30 January 2015

"American Sniper"- My Thoughts.

I watched it through Taya Kyle's eyes.
I watched it through my Wife's eyes.
I watched it through my Son's eyes.
And I watched it through the eyes of an old aviator/warrior whose job once was to provide lethal protection for our troops from above.

It's a great PRO warrior movie.
It's a great ANTI-WAR movie.

I think it may be the most powerful movie I've seen.
I recommend it

28 January 2015

I SHOULD NOT Have Shown Her This:

Back home we have Wasps, Hornets, Bumblebees, Mosquitoes, and the occasional Brown Recluse spider.
We don't like 'em, but we're accustomed to 'em and have learned how to exist while dealing with them.
This is a new wrinkle. Our son found one like this in the kitchen a couple weeks ago, (sans all the babies being carried on the back), and made the mistake of showing it to his Mother. She immediately dispatched him to buy a Black Light, (Scorpions are "fluorescent"... they glow in the dark when illuminated with black light), so she could recon the area she intended to trod while walking around after sunset.

I find spiders fascinating. I'm beginning to have similar feelings about Scorpions.
Notice I said "beginning".
Right now I'm still mildly creeped out by them.
And a Momma with her back completely covered by babies?

21 January 2015

Are These "The Good Old Days"?

Three days ago we bought steaks at our local Albertson's Super Market.
They were nothing short of wonderful. Seasoned by the butcher before packaging, you could smell the garlic and pepper before you opened the plastic protective wrap.

They were so tasty I went back to the store's meat department and asked-
"Do you sell that seasoning?"
"Yes. It's called 'McCormick California-Style Garlic Pepper' and you'll find it in our spice area for $11.90".
I found it. It was in a 12-ounce container. My mental calculator said the price makes it just shy of a dollar an ounce.
I decided to shop around.

At home I turned on the computer and went to Amazon.com, where we are "Prime" members.
McCormick's "California-Style Garlic Pepper" was being offered in the 22-ounce container at a cost of $14.21.

Prime membership means we pay NO shipping costs.
I ordered it... pay close attention now... at 1930 hours. (That's 7:30 P.M. for those of you who've never been in the military.)

At Noon today the doorbell rang. Lucy let us know SOMETHING'S HAPPENING OUT THERE!
A view through the peephole indicated whoever had rung the bell was gone. I opened the door, and there on the front porch was a package marked "Amazon Fulfillment".

Inside the box?
A 22-ounce container of McCormick's "California-Style Garlic Pepper"!

Free shipping.

And it took a little over 12 hours to get here.
How in the world do they do that?
How can anyone compete with that?

19 January 2015

Harley Davidson, Vs. The World-

Gorgeous weather here...
Mid-70's temps and no cloud to be seen, anywhere.
It was a perfect day to exercise the "new-to-us" GoldWing.

It was Sara Jean's first chance to ride the bike farther than to Wally World for milk and bread, so I didn't want to reach out too far. But I did want to give her the chance to determine if she liked the bike, and if not, what did I need to do to make it better for her?
(I already LOVE the thing! I'm MUCH more comfortable on it than either the older GL1500 'Wing, or the '99 Valkyrie I bought last year.)

We rode North to U.S. Highway 60, then East on 60 to just past Superior, AZ. At that point I realized I had once again pulled a boneheaded stunt...
I started the jaunt with half a tank of fuel.

Just past Superior, AZ. the mountains start to get serious, and the view is... breathtaking. There's a 1/8th mile tunnel through one of the hills with a "scenic vista" turnoff just beyond it. I pulled into the viewpoint and we dismounted for gawking and to take a few photos.

From that point we did a 180-degree turn and headed back into Superior for "insurance" fuel to give me the option to continue exploring, or to at least insure I could easily make it back to Gilbert, AZ where I knew fuel was less $$$$$.
We pulled into a gas station where three nice Harleys were already parked at the pumps getting fuel. I maneuvered the bike past them to an empty pump, shut our bike down, dismounted, and then commented to the guy on the H-D parked at the pump just behind us...
"Man! What a beautiful paint job on your bike!"
"Yeah, when I saw it I was stricken and immediately bought it", he responded.

And that was the only communication we had with this group of five people.
None of the rest would even make eye contact with us.
Sara Jean was PISSED...
"What is it with these people? What's their problem?"

I told her it's the situation I've known about for ages...
Harley riders belong to a "Club". Buying the Harley, they pay a TON of money to become a member, then pay a TON of money to maintain their membership.
If you don't own a Harley, you're not a member. Lots of Harley riders don't associate with non "Members".

