31 May 2012

Iron Butt

Road trip.
Twice in the past couple months we've made the 700 mile trip to Pensacola, Florida, to visit my Mother there...
Once in our car, and once in a 24-foot box van truck.
Gas stops, stretch-your-legs and go pee stops, and grab-a-sandwich stops means the trip takes us almost exactly 12 hours. Do the simple math and you'll find that works out to a 58.33333333 mile-per-hour average.
In a box.
With air-conditioning, power steering, AM/FM stereo, and an automatic transmission.
Even with those conveniences after 700 miles you arrive a little fatigued, but not zonked. Mostly what you want is to just be out of the box.
Obviously, road trips are different on a motorcycle. On three different occasions I rode from Savannah, Georgia to Indianapolis, Indiana, (also about 700 miles), on a "naked" bike that really wasn't intended for long-distance touring. One of those trips gave me an interesting story to tell for the rest of my life and is chronicled here.
But even without Mother Nature's input, long-distance riding on a motocycle will be more fatiguing than riding in a car. There are a dozen reasons why, but on a bike you are just required to pay more attention to what is going on around you. That in itself is more stressful. Add to that the fact you are more exposed to the elements, your seating position is more limited and therefore more tiring, and most bikes are more limited in range due to their fuel load. (Most touring machines are good for about 200+- miles between fill-ups, so you're gonna have to make more stops.)
Each time I make the trip to Pensacola I think about those Savannah/Indy/Savannah trips of long ago and wonder what it would be like to make the trip on the GoldWing. On this big "slab-burner", I think it would be fairly easy to average the same 58.33 mph as we do in the car. But with weather considerations, the experience would be totally different. We'll do it one day, but my experience on bikes is that trips of about 250-300 miles are comfortable so I think stopping for the night about halfway would make that journey more enjoyable for Sara Jean.

Thinking about long trips brings to mind another subject- the "Iron Butt Association".
Anyone reading motorcycle publications will be aware of the term and the organization.
To be a member and get the certificate you must register, pay a fee, then ride 1,000 miles within a 24-hour timeframe and have the necessary documentation to prove you actually covered the miles.
To read the account of someone who actually did it, (on a little 250cc Kawasaki Ninja for heaven's sake!), click here.

Riding 1,000 miles at an average 60 mph would take 16+ hours.
Even on the "sofa on wheels" GoldWing, you're gonna be tired when you've finished qualifying for the certificate.
But I think I want to do it.
Weather in October would be perfect.
I'm gonna start the ball rolling right away.

Biker-readers... Any thoughts?

24 May 2012

Confused By The Arrangement

My son likes dark and foreboding movies...
Stuff where much or all the action takes place at night, mostly in the city.
I don't really care for movies like that, but now and then would acquiesce when he wanted to share one he felt was particularly good.
Like "Donnie Darko".
It's one of the strangest movies I've ever watched.

In one scene the video took a back seat to the music.
Haunting... a solo by a single male voice.
For a few moments it troubled me because it was strange, but familiar.
It took a few minutes to figure out why I was confused.
Here's the arrangement that had me searching my memory banks: 

And here's the version I was familiar with that caused my confusion:


Music is wonderful, isn't it? 
Like a chameleon.

23 May 2012

Roller Coaster

"Your Mom was admitted to the hospital today."
That's not something you want to hear when she is 700 miles away. The only saving grace was that my sister the RN was there to keep the updates coming.
Then Mom got worse.
When I called to talk with her, my 86 year old Mother said she didn't want to live if she continued to feel so bad.

But the next day she felt somewhat better.
The only way to get an objective view was to head to Pensacola.

I drove down Saturday. On the drive came good news:
Mom was much improved and they'd be discharging her sometime Sunday.
I'd be there to take her back to her apartment.

She was tired and weak, but managed to tolerate my humor with smiles and a laugh now and then.
She even shuffled to the dining room for dinner, then shuffled back saying she felt better after eating.

She slept fitfully Sunday evening.

Monday morning her blood sugar count was down and she felt odd.
She ate candy and felt somewhat better.

Her count normalized.
She ate dinner in the dining room and complained it wasn't good, so she didn't eat much of it.

Her count went down again... more candy.

Later on Monday she announced she had made the decision to "move to the third floor".
Mom lives in a beautiful three-story retirement facility. The two bottom floors are for "independent living"... you have to be able to care for yourself to live there.
The third floor is for "assisted living"...
A full-time Nurse resides there, and they watch their residents much more closely, checking on them often and even insuring their medications are doled out on time and in the proper dosage.
And that's Mom's worry...
She's now taking so many pills she can no longer keep 'em straight.


The fact she made this decision on her own is bittersweet.
I'm glad she was "the decider" and not me or my sister.
I'm glad staff will watch her more closely, because her quality of life will certainly improve if her blood sugar level is more closely monitored and leveled out.
But the idea she needs "assisted living" opens a new chapter in her book of life.

Every day I can talk with her is a gift.
I'm selfish.
I want LOTS more gifts.

