Monday, August 31, 2009

Jesse James died here

bike st joseph motel ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – It’s Heineken time here in the city that saw the birth of the Pony Express and the death of Jesse James.

I covered a pathetic 471 miles today and didn’t even make it to Kansas, largely because I made frequent stops to fuss with my XM radio problem. Once I resigned myself to iPod entertainment, I laid down some serious miles, but by 4 p.m. I had decided that St. Joseph would be where I stopped.

I had pulled off of U.S. 36 at Macon, Mo., for gas at a BP station, so I did a Garmin survey of the St. Jo motels, found the Motel 6 is in the same neighborhood with the upscale motels and phoned in a Motel 6 reservation.

There was nothing left to do but sit on the bike, twist the throttle, listen to music and wait for the Motel 6 to show up. It did about 6:15 heinekenp.m.

Dinner was “endless shrimp” at a Red Lobster next to the motel: 2 helpings of garlic shrimp scampi, one of Cajun shrimp and one of Teriyaki shrimp, washed down with two Heinekins. The waitress said some people have ordered as many as 25 helpings (10 little shrimp/helping), so I felt a little less gluttonous.

I would have to do a 651-mile, 12-hour ride to make Alma by tomorrow night. Even with gaining an hour by crossing into the Mountain Time Zone, that would have me flirting with darkness and completely wrung out. So I’m taking it easy and shooting for St. Francis in western Kansas for tomorrow evening, which will set me up for an easy ride up into the mountains on Wednesday.

I guess having 64 years and more than 300,000 BMW miles in my mirrors means I don’t have to keep proving stuff to myself and I can adopt a more rational approach to motorcycle travel.

Monday midday report

splitter JACKSONVILLE, Ill. - My XM Roady2 satellite radio crapped out a few days ago because I didn’t get the rain cover on it in time.

Both Roady radios I’ve had have gotten wet before and revived when they dried out, but this time the soaking was terminal.

Fortunately, I had a spare at home and I thought to bring it along. Unfortunately, after several hours of trying to get it to link with the SiriusXM network, it’s still not getting it.

I came to that conclusion somewhere in the middle of Illinois and it was almost a deal-breaker on whether to continue my trip to Colorado or abort and go home.

I stopped at an AutoZone at Springfield to see if they had any replacement XM receivers that would work on my bike. They didn’t but then I realized I could use my iPod without fear of running out of battery if I had a splitter that could power my iPod and my GPS from the same outlet.

They did and that’s what you see in my tank bag at the top of this entry.

I got off to a slow start because of all of the fiddling with the XM radio, stopping several times to call SiriusXM and get them to resend the activation signal. I’m stopped for lunch at a Quiznos in Jacksonville, Ill. that advertised free Wifi. I’ve covered less than 200 miles so far today and it looks like this will be a three-day ride to the Colorado high country.

lauri kitchen I passed a delightful evening last night at the home of Lauri and Jim south of Crawfordsville. Good food, good friends, laundry facilities, a hot shower, a soft bed and power outlets to recharge all of my stuff. What more could a road worrier ask for?

The MotoGP was spectacular – way more fun than I had expected and I see how it could be habit-forming. The weather was very nearly perfect for the races, but it clouded over and got a bit chilly as Charlie and I made our way through the goofy traffic labyrinth that finally dumped us off onto I-465 at 38th Street after winding through miles of quiet neighborhood streets.

At my present rate of travel, I’ll be lucky to make Kansas before nightfall, much less get as far as Smith Center – my original target.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday morning report

track pano02

SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Here’s the view from our seats up in row JJ of Section J – top row in the fourth turn – yesterday afternoon where we watched qualifications for today’s races.

The weather was a little cool, but sunny and dry and there was a brisk breeze blowing across the top of the grandstand.

This is my introduction to MotoGP, so I’m still on the learning curve. One thing I learned yesterday is how utterly exciting the Ducatis sound. They have a distinctive exhaust note that sets them apart from all of the other bikes on the track and the sound of the Ducks under full throttle coming out of the last corner and blazing down the main straightaway is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

bimbo charlie

We cruised the vendor area again during a break in the action and I returned the previous day’s photographic favor by getting a shot of Charlie with the girl outside the video camera booth.