It's slowly changing. Believe it or not, I actually have several friends who ride H-D's who are normal, wonderful human beings. They even talk to me.

But there's still that small segment out there that either-
1. Thinks they're actually still riding "American" iron and doesn't want to associate with guys riding "furrin" machinery, or-
2. Has an insecurity complex, knowing they paid a lot of money for a wonderful machine that nevertheless has a MUCH greater chance of leaving them stranded on a long ride.

Sara Jean is mad.
I just think it's sad.
We two-wheelers all ride for pretty much the same reason.
And I'd like to think, if any of us is in trouble, we'd ALL stop to help one another.
But... maybe I'm wrong.

By the way...
Sara Jean wants a set of armrests. Other than that, we're good to GO!

18 January 2015

I Love Phoenix... (In The Winter!)

Sunday: 74 and Partly Cloudy.
Monday: 75 and Mostly Sunny.
Tuesday: 76 and Partly Cloudy.
Wednesday: 74 and Partly Cloudy.
Thursday: 75 and Sunny.
Friday: 73 and Sunny.
Saturday: 75 and Sunny.

July 4th: 123 and... WHY THE HECK ARE YOU HERE?

16 January 2015


Black and White TV...
Since it was the only thing available, my generation didn't feel shortchanged at all.
And... we had THREE CHANNELS! (Some of us had the "Dumont Network" and actually had FOUR.) With that fantastic diversity of entertainment there was ALWAYS something of interest to watch!
My generation grew up turning on the set in the morning, watching the "Test Pattern" and waiting for the regular programming to start.
I know... like trying to figure out how a rotary phone works, today's generations cannot imagine what that was like.
But I'm not at all sure today's situation is an improvement, overall. (TMI).

When I was about 10 or so, we were entertained by a locally produced program in Indy, hosted by a guy whose stage name was "Sammy Terry". Sammy wore makeup making him look somewhat like Bela Lugosi as "Dracula". He had a "schtick"... a way of speaking; campy jokes. But every Saturday night he would introduce some old 30's or 40's horror "B" movie.
I'd be stuck in front of the set, watching. Sometimes we'd have get-togethers and three or four friends would watch, making comments like later generations have heard on "Mystery Science Theater 3000". Dracula. The Abominable Snowman. Frankenstein's Monster. Werewolves. Some thing from another world.

It was a hoot and I remember those times fondly.

So fondly in fact that I was quietly overjoyed while we were in Destin to find "Svengoolie".
Svengoolie is a locally produced program from BERWYN!, IL that has proven to be popular enough with the audience that it's been syndicated and is shown in several areas across the country. I started watching Sven while we were still home in the Midwest. I was delighted to find him on a local station while we were in Destin.

Now I'm suffering from "Sven withdrawal".
He's nowhere to be found here in Phoenix.

"Who ya gonna call"?

14 January 2015


I'm in the market for a quality crossbow, powerful enough to use hunting deer.
Any advice about quality/price/power would be appreciated.

13 January 2015

Yuma, AZ, Part II

My "guesstimator" about time to travel a certain distance has been somewhat off lately, and I don't know why. I looked at the map and saw Yuma was located on the Colorado river then screwed up the calculation by thinking, "Well, it takes about six hours to get to L.A. from here, and Yuma is about halfway, so it should take two-and-a-half hours or so, right?" Why I paid NO attention to the fact the distance was 220 miles is beyond me.
When I turned the corner from I-10 to head West on I-8 and saw the remaining distance was almost 190 miles, I mentally kicked myself.
Oh well. A friend once said, "The difference between a disaster and an adventure is ATTITUDE."
Let's make this an adventure!

It all started when I did something I knew better than to do:
I slipped over to eBay "just to check it out".
"Let's see what's available in GoldWing land! Ooh, there's a beautiful black one. NO RESERVE. Let's click over to Kelly Blue Book and check values there."
I show the photos to Sara Jean. She LOVES it. The starting bid is MORE than reasonable. I click and put the 'Wing in my "Watch list" then think, "What the heck... why not put my foot in the door by starting the bidding? I can then sit back as bidding proceeds and decide if I really want the bike!"
So I submit the minimum bid. "You're the high bidder!", eBay informs me.

Two days pass. I'm still the high (Only!) bidder.
Oh well, there are still three days left in the auction. No sweat.
And then I get an "eBay message" from the seller:
"I've had problems with guys winning my auctions, then not bein' able to come up with the funds. I'd like to sell you this bike... what's your best offer?"
I thank him for his attention and tell him I'd like for the auction to proceed normally. I don't want him to be shortchanged, (and I already have five motorcycles. I'm still doubtful if I want it. When I placed the bid I was pretty sure my bid would be wasted.)
I give him a little information about me and tell him I WON'T drop the ball on him if I win the auction.

