Friday, July 31, 2009

T-shirt of the day


Today’s t-shirt is from Foothills BMW Motorcycles in Lakewood, Colo., a suburb of Denver.

It’s one of the best dealerships I’ve seen when it comes to a wide range of apparel and accessories. Despite the fact that they’re not a MotoLights dealer, they rebuilt the wiring harness for my MotoLights a couple of years ago and everything still works fine.

I’m having thoughts of booking a long-overdue 12,000-mile service at Grass Roots BMW in Cape Girardeau, Mo. before I put too many more miles on the bike. I’m planning a late August run up to the MotoGP races in Indianapolis and would like to get a Colorado run in before the high country weather window slams shut, but I may run out of time.

And then there’s the prospect of a ride/drive/flight to Las Vegas to see my son and his family.

Motorcycles should be included in the federal “Cash for Clunkers” program!

Call or write your Senators to include motorcycle language today!

The Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have already passed ama_logo_smallthe "Cash for Clunkers" program that would authorize funds for an auto trade-in program designed to boost consumer demand for cars and trucks.

However, the current program does not include motorcycles.

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) introduced S. 1248, the Green Transportation Efficiency Act of 2009, to expand on the existing "Cash for Clunkers" program by providing vouchers to people who trade in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for a more fuel-efficient motorcycle.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) supports S. 1248 and urges other Senators to cosponsor Senator Casey's bill.

The current "Cash for Clunkers" program would offer up to $4,500 in vouchers to help people who trade in cars or SUVs with a combined fuel economy of 18 miles-per-gallon or less to buy newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles. S. 1248 would provide vouchers to encourage consumers to trade in their older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient cars, trucks and motorcycles. Participants would receive a $2,500 voucher for the purchase of a new motorcycle. By including this language, the "Cash for Clunkers" program will be consistent with various Federal laws that define automobiles, light duty trucks and motorcycles as "motor vehicles".

Motorcycles reduce traffic and parking congestion, increase fuel economy and are less of an impact on our roads and bridges compared with automobiles and light duty trucks.  Many AMA members recognize the multiple benefits of motorcycles and employ them as their primary means of transportation.

Motorcyclists are not any different from drivers of automobiles and light duty trucks who have been hit hard by the economic downturn. Moreover, motorcyclists typically purchase new bikes, apparel, vehicle servicing and after-market equipment from local dealers that are family-owned businesses. These family-owned dealers then obtain merchandise and product from the same local suppliers as the auto dealers.

To find contact information for your Senators on, click on "Rights," then "Issues & Legislation," and enter your zip code in the "Find your Officials" box. Additionally, a prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your U.S. Senators by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information.

All AMA members and anyone else who enjoys riding is urged to contact their Senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 1248, the Green Transportation Efficiency Act of 2009.

I sent emails to four Senators – two from Arkansas and two from Indiana, where we still own property.

It’s Friiiiiiiiidayyyyy!

It’s a glorious, sunny, 71-degree Friday morning, so I tossed my netbook and accessories into a saddlebag and rode my K1200GT into town, pausing at the post office to find:

  • No early rent check
  • My L.L.Bean Explorer jacket that UPS dropped off at the post office even though I gave them my physical address, rather than my P.O. box for a shipping address
  • The routine notice of my monthly pension being deposited into my checking account
  • A DVD from the National Rifle Association on combat pistol pumpkintechniques
  • A bunch of advertising crap

We discovered the other day that we have at least one pumpkin growing on the patio. It’s a “volunteer” that sprouted from the discarded seeds of a decorative pumpkin Maria bought last fall. The leaves are trying to take over the entire patio and I’m tempted to mow them down, but now that we have a volleyball-size pumpkin growing, I guess I’ll let nature take its course.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What’s that in your shirt pocket?

As I’ve mentioned here before, I review stuff on Here’s what I had to say about Mont Blanc writing instruments:

Let me say at the outset, nobody really needs a $200 ballpoint pen.

But it sure is a cool thing to have peeking out of your shirt pocket. I was blissfully unaware that such absurdly expensive montblancpenwriting instruments existed until a bank president buddy of mine flashed his Mont Blanc and casually mentioned what he paid for it.

I was suitably impressed and decided it would be a nifty thing for a bigtime professional journalist like me to whip out at interviews and press conferences.

I shopped around and picked one up at an office supply store for about half the $200 price advertised here.

When I took it out of its case, I was impressed with the craftsmanship and heft of the pen. Clearly, this is no Bic. It's a Fine Writing Instrument, made for the writing of IMPORTANT WORDS.
I got over that feeling quickly enough and was soon using it to scribble notes on cocktail napkins and grocery lists on Post-It notes.
It wasn't long before I decided I had to have the rollerball, and then the fountain pen. (But it seems like overkill to go out with all three lined up in my pocket.)

I've come to think of the ballpoint as a classy accessory, a piece of masculine jewelry that actually comes in handy when you need to write something.

And I'm always a little disappointed when people think I'm just using an ordinary ballpoint pen.

Updating the Nüvi 200W

garmin-nuvi-200w-gps-review I updated the maps and other software on my Garmin Nüvi 200W GPS unit this morning.

It still doesn't show our road. That's because the road has not been improved to county standards and accepted into the county road system.

So we remain invisible to GPS and online map users. I think I like that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Track ‘em down on Facebook

I was on MySpace for awhile, but never really got into it. The site was overrun with morons and too many people junked up their page facebook-logolayouts to the point where they were unreadable.

I’ve been on Facebook for a year or so now and I am continually amazed how I keep connecting with long-lost friends and acquaintances.

My friends list is up to 134 people and it’s a surprisingly diverse group.

Just this morning, I did a search for Roger P., a guy with an unforgettable Greek name who was in my cabin at a Presbyterian Church camp near Brownstown, Ind., in the summer of 1959. That week at camp was the only contact I ever had Roger in my entire life, but his name stuck in my mind.

I did a quick search for his name this morning and found an old guy roger(we’re all old guys now) with that name who looked kinda like the kid I remember from 50 years ago, living Kansas City, Mo. I shot him a message on Facebook and damned if it wasn’t Roger from Camp Pyoca. (Here’s his picture.)

The discovery put Kansas City in the front of my brain, so I decided to look for Katie, a writer I met on a Missouri Tourism Dept.-sponsored tour of Jesse James sites six or seven years ago. Like Roger, she has an unusual last name, so it was another easy search and now she’s in my friends list too.

