17 December 2017

Autonomous Vehicles

Up 'til recently, the idea of an autonomous vehicle has been anathema to me.
I like to drive... I'm an "enthusiast".
I've owned an Olds 442, a couple Corvettes, and a few Sporty sedans to include our latest... a Taurus SHO.

I LOVE the feeling of pressing your right foot to the floor and having the "G Forces" press your body against the seatback.
And I have never understood anyone who thinks a Toyota Prius makes a good primary mode of transport.
But I'm ready to admit something-
I hate long trips.

We've just finished a stay of two months in Destin, FL.
We love Destin, and have had a wonderful stay.

But loading our 250cc Piaggio MP3 into the back of our Cummins/Ram truck and driving the 11 hours each way is something I have grown to despise.
We came home for a few days to take care of a few "Honey-do's", and plan to leave soon to begin our Winter stay with our son in Gilbert, AZ. That drive will take 22+ hours. We have reserved motel stays in Edmond, Oklahoma and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and hope to arrive in Arizona on the third day of the drive.

We had the ability to rent a motor home that we could program to autonomously make the drive while we sat in the rear reading a good book, fixing meals, and using the bathroom facilities without stopping, I would be ecstatic.
And looking into my crystal ball I see our society moving in that direction whether we like it or not.

I will mourn the loss of freedom when human error makes slipping behind the wheel, putting your right foot firmly against the floorboard demanding the horses under the hood press your backside into the seat a "danger to the rest of society".
But I absolutely will NOT miss the long days driving down a boring slab of concrete to get somewhere you MUST be on a date certain.

I take comfort in the fact it will take tree-huggers a while longer to automate motorcycles...
And, thank Goodness they accelerate fast enough to satisfy my inner hooligan for the rest of my driving days!

"James, we'd like to go to Gilbert, AZ!"

11 December 2017

The World Is A Mess. But It Could be SO Much Worse!

Global warming is man caused.
Humankind's pollution is poisoning our air, our water, and our food.

How wonderful that Stalin killed 12 million vermin.
Mao killed over 45 million.
Hitler probably killed 8 million+.
Planned Parenthood has contributed to untold numbers of deaths.
(Sources I checked indicate these numbers are horribly conservative.)

Think what a poisoned, weatherweird world we'd be living in if all these people (and their offspring) had survived.

(Sarc button off.)

07 November 2017

Destin, November 2017

We've now been back in Destin a couple weeks...
Good food; good weather; GREAT view.

My reclining chair is situated so that I can turn my head slightly to the left to watch TV, or slightly to the right and view the Gulf of Mexico.
Life is tough.

I've been wondering something for some time now and was reminded of my question this morning-
I watched as a Pelican soared by, then turned back, circled with his/her head cocked toward the inside of the circle and downward, then abruptly descended and crashed into the water with a big splash.
It sat on the water a few seconds, gathered itself up, flapped its big wings and paddled with big webbed feet, then took off to repeat this maneuver somewhere else down the coast.

To my good friend from Boeing-
Why can we not consult with the Pelican's designer and build aircraft to withstand these kinds of forces?

28 October 2017

SR-71's, U-2's, And...

It's time to reveal a little something about myself.
Most folks are aware of the famous U-2 that caused a big kerfuffle during the Eisenhower administration (and is still being flown today in updated form).
Few know that I actually have flown the FABULOUS U-3 ! 
Please, try to contain your excitement.

22 October 2017

Playing Cards, Balloons, and Vocalizations.

First question-
Did you ride a bicycle as a kid?
I did. 

I had a Newspaper route and measured that I rode at least 9 miles per day.

Second question-
Did you find ways to make your bicycle sound as if it had a motor?
Again, I did.
Our gang found that if we bought a bag of penny balloons, blew one up and attached it to the front wheel in such a way that it would rub against the bike's spokes, it would make a sound that surprisingly imitated an engine. The faster we pedaled, the more it sounded like a motorcycle going fast. Friction and heat would eventually fatigue the balloon and pop it, but for about three minutes we were pumping away with smiles on our faces.

Third question-
How many of you that answered affirmatively to questions one and two ended up actually owning a motorcycle as soon as you could buy one?

I did.

16 October 2017

How's That Pudding Taste?

William Tecumseh Sherman.

