Monday, December 17, 2012

Conversations, A Book Review

Jack Riepe impresses me all the time with the quality of his writing. I remember laughing very hard at one the first stories I ever read by him. If you've ever read much of his blog , "Twisted Roads", then I'm sure you know what I am talking about.

I was lucky to get an early copy (#117 of 200) of his book, "Conversations With A Motorcycle". It arrived in a brown paper wrapper, the intention of which was most likely to protect the innocent. Probably a good idea.

I opened the package with a little bit of trepidation, wondering what I would find inside. Because Jack wrote it, I expected it to be good.

And it was! Very Good!

Now, because of the name, you might assume that the book is about a person, possibly a little bit crazy, engaged in oral discourse with his motorcycle, an inanimate object not actually capable of the spoken word. And there's some of that in there. Turns out that the Kawasaki might just be the smartest character in the book.

And you might assume that the book is about motorcycles. And it is, in part.

And since Jack wrote it, it would be pretty safe to conclude that there might be a lot of references to pillion riders, hot women, cigars, adolescent male fantasies and various forms of debauchery that we all know that Jack can be capable of. And you'd be right about that too.

But you might not expect to see Pirsig-like statements of motorcycle philosophy. And yet it's there, and it's accurate and thoughtful and poignant and, yes, even romantic.

Jack is a master at description. At one point he is describing a ride in some fog, then stopping the Kawasaki and shutting off the engine. I could picture in my mind exactly what he was describing. I was right there with him experiencing the same sensations of silence in the fog only interrupted by the ticking noise of the metal in the engine as it cooled.

Then there was the description of emotions of being jilted by a woman, accidentally running into her and her new boyfriend a few days later, wanting to beat the crap out of him, all the while knowing that an altercation could only end badly. Again, the reader is right there, sucked into the moment.

But I don't think I need to say a lot more. I just want to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to anybody, particularly those people of a motorcycle type of persuasion.

You need to get yourself a copy. Look for what I described in this review. In particular, I suggest you find "Riepe's 1st and 2nd Principles of Moto Aggravation".

This book did not disappoint!

I give it 5 Stars out of 5!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Walking, Reading & Thinking (maybe not simultaneously)

It was a good day to walk. Maybe a bit chilly, but not bad. And you know what happens when I am walking. I usually do some thinking. And today I was even thinking about Reading (while walking).

The sun had just risen making for an extra long shadow.

Remember Pirsig?  Sure you do

Well I ran across a news article about him recently. Here's the link.

Seems that Pirsig (now 84 years old) is due to receive an honorary doctorate from Montana State University. I think that's pretty nice. Not sure what you might think of his famous book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", but it sure is an interesting read. To me, parts of the book are sort of strange, other parts absolutely fantastic.

It has been a couple of years since I have read the book. I know many people that say they read it every couple of years or so, just to remind themselves of .....  well, whatever important ideas they see in the book, which seems to vary from person to person. (Thinking I might need to pull it off the shelf and re-read it)

I've been reading a lot this year. Lots of longer books also. I re-read "The Hobbitt" and Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I had looked at a BBC top 100 list and picked out a few books from that list including Pullman's "His Dark Materials" (also a trilogy) and some others. I also looked at a Sci-Fi top 100 list and am currently reading "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card.

But a new reading task has presented itself to me, that being Jack Riepe's new Book "Conversations With a Motorcycle"

Picture borrowed (stolen)  from the "Twisted Roads" website. Think Jack will mind?

I feel a book report coming on soon. I received my copy over the last weekend and have read just a few pages so far. But, so far,  I like what I see very much and am anxious to read more. So look for a review to come up in this blog soon.

Ahhh, Technology. I used to have  a "Nook", that Barnes and Noble E-Reader. But it died a painful death a while back, so I have resorted to downloading the Barnes and Noble App to my iPhone and been reading some of my books on the iPhone. It's a little small, but very doable. I also recently received a Kindle book as a gift, so I downloaded the Kindle App to the iPhone and been reading from that App also.

Remember when books were books? Well, I haven't totally abandoned the print version. My copy of Tolkien is on paper. And Jack's new book is in paper form. I don't mind an actual book as opposed to an E-Reader. There's another book I have been wanting to read, but haven't yet simply because it doesn't come in an E-book format. I guess I will have to just buy the paper copy, or get it from the local library, but I doubt they will have it. Sometimes getting the book in E-book format is just really very easy. I probably haven't physically stepped into the local Barnes and Noble store in almost a year.

So anyway, that is some of what I was thinking about this morning as I walked. Last week I rode Max to work on 3 of the 5 days. This week, I'll get some riding in as well, but today I felt the urge to walk.
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends.

Friday, November 30, 2012

You're Not Gonna Believe This

What a close friend did for (to) me on my birthday.

Just Click on this link:

Jimbo Doing Gangnam Style
Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Cold Ride, The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff and a Right Wing Prius

Okay, so I put in all the liners in my jacket and pants this morning. I had been putting this off and with the recent relatively warm weather (Hell, it is almost December), I had been able to survive on the bike without all that extra gear. But this week has been colder, in fact the overnight lows had been in the 20's (wind chills in the teens) and I admit to having wimped out a couple of days on riding to work.

Now I have often thought of myself as a "Rounder" (a year round rider) and unless it is really cold (by my definition, single digits and below), the cold weather doesn't usually stop me from riding.  This morning the temperature was below freezing, but just barely and  it was sunny with almost no wind. Very nice! But I did take more precautions against the cold. I got out the fleece glove liners and even the nylon balaclava. Both liners in my pants and the fleece liner in my jacket. Max started right up like it was any other day. I think he actually likes the cold weather.
The winter gloves with the liners next to my Ride To Work bandana.

And I took out onto the street fighting a bit of fog in my visor, not bad, just a bit annoying. But I had this nagging feeling that I had forgotten something. With all the extra stuff I did this morning to get ready for the ride I knew it was likely that I would forget something, but at that moment I couldn't figure out what it was, and maybe it was nothing anyway.

At one of the first stop light intersections I pulled up behind this little Dodge something or other with a frosty back window. I thought to myself, Fantastic, Not only do I have to watch out for and fight people trying to talk and text on their cell phones, but now I have to watch out for people who are too damn lazy to even scrape off their windows. Oh well, I try a zen moment to calm myself, after all this is is supposed to be fun, and it really is.

And just next to the Dodge was a Prius. And the only reason I noticed it was because of the bumper stickers on it, one of which I couldn't read very well (small print), but the other was a "Fair Tax" sticker. Now it is never safe to generalize about anything and people will always surprise me but I was struck by what appeared to me to be a sort of incongruity between the concept of a Prius and the concept of the "Fair Tax". What I was thinking was that it might be more common for a Prius to be driven by a quote "liberal" person, you know, someone that believes in global warming, wants to save the planet by not using too much in the way of fossil fuels, etc. And then to see a "Fair Tax" sticker which I would associate to someone with more of a right wing sort of conservative bend to their political beliefs. Well it just seemed a bit odd. Probably just me.