She seemed to warm up to Charlie better than she did to me. Must be that southern charm of his.

The track adventure followed a great breakfast at Shapiro’s with the Indianapolis BMW Club. It was great to see old friends like Rich Nathan, Jerry Lomax, Dom & Jane LoDuca, Margie Ledgerwood, Jim Brown and Martin Radtke. Martin reported that he visited Kenny Jagger, the last surviving club founder, in the hospital Friday where Kenny is in intensive care.

I picked up a half-dozen of Shapiro bagels for Charlie to take home to Maria.

Dinner was an odd version of fish and chips at the Union Jack Pub, followed by an evening hanging out at the campground where a retired USAF pilot set up a video projector and huge sound system outside his $250,000, 8 mpg motor home to blast 1980s music videos across the grounds.

We were also treated to an abbreviated version of the previous einstein breakfastnight’s fireworks show, provided by someone over on the east side of the campground.

The temperature got down to 57 degrees inside my tent this morning. We’re sitting at Einstein Bros. Bagels and wondering how warmly to dress for the races, since there will be a brisk wind and a high temperature of only 67. There’s also an overcast sky, which will deprive us of the heat of the sun. Odd weather for Aug. 30 in Indy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Damned rain

speedway library

SPEEDWAY, Ind. - I’m about as soaked as a drowned rat, mostly in sweat from steamy weather inside a rainsuit, in a study carrel at the Speedway Public Library.

Charlie and I set out from the campground for a Starbucks I found with my Garmin. Charlie doubled back to get something he’s forgotten and I discovered a few minutes later, in the pouring rain, that the Starbucks was gone – closed several months ago.

So I fumbled around in the wet and the afternoon traffic until I noticed the library and figured they must have Wifi and an outlet to charge my phone. They did. And the Wifi will shut down at 4:50 and they will throw me out at 5 and it’s 4:33 right now.

larry parker We went to the track to see the sights in late morning and I found my old BMW riding neighbor Larry Parker standing near the pits. It was great to see him and we agreed to rendezvous next July at the BMW MOA in Redmond, Ore. Larry’s daughter and son-in-law own two BMW motorcycle dealerships in Oregon – Portland and Eugene and he travels there often.

bimboI ran into probably a dozen Indianapolis BMW Club friends as we cruised the infield and the vendors where I posed for this memorable shot with some motorcycle accessory bimbo.

The overcast was thickening and Charlie’s iPhone weather radar app showed rain was almost upon us. I suggested we start heading back northwest toward the campground.

We managed to watch a little of the 125cc practice session before the rain hit.

Charlie just called to say he discovered the Starbucks is dead too and suggested we meet back at the campground when I finish here. So we will.

in the stands

Friday morning report

fattire SPEEDWAY, Ind. - I hung around the campsite for a few hours late yesterday afternoon and drank a couple of cans – yes cans – of Fat Tire. The Kroger had 12-packs of Fat Tire in cans! Who knew?

Charlie returned in due course with the ingredients for dinner – chicken chunks and vegetables in rice – which he cooked up on his camp stove.

cook charlie A short time before Charlie got back, I got a call from Lauri saying she and Jim and the kids were over at the Major Taylor Velodrome where Jim was bicycle racing.

After dinner, I saddled up and rode over. Lauri was having a great time with her new Nikon D60 and Jim was burning up the track and looking criminally buff. I was glad I could help discourage a creepy guy who had been stalking Lauri and chatting her up.jim lauri

It almost feels natural being back in Indianapolis. A few of the street configurations have changed, but everything seems to be pretty much where I left it when I moved to Thorntown in 2001.

The campground is less than half full, but we expect that to change today. There are a lot of people who have camped here for years for various events – the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400, MotoGP, Formula 1 – and they tend to pick the same sites.lauri nikon

Charlie brought us to the same spot against the west fence and just north of 25th Street that he and Deb have used for years and our neighbors are Canadians to the south in a camper and a guy from Naples, Fla. on a Kawasaki, all of whom are familiar faces to Charlie.

This is a party crowd, a lot like a BMW motorcycle rally, but with more car campers and motor homes, including this one with a somewhat rude banner.welcome

We were up at 7:30 a.m. and rode to Einstein Brothers Bagels for breakfast and in hopes of finding free electricity to charge our phones and other stuff. No such luck.

