneath the cart and shout real loud WHAT'S THIS?!!, like there's contraband under there or somethin', and scare the poo out of customers!"
He allowed as how he might upset his managers if he did that, and he needs to keep this job.
Stupid managers. They take the fun out of everything.
And they're also the type wantin' us to eat some nebulous football-shaped "chicken thing" and something called "processed cheese food".

They need to understand that a good joke or interesting story is what makes the world go 'round!
The whole world is just fallin' apart, ain't it?

13 September 2010

Temptation- I Was A Bad Boy.

The Lord made this day...
Rejoice in it!

Yesterday was one of those days.
Eighty degrees. No wind at all. Not a cloud in the sky.
There's this gorgeous motorcycle parked in the garage.
Sara Jean hasn't had the chance to find out if she likes riding on the thing.
It would be a perfect day for a "test" spin.
But remember? I have no motorcycle driver's license.

Pizza Bike is calling...
"C'mon! I haven't been on the road in weeks... lemme stretch my legs!"

"But I haven't ridden any distance in almost 30 years."

"Well, let's keep that from being 30 years and a day!"

To Sara Jean-
"Wanta go for a little ride?"

Without hesitation-

We started off almost idling around our neighborhood, reaching all of 25 mph or so, and stopped to fill the tank with gas.
Filled to the brim, the pump indicated $9.28.
That's what I'm talkin' about!

"Let's go visit Chuck and Janet" she says.
That means getting out on the highway. Pizza Bike purred its approval.
The sun was warm, but the angle of the sun and the hint of coolness in the air indicated Autumn is knocking on the door. It REALLY was a perfect day!

Back in the corral, the tripmeter indicated we had traveled 84 miles.
And the fact we had broken the rules only contributed to the smiles on our faces.

The MSF course leading to my motorcycle operator's license is scheduled in two weeks.
Think we can resist the temptation to break the rules again?!!

Finding Nemo

No, not that Nemo!

I was unaware of the incident until I read a comment to a post at OpFor about a living hero who will soon be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Nemo's story is extraordinary, and reason for me to issue my second "tissue may come in handy" alert of the week!

12 September 2010

I Needed An Uplifting-

And I found it at Andrea's place:

Judging others not by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their character.
Wouldn't that be nice? It seems to me our present leadership has realized the power in keeping us divided... by political party, race, and class.
I don't watch the daily show because I resent the fact that too many "ignorant" people get ALL the news they view from Jon Stewart, David Letterman, or Steven Colbert, and they'll remain ignorant so long as that's the case.
But I think this clip is illustrative, both in how far we've come, how far we've regressed, and how far we yet have to go.

11 September 2010

9/11. The Unthinkable, Plus Nine Years.

I'll never forget. Neither should you.
And I just don't think I can do any better than my post of
three years ago.

10 September 2010

"The Norton Project"

I sent a link for this video to friends, then realized I was neglecting some pretty important friends
by not posting it here...

So I posted it here for YOU !
(Sixteen minutes, 18 seconds in length. A tissue might come in handy.)
Saw it at Doug Klassen's blog.

The Norton Project from Jamtron on Vimeo.

09 September 2010

On Tolerance-

The truth that some refuse to acknowledge:

"They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Martin Niemoller

Ooooweee Baby!

"Won't ya let me take ya on a.... Sea Cruise?!!"

08 September 2010


When General Motors became Government Motors, I asked here-
"What will happen when the UAW owner of Government Motors has to a negotiate a contract with it's (UAW) union membership?"
That question has now become reality in my home town.

H/T Instapundit.

"Pizza Bike"

Several of you have inquired, so it's time for a Moto Guzzi update. What with personal chats, Facebook status updates, personal emails, blogging, and comments at the blogs of others, I can't remember what I've said to whom.
So some of this will be rehash... too bad for those of you who bore easily.

I've promised pictures. I'll take some and post them as soon as I have the spare time and a fair-weather day to take 'em. Tonight I'm at work on my last night of eight in a row. I'll be off work tomorrow, then back at work Thursday night to cover a shift for one of our guys that has mandatory training that day. Then I'm off Friday, only to be back at work Saturday morning to cover another pilot's vacation. That's how my life has unfolded these last few months...
I've not had a chance to enjoy summer at all, and I resent that 'cause it's my favorite season.
But until I take and post actual pictures, my bike looks almost exactly like the one pictured above except the Moto Guzzi logo on the side of the fairing is a more brilliant and visible red. My bike is a '93 model, but there apparently wasn't much change in the Guzzi SPIII from '91 to '93.