Then, as it were, the Prius and I seemed to kind of parallel each other down the street on the way downtown. At some stop lights I would arrive first, at others the Prius would get there first. It was a woman driving the car, but I could never seem to get her to look over at me, she always faced away. (Bitch!?) Then I was thinking, "Okay, who is really trying to save the environment here today?" You in that Prius, at times traveling silently, but probably getting maybe 45 mpg as you move along toward your destination. Or me! Having a blast on my Taiwanese scooter, in cold weather to boot, but probably doing about 75 mpg.

Huh?!   Who's the Environmentalist Now?!

Then I take another deep breath. (Ommmm)

I remembered listening to NPR as I shaved this morning and they were interviewing various people talking about the upcoming "Fiscal Cliff". Now I remind you that I am a tax accountant. I am very aware of the changes that will or will not happen at the end of the year this year. I even spoke at about 15 little mini-seminars about this very subject. And you know what? In my humble opinion, all the politicians are crazy and don't have a clue. Most of them have no business calling themselves statesmen and I really would not be surprised that we just end up careening off the end of the cliff because the silly bastards won't have the guts to do anything about it. And you know what else?!

The world will not end!
Generalissimo Francisco Franco will still be dead!
The Kansas City Chiefs will still Suck!
And I will still try and ride to work on a mostly year round basis.

So There!


Oh, the things I think about as I ride to work some days.

And as I arrived at the parking garage this morning and was taking off my helmet and gloves, one of the people who work for the parking lot company saw me and yelled at me about it being "Pretty cold to ride a scooter on a day like today".

I said, "Naah! It's a great day to Ride!"

And it was! And it will be this afternoon when the temperatures are expected to be in the 50's. I might even get hot with all those liners being used.

And then I remembered that nagging thought that I had forgotten this morning. And I realized it was my office keys that I had forgotten. Oh well.....
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Something I Have Been Eyeing, (Just For Fun)

I think this is a pretty cool looking bike.

750cc is a nice size, Don'tcha Think?

The 2013 V7 Stone

Courtesy of the Moto Guzzi Website
Drool, Drool?
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Really Matters

Ran across an article in the paper that gave a pause for some thought. Part of what surprised me was the depth of the article. What also surprised me was the author of the article, a person that I wasn't sure had the capability of such deep and thoughtful expression.

The author is a recently retired columnist from our local newspaper. She was a fashion and society columnist and her writings were lighthearted and fun for the most part. She was considered a bit silly by many people, not exactly known for her serious nature. Some people didn't think a lot of her writings, but I generally enjoyed her column just because it was unique and fun.

She had an essay in the paper today and the subject was surprising to me. The sub title was:

"Why can't we, all of us, remember that every day is precious?"

It seems that the author had been recently corresponding by email with a longtime friend. The friend's husband had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The author was troubled with how to respond appropriately and express her sympathy, concern, etc. The author was surprised and impressed by what her friend had expressed about their situation and her husband's terminal illness.

Her friend said, " Currently we are living life at full speed and greedily taking the time for ourselves. We accept the timeline given to us, but we will not accept the slipping away of life without living." Every day is now precious to them and their love with each other has been reignited.

What about those days, when you don't feel very well or it seems like many things have gone wrong? It's easy to fall in bed after a bad day and think " Thank goodness this day is over!" On the contrary, how hard it is, after the same type of day, to fall in bed and say "Thank goodness I had this day, and I can start again with a new day tomorrow!"

The timing of reading this column was a bit ironic to me. Yesterday had been a frustrating day. I was dead tired when I went to bed last night. It wasn't a totally awful day, I was able to get a few things accomplished, but I wanted to get a lot more done. In my frustration I became angry and lashed out verbally a few times. I admit thinking that I was glad the day was over as I literally collapsed into my bed last night.

I know, it's just an attitude. The desire to remain positive is obviously desirable, but frequently difficult. And as many of us know, when faced with health issues that can be frustrating, sometimes that positive attitude is elusive.

I was glad I saw this column in the paper this morning. It helped. I have a new respect for the author. She obviously "gets it".
How about it?
How about some life at full speed! (Or Full Throttle!)
Sounds good to me!
How about you?
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends!

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Far East Can I Go? Perhaps New Jersey?

I have to admit that as I rode this morning, at least a few of my thoughts were about our "Twisted Roads" friend in New Jersey. Having experienced a close call to a natural disaster in my lifetime (Topeka tornado 6/8/66), I know what it is like to have a little fear. We are glad Jack is okay and probably bitching up a storm of his own. But I was thinking about Hurricane Sandy this morning. I was also thinking about Jack's new book, which was ordered but not yet received, and was supposedly on its way. I feel a book report is coming on.

Like lots of times I took off with a sort of preconceived idea of where I wanted to ride this morning only to change my mind shortly after leaving the house. I hadn't been riding the bicycle much lately due to a very sore shoulder and neck from a slightly out of place and inflamed spinal cord disc. Riding the bicycle sort of aggravates the problem, but it was much better and a ride sounded like a good idea. Plus I needed the exercise.

I have written about this abandoned rail road line before. It has been converted to a jogging/bicycling path. It starts very near downtown Wichita and heads mostly east but also a little northeast from town. I heard you can ride a long way, but wasn't sure how far. Also the riding is rather tough because the path is rough consisting mostly of large pieces of gravel. I decided to hit the trail with the intention of seeing something new today.

I had not been any farther east on this trail than just the other side of this bridge where an interstate highway crosses over the path. I wondered how far I could go.

It was a beautiful morning, about 50 degrees, but very sunny and almost no wind. Ideal conditions. I was only slightly bundled up in a warm outfit and was sweating a bit very soon after leaving the house. I can catch this trail about a mile from home so I headed that way. I stopped to take a few pictures while wondering how far I could take the trail. One problem is that it is pretty much an up and back trail. I would have to come back mostly the same way. Also because the trail is rough, the going would be slower than usual.

Looking east on a Sunday morning, the view is a bit rustic, even a bit lonely, but very pretty, quiet and  peaceful. The sounds of the mountain bike tires on the gravel is most of what you hear.

There were times when I noticed how isolated it was on this trail. I encountered maybe 3 joggers all morning and no other bicyclists. Some housing developments back up to the trail where I could see the back yards of some fairly nice homes. Then a little way down the road it would just be farm fields by the side of the road. I thought about what it would have been like to ride a train on this line. I'm sure this was mostly a freight line, not a passenger line.

I wondered about what would happen if something happened to me. How long it might take for someone to find me. Should I carry some protection? They have a new firearms carry law in Oklahoma. Not exactly a comforting thought, but what the hell, This is Kansas! How dangerous can it be?