My friends list includes my long-lost fifth-grade penpal from Queensland, Australia, classmates from grade school, high school, and college, scores of former colleagues at The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star, one or two friends from my TM (Transcendental Meditation) days, BMW motorcycle friends, two of our Realtors, far-flung cousins, Maria’s friends from the Crawfordsville Journal Review, my sons and their wives, in-laws, my stepdaughter’s boyfriend’s dad, and even my ex-wife.

I’m also in the Great Hoosier Daily Facebook group, which has grown to include 83 former employees of The News and is organizing a News alumni reunion for September.

Facebook, it seems, was created to people like me – Cancerians who just can’t let go of past connections and friends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Surrounded by hooters

barred-owlWe hear an owl out in the woods here from time to time.

Sitting around the table on the screened back porch this evening, we heard a veritable parliament of owls, hooting from several directions.

My limited research suggests there are two species of owls in Arkansas - the barred owl and the Eastern screech owl.

Judging from the voices, these were barred owls and they were remarkably talkative, especially since the sun had just set and there was still plenty of light in the sky.

Happy feet


Acting on my doctor's advice, I bought a pair of Dr. Scholl's Adjustable Arch Pain Relief insoles this afternoon at Walgreens and I'm damned if they don't work!

These things come with three degrees of arch stiffness, adjusted with plastic inserts.

I'm going with "medium" and for the first time in weeks, I have no discomfort in my left heel.

Who knew the fix could be so simple?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Nearly three months after arriving in Arkansas, and way past the two-week target period, my stepson Austin has a job.

He started Monday as a cashier at a Super D drugstore. The pay is modest, probably too modest for him to afford an apartment, but it's a job and it's a first step toward self-sufficiency.

And he got a shirt in the deal too.

Getting new contact lenses the hard way

I saw my eye doctor last Wednesday and he wrote prescriptions for new eyeglasses and new contact lenses.

His plan for the contacts was to order a trial pair and let me try them before committing to a full set of disposables in that prescription.

Naturally, the optician he partners with doesn't have a particularly wide range of contacts in stock so they had to be special ordered.

I got a call at 4:45 p.m. today from a woman in his office telling me the trial contacts are in and wanting to schedule an appointment for fitting.

I figure it'll be tomorrow or maybe Thursday.

"The earliest Dr. Cullins can see you is Aug. 24," she said.

"Aug. 24 - a whole month from now? That's crazy."

"Well, that's the earliest he can see you."

"I'm not going to wait that long. I'll just reorder the old prescription and maybe I'd better find another eye doctor," I said.

"Well, I'll see if he'll approve using the old prescription and call you back," she said.

Just so you know, we're talking about Dr. James D. Cullins, O.D. at 416 E. Washington Street, Suite B, Jonesboro, Ark.

Harrison Ford rides a BMW motorcycle


But of course.

Remembering Trooper Greene

State Trooper Mike Greene was patrolling I-65 between Lebanon and Indianapolis on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1993, when he noticed two men – Tommy Lee McElroy, 35, and Norman Timberlake, 45 – standing by a car just off the southbound lanes of the interstate. McElroy was urinating on the ground. Greene stopped to investigate and, after checking with his dispatcher, discovered one of the men was wanted. As the trooper approached them again, Timberlake drew a pistol and fired, hitting Greene in the chest.
After they fled, a passing motorist used Greene's patrol car radio to call for help. The following story appeared in The Indianapolis News the day after the shooting.

The Indianapolis News

I watched Indiana State Police trooper Michael E. Greene die Friday.
He lay there on the cold asphalt berm of I-65 in front of his patrol car as his friend, Boone County Sheriff Ern Hudson, pumped his chest  and a group of paramedics worked over him, laboring feverishly to restart his heart.
They tried the defibrillator to no avail, and Hudson – sweating and working in his shirtsleeves in the unseasonably warm afternoon air – knelt again at Mike's left side and continued his CPR.
Boone County Detective Stan Large, his face a grim mask, walked past me and said, “He's dead.”
Minutes earlier, I was sitting in Hudson's office at the Boone County Jail. We were talking about prisoner visitation policies at the new facility when Chief Deputy Dennis Brannon broke in to say there was a report of a police officer shot along I-65 south of Lebanon.
“You want to ride with us?” Hudson asked, heading for the door.
“Sure,” I replied.
Hurtling down the fast lane of I-65, we passed other traffic like a greeneblur.
Just south of the access ramp to eastbound I-465, we saw the flash of police brake lights as the stream of speeding patrol cars overtook traffic backed up from the place where Greene lay on the ground.
As we ran toward the knot of paramedics kneeling in front of the white state police car, someone shouted to Hudson, “It's Mike Greene.”
“I noticed right away,” Hudson said later, “that his skin was dark blue. When you've been in this business as long as I have, you can tell when they're not going to make it. I had a sense that it would be a miracle if we could save him.”
Peering over the shoulder of a paramedic, I could see the bullet wound in Mike's upper chest. It wasn't bleeding.
Hours later, Hudson was still choked with emotion as he remembered working over Greene.
“When I was a young trooper, I remember how Mike was a kid and he always wanted to be a state trooper. I did his background check when he joined the department. His dad, Tommy Greene, was the county Democratic chairman, and he was proud as a peacock when that boy got on the state police.”
As Hudson worked with the paramedics over Mike Greene, he said later, “I was saying a lot of prayers. I was just trying to do something to breathe some more life into him. I wasn't doing anything special. I was just trying to help the medics. I was just trying to take my turn with everybody else.
“You're holding onto the guy. Your skin is on his skin, and you're hoping and praying you can get him going.”
Someone announced the Life Line Helicopter was on its way and I looked up to see Boone County Prosecutor Rebecca McClure approaching, her jaw set with anger and determination.
“Let me at 'em,” she said, referring to the two suspects who were the objects of a massive police search in Marion County.
“I hate to be the one to tell you this, Becky,” I said, “but we're not in Boone County here.”
McClure swore. “I didn't realize I'd crossed the line,” she said.
Paramedics continued to pump Greene's chest as they wheeled his gurney to the helicopter and he was flown to Methodist Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead a short time later.
Timberlake died in November, 2007, of natural causes in his cell on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Ind. McElroy entered a guilty plea to charges of assisting a criminal and received a four-year sentence. He was released after serving two years.
My photo of Trooper Greene receiving CPR was never published because the editor  felt the image was too strong. He later said he regretted the decision.

