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


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"?"
"Who's complaining "Fred"?

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


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?"

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


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...
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!

15 October 2010

Silver At The Close, 15 October, 2010

Last week: $23.24.
This week: $24.34.

But what that REALLY indicates is sad and scary.
You DO know what it indicates of course, don't you?

Another Job I Don't Want...

In Norway-
First, dislodge the biguns. Then, wash the small ones downhill with a torrent:

14 October 2010

The Invisible Man

It happens SO often.
It happened to Bob.


I joyfully cried when the first miner emerged.
And then I found myself crying again when the second exited the capsule.
Then the third...
Uplifted but unable to keep my eyes open, I finally gave up watching at 1 A.M., but left the TV on so I could check the "Rescued" count if I woke.

When I woke this morning I once again found myself in tears as the 19th miner was freed.
And so it went...
Miner emerges, hugs and kisses his loved ones...

Thank you Chile. These are troubled times and you showed that no matter how hopeless things look, you're only whipped when you give up.

Now everyone, "Remember in November!"
It's gonna be hard, but like Chile our country can do anything, so long as we don't give up.

12 October 2010

Deaths In Helicopter EMS

EMS helicopters have been in the news a lot this year...
There have been a lot of people killed... enough that once again, political leaders are getting pressure and in turn are pressuring the FAA to "do something, even if it's wrong".

And it seems to me that's just what they are about to do.
Initial reports on the "fixes" they intend to install by way of new regulations MAY have a minor impact. But from my viewpoint, accidents will continue to happen so long as folks continue to take off into weather that is marginal or worse, particularly at night.

It seems so simple...
"Don't fly when visibility is crap!"
But too many still do, and our accident record reflects it.

I'm old, and I'm a chicken.
When there is any question at all I've learned to follow Nancy Reagan's advice:
"Just say NO!"

10 October 2010

600+ Miles

I was on the road Friday just after Noon under a cloudless sky, with the weather forecasted to remain the same for the weekend. I planned to drive the "Blue highways" all the way to Indy so I could relax and get to know the Guzzi better. I'm still having trouble adjusting to the "dry clutch" on this bike... others have complained some about the scratchy noise Guzzi clutches make, but that's not a factor for me. The "friction zone" on this bike is tiny... let the clutch lever out half an inch and it barely begins to engage. Let it out 1/16th of an inch farther and it seems to almost fully engage. I continue to look like a neophyte rider, killing the engine as the stoplight turns green. Embarrassing.

But I continue to be amazed at how strongly it pulls at low rpm...
It's making a ton of torque even at idle, so if you can just get the clutch out without killing the engine the bike WILL pull away strongly. It's not too uncomfortable, but the engine does vibrate until you reach 2500 rpm or so. Then it pretty much smooths out. Sixty mph gets you about 4000 rpm, and with the redline on the tach at 8000 the bike is just loafing.

The windshield is about 3 inches too short. The wind coming over it hits me about mid-faceshield and therefore makes the world a windy/noisy place. It's not horrible, and the fairings and windshield do protect almost all my body from the buffeting, so I can learn to live with this.

I stopped almost immediately for fuel, then stopped again 190 miles later. The pump registered 4.6 gallons when the tank was full at the second stop, so Pizza Bike is getting about 42 mpg in mixed town/country driving. I was hoping for more, but I'm hearing that's about average for these machines.

When I checked my watch at my second refueling stop I realized I was gonna have trouble reaching my destination before dark if I didn't pick up the pace, so I gave up on the two-laners and headed out on the Interstate highway.
Hoosiers are kinda renowned for driving like Mario Andretti and this late-Friday afternoon was no surprise. Just staying with traffic had the speedo registering 82 mph and Pizza Bike was perfectly happy rolling along at that speed. The only concern I had (and HAVE) is that most of the females that passed me either had a phone to their ear or they had the phone down near their laps texting on it...
I'm driving 82 miles an hour on this steel horse while folks in 2-ton boxes are paying partial attention to the road while passing me! (Note to self... avoid Interstate highways as much as possible.)

I arrived at my destination about half an hour before sunset... perfect. Four hours and two beers later I was in a comfortable bed with good memories of the 289 miles I had driven...
My butt was a little sore, but otherwise I felt surprisingly good.

Saturday weather, again was perfect. Fifteen schoolmates showed up for our walk through our old stomping grounds. We ate a great meal before the walk, then drove to our old haunts. Friend Thomas and I rode our bikes... he on his Triumph Thruxton 900cc cafe racer with straight pipes. (It makes a lovely noise.) Folks in "The Valley" were surprised to see 15 senior-ish people walking down the road pointing and chatting with one another. Several came out to see what was goin' on and smiled when we told them we knew who lived in their homes fifty years ago. (One even said "Yeah, I know, their name is still on the mailbox!) Many memories were stirred... almost all of 'em good.