Occasionally the rail path would cross over a stream or a creek as I rode eastward. The scenery would change a bit. Oh, the scenery isn't what you would call fantastic, but it sure was a nice day. A good day to be out absorbing some vitamin D and feeling the sun beat on you a bit. Isn't that part of the point?

There's a little drop off on the side of the path here. Lots of trees and lots of leaves.

The sounds were mostly very quiet type sounds. My breathing was noticeable. The sounds of the tires on the gravel was the noisiest sound to be heard. I would say hello to the occasional jogger and usually, but not always, got a kind response. I thought about many things as I rode along.

At one point I stopped to take a picture and heard this unbelievable racket of birds above me. They must have been discussing the upcoming election. It was obvious they were not all in agreement.

I quickly realized that it was taking me much more time to get anywhere fast and when I reached the county line road to enter Butler county, I decided that I would turn back to Wichita. All in all I probably didn't broaden my experience in this easterly direction by but a few more miles, but that was only part of the point.

You could say that at this stage in my life, everyday that I can experience something as enjoyable as this is pretty important.

At my turn around point I encountered this sign, obviously decorated by some sort of small town hoodlum.

Eventually hunger controlled my thoughts and I headed back to town to see what the other family members might have on their minds for lunch time activities. I had worked up a bit of an appetite.

Lunch was the new priority. I'll check out more points eastward on this trail another day.
Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts While Giving a Final Exam

I had suspended my teaching activities for awhile after I became a Cyborg. Just too many things going on. Had to let loose of a few of them. But this year I decided to try it again and as I am writing this, my students are taking an Auditing Final Exam.

They are working very diligently. (I am goofing off, blogging, dontcha know)

Recently it has been difficult to ride with much regularity. Work has been busy and I have been doing some speaking engagements that has required the use of the automobile to get around. Teaching has also complicated the issue.

But this is the last night for the class, and my speaking engagements are winding down. So hopefully back to riding some more. I missed a beautiful day for riding today. Cool this morning, temperature about 40, but sunny and 75 this afternoon. Damn!

My speaking engagements have been about changes in tax laws (many changes this year, very many). Sounds pretty boring, and it is, but the response from clients and others has been very strong. But, indirectly, the speaking has also been about politics, and there, I have to be a little careful. Clients run the gamut of liberal vs conservative. I try and walk the line and not offend anyone. All are entitled to their opinions, just so long as they don't get nasty with each other. After all, we are all Americans, Right?

In Kansas, we don't get to see all the television ads. The race is pretty well decided and has been for a long time. That's good, I suppose. But I sure wish some of the so-called statesmen at the federal level would get off their dead asses and figure a few things out rather than just bitch and argue with each other.

I was thinking about my generation earlier today. How we are leaving an incredible legacy of debt to our children, something our forefathers didn't do to us. It's embarrassing to me, and the politicians just seem to gloss over it and not do anything constructive about it.

Reminds me of a song by Sting

"You could say I've lost my faith in the politicians
They all seem like Game Show Hosts to me"
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I wish I would have....

The early morning television weatherman said it was about 40 degrees at 6:30 am when I got up to feed the dogs.

The "Weatherbug" app on my iPhone said it was 42 degrees when I arrived at work (about 8:30am). Not unbearably cold at all, but probably the coldest ride in to downtown Wichita that I had experienced yet this Fall.

I wish I had gotten out the warmer gloves. No, dummy me, I still had the Aerostich Hot Weather Vegans in the top case. I know where my other gloves are, but just didn't take the time to dig them out. My summer gloves are mightily perforated and not worth a damn in cold weather, but, well you know, they are my favorite gloves, and....  Not to worry, fingers a little cool when I arrived downtown, but tolerable for a 15 minute ride.

I wish that I had grabbed my balaclava on the way out the door. Oh, it wasn't bad, but my neck got chilly on the way in. I had at least remembered to close up the vents on my helmet after the last time I had ridden. Gotta be proud of myself for that. I actually have a new (last year) balaclava that I haven't yet worn while riding. I'm not actually sure it will fit because my helmet fits pretty tightly. But it would definitely keep my neck warmer. I have another older balaclava that I have ridden with many times. It is nylon and fits fine in the helmet, but it's sort of an obnoxious blue/purple color. Just not the image I want to convey. Oh, the vanity of it all.

I didn't put the heavy liner in my pants, and I can't really say I wish I had. I was plenty warm in the leg department. If it had been a longer ride, I would have put the liner in.

I also didn't put the heavy liner in my denim jacket, nor, again, would I have wished that I had done so. Just didn't need it. Again, though, if it had been a longer ride......

I had my boots on. My laptop was bungeed to the seat in front of the topcase, but just behind my butt as I rode. Nothing on the "Man Bag Hook", but plan to stop by a couple of stores on the way home this evening for a few groceries. Will need the hook then.

I think Max likes running in cooler weather. He started and ran flawlessly, without a hitch, like he usually does.

Expecting the temperature to be in the upper 60's for the ride home. Ought to be a glorious experience.

I wish every day could be like today!
Ride on, and Carpe Diem, my friends,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Much Needed Mental Health Ride

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who used to ride a lot, but doesn't anymore. He has a very fine old BMW  motorcycle (1970's vintage) just sitting in his garage gathering dust. I've coveted that bike a bit, but it would be a "project".

At any rate, he asked me if I had been riding much. He knew I hadn't ridden much for a year or so after my heart problems developed last year. I said I had been riding some, but not much, and not near as much as I would like to, but...

We've been really friggin' busy lately, both at work and at home. I hadn't even been commuting on Max to work very often. Last week the weather didn't cooperate on some days, but there were other days I just needed the car for one reason or another.

But the point is, I needed to ride. Bad! And today was the day. Ne need for the car. No big appointments with clients. Hell. I might even take the afternoon off! And go for a ride! No fixed destination! Just Ride! Go ahead and burn some gasoline!

I tell friends that riding is a form of mental therapy for me. It renews me. It makes me forget about problems. It is hugely meaningful to me. And when I don't get enough of it, well, things just sometimes don't go right. I get cranky! Bitchy! I throw things! I curse!

But when I turn the key and hear that engine come to life, well, you know, you get a little smile on your face, and you start thinking about more fun things. Things like just noticing the weather a little bit. 47 degrees this morning. Thought about switching to a heavier glove, but just thought about it and didn't pull the heavier ones out from storage. (Now just where did I put them?).

The vents were still open on my helmet. At 40 mph the breeze on portions of my chin and head were noticeably "cool". The denim jacket was plenty warm, no problem there. Feet and hands just fine. But I really like riding in this kind of temperature. It is just cool enough to be invigorating and keep you awake. But you don't sweat.