The quest for electricity continues.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday afternoon report

indy campsite SPEEDWAY, Ind. - I’m blogging on battery power from our campsite just east of the Coca-Cola bottling plant.

We had our tents and fly set up by 8 a.m. and rode to breakfast at the Crawfordsville Road Einstein Bros. Bagels where I reveled in one of my favorite breakfasts, the Santa Fe.

Then we rode down to the BMW dealer where we spent an hour or so ogling bikes, apparel and accessories.

I was delighted to find the dealer has set aside a spot for the Indianapolis BMW Club. The club presence includes a plaque enumerating each Active (high flo mileagemileage) Rider Award winner since 1984. I’m on it twice.

Since the Speedway doesn’t open until tomorrow, we were at a loss for how to spend our time. I suggested a run up to Thorntown to show Charlie where we used to live. A quick romp up I-74 to Ind. 75, which had loose gravel all the way from the Interstate to Thorntown because of resurfacing, and we were at the corner of Pearl and Mills Streets, gazing at the old house. That’s when Charlie offered, “You know, now this trip is deductible.”

Oh, yeah, a ride from Jonesboro to Thorntown to check on our rental property. I took a couple of photos for evidence.

charlie hnb We rode up the street where I introduced Charlie to an authentic breaded tenderloin sandwich at Stookey’s Family Restaurant. Mike Hankins, the owner and our former neighbor, came over and said hello.

After lunch, I led Charlie over to the Ropkey Armor Museum near Crawfordsville where Fred Ropkey welcomed us and turned us loose among his tanks, howitzers, jeeps, and aircraft while he went into his woods to cut firewood.

fl0o ropke

Then it was back to Indy and the Kroger store for beer, Ice and snack food and thence to the campsite. And here we are.

The bikes are still where we left them

motel bikes

INDIANAPOLIS – Always an encouraging sight at 6 in the morning when you’re in a sketchy motel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


charliel union jack

We dodged the traffic and crossed two busy rush hour streets to go to dinner at the Union Jack Pub.

Charlie had the reuben and I had a burger with bleu cheese. Well, I ordered bleu cheese, but it came with a little plastic cup of bleu cheese dressing. Whatever.

Walking back, we crossed the Hardees lot where I was stunned to see their latest offering – a fried bologna breakfast sandwich. Ack.hardees

Goobertown to Indy in a day


INDIANAPOLIS - We hit I-465 at Indianapolis just before the 5 o’clock rush hour and made our way to our motel, which is in an extremely sketchy neighborhood.

They charge an extra $2.95 plus tax to use the Wifi, so we walked up to the office to get an access code. Charlie went on across the street for a drink and I came back to the room to download photos and check email.

The ride was uneventful and I am surprised at how nice it feels to be back in Indiana, even if we’re stuck in a really nasty motel room.indymotel

Ready to roll

It's 6:20 a.m. and Charlie will be here at 7 o'clock.

The bike is packed and loaded and I'm taking care of those last-minute things that need attention before we ride off for Indianapolis.

I will, of course, blog from the road with phone and netbook.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lunchtime observations

tattoo We had lunch at Shorty Small’s in the Mall at Turtle Creek and had a little time to kill afterward, so we went to Barnes & Noble so Maria could browse the quilting magazines.

maria barnes & nobleI was wandering around the magazine section when I caught sight of a guy in a sleeveless t-shirt who had a motorcycle tattooed onto his right bicep.

On closer inspection, I realized it was a BMW. While tattoos are commonplace on bikers, this is only the second BMW motorcycle-related tattoo I’ve seen in nearly 30 years of involvement with the marque. The only other one was a BMW roundel tattooed onto a guy’s arm that I saw at the old BMW Motorcycles of Indianapolis back in the early 1990s on East 52nd Street.

“Excuse me, but is that a BMW R90S on your arm?” I asked him.

“No, it’s an R100/7,” he replied, somewhat surprised.

Turns out he’s had it for a lot of years. The odometer broke so he has no idea how many miles are on it. He’s making payments on a new Kawasaki, so his wife is prodding him to sell the BMW.arkansas bride

But he’ll probably always have the tattoo.