I often wonder how Abraham Lincoln had to feel, hearing the news of Sherman's "March to the Sea".
Knowing the General was pretty much destroying EVERYTHING in his path; homes, businesses, railroads, crops... I'm sure he suffered some pangs. But he had also suffered while he watched ineffective Generals lead Northern Troops into losing battles, one after another.
"War is Hell"... Sherman knew how to fight.
And Sherman was succeeding.

Now comes Donald Trump. (Remember, I could NOT bring myself to vote for him last election... too liberal for me.)
I'm offended by some of his behavior in the past.
I cringe at some of his speeches.
His "Tweets" frequently are laughably adolescent.
But... "The proof is in the pudding", isn't it?

I've chosen French Vanilla.
And it tastes pretty good.

10 October 2017

Millions. Billions. Trillions.

We (the U.S.) are now over TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS in debt.
That's $20,000,000,000,000.00 when written down. Try to enter that in your calculator and divide that number by today's U.S. population, maybe 330 million(?). My calculator won't reach that far and right now I don't want to do the mental exercise by dropping zeroes on both numbers.

Someone educate me, please:
How do we survive this catastrophic burden?

09 September 2017

The List

Yes, it's been a while.
And I may have missed a few in the interim.
But this one is SO typical of rich, ignorant, celebrity-types.

I'm confused-

If you are in the business of selling your talent to the masses, why would you express yourself in a way that would anger 50% (+ -) of your audience? Add to that the fact that most of us non-Hollywood types think you live in a cloister of like-minded people and have NO IDEA whatsoever how real folks make a living out here in the world.
Why not just shut your pie-hole and let 100% of your audience enjoy your work?

I present to you my list...
The list of folks that I refuse to support with my hard-earned $$$$$ because they're destroying my country.
"The List" will be updated and re-posted as new "smarter than you and me" folks make themselves known.
(Feel free to leave suggestions for additions in your comments.)

Robert Altman
Ed Asner
Alec Baldwin
Ellen Barkin
Rosanne Barr
Meredith Baxter
Joy Behar
Tony Bennett
Sandra Bernhard
James Brolin
Jimmy Buffett
Jim Carrey
Jackie Chan
Ladies and Gentlemen- Cher!
The Dixie Chicks
George Clooney
Elvis Costello
Sheryl Crow
Matt Damon
Ted Danson
Johnny Depp
Danny DeVito
Pee Puff Diddy-Daddy
Phil Donahue
Richard Dreyfuss
Roger Ebert (Assumed ambient temperature.)
Mike Farrell
Will Ferrell
Tina Fey
Sally Field
Jane Fonda
Megan Fox
Janeane Garofalo
Danny Glover
Whoopi Goldberg
Kathy Griffin
Tom Hanks
Woody Harrelson
Dustin Hoffman
Scarlett Johansson (Man I hate that she's on this list!)
Samuel L. Jackson
Ashley Judd
Val Kilmer
Kris Kristofferson
Jennifer Lawrence
Spike Lee
Jennifer Lopez
Bill Maher
Barry Manilow
Paul McCartney
John Mellencamp
Bette Midler
Jay Mohr
Michael Moore
Liam Neeson
Chris Noth
Bill Nye
Rosie O'Donnell
Keith Olbermann
Gwyneth Paltrow
Sean Penn
Rob Reiner
Tim Robbins
Alan Rosenberg
Tim Roth
Linda Ronstadt
Susan Sarandon
Jerry Seinfeld
Martin Sheen
Sarah Silverman
Bruce Springsteen
Martha Stewart
Ben Stiller
Oliver Stone
Barbra Streisand
Wanda Sykes
Gore Vidal (Assumed ambient temperature.)
Kanye West
Oprah Winfrey
Henry (The Fonz) Winkler

31 August 2017

HOME, James!

I'll take all bets.
It's pretty much inevitable.
In ten years, most people will NOT be driving their own cars.
Here's my thought process-

Our new Taurus can parallel park itself.
When it rains, the wipers turn themselves on.
The headlights dim and brighten themselves as cars approach at night.