Who is Daita Barth?

I went to the doctor this morning to find out what’s causing the pain in my left heel that has dogged me for the past three or four weeks, especially at the BMW MOA rally a couple of weeks ago.

The doc says it’s plantar fasciitis, which is what Maria said it was, so he must be right. Arch supports and Aleve will fix it, he said.

So I go to the Check Out desk and the girl asks, “You’re Daita Barth?”

No, I say, thinking, “Who the hell is Daita Barth?”

She looks puzzled and repeats the question.


That was Arkie for “Your date of birth?”

“Sorry,” I said. “I’m not from here.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Caving to L.L.Bean temptation

explorer jacket I broke down over the weekend and ordered an L.L.Bean Explorer jacket.

I resisted several days, but the L.L.Bean catalog that came early last week just wouldn't let me alone.

It's a replacement for my venerable Willis & Geiger Hemingway jacket that I bought more than 10 years ago when the bean counters at Land's End were in the process of blowing out the remaining W&G stock, having decided it wasn't profitable. That was a tragically stupid decision. Willis & Geiger outfitted Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Roald Amundsen, Charles Lindbergh, Sir Edmund Hillary, any number of high profile expeditions and, not incidentally, Ernest Hemingway. The Hemingway jacket was made to Papa Hemingway's specs and was a real man's jacket.

Mine is frayed at the cuffs and has little holes where the pocket flaps attach to the torso. I'd buy another, but they no longer exist.

So when I saw the Explorer jacket in the Bean catalog, it caught my eye immediately. It lacks some of the exquisite detailing that made the Hemingway jacket unique, but it does boast 16 pockets - six outside and 10 inside. A guy can never have enough pockets, you know.

I ordered mine in Eucalyptus, eschewing the Dark Khaki and Peat Green, but it was a difficult choice.

I placed my order on Saturday and the L.L.Bean web site confirms that it shipped today via UPS.

Other than my natural impatience, there's no real rush because it will be several weeks before it's cool enough to wear even a light jacket.

But I'll be ready.

Yes, it’s long, but even Obama sycophant CNN thinks you should read it


NEW YORK (Fortune) — In promoting his health-care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans — and that the benefits and access they prize will be enhanced through reform.

A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health committee, contradict the President’s assurances. To be sure, it isn’t easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.

If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company’s Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests — you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.

In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage — including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money — but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can’t have. It’s a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.

Let’s explore the five freedoms that Americans would lose under Obamacare:

1. Freedom to choose what’s in your plan

The bills in both houses require that Americans purchase insurance through “qualified” plans offered by health-care “exchanges” that would be set up in each state. The rub is that the plans can’t really compete based on what they offer. The reason: The federal government will impose a minimum list of benefits that each plan is required to offer.

Today, many states require these “standard benefits packages” — and they’re a major cause for the rise in health-care costs. Every group, from chiropractors to alcohol-abuse counselors, do lobbying to get included. Connecticut, for example, requires reimbursement for hair transplants, hearing aids, and in vitro fertilization.

The Senate bill would require coverage for prescription drugs, mental-health benefits, and substance-abuse services. It also requires policies to insure “children” until the age of 26. That’s just the starting list. The bills would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the list of required benefits, based on recommendations from a committee of experts. Americans, therefore, wouldn’t even know what’s in their plans and what they’re required to pay for, directly or indirectly, until after the bills become law.

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

As with the previous example, the Obama plan enshrines into federal law one of the worst features of state legislation: community rating. Eleven states, ranging from New York to Oregon, have some form of community rating. In its purest form, community rating requires that all patients pay the same rates for their level of coverage regardless of their age or medical condition.

Americans with pre-existing conditions need subsidies under any plan, but community rating is a dubious way to bring fairness to health care. The reason is twofold: First, it forces young people, who typically have lower incomes than older workers, to pay far more than their actual cost, and gives older workers, who can afford to pay more, a big discount. The state laws gouging the young are a major reason so many of them have joined the ranks of uninsured.

Under the Senate plan, insurers would be barred from charging any more than twice as much for one patient vs. any other patient with the same coverage. So if a 20-year-old who costs just $800 a year to insure is forced to pay $2,500, a 62-year-old who costs $7,500 would pay no more than $5,000.

Second, the bills would ban insurers from charging differing premiums based on the health of their customers. Again, that’s understandable for folks with diabetes or cancer. But the bills would bar rewarding people who pursue a healthy lifestyle of exercise or a cholesterol-conscious diet. That’s hardly a formula for lower costs. It’s as if car insurers had to charge the same rates to safe drivers as to chronic speeders with a history of accidents.

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

The bills threaten to eliminate the one part of the market truly driven by consumers spending their own money. That’s what makes a market, and health care needs more of it, not less.

Hundreds of companies now offer Health Savings Accounts to about 5 million employees. Those workers deposit tax-free money in the accounts and get a matching contribution from their employer. They can use the funds to buy a high-deductible plan — say for major medical costs over $12,000. Preventive care is reimbursed, but patients pay all other routine doctor visits and tests with their own money from the HSA account. As a result, HSA users are far more cost-conscious than customers who are reimbursed for the majority of their care.

The bills seriously endanger the trend toward consumer-driven care in general. By requiring minimum packages, they would prevent patients from choosing stripped-down plans that cover only major medical expenses. “The government could set extremely low deductibles that would eliminate HSAs,” says John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market research group. “And they could do it after the bills are passed.”

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

This is the freedom that the President keeps emphasizing. Yet the bills appear to say otherwise. It’s worth diving into the weeds — the territory where most pundits and politicians don’t seem to have ventured.

The legislation divides the insured into two main groups, and those two groups are treated differently with respect to their current plans. The first are employees covered by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974. ERISA regulates companies that are self-insured, meaning they pay claims out of their cash flow, and don’t have real insurance. Those are the GEs (GE, Fortune 500) and Time Warners (TWX, Fortune 500) and most other big companies.

The House bill states that employees covered by ERISA plans are “grandfathered.” Under ERISA, the plans can do pretty much what they want — they’re exempt from standard packages and community rating and can reward employees for healthy lifestyles even in restrictive states.