He writes back. He's also retired military. He's a Christian man. He likes what he hears. He too is buying another bike.
He wants me to have this 'Wing. He's closing the auction. I own it.

I'm stunned, but Wow!
It's BEAUTIFUL. The price I'm paying is unbelievably low.

It's physically not real far away, so shipping isn't a problem. More back-and-forth notes with the seller and I find I REALLY like the guy.

We drove down two days ago and I rode the bike back to Phoenix with Sara Jean in trail.
I'm knocked out by it. When I bought the '89 'Wing my friend BZ said something to the effect, "I wish I had known you were truly interested. I'd have suggested you buy a later model 'Wing", and he listed several reasons why I'd like the newer model better.
And now I know why-
The only thing similar about these two bikes is the appearance of the flat-six engine.
The new bike handles better, looks better, is more efficient in a dozen ways, and is faster to boot.

But now I MUST do something I hate to do:
I gotta sell a couple motorcycles!
I'll let ya know how that goes.

11 January 2015

Yuma, Arizona

Ever see a magazine called "Arizona Highways?"
I used to see one every now and then in Doctor's offices and places like that.
Published by the Arizona Department of Transportation, it is propaganda, pure and simple. It's also GORGEOUS, and a great method for the State of Arizona to attract tourist dollars to their State.

Nowhere in the mag do you see how horribly littered MOST of the actual highways are here.
NOTHING decomposes in the desert. And since there is no vegetation to speak of to grow and cover it up, it's a certainty the Styrofoam drink cup our neighbor throws out his window while driving down Interstate 10 just South of Casa Grande will stay there for over a thousand years unless someone picks it up and properly disposes of it.
Like the Continental U.S.-sized pile of plastic now floating in the Pacific Ocean, we're literally "littering ourselves into oblivion" with our laziness.

But here's the deal:
From a distance, you cannot see the trash accumulation.
The mountains are distant, and ignorant litterers are too lazy to trash those beautiful hills.
So if you squint your eyes and ignore the nearby roadsides, the distant scenery still looks like the photographs that appear in Arizona's propaganda mag.

Yesterday Sara Jean and I had cause to drive down to Yuma, AZ and back.
(I'm ashamed to tell you why, but will reveal that in my next post.)
During the drive, we were continuously squinting, looking at the BREATHTAKING VIEW off in the distance.
If you've never been to this part of the country, you owe it to yourself to add that experience to your "Bucket List" and then check it off.

There's just NOTHING like Arizona.
I wish the lazy people realized it and cared more for their surroundings.

09 January 2015


I had business in the U.S. Post Office yesterday.
In line behind me about two folks back was a young, brown-skinned woman in dark-colored Muslim dress.
In light of current events, I bit my tongue.
My impulse was to ask her about "The religion of peace".
My friends have succeeded in calming me. I now constantly try to remember and practice "What Would Jesus Do?" in these situations.

So I didn't confront her.
But I'm also sure, in this situation at some point in the future, a skinhead WON'T be so tolerant. There will be blood.

And when turbulence is happening all around us, I'll be comforted by "The thing that goes BOOM" that I now constantly carry with me EVERYWHERE.

Do you also own such a tool?
If not... WHY NOT?

06 January 2015

"Homeless Vet, Please Help."

Here in Phoenix the schools sell a book of coupons offering discounts on meals at restaurants, oil changes, miniature golf and other things, as fundraisers.
My son bought two of 'em, and that means we could almost literally go out to eat EVERY night and still not use all the available coupons.
So far we've eaten at "Taco Bell", "Wendy's", "Denny's", "Golden Corral", and "Del Taco".
Besides accepting our  discount coupons, what do you suppose all these eateries might have in common?

EVERY ONE OF 'EM has a "Help Wanted" sign at their front door.
"Wendy's" sign says "Help Wanted, ALL positions".

We no longer give anything to panhandlers here.
If they wanted to work, there are hundreds of places they could get a job, (and probably get a meal  or two as part of their benefits package.)

What has happened to my country?

04 January 2015

God Gave Us Amazing Digits!

I normally wake here about 0730 hours.
I try to get out of bed quietly as possible. But Lucy normally has spent most of the night 'neath the covers snuggled in my crotch, so when I get out of bed she's ready to "Go outside?" and do her business. She emerges from her warm spot beneath the blankets, shakes her ears furiously, and that sound pretty much announces to anyone within 30 feet or so that she's awake.
Sara Jean just turns over and goes back to sleep.
I go downstairs and let Lucy out, then use the index finger of my left hand to push the "brew" button on the coffeemaker.