It's been a long time since I've ridden. I sold my 1100cc Yamaha back in 1984 and haven't ridden at all, other than to take short test-rides on machines owned by friends. In the 25 years I did ride I never had any formal motorcycle training. I learned via word of mouth, watching others get hurt, or through the school of hard knocks. Through sheer luck, I never had a serious incident. An old ARMY buddy I used to ride with confided that he schedules himself for some sort of advanced training every two years, mostly to un-learn the bad habits he's picked up. I think that's smart, and know in those 25 years of riding I picked up lots of habits that could hurt me and anyone riding along. Right after I bought the bike I made reservations to attend the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course. Filling out the form for the course I had to indicate alternative dates I could attend. When I checked the course schedule online, the indication was that the upcoming class was still open. I selected that date first, then selected the next date I could attend... a month away. A week before the date of the course I hoped to attend I got a note from the MSF folks...
The course was full on the date I wanted and I was locked into my alternate date. Oh well.

I went to the DMV and got the bike titled, got new tags for it and bolted them on. So now it sits in the garage mocking me... a thoroughbred with its nose in the air, ready to go whenever I'm capable. The last two weeks have been nearly perfect for riding. It's been tempting to go out and throw a leg over it and just go, but I haven't had time to buy helmets yet and I refuse to ride helmet-less. I'm trickle charging the battery because there's an electric clock on the instrument panel slowly discharging the battery.
The 2-1/2 day course is now 15 days away and cannot come soon enough. My plan is to have new helmets waiting to be used after I complete the course so we can let "Pizza Bike" stretch its legs immediately after I put the motorcycle driver's license in my wallet.

I've been surfing the internet to absorb anything Moto Guzzi related I can find. The brand's followers are an interesting bunch, freely agreeing the bike is not perfect, but extolling the machine's pluses and insisting it's a great all around bike. There's no shortage of forums with folks willing to share information about the bike's character, and most members of those forums would ride NOTHING other than a Moto Guzzi in spite of some obvious shortcomings,
(a dearth of dealers across this land being the biggest one).

Motorcycles, like automobiles, are compromises...

Like Cadillacs, Corvettes, and Jeeps...
Some are sporty and ungodly(!) fast but not comfortable for rides whether the distance is long or short. Some exhibit a visual and aural "attitude" and are comfortable cruising, but may fall short on comfort for riding really long distances. Some are set up to be ridden all day while protecting their riders from the elements, come what may. Most are faster than most of the cars with which they share the road.
My online reading has been an education. I found out that the double zz's in "Guzzi" are pronounced the same way as "pizza"...

So I've decided to call it the "Pizza Bike".
I'll let ya know later if I think it's "Supreme".

07 September 2010

Oh, These Long Weekends!

Disclaimer, at TWD's prodding:
"This is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent... "

I wasn't even fully in the door...

It's Saturday night and a long weekend, so the natives have TWO days to be restless!
My Nurse says to me, "As soon as you can get your pre-flight stuff done, we have a flight."
I hate this, 'cause no matter how hard you try there are pressures here to hurry, and preflight duties need real attention to detail...
But someone needs the helicopter and the care we can provide. I force myself to be diligent while I do things as quickly as possible.

For the first time in weeks I raise the collective and come to a hover while the sun is still above the horizon. We fly eighteen minutes and land at the little hospital where dispatch says our patient, a 62 year old woman awaits us. I make a mental note of the fact that she's a year younger than me.

I catch up with my crew in the ICU.
Our patient is morbidly obese...
A diabetic...
A smoker...
While in this hospital she has fallen out of bed and they cannot get the bleeding from her badly traumatized nose under control.
She's barely conscious.
On top of all that, her heartbeat is doing funky things now and then.

Our 34 minute flight back into BigTown is uneventful and she is admitted into the ICU at the Level One Trauma Center. When I retrieve them my crew wonders over the intercom what the bigger hospital will be able to do to improve this woman's life. The sun slips beneath the horizon before we make our way back to our home base.

We're on the ground exactly 12 minutes before the phone rings once again...
"Weather check for a flight to *******boro."
"We can do it."
"Then your flight is a go for a 40-ish year old male burn victim."

Our patient has "ETOH" on board... (he's under the influence of alcohol).
Good and bad...
He's burned because he was acting like a fool, jumping over a very large fire. On landing his feet slipped from beneath him and he sat down in the middle of the hot coals. He's badly burned over about 30% of his backside, including his

(say it like Forrest Gump now!)... but-tocks.