But read on.

The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep offering plans free from the restrictions of the “qualified” policies offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer only approved plans, with the myriad rules we’ve already discussed. So for Americans in large corporations, “keeping your own plan” has a strict deadline. In five years, like it or not, you’ll get dumped into the exchange. As we’ll see, it could happen a lot earlier.

The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who aren’t under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only “qualified” plans to new customers, via the exchanges.

The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can keep their plans, but once again, there’s a catch. If the plan changes in any way — by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for this or that drug — the employee must drop out and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it’s likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The Senate bill requires that Americans buying through the exchanges — and as we’ve seen, that will soon be most Americans — must get their care through something called “medical home.” Medical home is similar to an HMO. You’re assigned a primary care doctor, and the doctor controls your access to specialists. The primary care physicians will decide which services, like MRIs and other diagnostic scans, are best for you, and will decide when you really need to see a cardiologists or orthopedists.

Under the proposals, the gatekeepers would theoretically guide patients to tests and treatments that have proved most cost-effective. The danger is that doctors will be financially rewarded for denying care, as were HMO physicians more than a decade ago. It was consumer outrage over despotic gatekeepers that made the HMOs so unpopular, and killed what was billed as the solution to America’s health-care cost explosion.

The bills do not specifically rule out fee-for-service plans as options to be offered through the exchanges. But remember, those plans — if they exist — would be barred from charging sick or elderly patients more than young and healthy ones. So patients would be inclined to game the system, staying in the HMO while they’re healthy and switching to fee-for-service when they become seriously ill. “That would kill fee-for-service in a hurry,” says Goodman.

In reality, the flexible, employer-based plans that now dominate the landscape, and that Americans so cherish, could disappear far faster than the 5 year “grace period” that’s barely being discussed.

Companies would have the option of paying an 8% payroll tax into a fund that pays for coverage for Americans who aren’t covered by their employers. It won’t happen right away — large companies must wait a couple of years before they opt out. But it will happen, since it’s likely that the tax will rise a lot more slowly than corporate health-care costs, especially since they’ll be lobbying Washington to keep the tax under control in the righteous name of job creation.

The best solution is to move to a let-freedom-ring regime of high deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits, and cross-state shopping for bargains (another market-based reform that’s strictly taboo in the bills). I’ll propose my own solution in another piece soon on For now, we suffer with a flawed health-care system, but we still have our Five Freedoms. Call them the Five Endangered Freedoms.

We’re all west of the Mississippi now

morgan caving It’s official – all of our kids now live where radio and TV station call letters start with K.

Sean has lived in Portland, Ore. since he graduated from college in 1993 and Steve moved to Las Vegas almost two years ago, Austin took up residence in northeast Arkansas in May and Morgan moved to Arizona this month.

And, of course, Maria and I became Arkansas residents in the fall of 2007.

I certainly never saw this westerly drift coming. I figured most of us were pretty much permanently stuck in Indiana and Ohio.

The picture above is Morgan with her boyfriend and his mother outside an Arizona cave. The photo was taken by her boyfriend’s dad with his Blackberry. They’re doing a splendid job of making her feel at home in the alien landscape of the Sonoran Desert – far from the the lush green of Indiana.

Austin appears to have found work – we expect to know for sure in a day or two – but the pay rate may not be enough to make it possible for him to support himself in an apartment, but we remain optimistic. The goal is to get him to a higher level of self-sufficiency, with a secondary consequence of reclaiming our empty nest status and freeing up our guest quarters for visiting friends.

The real “teachable moment”

From Cold Fury:

Heather McDonald cuts to the chase:

On Friday, Obama declared that wants to have a “teachable moment” about “relations between police officers and minority communities.” Here’s a good place to start teaching: Expose the reality of black crime. It is preposterous to talk about urban policing without talking about crime, and yet that is what anti-cop activists, politicians, and reporters have done for years. They focus public attention on police stop-and-arrest data while keeping crime rates carefully off-stage. But nearly everything that the police do, especially in this age of data-driven policing, is a function of criminal behavior. Attend any Compstat meeting in New York or Los Angeles, and you will hear police commanders intently and passionately debating how best to deploy officers to disrupt ongoing crime patterns; race never comes up. And those crime patterns are reported to them most often by law-abiding residents of inner-city neighborhoods who plead in precinct-community meetings for more police protection against drug dealers and thugs, as I have witnessed numerous times.

When liberals and left-wingers ponderously refer to “race” — as in Attorney General Eric Holder’s admonition this February that “we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race,” or as in Obama’s observation in his recent primetime press conference that “race remains a factor in the society,” or as in Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree’s scary announcement that Henry Louis Gates Jr. intends to keep the country talking about issues of race and law enforcement — they mean: Let’s talk about white racism and skin color. Here’s another possible way of defining the problem: behavior. The issues that the race industry subsumes under the accusatory rubric of “race,” such as differential arrest or poverty rates, overwhelmingly result today from behavior, not from a reaction to skin color. I’ll be ready to concede that “race” — defined, per Obama, Holder, Ogletree, and Gates, as racism and skin color — remains a significant factor in social outcomes when the same proportion of black children as white children are raised in two-parent, married households without greatly lowering the black poverty rate, or when black crime drops to white and Asian levels without proportionally reducing the black prison population. Until we conduct that experiment, though — which is wholly within the capacity of individuals to do — I’ll remain skeptical that the race activists’ favorite “race issues” are predominantly the consequence of white Americans’ atavistic bigotry.

And might all this be because they’re the ones who are in fact “a nation of cowards,” in Holder’s outrageous formulation? They’re obviously afraid to confront and frankly discuss simple facts like these:

Of 23 peer-reviewed U.S. studies since 2000, 20 found that family structure directly affects crime and/or delinquency. Most research “strongly suggests both that young adults and teens raised in single-parent homes are more likely to commit crimes, and that communities with high rates of family fragmentation (especially unwed childbearing) suffer higher crime rates as a result.”

In The Atlantic Monthly, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead noted that the “relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. The nation’s mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime.”

Let me repeat: Control for single-parent families and there are no differences between the races when it comes to crime.

In addition, the statistical link between the availability of welfare and out-of-wedlock births is conclusive. There have been dozens of studies that link the availability of welfare benefits to out-of-wedlock birth.