Lucy back in the house and rewarded for bein' a "GOOD GIRL!!", I make my way back upstairs, recline in my chair, grab the remote, and with a few finger-punches find it's gonna be 63 and sunny today here in Gilbert, AZ,-  35 with a partly cloudy sky back home.
I smile.

Then I grab the laptop and check my email, surf my favorite blogs for news, and review Facebook to see what my "friends" are doing, all by punching the proper keys with the proper digits.

We live in amazing times, don't we?
Now, if we could just figure out how to make the crazy people realize it and stop trying to ruin it!

01 January 2015

And Then I Bought...

I was maybe 10 years old.
An old guy in the neighborhood gave me a ride home from a Cub Scout meeting on his 74-inch Harley Davidson.
The sensation was like riding a bicycle VERY fast, effortlessly, with the additional sound of that wonderful 45-degree V-Twin emanating from just behind us and the powerful feel of that motor beneath us.
At that very moment I started calculating how I could get "Up on two wheels" myself.

Regular readers know "The Rest of The Story"...
Cushman motor scooter. Harley Davidson Sprint. Access to my friend's H-D Sportster any time I wanted to use it.
My post-Viet Nam purchase of my first Japanese bike, which was also my first dalliance with a two-stroke powered bike... the ferocious Kawasaki 500cc triple that I traded for another, then upgraded to the Kaw 750 when it came out. (Check the prices of those things now... out of sight!)
In those years it was important for me to own the hardest accelerating bike being sold to the public, so when the Yamaha XS1100SF came out, I bought one. FAST. Smooth running. Disc brakes front and rear. Alloy wheels. Drive shaft final drive.
It's one of the few early bikes I wish I still owned.

But something happened.
About the time Big Bubba was born, Spring rolled around and I didn't get the itch to ride.
The big Yamaha sat in the garage and gathered dust. Months passed. When I did finally go out to start it the battery was dead. And by "dead" I don't mean it had no charge. I mean it was D-E-A-D as in needing a replacement.
And I didn't replace it.
I pretty much gave the bike to a friend who said he'd make it run and ride it.
To my dismay, he let the bike sit until the engine was stuck, then he sold it for scrap.

Even when I didn't ride I ALWAYS had an interest in motorcycles. Now and then I'd pick up a magazine and read about the latest, greatest new stuff. I watched as the bikes I had purchased because they were "scary fast" became pedestrian due to new engine technology and huge horsepower increases. Six hundred cubic centimeter bikes got fast enough to blow that 1100cc Yamaha into the ditch. Motorcycles seemed to be on the leading edge of automotive technology... much of what was being done to bikes ended up also in our cars. Think of it... almost ANY car on the road today will exceed 100 miles per hour. That was NOT the case when I learned to drive!

Big Bubba finished college, got a job far away, and left us with an extra bedroom.
And my interest in riding began to grow.
Sara Jean likes to ride. We'd be driving somewhere and a group of bikes would pass us and I'd hear her say, "Ooooooh! Look at that one!"
Make note here- I SHOULD have paid better attention to which bikes she was enthralled with!

I started pokin' around on eBay, looking at various bikes for sale. As you know, you name it and it's pretty much for sale on eBay if you have the $$$$$$.
But the bike I focused on was an Italian machine that pleased my eye-
The Moto Guzzi I now call "Pizza Bike". I bought it and drove to Pennsylvania to pick it up.
But when Sara Jean rode pillion, I could tell she wasn't thrilled.
"I want a backrest so I have no fear of falling off the back of the bike."
Only then did I start thinking about the bikes that made her say "Ooooooooh" as they passed by-
Dresser Harleys and Honda GoldWings.

So I bought a GoldWing.
We liked it. So we traded it on another. We liked that one better, but she still commented on different cruiser-style bikes we'd see. "They look like REAL motorcycles."
Back to eBay. We both liked the looks of this thing, so I bought it. In the garage next to the 'Wing, the two big Hondas take up every bit as much room as a car.
I like the Valkyrie. I like it A LOT.
She doesn't. She literally snuggles in and goes to sleep on the 'Wing. She doesn't feel secure on the Valk and is fearful the whole time we ride it. It's a dilemma... do I keep it just to ride it alone? (To be continued.)

In four years now I've dabbled, buying a selling several bikes...
Two BMW Boxers. A Suzuki SV650 which now resides in Arizona for use as a commuter for my son. A Yamaha VStar Classic. The whole experience has been very educational. We know what we like. We know what we want.
And what we want is a nice new(er), GoldWing.

Back to eBay.
Right now I think I'd like one that's lemon YELLOW.