Try to lock the doors with your keys in the car, "The Bull" scolds you with two beeps of the horn and WILL NOT comply with your security request.
Approach another vehicle at too great a speed and a band of red lights flashes across the windshield while an annoying alarm loudly sounds. If you don't react, the car applies its own brakes.
I'll insist the cruise control system on this thing is one of the greatest inventions of man...
Set the minimum distance you want to follow a car. In traffic, the system will slow as you approach a car, then, when you pull out into the passing lane, it accelerates once again to the speed you designated. (No clicking on and off of the cruise control system.) Amazing.
The Taurus also warns you when you begin to test the limits of your traffic lane. Approach the right or left limits and the steering wheel shakes. Do it too many times in a short period of time and a "coffee cup" appears in the warning segment of your instrument panel with a "rest may be necessary" comment... the damn car is nagging me!
And there are many things it does that you don't even realize while you drive... take a corner a little too quickly and it transfers power from outside wheels to inside to prevent a skid.

We've all read about "autonomous" cars.
Computers drive them. You simply get in and tell the thing where you want to go.
I think they'll be PERFECT for major city driving. Folks there won't even need to own their own car-
Just call for one to show up at your door at a certain time and direct it to take you to your destination.
You own no car, no insurance, no maintenance expenses, and no need to worry about the stack of "stuff" you have to move around in the garage to make room so you can park.
How do you feel about this future?

I don't like it at all.
I'm an enthusiast.
I have driven fast cars and motorcycles much of my life. I revel in the feeling of "turning into the skid" when I have applied so much power the rear wheels have broken loose and I have to correct the steering to keep the car headed in the direction I want... and having done it successfully, find myself pressed against my seat with a smile on my face.
But that's wasteful. And it's DANGEROUS too, isn't it?
Yeah, and that's the point.

Autonomous cars will be demanded by the public for that reason.
Computers don't make errors. Humans do. For "the public good", people will demand we drive them.
Those of us that want to be in control of our own vehicles will be scorned, shunned, and charged exorbitant prices until we see the error of our ways.
No more human errors.
No more loss of human life because of texting, drowsiness, or driving under the influence of... whatever.
It's coming, and I'm pretty sure we can't do a damn thing to stop it.

But remember this:
"Open the bay door, HAL."
"I CAN'T do that, Dave."

28 August 2017

Yeah... Again.

What a revelation. Two years ago, while Sara Jean and I were in Destin, I bought a "Run to Wally World" machine... a  well-used 50cc "Tao Tao" Chinese scooter with a "Top Case", and a top speed of 35 mph and more storage space than you can imagine unless you've actually seen it.
Expert bikers, (I'm NOT one), have a saying...
"It's more fun to ride a slow bike fast, than to ride a fast bike slow."
I had an absolute BALL riding that little 50cc machine!

But with a 35 mph top speed I couldn't ride it from Destin to Ft. Walton Beach on the highway...
There was a definite possibility of getting run over, and a near assurance of John Law taking offense that I'd be holding up traffic.
I needed a faster machine.

On a lark, I stopped at a place that rented scooters and asked, "Got anything in the 150cc range?"
The owner gave me the "follow me" finger, and took a tarp off a used Piaggio MP3 250cc.
"Take it for a spin" says he.
And I was hooked. The price was right. I bought it the next day.

I've now had that machine 19 months. It goes 80 miles per hour if necessary, (not with me on it!), and gets about 80 miles per gallon of regular unleaded. (Oddly, it does NOT have the room the 50cc scooter had beneath the seat!)
My only complaint with the thing?
When Sara Jean is on the "bike" with me, we're crowded and uncomfortable.
I love much about this stupid thing... it attracts attention wherever we go. It goes more than fast enough, has plenty of room, and keeps me from having to start a four-wheel vehicle to go get a gallon of milk.
So I started a search.There's a 500cc version. The machine is bigger, not only in engine size. The seat is a full inch longer, which I think will make all the difference in the world when we are two-up.

So I bought one.
It's enroute to our home as I write this, and should be here in just over a day.
We're both excited about it.

Now, the question:
There are six bikes in my "Hangar" and one being used by my son in Phoenix.
This machine will take the place of several of them.
Which do I now sell?

Some folks on "real" motorcycles look down their noses at scooters.
I ain't one of  'em.
This thing is a GREAT tool, (and will outrun most of 'em up to 60 mph!)

11 August 2017

Alternate History...

While watching historic movies of WW1 and WW2, the thought often comes to mind...
What kind of world would we now be living in if Germany and Japan, instead of spending all their monetary and human treasure on waging war, had simply devoted their efforts to making the products they make today... Hondas, BMWs, Lexus's, and Mercedes Benz's?