But best of all....
I didn't think about the tasks that awaited me at work,
I didn't think about the do it yourself projects we have going on at the house,
I didn't think about changes in tax laws,
I didn't think about the problems with my heart, (even though I'm doing much better, physically),
I didn't think about the upcoming elections (One of those silly dudes is going to win, unfortunately!?),
I didn't think about global warming (One of my neighbors thinks it is some sort of commie plot),
I didn't think about the fact that my neighbor is a moron (Okay, maybe I did),

I just rode!
And I watched the traffic!
And I followed a dude on a Vespa for a mile or so!
And I pulled up to a stoplight next to another dude on a Harley (Did his motor have to be so friggin' loud),
And I had to make a rather quick stop at another light when it turned yellow on me rather abruptly,
And I had to keep an eye on what was behind me when I made that quick stop,
And I heard some birds,
And I noticed some kids on a school bus,
And I noticed the sunlight reflecting on some of the downtown buildings,
And I noticed a building being remodeled and wondered what the new purpose of the building was,

You get the drift!

And you know what else?

There'll be more mental health benefits this afternoon!

Ride On, and Carpe Diem, my friends!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guarding Max

Against All Enemies,
Foreign and Domestic

While rounding up the dogs for an evening walk, we noticed our infamous Guard-Kitty named Mo perched upon the seat of Max. iPhone handy, I took a picture.

Now, I'm not sure why Mo deemed it necessary to place a vigilant watch on my scooter this evening, but I must say that while walking the dogs I was comforted by the fact the Max was safe and sound and under the greatest possible care.

He's quite a cat!

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends!

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Friday the 14th! You Dummy!

I swear that while at work yesterday I wrote down the date 9/12/12 at least a couple of times. So when I woke up this morning and was getting ready to go to work, I was sure today was Friday the 13th.

Now I'm not especially superstitious, but I wondered what the day would be like. Well, it didn't take my wife long to correct me on the date. Better than her letting me embarrass myself later in the day, I suppose.

It had rained yesterday, most of the day, and a cold front had come through. There were some lingering showers, but it wasn't presently raining, and the showers looked by radar to be moving off to the east.

So I decided to ride. But a change in gear was warranted. I love riding in 50 degree weather, but it calls for more than the mesh jacket I had been wearing exclusively for the past few months. So out came the denim jacket (my favorite).

Still cloudy this morning, streets a bit damp. But wonderful riding weather!

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Faith in Humanity Restored

I volunteered yesterday at a program for 5th graders at the Great Plains Nature Center. I have helped with this program for many years.

I took the non-motorized 2 wheeler, Bruiser to get there. It was a nice ride, not a long ride, because the facility is just a little over 3 miles away from my home.

The day went well. I rode home, but the return trip was not as much fun because of a very steady strong breeze from the south. So it took a little longer, and it was warm, but not altogether a bad ride at all.

I frequently use a phone app to document my riding and walking and as soon as I arrived at home, I reached into the rear crack bag to turn off the GPS app.

No Phone!


There was no phone in the usual pocket in the rear rack bag, where I usually keep it while riding.

I cursed to myself more than a few times.

I retraced my route with the car and the bicycle twice to no avail.

No phone. The thought of replacement was not very pleasant.


Someone found it!

They called one of the ICE names in my contacts list. In a short period of time, we had it back, safe and sound, not damaged and working fine.

There are good people in the world!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just One of Many Little Commutes

The Sometimes Frustrating Left Turn

As soon as I leave the driveway I need to make a left turn onto a fairly busy street. Some mornings the traffic seems to just form a big hole, like the parting of the Red Sea in the bible story, allowing me to quickly enter the flow of traffic. Other days? Not so much. Today? One of those Not So Much days.

Seemed like I was there forever. Don't want to get impatient. Can't afford to make a mistake. The collision of a motorcycle with a car or truck is a simple exercise in physics, the vehicle with more mass will always win. So I wait.
And I wait some more.
Okay, the right side of the street is opening up, maybe I can make a move. I look back left..... Well, Crap!
Wait some more.
To pass the time I adjust the mirrors a bit, even though they really didn't need it.
Geez, now it looks like just a slow steady stream of cars in both directions.
And I wait,, (thinking, what am I going to do today at work)
Okay, now it looks a little better, there's a hole in traffic developing to my left
And a hole developing to my right,
But then i  realize that the holes will not get here to my street at the same time.
Don't the traffic engineers of this city know I am trying to make this little left turn on a lot of mornings? Can't they somehow re-program the street lights a half mile away in either direction to make my life easier?
Come On? It's most every day just before or maybe a little after 8:00 am. Why? Why? Why?

Oh you get the drift

I err on the side of caution usually. I try not to be in a hurry.

As usual, eventually, I am able to enter the street and start making my way downtown.


The Frequently Annoying Foggy Visor

We had a touch of rain overnight last night. Just a touch. Officially 2/10 of an inch. Big Damn deal. I'm not complaining. We badly need the rain. And it will still be a good day to ride to work today. No rain predicted during the day today.

But the upshot was that it was pretty muggy this morning. Every time I breathed into the helmet, yeah, you guessed it, Foggy Visor. In fact a good part of the time I was waiting to make that left turn previously mentioned, I had to leave my visor partially opened. Not all the way open, but partially. And as soon as I would close it, the fog would return. At just about every intersection I encountered today where I had to stop, I had to open up the visor a bit. Not bad, just a bit annoying. Oh well, there are worse things in life.

The Surprising Water Puddle

There was a lot of traffic today. Some days are like that. I left the house this morning a little after 8:00 am. Lots of cars. I had to wait a little bit just to make a right turn at Central and Woodlawn. Usually I get right through there. At this time of year, the sun is low in the morning sky. Not a problem for me, I ride westerly in the morning, but I am cautious about drivers going the other way being able to see me sometimes. Don't take everything for granted, you know. But people seemed to be careful this morning, just lots of people.

At one intersection there was a pretty good size puddle of water from last night's rain. The streets were otherwise dry as a bone, but this one puddle was creating splashes as cars went through it. This also cause the pavement to be wet for awhile after the puddle as the cars dropped the splashes back on to the street. There was enough traffic this morning that I wasn't able to see the water puddle until just before I encountered it. No real problem, just sort of a surprise. As I rode past I wondered how long it had been since Max's tires had been wet. It's been awhile, I'm sure. Just not sure how long. But, long it had to be.

The Aggressive(?) Lane Change

The ride downtown was largely uneventful, just lots of traffic this morning. I usually just maintain my space in the flow, keeping an eye out for what is around me, front, back, left or right of me. As I approach the downtown area, it is necessary to make another left turn and ride south a few blocks to get to where I park. I can make this turn at about 3 different intersections, just depending on my whim, but I do have a favorite place to make the turn.

But this morning there was a steady stream of cars in the lane left of me and I could tell I was going to have a little difficulty just changing lanes in order to be able to make the left turn. Now this has happened before, and on rare occasions, I just let the flow of traffic take me along even if I go past my favorite street to turn on. It's no problem to go back a bit. But I could see that it was pretty tight in the lane next to me and I didn't want to move into too small of a space and freak out the other drivers, much less me.