As you can see, he consented to a photo of his bicep.

I also noticed a magazine called Arkansas Bride with a cover picture  that doesn’t look anything like the image that comes to mind when you say that name.

We also noticed that a crew is hard at work on scaffolding in front of the former Circuit City store, presumably peeling off the old facade and the Circuit City logo to make way for the trademark Best Buy signage.

circuit buy

This could be you, your parents, your spouse...

Packing & Loading

This is packing and loading day for my two-weeks on the road.

Here's my pre-departure checklist:

  • Fuel the bike and check tire pressures.
  • Put oversize saddlebags on bike.
  • Pay all bills in advance.
  • Do last-minute laundry.
  • Pull together tent, air mattress, sleeping bag and inflatable pillows and jam them into big yellow and black BMW waterproof duffel.
  • Collect all of my electronic gadgets - cell phone, netbook, iPod, digital camera - and their charging devices. Put all charging devices in ziploc bag.
  • Gather up all appropriate pharmaceuticals.
  • Pack a reasonable amount of underwear, socks, shirts, handkerchiefs in compressible Space Bags and put them into the saddle bag liners.
  • Pack travel toiletries bag and bag containing spare contact lenses, case and saline solution.
  • Pack regular jacket liner, Gerbings heated jacket liner, heated gloves, windstopper pullover, rain suit, rain gloves.
  • Do tank bag inventory, making sure to include MotoLight bulb changing wrench, spare MotoLight bulb, power regulator and cord for Gerbings heated clothing, earplug headphones, sunblock, sunglasses, GPS case, rain covers for XM radio and tank bag, binoculars, ballpoint pens, trip log, flash light(s), pocket knife, matches.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something that I'll remember about 100 miles down the road tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back when presidents were real men

If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.

~ Theodore Roosevelt 1897

Yes, they do

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         And Target proudly proclaims it.

Scented candles - ack!

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Scented candles are something Maria and I will never agree on.

She loves them, especially the Yankee brand. She can't walk through Bed Bath & Beyond without sniffing half a dozen candles.

And, of course, she offers me a sniff. And I have to suppress my gag reflex.

I tolerate them in the house because they make her happy. I'm just glad she doesn't like cigar smoke.

For Steve and Nicky

You might be from Las Vegas if…

You no longer associate bridges with water.
You can say 115 degrees without fainting.
You have made instant sun tea.
You have learned that a seat belt makes a good branding iron.
The temperature drops below 85 degrees and you feel a bit chilled.
You have never seen a snow shovel and don’t know anyone who owns one.
You wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did!
You have learned that in July and August it only takes 2 fingers to drive a car.
You have discovered that you can get a sunburn through your car window.
You notice that the best parking spaces are determined by shade, not by distance.
You know someone who has paid to get a job parking cars.
It’s noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is on the streets.
Half of the people you know work in a casino.
Hot water comes out of both taps.
You do not own an umbrella and would not know where to get one.
You don’t find it strange that the grocery stores, drug stores and 7-11s all have slot machines in them.
You are comfortable at 102 degrees.
You have spent the entire day trying to find a store that carries snow chains for your car.
You have actually burned your hand opening the car door.
No one you know would ever dream of having vinyl upholstery in a car or not having air conditioning.
If the local weather service records 0.02 inches, they call it rain.
You don’t know anyone who owns a raincoat.
You have cooked a dozen eggs in the trunk of your car between the grocery store and your home.
Your biggest bicycle fear is “what if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death”?
You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
Half of your neighbors are from California and the other half are from New York.
They all moved to Nevada to avoid oppressive taxes, but now demand the same services that they had at home.
You think snow on the ground is an abstract concept.
You have forgotten how to drive on wet roads.
The local cows have been known to give powdered milk.
The trees are whistling for the dogs.
You pray “I wish it would rain. Not so much for me because I have seen it, but for my 7 year old.”
You can say “but it’s a dry heat” without laughing.
The water in your pool has been too hot to swim in and you don’t even have a heater.
You have ever cooked outside without lighting the grill.
Your power bill in the summer is more than your mortgage payment.
You have had to take out a loan to pay your water bill.
You think it was better when “the Mob” ran the town.
You have ever thought “if I only had the light bulb concession.”
You have ever golfed when it was 117 degrees outside.
You have visited the Statue of Liberty, Venice, the Eiffel Tower, and the Pyramids without having to leave town.
The song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” has no meaning to you.
You can’t buy a car on Sunday from a car dealer, but you can buy a drink, gamble or get a “massage”.
You know Autumn has arrived when the temperature finally dips to 95 degrees.
You’ve golfed in December in a short sleeved shirt.
You’ve tried to work on your car in the summer and burned your hand picking up a wrench that was left in the sun less than two minutes ago.
You have never had a car battery last longer than three years.
You have seen more Elvis impersonators than policemen.
You have gone grocery shopping at 3:00 am.
Roads just end and pick up again three miles later.
At least four of your neighbors are “dancers”.
You are in a town with 24/7 entertainment but you can’t find anything to do.
You wouldn’t know what “natural” breasts look like.
You know at least ten people whose houses or cars are now owned by a casino.
You still don’t understand how to play craps but you still do anyway.
Before people come to visit from out of town they can’t get the concept that you don’t live in a casino.
You only go to the Strip when you have people visiting from out of town.