After the walk we returned to our initial gathering place for dessert. (Is there any way to fix cheescake so it ain't great?) Some of our crowd went home at that time, but there was a "Cruise night" going on at "The Suds", and several of us decided the night was still young. Max went and got his Harley dresser and accompanied Tom and I to The Suds, and several others drove their cars. The good weather meant a great crowd was in attendance and there were some amazing cars (and bikes) to be seen. I think there was only ONE Moto Guzzi there though!

Third verse, same as the first and second, weather-wise.
On the road again at Noon I drove back past my old home, then took a ride through some of the other areas that were important to me as a kid. As you might imagine, much of the area is just unrecognizable, and tugs at my heart. The time/temp reading on "The Farmer's Mercantile Bank" in Bloomington Indiana said 1:56 P.M./ 91 degrees. This is October?!!

But headed home I had plenty of time to stay on the two-laners and avoid the "texters". I found the engine spins quickly and easily to redline and sounds neat doing it. On one isolated stretch I saw 100 mph on the speedo as I clicked the shifter into 5th gear and let off the throttle, the bike still accelerating hard.

I got home just at dark, Sara Jean pointing to her watch and wagging her finger as I slipped Pizza Bike into its berth in the garage.

Total mileage for the weekend, including the trip to The Suds... about 615.
The verdict?
I like it.
I'm ready to go again.
Wanta come along?

08 October 2010

Precious Metals, October 8, 2010

Silver last week: $22.17.
Silver this week: $23.24.
This rise in price is NOT really a rise in the value of Silver. It IS an indication of the value of our greenbacks going into the toilet.
Are you prepared?

"The Valley"

I grew up in a rural area South of Indianapolis Indiana. Even though homes to house "Baby Boomer" families were springing up everywhere there was still a "village" feel about our community, much like what you've seen on "The Waltons" TV series. As kids we all knew there were always adult eyes watching us (and watching out FOR us) from behind most every window. If we got into mischief we could be pretty sure our parents would know the details of our shenanigans before we arrived home.

The heart of my world then was "The Valley". The bulk of my "Indianapolis News" newspaper customers were there... older homes and many older residents interspersed with families raising kids... lots of kids. The Valley had a tiny grocery store and an even tinier Variety Store... both were places I'd take refuge to warm my cold extremities near a pot-bellied stove while delivering newspapers on sub-20 degree days.
I had a personal relationship with most every resident there. "The Valley" was an extended family for us all.

Today I'm gonna mount the Pizza Bike and drive most of the day home.
I'm spending the weekend in Indiana with an old classmate I've known nearly 60 years and tomorrow, along with several other schoolmates and "Valley" family members, we're gonna walk down through our old community and share memories. Just thinking about it makes me a little melancholy, 'cause our old stomping grounds have changed pretty dramatically over the years. But the weather is forecast to be near perfect for my ride to and from, and for the memory walk.

I hope your weekend is filled with love and near perfect weather too.
I'll have details for you later.

07 October 2010

Booger Eating Morons

In front of God and everyone else he buried his finger to the first knuckle and probed the depths of his nostril, then removed it and studied the sample stuck between his fingernail and finger. Even from a distance I could tell he had "mined" quite a prize.
Then, to my astonishment, he stuck the green/yellow mess into his mouth and chewed it with a satisfied look on his face.

"You DIDN'T really do that in front of me, did you?"

Shocked out of his reverie as if he had forgotten anyone else could be watching he said, "What?"

"How could you do that? I didn't realize you were a Booger-eating moron!"

Sheephish look on his face...
"I like 'em. They're salty."

"Do you have any idea what you're eating when you eat those?"

No answer. He's smart enough to know he doesn't want to hear what I'm about to say...

"Let's say you go into a bathroom immediately after someone else has just had a HUGE bowel movement and the air still carries the remnants of that event. The reason you can smell what they have just done is because tiny bits of fecal matter are entering your nose and being filtered out. That stuff, and everything else you smell, ends up in the mucous in your nasal passages, which dries and becomes the stuff you so anxiously search for when you bury your finger in your nose. It's disgusting to think what else is in that 'salty' tidbit you're nibbling on."

"Yeah, I guess that's right".

And he turned and walked away.
I haven't seen him do it lately, but I think that's mostly because he's more careful about when and where he does his "treasure hunting".


05 October 2010


Mom noticed it first. We had a Labrador Retriever and he would not be satisfied until he had checked you out, and he was pretty insistent about it...
He wanted to smell your breath. He'd come up close to you and stick his nose in your direction. We learned to exhale toward him and watch him inhale and sample the smells there, and then he'd walk away satisfied.
It's been my experience that most dogs will do this...
When I come home from work and sit in my recliner, Lucy and Yogi will come stand on my chest and look at me in expectation until I gently exhale in their direction. Then, like they've completed an important task, they'll relax and curl up in my lap.

Experts say most dog's noses are 10,000 times as sensitive as ours, and bloodhounds even more sensitive than that. We know dogs can sniff out cancer, can sense an oncoming seizure in someone with epilepsy, can smell a cadaver under 30 feet of water.