But then a red light appeared ahead. I was going to be first in line (in the right lane), and all those other cars were in a long line in the left lane. So I decided to gun it a little when the light turned green, hopefully get far enough ahead  of the car to the left of me to enable the lane change. Now, I knew this wouldn't work if the guy to the left of me at the light was going to also take out a little fast from the red light. But he didn't. And I easily got well in front and was able to change lanes. I hope I impressed the hell out of them! Oh, not really, but it worked out safely and fine.

The Smelly Parking Garage

Last week Max and I went together almost every day to work. On Thursday last week though, we arrived at the parking garage to a strong and distinct smell of a skunk. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Well, with the Labor Day weekend just past, I was hoping that the smell would have abated to just a distant memory, but alas, a faint smell of skunk still lingers in the garage. We narrowed the smell down to a pickup truck that we think is the culprit, but given the nature of the smell, our investigation didn't last long. We just wanted to get out of there and away from the smell. We have considered leaving a note on the windshield, but didn't think it would do any good, and we're not completely sure it was that truck.

In Summary

So today's ride was 1) Sometimes Frustrating, 2) Frequently Annoying, 3) Surprising, 4) Aggressive (?), and 5) Smelly.

Oh and I forgot to mention that the temperature was about 68F, sunny skies, almost no wind, and with clean crisp air after last night's rain. Just about perfect conditions with the possible exception of numbers 1 thru 5 above.

In short, it was a great ride!
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my Friends,


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There's a Poem Here Today

Here's a poem I ran across that has some special significance for me. I first read it at a time in my life when I was recovering from critical illness and having doubts about my health and longevity. I take a lot less for granted these days. This poem is a good reminder to me that each day is special. 

Look to this day;
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn.


For extra credit you can look up the author in Wikipedia here:
Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Perfect Balance

A recent post by Richard Machida got me thinking, and that's always dangerous.

Here's the Link:

After the driving restriction from my heart problems was lifted, my goal for getting to and from work was to ride Max, walk or take the famous Canadian Subaru (Monty) in roughly equal proportions. Lately though I have been failing miserably at attaining that goal. I was riding Max too much. (Is that even possible?) For the last 3 weeks I had ridden the scooter almost every day. The walking hadn't been entirely abandoned because I walk the dogs frequently. It was poor Monty (the famous Canadian Subaru) that was being ignored.

So today I took out on foot to maybe achieve "A Perfect Balance". To hell with the car, I wanted to walk.
East Central Avenue in the early morning. Not too much traffic yet on a Friday.

I track my exercise with a phone App called Endomondo. It uses the GPS device in the phone to compute distances, calories used and all sorts of not very useful information. But it's fun and it shows that I have walked almost 500 miles in the last year or so. Not spectacular, but not bad. I have to admit I feel better for it. When I walk, I think. It helps clear out the cobwebs in my mind. Today as I walked, I was thinking about Richard's post. I was considering the balance in my life. Almost a Zen feeling. It was a beautiful morning, not quite as hot today. As I walked along, I crossed over a creek with not much water in it.

This creek never has a lot of water in it, but it's damn near dry right now.
I was thinking that it would be more of "A Perfect Balance" to have a little more water in that creek. Not so much as to flood it, something more in the middle. We could sure use some rain.

Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Here's a pic of the dogs on a recent evening walk. After dinner and a short nap, they are always ready to go and see what has happened in the neighborhood. My wife and I alternate nights to walk them, but we do it almost every evening.It's good for them, too.

Madeline (in front) is 16 yrs old. Sophie is 3.
Recently we were in the Taos, New Mexico area and did a little hiking near a ski resort. Now there's some walking for you. Uphill at 7,800 ft elevation. The dogs loved it. The humans did too. (Even me, the Cyborg)

The dogs tried to be in charge of the route, but seemed more interested in chasing small creatures.

Now some people are interested in extreme sports. I own a Subaru and a motorcycle (scooter). The next picture has a Subaru and a motorcycle, could it be me?  Naaah. A little too extreme for me, not quite "A Perfect Balance".

Taken from UK's "Top Gear" website
But I admit to doing something a little more extreme lately. My daughter and her husband have been doing some riding on mountain bike trails and have encouraged me to try one of the courses out. So on a Sunday evening we headed out to Millers Meadow.

My daughter looking pretty fierce just after our ride. She's a helluva rider and was my guide for the evening.
Endomondo says we did the 5 mile course in about 44 minutes averaging about 6.7 mph. Now that may sound slow, and it was, but let me tell you, some of it was pretty gnarly. (Yes, I said Gnarly)
Some of the gullies that had very unsettling bottoms to them. At times the path was just wide enough for your handlebars, not to mention ruts from the parched earth.

Will I do the course again? Probably, but I think I prefer just a nice smooth bike path. Maybe something a little less extreme, but it was fun and I hadn't done anything like that since I was a kid. I never fell that evening, but I admit to stopping and walking the bike through a few really deep and scary gullies.

A little blood was the result, but it was a lot tamer than it looked. You see, taking heart medications, including a coagulant, makes it a little harder to stop bleeding. This was just from brushing up against a tree branch.
Now, you have to realize that there are at least two ways to achieve "A Perfect Balance" Balances can be achieved in both a physical and a spiritual sense. Take this next picture for instance:

Just like from "A Field of Dreams", having a dog and a beer at the ball park.
If you drank beer and ate hot dogs all the time, obviously that wouldn't be too good for you physically. But moderation is possible in my book. Spiritually, though, spending an evening at the ball park with my son can be very rewarding. Some hat, huh?

When I was in college, as an elective, I took a course in nutrition. Thought it would be easy, it wasn't. Thought it might be boring, it wasn't. The professor was really good and I learned a lot. One thing I always remember is that she used to say that your body has a tendency to know what it needs for you. It will make you hungry for things that it needs. Now some nutrients, like most sugars, in excess can be very bad for you. But in moderation, all things can be good.

As I walked this morning I went by this fast food restaurant, popular in this area. They have nice greasy hamburgers, shakes and fries. But they also have fairly healthy turkey on pita sandwiches. I bet they serve more burgers, but at least they maybe try to achieve "A Perfect Balance".

Fast greasy food here with a balance of some healthy options.
Then right across the street from the eatery and at the end of my morning walk is the ER where I spent some time 18 months ago. A lot of this "Balance" stuff is my attempt to try and avoid this place in the future.

A place to avoid if you can, but pretty fantastic people there if you really need them.

Maybe the best way to achieve "A Perfect Blance" is to spend time with your loved ones.

At the ball park with my wonderful wife. We tested out a few beers that night. Everything in moderation.

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bruiser Takes on a "Rail Trail"

On a recent Sunday morning Bruiser (my old mountain bike) and I went for a ride. I am able to connect to an old railroad line not too far from my home. I rode out east of town on city streets, but came back toward home on this rail trail. I have yet to see how far the trail goes east of town, but know it goes at least for a few miles. Where the rail line enters Wichita, the city planners have been making improvements and even paving parts of the line, but it isn't all finished yet.