The new terms of servitude at The Indianapolis Star

Here are the terms of the contract my friends at The Indianapolis Star are being asked to approve tomorrow.

I know it's easy for me to say, since I left nearly nine years ago, but for God's sake, how far do you let the Gannett weasels push you before you tell them to stuff it and walk out the door.

As I demonstrated in October, 2000, nobody has to work there. And everyone I know who has left is happy they're out. Face it folks, the party was over a long time ago. Gannett sucked the last bit of fun and professionalism out of newspapering in Indianapolis shortly after they came to town. It's time to get on with your lives and out from under the Gannett thumb.

The contract:

+ Permanent pay cut of 10 percent beginning Aug. 30 for all Guild-represented employees. Employees whose pay would drop below the federal minimum wage with a 10 percent pay cut will be reduced only to the federal minimum wage.
+ A wage freeze; no pay increases for the term of the contract (two years from date of signing.)
+ Minimum rates of pay steps remain in the contract but are reduced 10 percent and go "dormant" until 2011. Employees in the steps will not receive their automatic step increases during the term of the contract.
+ Merit pool language remains in the contract but goes dormant. No merit pay increases for Guild-represented employees for the term of the contract.
+ Regarding advertorial content, this deal adds language to allow the Publisher flexibility to assign Guild members "traditional and non-traditional tasks" and requires the Publisher to "be cognizant of and sensitive to its policy relating to ethics and conflicts of interest."
+ In the event of layoffs, the company will consider seniority rights first in regard to staff reductions. In addition, individual skills and abilities and an employee's performance and disciplinary history will be considered. The Guild gives up the right to grieve or seek arbitration on individual layoffs, but we do have the right to grieve and arbitrate if the company ignores seniority or fails to use the criteria properly overall.
+ Three positions currently covered by the Guild contract (Graphics/Design: Day Design Editor, Night Design Editor; Digital Central: Calendar Editor) become exempt from all provisions of the contract.
+ 10 positions become exempt from the overtime provision but still are covered by all other provisions of the contract (Cartoonist, Sports Columnist, Public Service Columnist, Conversations Central Columnist, On The Town Columnist, IU Sports Beat, Motor Sports Beat, Pacers Beat, Colts Beat, Sports Special Projects Beat.)
+ On round trips of 100 miles or more, if an employee requests to use his/her own car rather than a company vehicle, the company will reimburse for actual fuel expenses only rather than the company's fixed mileage rate.
+ The paraprofessional job designation will cover calendar clerks, production liaisons and similar positions. Paraprofessionals may write stories of an uncomplicated nature.
+ Changes the length of time the company has to give another day off to employees whose regular day off falls on a holiday from two weeks to any day during the week of the holiday or the following 21 days.
In addition to these contract changes, the arbitration on behalf of seven members laid off in December, 2008, will be settled with each of the seven receiving a confidential monetary settlement from the company. The company has agreed to allow the grievances relating to the most recent layoffs in July to proceed. We are disclosing this amount in our information sessions, but not publicly.