18 May 2012

Obama The Liar

So the "news" is finally out...
When it was to his advantage, (to make him look cool and sell his book), he was Kenyan born.
Then, when it was necessary for him to be a U.S. Citizen, (even though he STILL COULD NOT BE NATURAL BORN), he was miraculously born in Hawaii.
As Roger Simon said in his piece on the subject, "either way, he's a liar."
From here to the election, this is gonna be entertaining. What do democrats do, now that this citizenship story is finally unraveling? (With Biden as V.P., they've gotta be pulling out their [plugged?] hair.)
What does our media do to try to act like they were caught with their pants down on the subject? How do they now expect us to trust anything they report?
And where now are the snot-nosed kids that came to "Pitchpull" four years ago telling me I was wrong about all this?

Being vindicated is SUCH GOOD MEDICINE!

17 May 2012


I hate it, hate it, hate it when I see something I like, then find it WON'T BE SOLD IN THE U.S.!
(Kawasaki's new W800.)

16 May 2012

Dead State Walking

California is toast.
The Governor now knows it and is sending out "hints", but J.Q. Public 
STILL  ain't payin' attention.
California is Greece, and the folks in Greece started pounding on the doors of their banks yesterday.
Their banks can't help 'em.
The E.U. WON'T help 'em.

From here on out, Europe will be interesting to watch.
When they realize the severity of their problem, folks in California will expect the rest of us to bail them out...
"Too big to fail !", ya know.
But it won't happen.
Their problems are too big to deal with.

I'm talking here to those of you who don't think I'm a Grade A kook...
Go here and read the words of a guy that knows economics FAR better than most of us.
Then act accordingly.

California is toast.
Illinois is in the toaster, cookin'.
We're all gonna suffer.
But the good Scouts among us will survive.

14 May 2012

Old Machines- The Good, and Ugly.

 "They paid five figures for it."
 I've been watching eBay for one just like it. Kawasaki triples there are either too ratty, or,  like this one they are prohibitively $$,$$$. But somewhere from the far recesses of my skull I hear the shout, "You paid a little over a grand for yours when you bought it new in 1972!" 

She hates most of the shows, (except for "American Chopper, Senior vs. Junior"), so I mostly watch 'em when Sara Jean's out. But I am in awe of guys on those shows who can walk over to some expensive machine with a chunk of metal and fabricate, seemingly out of thin air, an exhaust system or a set of handlebars. Those guys would have no fear whatsoever of buying a "project" bike like the worn out old Kawasakis I could actually afford on eBay. Then they'd just start slowly-but-surely waking the thing from the dead and after weeks/months/years of work have a bike they could sell for "five figures" upon completion. 
But still, is it worth the total cost? When they're finished, they still have an old bike with old technology, and the "sweat equity" they'd expended is almost incalculable. Seems to me it's better to just watch/read and enjoy the shows and magazine articles about these craftsmen and the machines they complete, almost certainly selling them to some collector who hopes to sell them to a "greater fool" at some point in the future.

I had a revelation of my own this week. Winds were a little gusty when I left work on my '89 GoldWing Saturday morning, but temperatures have been comfortable behind the 'Wing's big windshield. The sun was shining, I had the two-lane State highway all to myself, and life was great.
I felt it more than heard it...
It was just sort of a "whuff"...
Not a big deal, but enough of a sensation that I actually ducked a little, then wondered what had happened. The bike didn't stutter so I slowed but didn't stop, assessing the situation. There was no "drama".
The six-cylinder engine continued to hum like a sewing machine. After thinking about it a few seconds I attributed the phenomenon to my helmet visor...
Behind the windshield on the GoldWing I ride with my visor up and I figured a gust of wind had made it move slightly with a resulting noise in my helmet.
At home I grabbed my stuff out of the trunk, then went into the house and opened the garage door to put the bike under roof. It was then I noticed I could see the battery, the reservoir for the rear disc brake, and other mechanical stuff on the right side of the bike. All that stuff is normally hidden by a big plastic side-cover with a fancy Gold "GoldWing GL1500" piece of trim on it.
My mind raced, trying to remember exactly where I had the "whuff" sensation so I could find the cover on my next trip. I could remember I was on a straight stretch, so I started thinking about where to search on my next trip home.
But what if I couldn't find it? This bike is now 23 years old and I'm sure Honda no longer supplies the part. That means I'd have to find it used, either on eBay or through some motorcycle salvage company and there was the possibility it wouldn't even be available there, meaning I might be riding around with my battery exposed until I could finally find a replacement cover.
What if I found my cover and it was damaged? Then I'd either have to repair or replace it.
That night, just to get an idea what I might be in for, I searched eBay for the part.
I found this cover priced at $230, but to make it look right I'd have to also find the gold "GL 1500" trim piece and add it myself.
It took my breath away.