Germany's major cities were totally destroyed and had to be rebuilt before they could re-industrialize.
Japan's major cities also felt the sting, and LOTS of money had to be spent rebuilding.
What if that money, spent on waging war, then rebuilding infrastructure,  had, instead, been spent on producing quality product to sell to the world?
Would "Made in China" now be stamped on the base of all the products being sold in WalMart?

Seems to me a REAL leader should be out there asking that question today...
"Do you really want to go down this road? Wouldn't it be better to spend your currency feeding your people and making your country stronger?"

I don't see any leader asking these questions.

Someone should.

10 August 2017

I Refuse!

I will not sit idly and be a slave. 
I will not allow my family to be abused. 
Prisons can only function with the cooperation of the imprisoned. 
The Jews in Germany walked calmly into the train cars, then into the chambers. 
Germans ALLOWED their country to become a tool of  Satan.

I refuse. 
I hope you will also.
Together we can change the world.

22 July 2017

"War And Peace, (A Love Story)"

(This actually posted by accident earlier this morning. Sorry Ed! Comment again if you're so moved.)

Sara Jean is in Chicago. I wasn't at all sure she'd be interested in watching my 3.5 hour recording of Tolstoy's "War and Peace," so this weekend was an opportune time to watch it all by my lonesome.
It wasn't at all what I expected.
Henry Fonda, at age 50 or so was miscast as a 20-something pacifist.
Audrey Hepburn once again proved that you don't have to have "big parts" to be one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.
Well known for her big parts, Anita Ekberg has a pretty big part in the flick. I've always had a "thing" for Anita... she certainly IS eye candy.
Mel Ferrer and Herbert Lom  also have starring roles.

I've always been interested in Napoleon's DISASTROUS retreat from Moscow in the Winter of 1812, and the fact that Hitler learned NOTHING from that history. I hoped the movie would devote some attention to that story, and it does. BUT, surprisingly, I was very surprised to find how much of a "Chick Flick" this also is. There are several loves stories going on in the background as battles between the French and Russians unfold.

Ferrer's character at one point has a conversation with Fonda's character which struck me:
"War is the most horrible thing in life. If it were in my power I would not take one prisoner. The French are my enemies. They destroyed my home, caused my Father's death, exiled my Sister and my child. Now they hope to destroy Moscow. Why take prisoners? That's PLAYING at war. Take no prisoners. Kill and be killed. If there were none of this playing at war, we would go to war only when it was worthwhile going to certain death as now."

Is there a way to make war so horrible that man won't consider playing the game?
I wish it was so.
But watching the Palestinians and Israelis play at it says it ain't.
The Northern Irish and British also were at one another's throats for years, and neither cried "Uncle".
(And both those conflicts have/had their basis in religion! So much for "Love thy neighbor, huh?)

The movie IS long. But if you, like me, are a fan of the actors, even at 3+ hours, it's worth your time.
I give it 4 out of five stars.

20 July 2017

Defacing God's Handiwork

I have NEVER understood the tattoo.
Growing up, there was the infrequent "USMC" tattoo on one of my Dad's acquaintances, generally added to a bicep in someplace like Manila when the bearer was soused.
I once saw one that read "When I die I'm sure to go to heaven, 'cause I've already been to Hell."
I'll let God make that decision.

But lately I'm REALLY perplexed.
We're almost in "Illustrated Man" territory with some people.
... Take a somewhat ugly set of legs and completely cover calves with equally ugly tats.
Or, like "American Pickers", cover the chest of a reasonably attractive woman with some garish artwork.

I've had this discussion with women I'm attracted to.
Some have revealed they have a tat discretely placed where only someone VERY special will see it.
(I'm assuming this will be a tiny butterfly or rose, and that it would normally be hidden beneath undergarments... a "present" for someone fortunate enough to unwrap the package!)
That means the bearer had to expose that part of her body to the artist... (how "special" was he?)... a thought that kinda turns me off by itself.

I fear those getting tats today are being affected by a fad.
And as age comes upon them, they'll regret the pressure they felt when they went under that needle.

But that's just me.