When we load him aboard the helicopter he's still under the influence of adult beverages and also has a little "medicine for pain" on board, so he's in LALA land during the flight. When the sun comes up in the morning the scenario will be different. Over the intercom on the way to the Burn Center my Flight Nurse laughs out loud...
"You won't believe this!"
"His name is Jack, and his middle initial is B"!
"Well, he wasn't all that 'nimble', was he?"
(Laughter all around.)
It's this dark humor that provides the relief valve for those of us that see this kind of suffering, (and MUCH worse), all too often. Without it we'd quickly succumb to depression.

It's been raining off and on all day.
We get back to our base just before the temperature drops enough to turn the residual moisture into fog.
By the time we're finished with our paperwork, just after midnight, safe flying is an impossibility. We head to our individual beds and "Earn Money Sleeping".

06 September 2010

He Who Hesitates

We went to war because we were frightened Iraq MIGHT have a Nuclear Weapons program.
We KNOW Iran is processing weapons grade nuclear material.
...tick, tick, tick.
Where he Hell is our leadership?

05 September 2010

Scary Stuff:

"Jennifer Rodi, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the aircraft tail was found to the southwest of the main crash site and the main rotor was found to the north, but stated it was too soon to draw conclusions on the cause of the accident."
More here.

Missed Him By THAT MUCH !

I've just bought the motorcycle with the intent to save a little money on gas on my commute to work. I've transported plenty of motorcyclists to Trauma Centers, so I'm quite aware of the dangers of colliding with deer after darkness falls and I won't be riding my bike cross-country at night unless there are no large critters to run into.
But on my way to work today, at about 1830 hours with the sun still relatively high above the horizon, a situation similar to the one pictured above happened right in front of my car...
I jammed on the brakes and missed him by no more than 10 feet. He ran from an area where I've seen lots of deer before, but only after sunset.

When I bought the Guzzi I thought I had figured out how to mitigate that danger.
Now my confidence is shaken.

Added before posting:
In the Midwest it's deer. Elsewhere, other wildlife is just as dangerous.

02 September 2010

The Life Of An EMS Crew

It's 0242 hours and I've just dozed off in the recliner. The phone rings-
"Can you respond to a primary in +++ +++?"
(A primary is a flight where we fly directly to the accident scene.)

My crew is upstairs asleep.
The helicopter is in the hangar because we've had thunderstorms/low clouds/bad visibilities in the area.
"Hold on, I'll move to the other phone and check weather."
I put my dispatcher on hold and sit down in front of the weather computer. A quick check shows the T-storms have moved out of the area. Our local airport is reporting winds calm, 7 miles viz, sky clear, temperature 22, dew point 20, and all other area reporting stations are better than that. I grab the phone-
"We're in the hangar but yeah, we can do it."
"Then your flight is a go. It's a bad motor vehicle accident. I can't tell you anymore than that... things sounded chaotic when they called. How much time should I add to your response time?"
"Five minutes."
I hang up, then push the "intercom" button.
"We have a primary go in +++ +++ for a motor vehicle accident. Let's push her out."

I turn on the hangar lights and by the time I've pushed the rolling hangar doors open my crew is sleepily coming down the stairs. I start the tug and start slowly pushing the aircraft toward the pad, watching each of the 4-$40,000+ rotor blades to make sure I don't run them into anything.
The phone rings again...
Not a good sign when you've been told to "GO!"
(Stop the tug and put it in "Park". Walk to, and pick up the phone-)
"They want you on standby now. Both patients have coded."
(They're doing CPR on both patients at the scene.)

I return to the tug and finish pushing the aircraft to the pad.
We drop the helicopter off its ground-handling wheels and I back the tug and the helicopter moving equipment back into the hangar, then shut the hangar doors.
We're ready to go if needed.

Phone again...
"You're canceled. They've called 'em on the scene."
To the inquiring faces looking at me I say "D.R.T.", (Dead right there.)

Now we're all wide-awake at 0255 hours, and I'm forced to remember-
We're not paid for the actual "doing" of this job...
We're paid for knowing how to do it WHEN and IF we're called.

When I've pushed "Publish"on this Post I'll go back to the recliner.
My crew is already upstairs and horizontal, waiting for the phone to ring again.

01 September 2010

A Greybeard Recommendation-

11 September is just around the corner.
If you find you agree with my politics most of the time, I think you'll find the 22 minutes spent
watching this video worth your time.