In 1995, Dr. Patrick Fagan wrote a seminal summary of the situation: “Over the past thirty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers…High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers…The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers… Neighborhoods with a high degree of religious practice are not high-crime neighborhoods…Even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable homes do not become delinquents. By contrast only 10 percent of children from unsafe, unstable homes in these neighborhoods avoid crime…Criminals capable of sustaining marriage gradually move away from a life of crime after they get married.”

There’s your damned “national conversation on race,” you cowards. Until you’re courageous enough to stop dismissing inconvenient truths like these as some sort of irrelevant white-power fabrication, you can jam your self-serving, hectoring “teachable moments” sideways. As Ross concludes: “It can’t be called a ‘teachable moment’ if Democrats fail, decade over decade, to learn.” And they fail to learn because they’re too busy lecturing instead of listening

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another convincing challenge to the junk science of "global warming"

From The Spectator:

James Delingpole talks to Professor Ian Plimer, the Australian geologist, whose new book shows that ‘anthropogenic global warming’ is a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact. Shame on the publishers who rejected the book

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if man-made global warming were just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. No more ugly wind farms to darken our sunlit uplands. No more whopping electricity bills, artificially inflated by EU-imposed carbon taxes. No longer any need to treat each warm, sunny day as though it were some terrible harbinger of ecological doom. And definitely no need for the $7.4 trillion cap and trade (carbon-trading) bill — the largest tax in American history — which President Obama and his cohorts are so assiduously trying to impose on the US economy.

Imagine no more, for your fairy godmother is here. His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven And Earth, which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

‘The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,’ says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you’re unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigor, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history.

To find out why, let’s meet the good professor. He’s a tanned, rugged, white-haired sixty-something — courteous and jolly but combative when he needs to be — glowing with the health of a man who spends half his life on field expeditions to Iran, Turkey and his beloved Outback. And he’s sitting in my garden drinking tea on exactly the kind of day the likes of the Guardian’s George Monbiot would probably like to ban. A lovely warm sunny one.

So go on then, Prof. What makes you sure that you’re right and all those scientists out there saying the opposite are wrong? ‘I’m a geologist. We geologists have always recognized that climate changes over time. Where we differ from a lot of people pushing AGW is in our understanding of scale. They’re only interested in the last 150 years. Our time frame is 4,567 million years. So what they’re doing is the equivalent of trying to extrapolate the plot of Casablanca from one tiny bit of the love scene. And you can’t. It doesn’t work.’

What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by ‘politicians, environmental activists and opportunists’. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth’s warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian’s Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

All this is scientific fact — which is more than you can say for any of the computer models turning out doomsday scenarios about inexorably rising temperatures, sinking islands and collapsing ice shelves. Plimer doesn’t trust them because they seem to have little if any basis in observed reality.

‘I’m a natural scientist. I’m out there every day, buried up to my neck in shit, collecting raw data. And that’s why I’m so skeptical of these models, which have nothing to do with science or empiricism but are about torturing the data till it finally confesses. None of them predicted this current period we’re in of global cooling. There is no problem with global warming. It stopped in 1998. The last two years of global cooling have erased nearly 30 years of temperature increase.’

Plimer’s uncompromising position has not made him popular. ‘They say I rape cows, eat babies, that I know nothing about anything. My favorite letter was the one that said: “Dear sir, drop dead”. I’ve also had a demo in Sydney outside one of my book launches, and I’ve had mothers coming up to me with two-year-old children in their arms saying: “Don’t you have any kind of morality? This child’s future is being destroyed.’’’ Plimer’s response to the last one is typically robust. ‘If you’re so concerned, why did you breed?’

This no-nonsense approach may owe something to the young Ian’s straitened Sydney upbringing. His father was crippled with MS, leaving his mother to raise three children on a schoolteacher’s wage. ‘We couldn’t afford a TV — not that TV even arrived in Australia till 1956. We’d use the same brown paper bag over and over again for our school lunches, always turn off the lights, not because of some moral imperative but out of sheer bloody necessity.’

One of the things that so irks him about modern environmentalism is that it is driven by people who are ‘too wealthy’. ‘When I try explaining “global warming” to people in Iran or Turkey they have no idea what I’m talking about. Their life is about getting through to the next day, finding their next meal. Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.’

Heaven And Earth is the offspring of a pop science book Plimer published in 2001 called A Short History of Planet Earth. It was based on ten years’ worth of broadcasts for ABC radio aimed mainly at people in rural areas. Though the book was a bestseller and won a Eureka prize, ABC refused to publish the follow-up; so did all the other major publishers he approached: ‘There’s a lot of fear out there. No one wants to go against the popular paradigm.’

Then someone put him in touch with a tiny publishing outfit in the middle of the bush — ‘husband, wife, three kids, so poor they didn’t even have curtains’ — and they said yes. Plimer couldn’t bring himself to accept an advance they clearly couldn’t afford. But then something remarkable happened. In just two days, the book sold out its 5,000 print run. Five further editions followed in swift succession. It has now sold 26,500 copies in Australia alone — with similarly exciting prospects in Britain and the US. There’s even an edition coming out in ultra-green Germany.

But surely Aussies of all people, with their bushfires and prolonged droughts, ought to be the last to buy into his message? ‘Ah, but the average punter is not a fool. I get sometimes as many as 1,000 letters and emails a day from people who feel helpless and disenfranchised and just bloody sick of all the nonsense they hear about global warming from metropolitan liberals who don’t even know where meat or milk comes from.’

Besides which, Australia’s economy is peculiarly vulnerable to the effects of climate change alarmism. ‘Though we have 40 per cent of the world’s uranium, we don’t have nuclear energy. We’re reliant mainly on bucketloads of cheap coal. Eighty per cent of our electricity is coal-generated and clustered around our coalfields are our aluminum producers. The very last thing the Australian economy needs is the cap and trade legislation being proposed by Kevin Rudd. If it gets passed, the country will go broke.’

Not for one second does Plimer believe it will get passed. As with its US equivalent the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, Kevin Rudd’s Emission Trading Scheme legislation narrowly squeaked its way through the House of Representatives. But again as in America, the real challenge lies with the upper house, the Senate. Thanks in good measure to the influence of Plimer and his book — ‘I have politicians ringing me all the time’ — the Senate looks likely to reject the bill. If it does so twice, then the Australian government will collapse, a ‘double dissolution’ will be forced and a general election called. ‘Australia is at a very interesting point in the climate change debate,’ says Plimer.