06 July 2017

Three Dog Night

We are now doing our annual thing-
Friends are off on vacation and we are taking care of their two small dogs, both Shih Tzus. One of the two has been a guest at our house previously. We were a little worried about the other... he's a little "nervous". Last night was their first night with us this time.The dogs slept like the dead, all night long, even when my 70-yr old prostate forced me out of bed three times.But it wasn't a need to hit the John that woke me at about 3 A.M..
It was the feeling that something was crawling toward my armpit.

We had a mild Winter here in the Midwest. Mild Winters mean lotsa bugs in Spring and Summer.
It's been a bumper year for ticks. I've pulled several off Lucy already. I've even pulled two from Sara Jean's scalp. I'm lucky that I've nabbed a couple of the little suckers before they buried their heads in my flesh so far, like last night. But the rest of the night I had imaginary critters crawling over warm, tender parts of my body.

I'll be doing a VERY thorough investigation of canine bodies tonight before anyone with two, or four legs, climbs into the sack!

26 June 2017

"God Will Provide"

Forecasters predict a storm and flooding.
The man says, "God will care for me".

Civil Defense comes by in a truck to evacuate.
"God will take care of me."

Water rises. Civil Defense comes by with a boat to evacuate.
"God is in control and will protect me" says the man.

High water forces the man to the roof. A helicopter comes by tor rescue but the man refuses help-
"God will provide for me".

The man drowns and shows up at the Pearly Gates.
"Why didn't God insure my safety?"

"We warned with a forecast. We sent a truck. We sent a boat. We sent a helicopter. What part of 'God providing' do you not understand?"

Are you watching the news?
God is trying to get our attention.

22 June 2017

Space Junk

Some time ago I wrote on this subject. My concerns originated when a "fleck of paint" hit the windshield of the Space Shuttle at a closing speed of something like 17,000 miles per hour and cracked the windshield to the point that experts feared a heavier object would have compromised the Shuttle's survival in space.
Now I read this article, and it is comforting to know experts are also concerned and trying to come up with a solution to the trash heap we are building in earth's orbit.
Now all we need to do is figure out how to do the same thing with that Delaware-size pile of trash in the Pacific ocean!

God help us.

31 May 2017

The Anti-Squirrel:

This is just weird.
For about 40 years I have been squirreling away money for our retirement.
Mutual funds, Annuities, IRA's, 403b's, 401K's, traditional and Roth, and for insurance, some precious metals...
I'm a minor "expert".
I just turned 70. I'm now getting notices from a multitude of places notifying me I MUST withdraw funds in the year I turn 70-1/2 years of age or suffer a penalty. I'm submitting the necessary forms.
But "squirreling" is such a part of my life that this REALLY FEELS WEIRD.
We are blessed.
But feeling this way is a form of mental illness, isn't it?

It's time to anti-squirrel.
Santorini, here we come.

24 May 2017

Greed. Envy. Jealousy-

A quickie post, as I HAVE to get out to my disorganized "hangar" to sort out bikes, my desk, and other treasures:
I frequently wonder where Germany would be today if, instead of picking the scab that turned into World War Two, they had just continued on their path of excellence and sold the rest of the world Mercedes Benz's, BMW's, and other FABULOUS (and WAY ahead of time) technologies.
I think the entire world would have learned German because we WANTED to.

It's so simple, isn't it?
"Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door!"
So why didn't Germany follow that path?

And then I remember Cain.
He lived in the Garden of Eden and had loving parents.
And he WAS NOT satisfied.

23 May 2017


We've decided to pull the trigger on something we've wanted to do for years.
I had two "bucket list" items on my "Cruise" list-
The inland passage to Alaska, and an "Ocean to ocean" cruise through the Panama Canal.
We've now done both. (And I recommend 'em.)

Sara Jean wants to do another cruise, so I'm tryin' to figger out where I'm interested in cruisin'.
I'm a HUGE fan of the movie An Affair To Remember with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.
There's a scene in that movie that has Cary Grant hiking up the mountain in Santorini, Greece to visit his grandmother. At the top he stops to take in the view of the port below, and that scene knocked me out! I've wanted to go there ever since.

We called our travel agent today to start the process.
It just happens she herself is going to Santorini next month, so we intend to profit from her knowledge and get serious about our planning upon her return.