It’s a passion flower

clematis We noticed this flower growing up the fence in our back yard yesterday. Maria guesses it’s some kind of clematis. I did some online research, but there are about a zillion varieties of clematis, so I wasn’t able to identify it conclusively.

Anyone know for sure?


Lauri Shillings, whose knowledge of plants and animals never fails to impress me, says it’s a passion flower.

So there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Earbuds mean “fuck off”

fuck off I’m at Books-A-Million while Maria does the grocery shopping next door at Kroger.

She was here with me for awhile, looking through quilting magazines and choosing an historical novel for some light reading.

When she got up to go, she announced she was going to shop with her iPod and hoped it would keep people from bothering her.

That works some places and some places it doesn’t. That’s why I usually have iPod earbuds in my ears at the bookstores, whether the iPod is playing or not.

Right now, I’m using the iPod to block out the annoying thumping noises being made by a bookstore employee reshelving hardbacks as part of their periodic inventory. It’s not working very well and I hope she gets done quickly and moves to another area before I get really annoyed.

But I digress.

Headphones are a universal symbol for “don’t bother me.” Steven Levy wrote at length in The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness how iPod expanded the cultural impact of the Walkman and public headphone use and etiquette. That is, wearing headphones tells people around you that you are having a personal listening experience and choose not to interact with them or hear whatever mindless chatter they have stored up just for your ears. Implicit in that is the statement that it would be rude and intrusive for them to violate your personal space as long as the headphones are in place.

So, if you see me with my iPod earbuds in place, approach with extreme care.

Beale Street Saturday night

beale01 We introduced Austin to Beale Street in Memphis yesterday after a quick trip to the Bass Pro Shop for a couple of shirts for me and a polar fleece jacket for Maria.beale02

We checked out the menu at Pig on Beale, then settled on dinner on t he upstairs deck at Alfred’s where we had a splendid  view of the area around Third and Beale.

We watched the Memphis Police deploy their mobile observation tower that lets them keep an eye on the scene.bealepano01

beale03After wandering the streets in search of the ultimate Big Ass Beer, we ended up on the patio at Silky Sullivan’s where Maria and Austin  were mercilessly attacked by mosquitoes until we finally gave up and fled about 10 p.m.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ask the guy to your left

shovelhead Don’t you wish someone would invent something to keep the sun out of your eyes?

Friday night social scene

humane pano

We went to the big Northeast Arkansas Humane Society annual fundraising soiree last night at the Holiday Inn Express, saw some humane02nice dogs and cats, ate shrimp and drank beer and wine (in a dry county, you know) and Austin hooked up with a date.

There were 10 of us from the paper since the Jonesboro Sun is a Gold Sponsor of the society. We eyeballed the stuff in the silent auction and decided Maria should donate a quilt for next year’s event.

The Humane Society folks were carrying kittens and walking dogs around the ballroom soliciting donations.

One of the dogs decided he didn’t like the kitten a 25-year-old girl was carrying and thinking of adopting and Austin interceded to protect the girl. That led to chatting and dancing and we ended up giving them both a lift to our home where he picked up his car and they headed off on a date.

Maria said he got home about 2 a.m. He’s still asleep, so we’re waiting for a full report. I didn’t photograph them together because I figured that would be horribly embarrassing to have your stepfather snapping photos of you and the girl you just met.humane03 

This is not Austin’s date but it is the “dollar dog” who brought them together.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Road thoughts

john packed and loadedIt just hit me that I have four days to gather and pack my stuff for about two weeks on the road.

I only plan to camp next Thursday-Saturday nights at the MotoGP races in Indy and am loathe to drag my camping gear to Colorado and back, so I may drop the camping stuff with some friends in Indianapolis and ask them to ship it to my Arkansas home.

I’ve got a fresh supply of contact lenses and the bike is services and ready to go, so all I need is maybe one more microfiber shirt and pair of pants from Bass Pro Shops.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Popcorn diet?

popcornman There’s a guy here in the bookstore with about a bushel of popcorn in a big bag. He’s settled in to a chess game with a younger guy.

Must be the Season of the Witch.


I’m sitting in the bookstore and glancing around I see any number of things that grate on my sensibilities.

I’ll start my list with what’s right hear and add other things that irritate or annoy me because I know you’re absolutely dying to know.