Sunday morning again dawned sunny and mild. I reached the point where I thought the cover might have come off, slowed the bike to a near walking speed, turned my emergency flashers on, and started searching for the wayward cover. This road runs through farmland. In some spots, the farmers have trimmed the brush back ten or so feet from the roadway. In others the brush is three feet tall and thick. If it came off and flew into that brush, the only way I'd see it is if I was walking along the road. It was then I made up my mind if I didn't find it I would do just that... Walk this 8-mile stretch of road and find that expensive piece of plastic. I reached the end of the road where my "mind's eye" felt it had come off... No luck. My shoulders dropped an inch or so, I turned off the emergency flashers and accelerated toward home. Six minutes later I glance down and there it was... Just a few inches off the pavement in the foot or so of gravel before the brush starts, at least two miles from where I thought it had departed. I jam on the brakes and turn around... It appears undamaged. Amazing.

At home, further inspection of the adventuresome side cover reveals one of the fingers that goes through a grommet on the bike is broken off.
This is something that surprises me about Honda... it's really a poor piece of engineering. Vibration causes the fingers to wear. The grommets also wear. The resulting looseness almost guarantees these covers will get loose and depart the motorcycle.

I went out to the bike and found the broken finger still lodged in the grommet. So I can repair it myself, but I have to try to figure a way to keep this from happening again.

But I've dodged a bullet this time.
And learned a lesson...
Old bikes are neat, but the simple ones like the old BMWs, Triumphs, and yes... Harleys don't have so many fancy gee-gaws to fall off and cause you heartache.

I'll remember that from now on.

13 May 2012

A Shared(?) Language

At work, I share the helicopter with a guy who talks funny.
He was born in Bristol, England, then spent some time gallivanting around the world...
South Africa, Botswana, Rhodesia (when there still was such a thing.)

He mutters.
Coupled with the fact his accent makes him difficult to understand, his utterances are sometimes unintelligible. (Sara Jean thinks he does this on purpose to draw attention to himself.)

I understand him better than most because I've gotten accustomed to his cadence, and I have learned the meaning of many of the words:
Lorry. Torch. Lift. Zed. Bonnet/Boot. Petrol. And what's this "Aluminium" thingy?

Still, there ARE times when I have to scold him...
"Say that again in American, please!"

(He's lived/trained/worked here for almost thirty years for heaven's sake!)

He brings tabloids and magazines to work with him and I enjoy flipping through them to compare our two cultures. In context, many of the words and phrases can be added to my list of usable, shared terms.
Today I sorted out a couple more of 'em and can share them with you:
BODGED, as in "It was bodged together from two separate machines."

And SPANNER... "Be careful when trying to decide if you want to spanner your own vintage motorcycle."

If, before I go completely deaf, I can get the man to speak in a normal tone of voice, we may begin truly communicating just about the time I retire.

12 May 2012

Your Love Keeps Lifting Me...

I LOVE this tune.
But no one compares to Jackie.
Check his version out when you've finished hearing this stage-full of talent do it.

11 May 2012

Motorized Unicycle

Crank the throttle in first and second gear and the sucker would hike its front wheel toward the stars:

09 May 2012

Why I'm A "Paranoid Right-Winger"- Bumped.

I'm bumping this post to the top because of a comment I find incredulous. Read the comments and see if the top of your head blows off as mine did.
(Are our founding documents only important to military Veterans these days?)

The Constitution?

08 May 2012

Europe Watch

France has elected a Socialist leader.
Apparently the french have decided work is too much of a hassle...
Don't worry, be happy.
This is going to be SO entertaining, but cannot end well.
It's time to turn our eyes to the East and watch...
How long will Germany support the "bums"?
And for me the big question is, will our own Socialists be able to put 2 and 2 together?
(With a degree in Liberal Arts, Math is mighty difficult for most of 'em.)

We apparently don't have the discipline to do "austerity" here either.
So watch France... see our future.

05 May 2012

Strength Comes In Many Forms

She was dying of Cancer.
My friend the Paramedic was watching his Mother slowly, painfully, slip away.
She said, "I need some more pain medicine".
He said, "Mom, if I give you more it will stop your heart".
She was so exhausted she didn't verbally respond, but gave him a "look".
He gave her the morphine and watched her peacefully slip away.

I don't know that I would have that kind of strength.
Would you?

02 May 2012

Parking Wars- Updated

It was irritating... mighty irritating.
We lived in an apartment complex. There were enough parking spaces for everyone, and most could park close to their door. You could park with no one close if you didn't mind walking half a block or so.

The guy raising my ire had a beautiful new truck with a complex, custom paint job similar to the one above. (His truck had normal suspension.) When we came home his truck was parked diagonally across two spaces, right in front our our apartment. I took pen and paper in hand and wrote what I considered a reasonable note-
"You have a beautiful truck. If you feel the need to protect it, instead of inconveniencing others, please park out in the 'Back-forty'."

At 5 A.M. we heard an engine start, then REV-REV-REV-REV followed by a long blast of the horn before the vehicle drove away. Apparently he didn't think my request was reasonable.

The next night it happened again.
With pen and paper I escalated.
Once again we got the 5 A.M. "treatment".

But the truck never returned.

What would you have done?
Can you guess what I wrote that may have convinced the guy to park his truck elsewhere?

I'll update later.

I wrote, "It sure would be a shame if someone got angry enough to pour a can of paint remover across that gorgeous hood!"

I would never have done it, but he'd spent enough on that paint job he couldn't take that chance.