Any hints, prods, or warnings will be appreciated.
What was the name of that liquor they drank in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? :>)

07 May 2017

My Brother's Keeper

He was a big man...
6'2" and probably about 220 lbs.
He had been my hoochmate in Viet Nam and we got along well there.
When I got home and found him searching for a place to live I bought a place and asked if he'd like to room with me.

He was loud, brash, and unpredictable.
When he didn't come home Friday night I chalked it up to the probability he'd found someone he liked and chose to stay with them.
When he didn't come home Saturday night and hadn't called to let me know, I was mildly concerned.
By 2200 hours Sunday night, facing a normal workday Monday, I considered calling the police, then changed my mind.

Monday afternoon I came home from work to find his lemon yellow '69 Corvette parked in our drive.
I unlocked the door and entered the living room to find him watching TV with half his head wrapped in gauze and bandages.
"What the heck happened to you?!"

"I had a serious discussion with a guy at 'The Monster'. I didn't think much of it when he left on his own. When I left the bar he jumped me with a claw hammer and nearly took my left ear off."
And he wasn't kidding. The ear was hanging by a small strip of tissue and required serious expertise to reattach. The hospital kept him for a while because of the possibility of serious concussion.

Two 22-yr old single guys... prowling most weekend nights. Our unwritten rules were sort of- "you do what you do and I'll do what I do, so long as we don't foul one another's nest."
But three nights with no word at all?

I know today I'd be on the phone Sunday morning trying to find out if he was in trouble, or dead.

05 May 2017


It's inevitable.
Even during the most boring of conversations with friends and acquaintances, the fact we are trying to "hope for the best; plan for the worst" will come up.
You can probably imagine the reaction-
Some think we're just downright weird.
Some of our best friends agree with us but take the "God is in control" attitude and are leaving the future in his/her hands.
A few souls are also doing what they can to be prepared for as many permutations as possible.

Those that think we're crazy will frequently joke, "Well, if the worst happens we know where to go!"
We try to gently guide and educate them by mentioning this scenario.

We hope we ARE crazy in our thinking!

04 May 2017

Dental Sticker Shock

Yes, I know... this is my fault.
I got a thing in the mail from a reputable company offering dental insurance for my family.
There are things in life I think are too important to ignore:
Brakes and tires on your car, for instance.
Dental care is another. 

My first mistake was not shopping around for price.
I now realize I could have done much better than $60/month.
My second  was not insuring our Dentist was an "approved provider".

The policy indicated an annual cleaning would be fully covered after the policy had been in effect for a year.
I scheduled my cleaning 13 months after the policy's anniversary date.

The bill from the Doc came yesterday-
My dental insurance covered $100 of a three hundred dollar bill.
I was shocked and furious.
It means I paid $720 for a year's coverage, and then another $200 to have my teeth cleaned and consult with our Dentist.
Total bill for the year: $920.00 !

I called and canceled the policy.
We take good care of our mouths.
Now I'm wondering whether or not dental insurance is even worth carrying.

01 May 2017

The Baobob Tree

I believe in God.
I believe in a hereafter.
I don't understand how anyone can look at our world and not wonder "who put all this together and flipped the 'on' switch?"

This morning I had another of those wee hours awakenings with thoughts going wild.
The word "Baobob" came to mind.
Why? Who knows?
I have never seen a Baobob tree.
But I am AWARE of Baobob trees.

And that brings a question to mind...
God loves us.
We spend all our lives learning, gathering and storing information to make our lives better.
Some of that information we share with one another... (like reading my stuff here at "Pitchpull") ;).

Much of that remains stored in our brains for personal use.

What happens to that information when we die?
Does God have a vast "Library of Alexandria" where he compiles all the knowledge we have accumulated?

For me, death is not something to be feared.
It's a new adventure that may be more wonderful than we can imagine.

09 April 2017

Trying To Be Safe

At some point a few years back my love of bein' up on two wheels rubbed off on my son.
He changed jobs, and found himself driving from Casa Grande, AZ into Phoenix daily.
After he got his motorcycle license, to help him save gas and money I gave him my old BMW R80RT. One of the reasons I gave him this old, reliable motorcycle was my hope that he'd learn minimal tinkering on the machine-
Change/check oil. Keep sparkplugs clean. Gap the points now and then. Keep an eye on the tires.He's never had any curiosity about how machines other than computers work, and it was my hope he'd learn from this grand old bike.