  • Guys who wear baseball caps backwards. The only thing worse is the ones who wear them askew like some time traveling fugitive from a Little Rascals episode.
  • Guys who wear flip-flops in public. Sandals creep me out too, but to a lesser degree.
  • People sitting near me who jabber loudly in a foreign language. (In this case, it’s Chinese.)
  • White chocolate.
  • People ahead of me in line who write a check to pay for their purchase and take freaking forever to get out the checkbook, write the date, payee, amount and their signature, and then make a production out of recording it in the register and putting the checkbook away. Checks cost money. Plastic does not.
  • Everybody else’s cell phone ringtone. I don’t like mine all that much, either.
  • Phyllis at the optician’s office.
  • The moron who parked unnecessarily close to my driver’s side door at the optician’s office.
  • Michael Jackson
  • Frequent updates to iTunes, mostly designed to accommodate Apple devices I don’t own.

There. I feel better now.

To Pre or not to Pre

palmpre I checked my Sprint account the other day and noticed that I’ve had my Palm Treo 700p long enough to qualify for a $150 discount on a new phone.

Like a lot of other people, I’ve been wowed by the iPhone, but the Apple phone’s exclusive link with AT&T is a deal-breaker for me. Besides me and Maria, our Sprint account also includes her two kids. It would be major hassle to make the change – new phones for everyone. In a year or so, both kids should be established well enough to pay for their own cell phone service, but not right now.

Also, Sprint has better G3/G4 Internet service and that’s a huge deal for me, since I like being able to tether my Treo to my laptops and use it as an Internet modem when Wifi service is unavailable.

Sprint introduced the Palm Pre earlier this year and while it may not be the iPod-killer some expected, it’s pretty damned close.

It runs an increasing number of cool apps and may eventually rival the iPhone for versatility. It also has dual G4/Wifi capabilities.

The big question that I have yet to resolve in my Googling is whether I can tether a Pre to my laptops and have the same no-extra-charge Internet access that I have now with my Treo. There are hacks for that purpose, but I want a clear statement from Sprint on the subject.

I really dislike bullshit and blank stares, so I’m not about to walk into the Sprint store on Stadium Avenue and ask the kids there for a definitive answer. So, unless and until I get a favorable answer to that question, I’m hanging onto my Treo.

After all, much of the allure of the Pre and the iPhone is in their entertainment value as high tech toys. My netbook does enough to make a lot of Pre/iPhone features redundant.

So I’ll just hang loose and wait.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The beer store

Even though we live in a “dry” county, it’s only 4 minutes, 52 seconds from our driveway to the nearest liquor store just across the county line.

And they have a drive-through window for easy service.

That’s actually handier than any other place I’ve lived. Ever.beerstore01 beerstore02

El Kabong!

 elkabong Where is El Kabong when you need him?

Hangin’ with Mr. Opp again

mr oppI got a call from Chris at Honda of Jonesboro as Maria and I were searching for a lunchtime parking spot.

My radiator had arrived and he wanted to know when I’d like it installed, adding it could be as early as this afternoon.

How about 2 o’clock, I suggested.

That worked for him, so here I am at 2:07 p.m., hanging in the customer lounge with Mr. Opportunity again while they make my 15-year-old, 215,000-mile car whole again.

BTW, the Brickhouse downtown has a killer bleu cheese burger.radiator Oooooo, check it out. A shiny new radiator!

My radiator – somewhere in the FedEx pipeline

Moments before I was about to pick up the phone to call Honda of Jonesboro to confirm my 10 a.m. appointment for a new del Sol radiator, the phone rang.

It was Chris at the Honda service department telling me that mygt hastings lot radiator has not arrived.

Big surprise.

So they will call me when it shows up and we’ll set up another appointment.

This leaves me without a car for another day, but that’s no big deal because I have a freshly serviced 2003 BMW K1200GT motorcycle at my disposal and, all things considered, I’d rather ride it than drive anyway. My raingear has dried from yesterday’s deluge and is tucked away in the right-side saddlebag.

So now I’m back at my usual table at Hastings, sipping their delicious Rio Azul Guatemalan coffee while my netbook sips on electricity from their wall outlet.