I tried to do a little research on the subject and found this comment. That answer really tells me nothing, but it verifies that others are experiencing what Mom first noticed so many years ago.

I want someone to learn to speak with dogs so they can tell us how much they learn by smelling our smells.
I bet it'd be spooky what they could tell us.

04 October 2010

Hoosier Boys. Bad Boys

Surprise, surprise! I'm uneducated and ignorant.
You are too, apparently.
(Read the comment there... laugh out loud funny!)

02 October 2010

Pizza Bike, Initial Thoughts.

I'm at work typing this, and I rode the bike to work this evening.
I've now ridden the bike 187 miles, legally and otherwise.

I like it, but it's not perfect.
Guzzistas call the bikes "Torque Monsters". This engine pulls strongly from 1000 rpm in every gear. At twenty mph in top gear the tachometer indicates exactly 1000 rpm. Twist the throttle and Pizza Bike simply accelerates. No strange vibrations, no complaints. Amazing. On the road you can settle into 5th gear and pretty much leave it there. There's just not much need to shift unless you come to a stop.

It handles well. It feels quite heavy at slow speeds, but that feeling goes away at about 15 mph. The bike feels very comfortable being hustled through corners, and I know my comfort level will only widen as I get to know the bike better.

It's apparently getting pretty decent fuel mileage. The tank holds four gallons and with 187 miles on the tripmeter it's getting better than 50 mpg, although I have to admit I've been dawdling with it at fairly low speeds and I haven't yet accelerated hard with the machine. I plan to fill the tank in the morning and will then know the exact fuel burn figure.

It thumps quietly and I like the sound of it. There is a slight low-frequency vibration in the handgrips that is not at all unpleasant, and even that settles down above 65 mph.

It's cold natured and must be choked for quite a while before it's willing to run smoothly.

The upshift from first to second must be REALLY positive, and it seems like a long pull. I've found neutral more often than I would like.

Even though I'm only 5'9" tall, my knees come perilously close to the fairing just aft of the cylinders. I've heard this complaint from taller riders but didn't expect to ever hit my knees on the fairing, and I have bumped my knees against the fairing a couple times, particularly with Sara Jean along.

I hate the mirrors. They are too close to the bike's centerline and I cannot see what's goin' on directly behind me. I'm gonna look into adding a mirror to the end of the left handgrip to fix that problem.

My hand tires pretty quickly from holding the throttle on. I'm sure part of this is because it's been so long since I've ridden, but I'm still gonna look into a friction/cruise control device pretty quick.

I wish the bike had a steering lock. It doesn't.

The seat on every other bike I've owned can be opened and rotated on a hinge to give you access to battery and storage beneath the seat. The seat on Pizza Bike comes completely off with the push of a button, and then you have a fairly large seat in your hand...
What do you do with it now? I wish the seat was hinged.

So overall, I'm pretty delighted with the machine. I'll give it a year to make a real impression on me, but unless it becomes a maintenance nightmare, (and with Guzzi's reputation that's unlikely considering this machine is well past the "breaking-in" point), I think I'm going to like Pizza Bike a lot.

I'll be updating you as we get to know one another better.

I was surprised when I refueled the bike this morning as I watched the meter sail past 4 gallons and register almost five before the pump clicked off. It's got a FIVE gallon tank! The bike burned 4.6 gallons of fuel to travel 188 miles. So it's not getting 50 mpg as I thought.

01 October 2010

Precious Metals, 1 October 2010

At 10:30 local time, silver is trading at $22.17, up over 60 cents IN ONE WEEK.

Are you on board?

"Field Grade" Weather

As "Company Grade" Officers it's a term we used to make fun of our superiors...
Our Field Grade Aviators would wait until there wasn't a cloud within 500 miles to come out and fly to meet their annual minimums. We're experiencing that kind of weather in the Midwest right now...
Clear skies, light winds, temps in the mid- 70's.

I received my Certificate of completion for my Motorcycle Safety Foundation course on Wednesday. This morning on my way home from work I stopped off at the DMV and showed them the certificate, handed over my operator's license and 10 smackeroos, and the nice lady there handed over a new license that says "Class D/M" at the bottom.

I called USAA last week to get insurance in force on the bike. They surprised me by punting me over to "Progressive Insurance" for the coverage, and I later called USAA back and complained about the fact that Progressive overwhelmingly supported Dimocrats in the last election and that I was unhappy doing business with them. Not surprisingly, the folks at USAA said others had said the same thing and they were reviewing their decision to insure MC's through Progressive. But as is almost always the case with USAA, the premium cost was LOW, so I went ahead and had them activate the policy. I'll stay on top of the situation and see if we can do business with a more favorable company next year.

But tonight I'll roll Pizza Bike out and drive it to work, insured and legal.
Perfect weather for the ride, and I probably won't even have to wash bugs off the windscreen.