His relationship with the old Boxer didn't go well.
After a particularly harrowing breakdown on I-10 on a 115 degree day I decided he needed newer, less "needs tinkering" equipment. I loaded my Suzuki SV650 up, drove to PHX, and traded him for the BMW.
Electronic ignition. Disc brakes front and rear. Nothin' much to tinker with except checking/changing the oil and the chain, which I showed him how to keep adjusted and lubricated.

He had the Suzuki a year when we returned to visit him. I took the bike for a spin around the block and found the chain in such bad shape I feared it would break, jam itself against the engine case, and spit me off like a buckin' bronco.
Chains are better today than they've ever been, but under extreme conditions they're still not foolproof.
We sold the Suzuki.
He needed something "chain-less".

I had been looking at adventure bikes.
The BMW GS1200 was getting raves from all the experts. But WOW, at $20,000+ optioned the way I wanted it, a new (no tinkering necessary) one was economically impossible. I started watching for a used one at the local AZ BMW dealership.
A salesman there quizzed me about what I wanted and how the bike would be used.
"Have you considered the Yamaha Super Tenere?"
This was in January. He'd had one sitting on the showroom a few months and wanted to move it.
This one was the "E" model with all the bells and whistles:
Side (hard) bags. Top case. ABS brakes. Traction control. Cruise control. Electronic ignition.
He made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
Did I mention this bike also had a drive shaft instead of a chain?

I've always been leery of the first few miles on a new motorcycle
I was INSTANTLY comfortable on this machine.
Thankfully, so was my son.

He got tired of being gouged by the dealer when he took the bike to them for routine checkups.
"Dad, will you show me how to change the oil and filter?"
I bought the filter from Amazon. The motorcycle specific oil (to protect the wet clutch) was purchased at Autozone. YouTube was a comfort showing us there was not one but TWO places to drain the oil on this bike.
I pointed while he did the work. When the job was done his comment was-
"Is that all there is to that?!!"
He'd been paying the Yamaha dealership over $300 to do the routine checkup.

In my old age I'm getting lazy.
I like all the bells and whistles.
And I REALLY like a machine without a chain.
It's so easy these days to buy something with either a belt or shaft drive.

It's enough of a worry just thinking about my boy driving in Phoenix's rush hour traffic.
Giving him the safest bike possible reduces his parents' worry level.

05 April 2017

Destin, 2016-'17

I'll pack the scooter in the truck, then stuff every nook and cranny around it Sunday. Yes, I'm worried it will all fit... we've been here since October, and in the three trips we've made to our real home we have brought more "stuff" down to make life better here.
Thank God for an extended cab truck and heavy duty garbage bags! We've learned to double-bag weather threatened stuff going into the bed, and wrap duct tape around those to keep wind from fatiguing the plastic... that works fine for our drive home.

We've had a pretty extraordinary Winter; our fourth spent at least partially in Destin.
Less rain here than in previous years, of course we watch the weather at home and compare what we're experiencing with what our neighbors are "suffering" through.
Weather back home has also been mild... we've been about 10 degrees warmer most of the time in Destin. Several times we've wondered if the premium cost has been worth it, then thought about eating fish caught in the ocean yesterday...
Yes, it's been worth it!

Forty+ trees on our property back North... inevitably it takes us several days to straighten up our yard there. Thank God there's no burn ban where we live. We just drag branches back by the pond and light 'em up. It's a good excuse to get reacquainted with neighbors with weiners, marshmallows, and beer when the bed of coals settle down.

The world is a mess.
But our little corner of it looks pretty good.
It's my hope you ALSO can look around at what's happening in your life, and

23 March 2017

(%#!+&$* !

My cell phone just rang.
I don't recognize the number displayed, but decide to answer anyway-
"This is Greybeard".
Female voice- "Hello?"
I don't respond. (I've been here before... all too often lately.)

"Oh! (Giggles.) I'm sorry! I was having trouble with my headset."
At this point I begin to attempt conversation, but the person(?) on the other end of the line just continues rapidly with her sales speil. (Spell check says "speil" is misspelled.)

I hang up, irritated, and once again wish I could just flush the cell phone down the commode.

Too often these days I envy Thoreau.