The potential repercussions outside Oz, of course, are even greater. Until this year, environmental legislation has enjoyed a pretty easy ride through the parliaments of the Anglosphere and the Eurosphere, with greener-than-thou politicians (from Dave ‘Windmill’ Cameron to Dave ‘climate change deniers are the flat-earthers of the 21st century’ Miliband) queuing up to impose ever more stringent carbon emissions targets and taxes on their hapless electorates.

In the days when most people felt rich enough to absorb these extra costs and guilty enough to think they probably deserved them, the politicians could get away with it. But the global economic meltdown has changed all that. As countless opinion surveys have shown, the poorer people feel, the lower down their list of priorities ecological righteousness sinks. ‘It’s one of the few good things to come out of this recession,’ says Plimer. ‘People are starting to ask themselves: “Can we really afford this green legislation?”’

Reading Plimer’s Heaven And Earth is at once an enlightening and terrifying experience. Enlightening because, after 500 pages of heavily annotated prose (the fruit of five years’ research), you are left in no doubt that man’s contribution to the thing they now call ‘climate change’ was, is and probably always will be negligible. Terrifying, because you cannot but be appalled by how much money has been wasted, how much unnecessary regulation drafted because of a ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist. (South Park, as so often, was probably the first to point this out in a memorable episode where Al Gore turns up to warn the school kids about a terrible beast, looking a bit like the Gruffalo, known as ManBearPig.)

Has it come in time to save the day, though? If there’s any justice, Heaven And Earth will do for the cause of climate change realism what Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change alarmism. But as Plimer well knows, there is now a powerful and very extensive body of vested interests up against him: governments like President Obama’s, which intend to use ‘global warming’ as an excuse for greater taxation, regulation and protectionism; energy companies and investors who stand to make a fortune from scams like carbon trading; charitable bodies like Greenpeace which depend for their funding on public anxiety; environmental correspondents who need constantly to talk up the threat to justify their jobs.

Does he really believe his message will ever get through? Plimer smiles. ‘If you’d asked any scientist or doctor 30 years ago where stomach ulcers come from, they would all have given the same answer: obviously it comes from the acid brought on by too much stress. All of them apart from two scientists who were pilloried for their crazy, wacko theory that it was caused by a bacteria. In 2005 they won the Nobel prize. The “consensus” was wrong.’

Ian Plimer’s Heaven And Earth: Global Warming — the Missing Science is published by Quartet (£25).

Smokin' ribs on a Sunday afternoon - how Arkansas!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA           We're taking another shot at smoking a rack of ribs on our gas grill this afternoon.

The previous attempt about a month ago failed because we trusted the thermometer in the grill lid rather than OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         measure the temperature at grill level where the ribs were merely being warmed.

This time we have a Taylor grill top thermometer that assures we maintain a meat-level temperature of 250 degrees. The burners under the foil tray of hickory chips are on and the burners under the meat are off. The wood chips smoke and the meat smokes and cooks slowly.

I think maybe we're getting it right this time. It sure smells good.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A visitor

The black Labrador retriever who lives on the organic cattle farm on the other side of the woods comes to visit now and then.
I first noticed him shortly after we moved in a couple of years ago, He seemed very friendly and was sometimes accompanied by a pup.
He came around this afternoon. I gave him a pat on the head and some encouraging words and he apparently decided to stay awhile.
I just glanced out the back door into the garage and saw him dozing next to the treadmill.

I shoulda known

mossyoakbible Heading for the restroom at Books-A-Million the other day, I passed a display for the Mossy Oak Bible.

For the uninitiated, Mossy Oak is a style of hunting camouflage and a major element in the northeast Arkansan’s wardrobe. I supposed that the book was a catalogue, of sorts, of all of the stuff you could buy in the Mossy Oak camo pattern.

So I paused on my way out of the store to check it out.

But nope, it’s a Bible with a Mossy Oak cover, perfect for scripture study in a duck blind or for losing your Bible in the woods.

I shoulda known.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Can you hear me now? How about now?


Ethnologist Frances Densmore records the voice of Mountain Chief, a Piegan Indian, in 1916.

Tot’s gone walkabout


Seen on the post office bulletin board this morning. Pretty thin description. This is why my dogs have microchips and collars with ID tags. And I have tons of photos of them.

Michael Jackson’s nose is missing!

Like the Michael Jackson story wasn’t already creepy enough.


mjnoseMichael Jackson wore a prosthetic nose, according a report — and it was missing from his surgically mangled face as he lay in  an LA morgue.

Left behind was a small, dark hole surrounded by bits of cartilage, Rolling Stone magazine said, citing witnesses who saw the King of Pop's body on the autopsy table.

Jackson, who was notoriously shy about his appearance, wore the prosthetic to mask the effects of decades of plastic surgery, according to the magazine, due to hit newsstands today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nice dress, Zoey

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We went to Petco this evening to get some food fish for Austin's turtle.

While there, we noticed a woman over at the dog clothes display chatting incessantly to her Chihuahua.

Turns out the dog's name is Zoey and she's eight months old. Zoey's mom lamented that she couldn't find any shoes for the dog to match her dress and said she's going to paint Zoey's toenails instead.

Zoey, she said, will have a wardrobe to rival Princess Diana's.

Good luck, Zoey.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I harvested the grass crop on our 1.23-acre estate today, this being the view from the driver's seat of our John Deere LA125.

I thought the grass was dry enough by 9:30 a.m., but about four passes around the yard later, I noticed the mower was struggling and clogging up with wet grass.

So I drove back to the garage, used the hose attachment to flush out the mowing apparatus and gave it a rest.

It was a different story at 3 p.m. when I stuck my headphone earplugs in, put my iPod on shuffle and attacked the lawn a second time.

Other than being a little wary of snakes, I was reminded that I kinda enjoy cutting the grass now that I don't have to walk behind a mower.

All that remains is the fenced-in part of the back yard and I'm heading out to take care of that now.

I need this t-shirt!

49th This is one of a series of t-shirt designs created by a local artist whose stuff can be seen (and purchased) at

When he was running for his first term as president, Bill Clinton said one of his proudest achievements as governor of Arkansas was taking the state from 50th place in education to 49th place.


Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol?


California Assembly Bill 390 would legalize the sale of marijuana for adults

The California chapter of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)is asking for public support of Assembly Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act -- the first bill ever introduced to legalize the sale and use of marijuana in California. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Committees on Public Safety andHealth.

As introduced, this proposal would raise over $1 billion in annual revenue by taxing the retail production and sale of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age.

The bill would not alter existing legislation on the use of medicinal cannabis, nor would it impose new taxes or sanctions on the medical cultivation of cannabis.
Assembly Bill 390 proposes to make California the first state in the nation to enact such a public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana.

The measure has gained growing public support as California’s budget crisis worsens and more and more public services are curtailed to save money.

California produces an estimated $14 billion worth of marijuana annually, nearly twice the amount generated by the next largest agricultural commodity category, milk and cream at $7.3 billion.

I’m curious about my readers’ sentiments on the issue that seems to be outside the regular liberal/conservative political discussion. Take a look at the poll on the right side of the screen and register your opinion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The 1940 Tour de France

1940 tour de france


air tour The UPS guy showed up a few minutes ago with the Fieldsheer Air Tour jacket I bought at the rally on Saturday and shipped home.

It lists for $197.94 and was on sale for $149. Throw in $28.89 for shipping and the whole package came to $177.89. Still sounds like an OK deal until you consider I could have bought it online from Competition Accessories for $99.99 with free shipping. Doh!

That's what happens at rallies when you don't keep a tight grip on your wallet.

Best Buy is coming to town

One of the things I missed most when we moved here from Indiana was easy access to a Best Buy store.

That's a complaint I heard over and over from other folks who moved bestbuyhere from around the country.

The nearest Best Buy is in Memphis, more than 80 miles away.

Instead, Jonesboro had a Circuit City store at the Mall at Turtle Creek.

I've never liked Circuit City. I thought their store layout was goofy, their checkout procedure was unnecessarily complicated, their prices weren't particularly low and their range of products was too small. I guess other people felt the same way, because the Circuit City store here closed earlier this year as part of a company wide bankruptcy action.

The closing left a big 25,000-square-foot blank space in the middle of the mall. The Jonesboro Sun reports this morning that Best Buy will occupy the vacant space, with plans to open in October.

I've been expecting the announcement ever since I heard a month or so ago that Best Buy applied for a sign permit.

But now it's official.

No word on how many employees the store will hire, but it should be at least as many as worked at Circuit City and possibly more.

Always something

It’s always something.

My mother-in-law drove by our Thorntown house this morning and called to report a couple of the rungs in the upstairs balcony railing are out.

I’ve got a call in to the renter to discuss it and sent an email asking our Boone County fix-it guy to drop by and repair it.

I was out and running early today for an 8:40 a.m. eye doc augen[3]appointment where I got new prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses, then down to the electric utility to pay our bill (Only $149 for a month of AC in brutal heat, plus our normal consumption. I can say goodbye to cheap electricity if the loons in Congress jam the ruinous Cap and Trade bill down our throats.), and on to the bookstore for coffee, blogging and surfing.

The lawn desperately needs to be mowed, so that’s at the top of my to-do list as soon as the grass dries out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Doggie doctor day

vet pete and ruthie Today was vet day for Ruthie and Pete, so Austin and I leashed them and loaded them into the back of the Subaru for the drive into town.

It started raining about the time we left home and we sat in a downpour several minutes waiting for a train to clear a crossing a few blocks from the veterinarian’s office.

vet pete 1This was their semi-annual checkup with tests and shots for rabies and other stuff. The vet was running a special on micro chipping, so I decided it  was time to take care of that long-neglected detail.

I’d never forgive myself if they ran off and we had no other way to identify them and assure their safe return, all because I was too cheap to get them micro chipped.

Both dogs handled the chipping procedure with remarkable aplomb – no wincing or whimpering when Dr. John Huff placed the rice grain-size microchips under their skin between the shoulder blades.

maria deskI dropped the dogs and Austin off at home, collected up the mail at the post office, gassed the car at Hilltop ($2.09/gallon for regular) and picked Maria up for lunch, after which I swapped cars with her so she wouldn’t have to drive my del Sol.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Multi-Level Marketing

I’m back at my old stand in the bookstore cafe and I arrived to hear a guy making a pitch to a kid and his girlfriend for a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.

It could have been Amway or any number of other schemes that promise big bucks to those with drive and hustle.

Yes, there are some people who make money in multi-level marketing, but they are rare. Most lack the wit and will to succeed and drop out.

Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission has to say about MLMs:

The Federal Trade Commission cannot tell you whether a particular multilevel marketing plan is legal. Nor can it give you advice about whether to join such a plan. You must make that decision yourself. However, the FTC suggests that you use common sense, and consider these seven tips when you make your decision:

  1. Avoid any plan that includes commissions for recruiting additional distributors. It may be an illegal pyramid.
  2. Beware of plans that ask new distributors to purchase expensive inventory. These plans can collapse quickly -- and also may be thinly-disguised pyramids.
  3. Be cautious of plans that claim you will make money through continued growth of your "downline" -- the commissions on sales made by new distributors you recruit -- rather than through sales of products you make yourself.
  4. Beware of plans that claim to sell miracle products or promise enormous earnings. Just because a promoter of a plan makes a claim doesn't mean it's true! Ask the promoter of the plan to substantiate claims with hard evidence.
  5. Beware of shills -- "decoy" references paid by a plan's promoter to describe their fictional success in earning money through the plan.
  6. Don't pay or sign any contracts in an "opportunity meeting" or any other high-pressure situation. Insist on taking your time to think over a decision to join. Talk it over with your spouse, a knowledgeable friend, an accountant or lawyer.
  7. Do your homework! Check with your local Better Business Bureau and state Attorney General about any plan you're considering -- especially when the claims about the product or your potential earnings seem too good to be true.

I hope the kid makes it. I really do, but the odds aren’t on his side.

I know. I was an Amway distributor in a previous life. Twice.