This is the first time I have posted a bicycle video to the blog, but not the first time I have taken a video with the possible intention of posting it. Last year I took a number of videos from my bicycle, but never posted them and eventually deleted them. I would hold the phone in my hand and ride and talk about silly little stuff. Yeah, you ought to be scared about listening to someone talking to themselves, and most of those old videos were pretty bad.

Well, this one is probably not much better, but at least the length is manageable. Uploaded from iPhone to YouTube and then linked from the blog. We'll eventually see how this actually works.

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends,



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Guy at the Gas Station

There was this guy in a suit at the gas station filling up his SUV.

He was just standing there with his arms folded.

Staring at me. Watching me.

Not sure if he was admiring me, or thinking I was crazy. Ask me if I care.

I had ridden Max to work almost every day for the past 3 weeks. In very hot weather, too. But as long as you are moving, 110 degrees doesn't seem so bad , does it? At least it only takes me about 15 minutes to get home. And Thank God for Mesh Gear.

But I needed gas this morning and there was that guy filling up his SUV. I rode up and he was already there. Arms folded, watching me ride up.

I can do this pretty quickly. I don't even take off the helmet, just pop up the visor. Had my wallet in my jacket with my card ready to go, no need to even open the top case. Key out to open the gas cap. Done. Selected the mid-grade fuel, entered my pin #, popped the hose in my tank. I fiddle with the angle of the hose to maximize the fill. The guy in the suit is still watching me, arms folded.

A couple of minutes later, I'm done. Pop the gas cap back on. Key back in ignition, press start,
Vroom Vroom, I maneuver Max off the stand and start to move off.

As I ride away I notice the "suit" is still watching me, arms still folded, gas pump still pumping away in his SUV.

I wondered about him as I rode to the office. What was he thinking. We made eye contact, but I could not tell what his mood was. I thought for a minute he was maybe impressed that I rode a scooter and was doing my little part in saving planet earth by not using as much fuel as other people. Helping out with greenhouse gases, you know.

But then I thought, maybe he was thinking that I was an idiot to ride a two wheeled vehicle in such ridiculous hot weather. And he might be right about that. I thought about him riding on into work, in his air conditioned SUV, cold air blasting in his face, wearing his suit and tie. Thinking about all the other suited people he would interact with today. Lots of them riding their SUV's to work, cold air blasting as they wore their suits and ties.

But then I thought as I said before:

"I don't really give a S&%T what he was thinking"!

He just doesn't know. 

He doesn't know the feeling of freedom! He can't really appreciate how cute that blonde is, in the Honda next to you at the stop light that you just pulled up to. He doesn't smell the aroma of the bakery you just passed by. He doesn't see the color of the trees, how really green they are. He can't imagine the exhilaration of blasting down a country road with no traffic on a beautiful day. He's got windows between himself and the rest of the world while he's in that SUV. As Pirsig says, those windows are like TV screens that insulate you from the real world around you.

He just doesn't get it.

But I do.

Ride on and Carpe Diem my friends!


PS. I bet he spent a lot more than $5 at the pump this morning! Man, He really doesn't know!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Let's Have a Party!!

Legal Disclaimer: It is not my intent to promote the interests of any politician or political party. My sole intent is to poke some fun at things I see and wonder, like many people, at the silliness and dysfunction of politics as it exists today.

I keep telling people that we have 3 viable political parties here in Kansas. I've said this for years! We do have lots of independents, libertarians and others, but they don't seem to be able to wield much political power by themselves. So we are left with:

Conservative Republicans
Moderate Republicans

It used to be that the Republicans hated the Democrats and the Democrats hated the Republicans. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. Mistrust and dislike are probably more accurate.

But anymore, to me, it's more like the 2 wings of the Republican party hate each other (and yes, hate just might be accurate) and the Democrats are all sitting around wondering what is wrong with all those other people and why are they so mad at each other.

And in the past we have usually elected Democrats or Moderate Republicans as governors. A Democrat would seemingly get elected in years where the Republicans were mad at each other, a Moderate Republican otherwise. It's been a long time since we had a Conservative Republican governor, until 2 years ago, when we elected Sam Brownback, a former US Senator.

The political situation is now very interesting. We now have a Conservative governor, the House is controlled by the Conservatives, the Senate by the Moderates and the Democrats and Independents have been sort of relegated to the sidelines. Some have even said we should rename the state of Kansas to "Brownbackistan". Oh, God, I said it; I'll probably get hate mail now, or even worse, audited!

Again, no opinion from me regarding right or wrong, just an observation.
The new county courthouse is in the background, the older one in the foreground. The older building has beautiful architecture. We just outgrew it. Some offices of the county are still housed in the old courthouse, among them the "Elections Office". That office was where I was headed today to see if an injustice had occurred and, if so, to demand justice.

So here's the deal. The primary election is coming up August 7. In Kansas, both the Democrats and Republicans have "closed" primaries. For many years voters who registered as independents, could go to the primary election and select which party they wanted to vote for.  Not Anymore! You have to be registered as a Democrat to vote in the democratic primary, or Republican to vote in the republican primary. Period!

And here's more to the deal, this year!  All the action is on the Republican side of the ledger. In some races, there are no Democrats even running, and those that are running are generally unopposed. But there are many key races with Conservative Republicans and Moderate Republicans vying for the same seat. In fact, it could be said that the 2 wings of the Republican party have declared war on each other, each calling each other RINO's (republicans in name only).

So what did I do? I wanted to be where the action is. Now, mind you, in past elections I have voted all over the place, sometimes Republican, sometimes Democrat, sometimes 3rd party, I usually vote for the person more than I vote for the party. Silly Me!  So I re-registered as a Republican even though I don't have strong feelings for the party. Frankly I don't have strong feelings for any party and never have.

So on the last day possible for registering to vote, which can be done on the Internet, I registered as a Republican so that I could vote in the Republican primary, which is where all the action is. In fact, for most races, it appears, the general election will be a foregone conclusion.

Then a few days later I get this postcard in the mail. It says "Certificate of Registration". It also says "Democratic" Party. I think, "WTF"?

So on Monday, postcard in hand and picture ID in my wallet...
New Law this year, meant to combat the travesty of something like 10 cases of voter fraud in the last 15 years.
You think I'm kidding?
I march down to the courthouse to demand satisfaction, see what was wrong, see if there was a vast right wing (or left wing) conspiracy, see if my rights as a citizen of the world had been violated, etc. I was prepared to contact the local newspaper if the election office had "screwed up". I was ready to even "blog" about it! That'll get some action real quick, NOT!

I was met by two very nice ladies at the front desk and I told them I had an apparent problem with the postcard I received. One of them simply said that everybody who was registered to vote was to receive a card to inform them of their proper districts for various political races and that the information for those cards was generated by the computer systems about 3 weeks ago. She also asked me when I had re-registered, I told her and she said that I should receive yet another card in the mail reflecting the newer re-registered information.


But she even took it a step further and said "Let me double check what we have for you in the computer, It'll only take a moment". Sheepishly, I said, "That would be very nice". And, of course, it seems I was properly registered as a Republican like I had originally wished.

So there you have it!

RINO, I am

DINO, I used to be

iINO, is that iPhone in name only?

And finally on a plaque in front of the courthouse.....
Can't we all just get along?
Ride On, and Carpe Diem, my friends


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fiercely Local at Douglas and Oliver

The excitement is building. A formerly renowned and locally owned  Italian restaurant, known as Angelo's, closed for many years, may now be reopened by a relative of the family that started it. This is big news to the local citizenry. For some people it is the joy in the recollection of the fantastic aroma of the meatball sandwiches. For others it is simply the spaghetti and meatballs. For still others it is the incredibly authentic Italian salad with an un-pitted olive, eggplant pieces and dripping with savory Italian salad dressing. But for me, it was the Deluxe pizza.

I recall vividly the first time I tasted one of those pizzas. It was with my wife to be, her mother and her brother at the restaurant's location on East Harry street here in Wichita. The place was hardly what you would consider fancy. In fact it was kind of a cheap looking place. But nobody cared because they knew how good the food was. A warning note on the menu says that if you order the extra large deluxe pizza, be prepared to wait a little longer, because it takes awhile to bake. Nobody complained because they knew what was coming. Just ask my sister about the place. Long after she and her husband had moved to Tulsa, they would sneak back to Wichita and dine there.

That pizza is close to an inch thick! There were chunks (yes, chunks) of  beef, Italian sausage, ham and the most amazing pepperoni I have ever tasted along with green pepper, black olives, mushrooms and onions. Cheese is piled high. The only possible imperfection, to a Cyborg like me, might be the crust, but I never heard any complaints. Everything else was so spectacularly good. One piece was all most people needed. I kid you not!

The potential future location is the northeast corner of Douglas and Oliver streets, a place that once was a popular, locally owned jewelry store for many, many years.
It was almost sad to see the former jewelry store close. In the day of big chain stores in the mall, this local store had fought a good battle for market share. My wife and I had purchased rings there in the past. Everybody in town knew where this store was and the good reputation it had in the community. Eventually though, the markets became more difficult and the store eventually closed.

Ironically, very close to this location, across the street and down a little bit is one of my favorite pizza restaurants. This place, also locally owned,  has wood oven pizza, jazz music, great atmosphere and great pizza, calzones, salads and sandwiches.  

All the pizzas are good, many with unique toppings such as artichoke hearts, spinach, etc, that wouldn't be found on a pizza from a"corporate pizza" restaurant.

You may or may not know that "Pizza Hut" started here in Wichita in the 1960's. The original owners, two brothers, sold out to Pepsico, I think in the 1980's. I don't blame them. They made a bunch of $. They were hugely successful and I have eaten a lot of their pizzas over the years. Their pizzas were good. I say "were", because now the recipes are different and, in my opinion, the restaurants are now just very "corporate", the bottom line is more important than the food. I guess that's what happens when the company has to answer to Wall Street and shareholders, rather than the actual customers.

The original Angelo's Italian restaurant was never that way. Il Vicino isn't either. I haven't eaten a Pizza Hut pizza voluntarily for many years. For the same reasons I won't eat at Domino's or any other big chain. Something gets lost in the process.

Being "Fiercely Locally Owned" seems to thrive at this intersection. All 4 corners have retail stores, but the southwest corner is the most interesting, to me.
Supposedly the first true shopping center in the history of the world. I cannot verify that, but there are some great stores here. A marvelous florist, a good shoe store and a variety of shops.
This shopping center was not too far from the edge of town in the 1940's, far enough from downtown, that a walk downtown, to go shopping, would have taken awhile. But a walk here from what is known as the College Hill residential area would be rather nice. People used to walk more, and not complain about it.
Max in the morning sun helping to provide evidence of the origin date on the shopping center.
There is one local store here that I admire a great deal. One that has survived the upheavals of the market crash and weathered blistering competition from national chain stores. It is a locally owned bookstore. 
Surviving in a vast sea of competition, this small, but mighty, locally owned bookstore is an anchor for this shopping center. 
I am sure they have struggled at times, financially, as they compete with big box stores like Barnes and Noble and Borders, etc. But the customers of this store remain "fiercely loyal" to their local neighborhood book store at a time when it would seem that the obstacles against them might be insurmountable. Nonetheless, they survive. They compete. They do not give up!

It is almost like Winston Churchill, who was quoted as saying something like:
 "Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up!"

I guess this Cyborg likes the idea of being "Fiercely Local" and not ever, ever giving up.

A lot of very loyal former customers hope the Angelo's restaurant is able to be revived. I bet my sister, who now lives in the Dallas area, will drive up and partake of their food once again.

Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Man and Machine

I wasn't kidding about being a Cyborg. Here's the definition:

A human who has certain physiological processes aided or controlled by mechanical or electronic devices.

In my case the device is an Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). Big words for a tiny device that is amazingly sophisticated. It consists of a pulse generator, a battery, a programmable computer chip, a wi-fi transmitter and connections for electrical leads (wires) that go into two of the chambers of my heart.

It's not a new idea. They've been doing this for over 20 years. In fact, medical science has become very adept at putting artificial devices in a human body.

My device constantly monitors the activity of my heart. It will attempt to pace my heart (cardioversion) if the heart rate either gets too fast or too slow. But the primary purpose is to protect me in case my heart tries to beat too fast (fibrillation). If that happens, the pulse generator will create a jolt of electricity to my heart similar to using defibrillator paddles. That jolt essentially interrupts the fibrillation of the heart muscle and allows the electrical system of the heart to essentially "reboot" and try to start beating again in a normal fashion. They work and they save lives. 

Now the word "cyborg" can conjure up many images of altered beings whose only apparent limitations are limited to the imagination of science fiction authors. But in reality, it is much simpler than that. 

I consider myself to be a primitive sort of cyborg. I say primitive because it is only a matter of time before major advances are made and people may be eventually walking around with all sorts of mechanical and/or electrical "enhancements".

I'm not complaining because the device may save my life someday. For me, the device's purpose is to protect me. It is meant to "restore" the functions of my body. 

Other devices might be  considered "enhancements" and are meant to improve the functions of a human being. There will be controversy here. For instance, there is a sprinter going to the Olympic Games this year with artificial legs. Does he have advantages? Could there be other athletes someday with enhancements that we don't even know about? Unseen? Did Lance Armstrong have cybernetic enhancements to help him win the Tour de France?

Seem far fetched? It's not! The day is coming. And it may not be that far off!

What about this? We've mentioned humans with mechanical or electrical enhancements. What about a mechanical device with human implants or enhancements?

Can they make a scooter to be more human? Do we want them to?

I am "Wi-Fi", Therefore I am.

Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Premeditated Changes

Went for a hot Sunday morning bicycle ride. I had sort of planned to ride by a certain destination. But a certain bike path looked good when I approached, so I changed my mind and took a new direction. I didn't regret the decision.

Been thinking about the direction of this blog lately. I have to admit that some changes in focus and direction may happen. I thought about that as I rode this morning.

I thought about some of the things that define me as a person. My profession. My hobbies. My health. My family. There has been a change in priorities with respect to all the things that define me.

I received excellent news from my cardiologist this week. Fantastic news! Spectacular news! Good enough news to cause a change of outlook. He thinks my recovery is remarkable and better than he expected. For some time I had been living with a concern as to how much longer I would live. It now looks like I'll be around for a long time to come.

It was a great ride this morning. Slight breeze, lots of sun. Time to think. Time to enjoy. I could have taken the scooter, but somehow I was drawn by wanting to get the exercise. Don't know why. Don't care either. And that is part of the issue.

I have changed.

So don't be surprised to see some changes on this blog, maybe even a new name.

I am not abandoning the original purpose of the blog, just hoping to add to it in a way I hope is interesting to readers. But remember, this blog was always an extension of me, my interests, my experiences. In a way it is just as much for me as it is for my readers.

I have changed. The blog will too.

Life is too short.

Back to this mornings ride:

I encountered a woman working on a small public garden near the bike path. I wondered why she was there on a Sunday morning. She didn't look like a city employee, no uniform, but could have been, I guess. She seemed to work diligently and I thought how neat it would be if she was just volunteering her time. I don't know, and won't ever know, but I can imagine the possibility.

At another location on the path I saw a woman with a small child in a stroller. As I approached, I waved at the child and said Hi. I could hear the child jabbering a bunch of nonsensical utterances, which sounded pretty funny. Mom didn't say anything, but had a huge smile on her face. I was having a nice morning outing, she and her child obviously were too.

Then as I approached home, I was a little tired and just leisurely riding along. Another bicyclist approached from the opposite direction at a much faster rare of speed. Sort of instinctively I just extended my left arm and gave her a "wave", you know, a motorcyclists type of wave. I chuckled as I did it thinking I'm not sure if I have ever waved like that to a fellow bicyclist before. But it worked. She nodded her head at me and simply said "Hey!"

So "Hey!"

There may be some changes coming, but they'll be "Premeditated".

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Yielding to Patriotic Ducks

Sometimes its the little things you see when you are out riding that you remember.

Just this morning I saw a woman walking about 4 small somewhat unruly dogs on leashes encounter a guy on a skateboard. You can imagine what was to happen. The small dogs were ineffective, but attempted to attack the guy on the skateboard while the woman cursed and tried to maintain control of the little varmints. At the time I was thinking SIPDE and decided to give the whole scene a wide berth, which I did. In my rear view mirror I saw the skateboardist escape and move along down the street. I laughed out loud for nobody to hear but myself. Quite a scene!

Yesterday I had to run an errand and, darn it, I had to take the scooter and, darn it, I had to ride along the river here to get where I was going. My route out was along the west side of the "Big" river, my route back was in between the "Big" and "Little" Arkansas rivers which happen to meet each other very near downtown Wichita.  (Remember, the river here is pronounced like the state of Kansas, not Arkansaw.)

As I rode out I spied a cushion from a couch sitting in the grass by the side of the road. Not remarkable, in and of itself, but I spent the next few minutes as I rode wondering why the hell it was there and what were the circumstances to its arrival which I will never know or be able to figure out. Just Guess. A never ending conundrum? Ahhhh, it probably blew off the back of a pickup truck while someone was trying to move. Won't they be pissed when they get to the new location and wonder where the cushion is. Will they go back and look for it? Will it still be there if I go back by there today? Am I the only person who is troubled by these thoughts? Do I need counseling?

I dropped my papers off at the client's office and headed back downtown, but on the way I go by the parking lot that is essentially the spot where drivers license testers give the driving tests to motorcycle riders and commercial truck drivers. I remember this spot from 4 years ago when I was tested to get my motorcycle license. The place wasn't busy at all so I go in and test my skill at one of the tests I remember. It was the one where you had to keep your cycle between two lines for a certain distance, but at a very slow rate of speed, sort of a balance test. I did it again for fun. I think I passed. Later that night I looked at my drivers license and realized it will expire at the end of November. I better get practicing!

Then, closer to downtown I go through Riverside Park (aptly named) and had one of those moments when you wished you had a camera ready at all times. I stopped, but had to take a glove off and dig the i-Phone from my pocket before I could get a shot.

Now, mind you, I have been stopped here before, in the park, by ducks crossing the road. And I really don't mind even though I could sense that other travelers (particularly in cages) were a bit "put out" by the proceedings. I didn't mind and really enjoyed the parade. They crossed the road mostly in single file which made the delay even a little longer to the chagrin of some drivers. The first group was about 12 or so. Then a little break and then another group of 15 or so. Then, still another break with about 10 ducks following a leader who lead them all to a grassy area not far from the river.

And it was sort of like a parade. I could almost imagine each duck carrying a little American flag (July 4th is tomorrow, don't you know) as they paraded across the roadway to their destination.

I do need counseling, don't I?

Monday, June 18, 2012

With a little help from a friend

My good friend Lloyd has moved on and now rides a big Yamaha V-Star instead of his "BlackJack" scooter. But I thought he could help out with Max's starting problem. And he did! Big time!

He said he might have a starter relay and maybe even an air filter to fit Max. I was hesitant to get too excited, but the news was good. It turns out that the relay wasn't from a SYM, but it looked real close and we thought we'd try it anyway.

As I drove back home from picking up the parts from Lloyd, I kept thinking that this might not work. All the possibilities crossed my mind. The problem could have a number of causes even though we thought we had it narrowed down pretty well.

I went ahead and put in the new air filter first almost like I was teasing myself. Then I took off the seat and took the old relay out to get a closer comparison. The new part was just barely bigger, otherwise almost identical.

I installed the new part, hooked the battery cables back up and took a deep breath. The moment of truth. I carefully turned the key, grabbed a brake and pressed the starter switch.

A sweeter sound there never was as Max cranked and immediately started. The definition of "Fat and Happy" is the euphoria around the knowledge that you have done something right and good.

And all with a little help from good friends like certain readers of this little blog and people like Lloyd. Many many thanks to all!

Unfortunately I missed Ride to Work day today. But Here's a dumbass question for you all. What method of transportation do you think I will take to work tomorrow?

And by the way, I took a little ride late this afternoon to celebrate. It was hot. I broke out the mesh jacket even though I like the denim one better. I even got a few waves and nods from other riders.

It was a really good ride!