22 March 2017

The Surprises at 70:

Are skin tags like mushrooms?
Where do these age spots come from?
I still have a full head of hair. What happened to my "hairy" legs?
My hearing is failing.
I can no longer read road signs from half a mile away.
Two, (sometimes three) trips to the bathroom are necessary after going to bed.
When I get up for a bathroom break during the wee hours, I toddle like a Weeble, (but I don't fall down).
It is MUCH easier to determine who makes your life better, and who simply complicates things. (I'd rather have four quarters than 10 dimes.)

In today's political climate I'll paraphrase a quote from my Mother...
"I'm glad I'm 70."

20 March 2017

The Lottery

In the old joke, Abe cries out-
"Lord! Why is it you never let me win the lottery?"
A week transpires and Abe doesn't win, so again he cries out-
"Lord, I'm a good Jew! Why do you not let me win?"
Another week goes by and Abe doesn't get a notification of winnings.
Once again he cries to the Lord-
"Father, I'm a good Jew. I always keep Kosher. If you let me win I promise to do wonderful things with the money!"
At this point Abe hears a tremendous voice from above-
"Abe... go buy a ticket!"

Up 'til recently I've only been interested in the lottery when the possible winnings started making the news... $443 million in one case as I recall.
But this Winter here in Destin the Convenience Store that sells Sunday newspapers and lottery tickets is EXACTLY one mile from us... a perfect round-trip walk for two folks needing an excuse to exercise, (and desperately needing that exercise)!

So, twice a week on our walk, we donate a buck to Florida's education fund and take home a lottery ticket. We buy just ONE ticket.
Our son ridiculed us...
"You realize you have NO chance of winning don't you?"
Of course.
And that's the reason we buy only ONE ticket...
We know that buying two tickets would not double our chances of winning million$.

But, twice a week we take our single ticket in hand and go to Flalottery.com and anxiously check to see if we are big winners. The entertainment value of checking our numbers against the numbers listed there is WELL worth the two bucks a week!

Last week our ticket matched three numbers, good for $5 in cash.
I used that five bucks to buy a ticket for Wednesday night's drawing, and pocketed $4 to buy future (sure winning) tickets.

"Lord, if you let us win we promise to use that money to do great things in your name!" :>)

13 March 2017


I don't feel like writing.
I can't explain it... maybe I'm in "Don Quixote" mode... feeling it's a total waste of time?
I have stuff that "wants to come out", but the motivation just ain't there.

I'm fine though...
Putting miles on the Piaggio MP3.

14 January 2017


If you are a "motorcycle" guy, you may look down your nose at the above machine.
It definitely ain't "macho". But now, from experience, I can tell you that most who will look askance at this machine have never owned one... likely have never ridden one. To me, anyone riding any machine with less than four wheels is part of the fraternity of bikers. When I'm on my Valkyrie, Scooter riders are frequently surprised when I give them the two finger acknowledgement because I'm one of the few folks riding a big bike to do that.
But I also have a scooter, and know how neat they are.

Our Scooter's engine displaces 250cc's. It will approach 85 mph, so we feel no danger of being run over by traffic, even on the Interstate highway.
Last summer we rode it around Smokey Mountain National Park and subjected it, "two-up", to some serious elevation changes. It is fuel injected. It performed perfectly.

I used to think CVT transmissions were for sissies.
No more. On more than a few occasions I have found myself in a position where, on a steep hill with a standard transmission, if I had selected the wrong gear and had to pull in the clutch  and make a quick gear change, I might have found myself looking like Arte Johnson on his trike on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in".
The CVT transmission is ALWAYS in the gear that will produce power at the peak torque curve.

The storage space on our little machine is more than adequate for jaunts to the grocery. Yeah, if we need a 24-pack of water, we have to take the cage. But that only happens once every couple weeks.
Otherwise, the car stays parked and waiting.

On a quick trip to the U.S. Post Office today I ran into a couple riding the machine pictured above.
It's Piaggio's 70th Anniversary homage to the first Vespas they produced.
Storage on that machine is limited to what you can put in that bag at the rear of the machine.
But to a guy my age, who grew up watching the original Vespas zipping around our neighborhood, it is BEAUTIFUL.
They admired my three-wheel machine. I admired their beautiful, "somewhat practical" work of art.
We chatted for about 15 minutes, then all mounted and rode away with smiles on our faces.

Preserve "The Wave"!