Thursday, February 04, 2016

Catching up

I just noticed that I haven't posted to the blog since Sunday. That's hardly the way to guarantee continued readership. Sorry.

I'm working with the new 200GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick for an review this week. It's a 200GB thumb drive that can connect with up to three devices using its own Wifi signal. Among other things, it's a great way to archive photos from my iPhone and it's big enough to accommodate my entire music library, which is well under 100GB. It can stream audio and video and do several things that I haven't yet got my brain around. The thing retails for $119.99 on have versions with smaller capacities for less, the cheapest being 32GB for $24.99.

The warm weather has deserted us again after several days of being able to leave the furnace turned off - a major gift since we have an electrically powered heat pump.

So far this morning, I've busied myself with updating the two Garmin GPS units we use - a 550 Zumo that lives on my 2003 BMW K1200GT motorcycle and a Nuvi 1350 LMT that lives in my Lexus. Speaking of the Lexus, I got mail from the Lexus mothership this week telling me that the cracking and disintegrating padded dashboard is covered by an extended warranty. I need to call the nearest Lexus dealer, which is in Memphis, and make an appointment to get it replaced. They say the process takes about 4 hours. This is great news. I've been stewing about it for months, wondering how to effect repairs.

Just when I think I've received all of the 1099s and other tax documents needed to figure our taxes, another one shows up in the mailbox. I think I'll wait until next week to contact our CPA and get things rolling on the tax returns for us and our LLC.

In the meantime, I'm watching the mail for our Arkansas Concealed Handgun permits and watching the email for results of our National Geographic DNA tests.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Refunding ATM user fees

I was perusing a brochure about our checking account with Centennial Bank this morning when I discovered a hitherto unknown (by me, at least) feature.

If I use another financial institution's ATM and am charged a user fee, Centennial Bank will reimburse the fee if I present them with the ATM receipt within 60 days of the transaction.

Pretty cool, huh?

Wonky starter button wonks out completely

The starter button on my 2003 BMW K1200GT has an intermittent malfunction that goes back more than five years to the summer of 2010. I took the bike up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo. on July 8, 2010 and they replaced the right combo switch for about $500 in parts and labor. Less than two weeks later, the problem reared its ugly head again when I tried to start the bike after a night in Steve's hot Las Vegas garage.

The turn signal cancelling button, also part of the right combo switch assembly, went wonky on the ride home from Vegas, but has behaved itself since after getting some attention at Grass Roots.

But despite the replacement of the switch, the starter button problem as continued off and on for the past five years. (I made this video in August, 2014 to document it and solicit diagnoses from the BMW motorcycle community.)

Early on, it manifested itself when the bike sat for an extended period or overnight in a hot place. But in recent months, it showed up after the bike was parked overnight in a cold garage. So much for my heat thesis.

The last time I rode the bike was about a week ago for a quick run down to the post office and it took about 35 presses of the starter button before the engine fired. Today, I can't get the engine to start even after more than 150 presses of the button.

Recalling some of the suggestions I've received - that it had to do with a defective sidestand shutoff switch - I went down to the garage a few minutes ago and tried to start the engine with the sidestand up, but it remains inert.

I'm hopeful that it remains inert, so the technicians at Grass Roots. can more effectively troubleshoot the problem that eluded them in the past due to its intermittent nature.

I had an encouraging text message exchange with my local BMW friend Charlie about hauling the bike up to Grass Roots and he said he thinks his schedule will allow for a trip in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, the '94 K75S is my ride on pleasant days.

Friday, January 29, 2016

DNA in the mail

Steve and Nicky gave us a pair of DNA kits for Christmas and we finally got around to collecting samples and packaging them for shipping, which will occur when I go to the post office this morning.

I will, of course, share the results here when they become available.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gun stuff

We went to the Jonesboro Police Department at noon today and got fingerprinted - the last hoop to jump through before mailing in our concealed carry handgun permit applications.

I just got back from the post office where I sent the stuff off to Little Rock, which will likely take six weeks or so.

In the meantime, I got some tips from a friend who is the chief operating officer at the Gunsite Academy to correct my tendency to shoot low and to the left with my new Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield semiautomatic pistol.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, K75S

Today is the 22nd birthday of our 1994 BMW K75S. It was born on Jan. 27, 1994 in Berlin.
I bought it used from Revard BMW Motorcycles on Oct. 31, 2000 with 2,417 miles on the odometer and a ridiculous looking too-tall windscreen.
I bought it for Maria to ride but she never felt really comfortable on it and a car accident a few years later in which a woman with macular degeneration totaled the Buick Maria was driving undermined her confidence.
So it has fallen to me to ride it regularly and keep it in good condition, which has turned out to be a pleasure.
I’ve never toured on it, mainly because it lacks a luggage rack. The longest trip I’ve taken on it was Sept. 28, 2007, when I rode from our home in Thorntown to Jonesboro in preparation to buying a house and moving to Arkansas.
The Sargent seat isn't as nice as the BMW Comfort Seat on my K1200GT, but it wasn't awful, either.
Aside from the chilly start, the weather for the ride down was perfect. It was a warm, but not oppressive, 82 degrees when I rode down through southeastern Missouri and into Arkansas.
The bike performed flawlessly and delivered something like 44 or 45 miles/gallon. I stopped at Boomland for my final fill-up and savored the last 110 or so miles to Jonesboro.
I left the bike with Charlie and Deb Parsons, who were already storing my GT, and caught a ride home the next day with Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess.
The bike has 18,363 miles on the odometer as it sits in my garage today. It continues to be a joy to ride.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hard to beat an old Beetle for handling in snow

Last weekend's East Coast blizzard reminded me that the best snow car I ever owned was also my first car - a Fontana Gray 1965 VW Beetle (seen here outside the mobile home I rented while working my first newspaper job at The Tipton (Ind.) Tribune in the winter of 1966-67.

With its rear engine and narrow tires (read small contact patch), that car could go practically anywhere in snow and ice. I bought it on Aug. 1, 1966 at University Motors in West Lafayette, where it had been a demonstrator and frequently used by the wife of the dealer. Diane and I took it on an extensive road trip through Canada in 1968. I finally sold it in the early 1970s with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer. That was a lot of miles for a car of that era, although it doesn't seem all that impressive by today's standards.

Conversely, the worst snow car I ever owned was my 1994 Honda del Sol with its fat tires and giant contact patches that turned into skis on slick pavement.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Not even close

I drove over to my favorite liquor store in Cardwell, Mo. this afternoon in search of Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter.
They had none, so I settled for this stuff instead. I shouldn't have. It lacks the flavor and smoothness of Leinenkugel.