Rally decompression

ice cream pano

Some random rally observations:

  • A Markel Insurance guy told me they handed out more than 8,000 of those yellow bags at the Country Store. (See photo.)
  • As a reformed smoker, I have a particularly strong dislike for smoke and reserve my most uncharitable thoughts for cigar smokers who inflict their revolting smoke on innocent bystanders. BMW MOA needs to ban smoking at rallies, except in designated downwind areas.
  • The rally crowds were so thick that it was almost impossible to photograph anything farther away than 10 feet without having someone walk into my shot.
  • I had to suppress my “wave reflex” after I got off of the Interstate at the rally exit. I reactivated it somewhere west of Knoxville on the way home.
  • I think the Saturday night fireworks show was a first for MOA rallies. At least, I’ve never seen it at the 17 other rallies I’ve attended.
  • The shuttle service was a life-saver for getting around the grounds.

My spandex shorts mysteriously reappeared from a parallel universe ldcomfortand materialized on the laundry room door knob. No matter, the LDComfort riding shorts I bought at the rally are easily the most  comfortable thing I’ve ever worn under my riding pants.

I experienced absolutely no seat discomfort over the course of my 10-hour trip home and was in no hurry to change out of them once my ride was over. Indy rider John Rinehart tells me he has a pair and loves them too.

Speaking as a guy who has about 300,000 miles on stock BMW seats and who firmly believes the key to seat comfort is your underwear choice, I suggest everyone who rides check out

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rally postscript

crowd01 The stage and part of the crowd at last night’s awards ceremony.crowd02 More of the crowd.

The official rally attendance figure was 8,972 people with 6,870 bikes. Perhaps the most significant statistic was the only 5 percent of the bikes came to the rally on trailers.rick award

Indy Club member Rick Nelson won the Grand Tour Award, having traveled more than 23,000 miles since he left home in January en route to the rally. Nobody else was even close.

leaving Sometime between 6:30 and 7 a.m. today a cold fog descended on the fairgrounds while thousands of us were breaking camp. I was actually cold for the first couple of hours on the ride home. I left about 7:30 a.m. EDT and arrived home at 4:52 p.m. CDT. Total travel time for the 522.6 miles ridden was 9 hours 59 minutes, of which 8 hours and 16 minutes were spent in motion and one hour and 43 minutes were spent stopped for food, water, gas or restroom. My average speed overall was 52.3 mph and my average speed while on the road was 63.1 mph.

Pretty damned fascinating, eh?

Here’s a sign on a Shell station restroom door where they apparently have a graffiti problem:

shell restroom sign

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rally report: Saturday afternoon

gs challenge

BMWMOA INTERNATIONAL RALLY, Tenn. - We dropped by the GS Challenge this afternoon and watched a bunch of GS riders thrash their bikes over a series of motocrossesque exercises.

It was pretty impressive, considering these guys need their bikes to get home tomorrow.

I broke down and bought a hi-viz lime green Fieldsheer riding jacket for $149, which Maria agreed to consider my birthday present. I shipped it home via UPS rather than try to jam it into my luggage.

We have a husband-and-wife doctor team in the club and they’re camped with us. I described the pain in my left heel and they concurred I need to see a podiatrist for a possible bone spur. Oh, joy.

Wayne found two more club members here, so our club attendance is up to 62. I can remember national rallies when we impressed ourselves by having half that number present.

I’m curious to see how we placed in the club attendance competition. All will be made known at the closing ceremonies in about an hour.

As things stand now, I intend to ride the entire distance home tomorrow. If I get out by 7 or 8 a.m., I should be home well before dark.

Rally report: Saturday mid-morning


BMWMOA INTERNATIONAL RALLY, Tenn. – I’m cruising the grounds and looking for photos. Here’s one from the stunt riding show in front of the BMW Motorrad trailer.

I’ve developed a hankering for a high-viz lime green jacket and there seem to be some good deals on them here, so I may have to add to my riding wardrobe at this rally.

I ran into John Rhinehart at the Blue Moon Cycle tent and thought I might have found Indy Club member #61 for our rally tally. He listed our club – MOA Charter #17 – on his registration form despite the fact that his membership has lapsed. I called Wayne with the news, but he said the official count has to be made from the official club roster and John isn’t on it. Oh, well. I tried.

Back to work.

Rally report: Saturday morning

sink picBMWMOA INTERNATIONAL RALLY, Tenn. – The sun rose into a clear blue sky this morning and I was up and moving by 7:15 a.m.

The overnight low was 63 in my tent, which made for good sleeping weather.

I decided to take advantage of the morning light and got some shots outside one of the shower trailers, including the one above.001

Wayne Garrison, the official Indy Club rally attendancemeister, declared this morning there are 60 confirmed members of the  Indianapolis BMW Club at the rally. That’s a club record for a MOA national and should be enough to get us into the top 10.

I rode the shuttle down to the free coffee shack by the beer tent for my first java jolt of the day and also discovered the fairgrounds Wifi signal doesn’t reach that far, so now I’m up at the Country Store where I can also charge my cell phone while blogging and surfing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hey, It’s Steve Lutz!

steve lutz The nametag says he’s Steve Lutz from Bolivar, Ohio. I don’t know him, but he has a cool hat.

Rally report: Friday midday

jim stocking dog BMW MOA INTERNATIONAL RALLY, Tenn. – I love dogs and there are several here at the rally, including Indy Club member Jim Stocking’s young pup, pictured above.

beach dogAnd Beach Motorcycle Adventures has Luke, a big friendly pup of mixed heritage.

The rain refuses to go away completely, but there are also periods of sunshine this morning.

I mentioned on Tuesday that I had to leave home without my spandex bicycle shorts because they mysteriously vanished after I got home from Daytona in March. I went on an intensive search of the vendors this morning and found what may be the best possible replacement for them – LDComfort Undergarments.

They’re made from a dual layer wicking material and the demonstration at the booth was almost as impressive as Vince and ShamWow. I bought a pair for $49 and am almost looking forward to the long ride home on Sunday to see how well the perform.

Markel Insurance is here again with a table set up in the Country markel2Store where everyone who enters the door prize drawings or buys a rally t-shirt will see them. And they’re handing out their yellow totebag/backpack things by the thousands. About every third person walking around the vendor area has one. It’s a brilliant advertising move.

There are also jail prisoners here, emptying trash barrels, cleaning restrooms and doing other chores for the public service part of their sentences. You can spot them easily because they all wear jailhouse orange scrubs. I also saw one of them this morning sporting an orange safety vest with “I AM A DRUNK DRIVER” on the back.

trash crew

Oh, yeah. I got a new nametag this morning: