Sunday, September 30, 2012

Diabetic coma in a box


We found ourselves at a Super Walmart this afternoon because I had to pick up a couple of prescriptions from the pharmacy.

Maria took the opportunity to do some grocery shopping and as we cruised up and down the aisles we came across a “Clearance” section in the frozen foods. My eyes fell upon a Marie Callender’s Key Lime Pie, reduced from $4.98 to $2.

Seemed like a good deal, so I tossed one into the bascart.

When I finally got around to reading the nutritional info as it defrosted on the counter, I was stunned to see that one helping is 480 calories.

Holy crap!

We’re going to split one piece and give the rest to our neighbors.

Friday, September 28, 2012–Why shop anywhere else for gear?

I’ve bought a couple of helmets, a couple of pairs of pants, two riding jackets and a pair of gloves from in the past 18 months or so and have come to appreciate their service and spectacular deals.

I’m on their email list and get a heads-up almost daily on the newest sale and closeout deals.

I’ve been watching for a good deal on a tank bag for my 2003 BMWslr-20 bag K1200GT because the Marsee bag I bought when I took delivery of the bike in February, 2003 is showing its age. Specifically, the fabric on the rear accessory pouch – the place I put my tire patch kit, visor cleaning fluid and cloth and other stuff I might need quickly – has come unraveled to the point that the contents are no longer secure. Not even if I put them all into a Zip-lock bag and then put the bag into the pouch.

I shopped for a replacement at the BMW MOA Rally in July, but wasn’t ready to pay $200+ since I’d just bought pricey LED bulbs for my MotoLights and a $65 LDComfort shirt.slr-20 charging kit

So I was more than intrigued by this morning’s email that included the $239.99 Nelson Rigg SLR-Sport Strap Mount Tank Bag for only $64.99. (They have a magnetic mount version for the same money, but my bike has a non-ferrous tank and magnets won’t stick to it.)

The basic bag is 12”x8”x6”, which is pretty much the same volume as my old Marsee and the strap mount arrangement looks like it will fit my bike just fine.

nate mcgearcomConcerned that their stock might fly out the door before I could place an order, I ordered one online right away. (Two days later – this model is sold out.)

Then I read the rest of the specs and discovered it’s made to accept a solar panel charging system for small electronics, like cell phones and iPods. Oho!

The charging system normally sells for $49.99, but was on closeout for $19.99. Not wanting to overpay for shipping two separate orders, I phoned in Shallowater, Texas – a small town northwest of Lubbock – and asked Nate, the Parts and Accessories manager, if I could add it to my tank bag order and ship both items in the same box.

Nate crunched the numbers and noted that my bill would fall just $5 short of their free shipping threshold.

He pondered a moment, then said he’d just throw a charging kit into the box for free.


I was blown away.

Needless to say, I am their customer for life.

Best political ad this season

This country needs more men like Col. West.

Friday odds and ends

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACongratulations to my BMW riding friend Charlie Parsons, who retired yesterday after a long and useful career as a pharmacist.

Charlie ran the Super D pharmacy in Paragould, Ark. for several years. He opted to retire this month after Walgreens bought the Super D chain and announced plans to close several Super D stores, including the one in Paragould.

Charlie hired my stepson Austin as a pharmacy tech during Austin’s 11 months with us a couple of years ago.

I look forward to more rides with Charlie, now that he has a little more spare time on his hands.

Today is National Drink Beer Day. I have some Leinenkugel Oktoberfest in the fridge for just such an occasion.

Last night’s deluge deposited 1.1 inches of rain in our rain gauge, almost all of it within a 90-minute period around 7 p.m.

The Carmel Pine Cone weekly newspaper from Carmel, Calif., has this ad in this week’s issue:


Our garage door is back in operation. A couple of guys from Jonesboro Overhead Door Co. installed a new spring, which assists the motor in hauling up the door, yesterday afternoon. The old spring failed a couple of weeks ago and I’d been opening the door manually in the interim and doing most of my to-ing and fro-ing through the front door.

The influence of Ganesh continues to be felt in ways that I can’t discuss here. Yet.

My Indianapolis News compadre Skip Hess’s email appears to be compromised. I got an email from his address this morning that is clearly not from him and contains a highly suspicious URL that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot mouse.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The BMW MOA at Sedalia, Mo.

Here’s an interesting little video put together by the folks at the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America. I was at the rally in July, but I’m not in the video.

The soundtrack is by the German group Rammstein.

Here’s my favorite Rammstein video:

Cool site: Track the International Space Station


Here’s where to go to locate the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. The position is updated every second. This screen capture was made at 4:40 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 when the spacecraft was directly over the southern tip of South America.

If you click on the Observation tab and input your location, you can see a list of opportunities to view the ISS as it streaks across your piece of sky at more than 17,000 mph.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You really can find almost anything on the Internet

BMT Photo

Recalling that I was in Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, 47 years ago today, I wondered if there was any searchable record of my presence there.

Yep, there sure is.

BMT PhotoThere is a searchable collection of basic training squadron and flight photos and here is the list for the 1960s.

I was in the 3703rd Basic Military Training Squadron, Flight 1499. That’s T/Sgt. Wiggins, one of our training instructors holding the Honor Flight guidon in front of the group. My face is circled in red and my name is boxed in red.

As far as I was concerned, basic training was a breeze. I was immune to harassment, having gone through fraternity pledgeship in an era when hazing was routine. Much of our day was spent drilling. That was a big challenge for a lot of the guys, but my four years in high school marching band served me well. Beyond that, all you had to do was keep your wits about it and shut the fuck up unless required to speak.

I still have my copy of this photo rolled up in a mailing tube and, if I so chose, I could probably make a much better scan, but this will suffice for now.

How to be cool on a motorcycle

NEA District Fair Gallery II


roundup boy72

area 51 72

pharoah 72

himalaya02 72

ferris 72

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The New York Post gets it right


What else can you call such a vile, evil bastard?



This is where I’d be this afternoon if I had my druthers – gazing north at the Big Creek Bridge south of Big Sur on the Pacific Coast Highway.

I shot this photo at 2:10 p.m., July 23, 2010 – the last time I rode my favorite road.

I’ve done precious little riding this year – the European Riders Rally near Nashville in June, the BMW MOA Rally in Sedalia, Mo., in July, and the Indianapolis MotoGP last month. The only ride I have left to look forward to is up to Potosi, Mo., next month for the Falling Leaf Rally and that’s dependent upon weather.

I feel stuck – have for months – largely because of family uncertainties that I can’t discuss here.

A friend posted this on Facebook this morning:

On the 19 of September Ganesh Chaturthi began and is celebrated all over India. Hindus believe that Sri Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. His presence is felt on the earth for 10 days. I hope that ganeshColour500you are all feeling his effects! Jaya Ganesha!

Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god, is also associated with protecting entrances. But it’s the obstacle-remover Ganesha that appeals to me and I’ve kept a small carved wood statue of him on my desk for several years to serve as the remover of writer’s block.

Various things have come to pass in the past few days to suggest that obstacles in our lives are crumbling and that positive change is in the wind. Whether it’s Ganesha or some other force at work, I’m guardedly optimistic that we’re getting unstuck.

Monday, September 24, 2012

47 years but it seems like yesterday

lacklandcap2[3]Forty-seven years ago yesterday, I raised my right hand in the Indianapolis Armed Forces Induction Center, along with maybe 50 other guys, and took the oath of enlistment in the U.S. Air Force.

I had lost my student deferment and faced with the prospect of being drafted for the Army or the U.S. Marine Corps. That scenario almost certainly assured I'd be fed into the meat grinder that the Vietnam War had become.

So, recognizing that the Air Force has no infantry, I reckoned my best chance of surviving this unfortunate episode in our nation's history was to wear Air Force blue for the next four years.

As it turned out, I was back home with a medical discharge (allergies) in a scant 41 days.

I didn't hide out in the National Guard or flee to Canada or declare myself a conscientious objector.

I'm neither proud nor ashamed. I played the game by the rules. I rolled the dice and I won.

But I have an undying admiration and respect for those of my generation who did go, especially the young men and women whose names are inscribed in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Blue Ribbon quilt!


Our goddaughter Maggie graciously let Maria borrow the quilt Maria made for her adoption so Maria could enter it in the Northeast Arkansas District Fair Adult Quilt competition.

And, of course, it won a First Place blue ribbon.

So did another of Maria’s quilts.

We returned the quilt and gave the blue ribbon to Maggie yesterday afternoon. She’s very proud of it and plans to take it to school to show her classmates today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Problem solved


Indianapolis BMW Club friend Rick Nelson stopped by overnight Thursday en route to a BMW Chain Gang (650cc chain-driven bikes) rally in Mena, Ark., over near the Oklahoma border.

Rick was having starting problems – his 2012 Sertao usually starts right up first thing in the morning, but restarts at gas stops were very iffy. The problem apparently baffled the service techs at BMW Motorcycles of Indianapolis and their only suggestion was that he change to iridium spark plugs.

He also suspected that although his battery tested OK at the BMW shop, it may have weak or dead cell.

But when we dug down to the battery yesterday morning to check electrolyte levels, each cell was full. However, the battery cables – especially the ground cable – were not tight. Rick torqued them down properly and, voila!, the bike started right up.

He left around 11:30 a.m. and left voicemail a couple of hours later that restarts at Ace Hardware and the Advance Auto Parts store in Jonesboro went off without a hitch.

We had an exchange of text messages this morning and he reports from Mena that the starting problem appears to be solved. Woo-hoo!

Rick and Deb Lower, also an Indy Club member, are co-chairs of next year’s BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Rally in Salem, Ore.

Friday, September 21, 2012



From a 1972 Archie comic strip in which Archie time travels to 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fair fare


Pig in repose.


Ticket sales were slow for the World’s Most Amazing Show this afternoon at the Northeast Arkansas District Fair.

No photos from the fair, but I did get this

suv fire 72I planned to go to the fair last evening, but decided I didn’t want to sit in a three-mile-long line of traffic to get into the fairgrounds.

It was my fault because I waited until about 6:30 p.m. to go. I should have gone an hour or two earlier when the traffic was lighter.

So I decided to go home instead, but as I approached our road I noticed heavy smoke in the sky and a fire truck coming onto the highway from a side road. Another tenth of a mile on, I found this scene.

This Ford SUV was a repo from Kennett, Mo., being towed to Jonesboro.

The tow truck driver told me he smelled smoke and saw flames, so he stopped and cut the SUV loose, then chased it on foot for about 100 yards to stop it before it careened into the southbound lanes of the highway.

“Don’t make it sound too dramatic,” he told me.

I didn’t. Just telling it straight is dramatic enough.

suv fire72

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Still around after 86 years


A carnival comes to the courthouse square of my hometown of Delphi, Ind., every summer as part of the annual Old Settlers celebration.

Seeing this Tilt-A-Whirl at the Northeast Arkansas District Fair last evening took me back to that wonderful night in the early 1950s when my mother took me on the Old Settlers Tilt-A-Whirl. It was my first “grownup” ride, and signaled my stepping up from the tame kiddie rides.

I can still remember the thrill of being slammed back into the seat the first time the little basket-like car caught a ridge just right and spun with unexpected ferocity. For the next few years, the Tilt-A-Whirl was my ride of choice until I graduated to the Scrambler and the Octopus. It was only after I got into high school that I worked up the courage to ride the Bullet, also known as the Roll-O-Plane.

The local fair doesn’t have an Octopus or a Bullet, but I think I saw a Scrambler.

The Tilt-A-Whirl was invented in 1926 by Herbert Sellner, a woodworker and maker of water slides, at his Faribault, Minnesota, home. They’re still being built by Larson International, Inc. of Plainview, Texas. The current model costs more than $300,000.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Off to the fair

himalaya dusk72

I went to the Northeast Arkansas District Fair this evening at the new fairgrounds just down the road from our place.

It’s a multi-county affair. And unlike Indiana, where the county fairs are in July, it’s in mid-September because the livestock would suffer in the blazing summer heat.

The weather was perfect – clear and cool – and I did my best work at dusk. Like this shot of the Himalaya ride with the moon in the left side of the frame. I like having the sliver of moon over there on the left side.


So, I’m walking along and this group of people is coming toward me and this guy says, in a commanding voice, "Hey, take my picture!" So I did. It's Christian Fry and his sister Natasha from Imboden.
I love the guy peering over Natasha's shoulder.

I love shooting fairs.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Steve goes symphonic

steve symphonic rockshow72My son Steve plays a lot of gigs in Las Vegas, many of them jazz, but also the Symphonic Rockshow.

Here’s the explanation from the show’s web site:

Rock and classical music collide to form a unique concert experience

Symphonic Rockshow is the vision of producer and primary vocalist Brody Dolyniuk. After a 14 year tenure with the Las Vegas group Yellow Brick Road, which he founded in 1997, Brody closed one chapter and opened another simultaneously with a symphonic performance on June 18, 2011 at the Henderson Pavilion. For his farewell show with YBR, Brody recruited veteran trumpeter Lon Bronson to help assemble a 21 piece orchestra and assist with new arrangements of popular classic rock anthems. A quartet of backing vocalists, a 30 foot video screen and full rock concert lighting, laser and sound system completed the presentation. The result was nothing short of a spectacle, performed before a beyond capacity crowd of 3600 Las Vegans.

The bittersweet ending was the beginning of a new era for Brody and his production, which went on to sell out subsequent shows.

Symphonic Rockshow pays homage to the rock music generation in the same respect as a symphony paying respect to Classical greats such as Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach. SRS feels that the names Page, Townsend and Taupin/John are deserving of the same honor.

The SRS mission first and foremost is to recreate these signature songs with the utmost respect and attention to detail. You will hear every nuance of the original studio recordings performed live, even down to the vocal inflections and the mix out front. Then with the added arsenal of strings, horns, wind and percussion instruments we augment signature lines or riffs, sometimes having the entire string section follow the guitar solo, or in other cases coloring outside the lines to add something new. In any case, the music is presented in a whole new dimension.

Still not satisfied, Brody wanted to add visuals that were equally stimulating to the senses. That begins with a 30 foot wide video screen which really is the focal point, bringing a close up view of the band and orchestra mixed with HD animations and graphics. Add to that a full concert laser light show, fog and pyrotechnics, and you have a show that is unique, sonically and visually exciting.

Symphonic Rockshow brings two distinct genres of music and music lovers together, young and old to experience something neither group really expects or appreciates fully until they’ve seen it live.

Here’s a YouTube video of their Aug. 24 performance at The Smith Center in Las Vegas. It’s nearly two hours long, but it’s worth it.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Maria’s quilting skills

poinsettia runnerHere’s a nifty table runner Maria created the other day.

Looks pretty good on my great-grandmother’s kitchen table.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Greene County Middle School Dancers

From my photo shoot last week.
The photos can be viewed and prints ordered at:

Absolutely brilliant analysis

Blogger Daniel Greenfield gets to the heart of our problems with the Muslim world:

“We are a nation led by immoral people who think they are good, by politicians, professors, priests, rabbis, pundits, crackpots and activists who having no values are determined to excuse all the evil that they do by being relentlessly good people. When they sacrifice something, whether it's a night out or your life, then they will make sure that everyone knows it. And when you protest, they will tell you about all the sacrifices that they are making, because despite all the blood and filth on their hands, they are good people. Good amoral sociopaths who learned everything they know about right and wrong from television and feel-good slogans.

”The bigger their hypocrisies, the bigger their sacrifices, and they love nothing so much as sacrificing others. Their conscience is always bothering them and they put it to sleep with showy acts of public goodness. They will not feed a beggar on their street, but they will go around the world to feed an orphan, especially at someone else's expense. And that way they remember that they are good people. Not just good people, but better people than us, the miserable mob waving torches and flags who don't know the value of condescending to an Imam at an Iftar dinner or feeding Bangladeshi orphans on someone else's dime or spending thousands of lives to enable Muslims to be the good people that they must be somewhere underneath all those ugly layers of murder, child-murder and mass murder.”

Read the whole thing here:

Oi hite snikes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found this guy at the top of my front steps yesterday afternoon when I left to run errands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe's a rough green snake who probably makes his home in the shrubbery around the front of the house and whose habitat I disturbed when I trimmed the shrubs Thursday.

One of these guys turned up in our kitchen one summer night a couple of years ago. Maria scooped him up and released him in the back yard outside the fence.

And even though I hate snakes, I left yesterday’s visitor unmolested. He was gone when I returned a couple of hours later.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Señor Frogger


There’s a Mexican restaurant called La Cascada on U.S. 49 south of our house and it’s right across the highway from Jordan’s Kwik Stop, a convenience store/gas station.

The folks who work at La Cascada – mostly young Mexican men – do a lot of to-ing and fro-ing across the highway for snacks or cigarettes or whatever on foot and by bicycle.SeniorFrogs

So when I came upon an accident scene with the AirEvac helicopter landing in a field just south of the convenience store this afternoon and didn’t see any wrecked vehicles, I guessed one of the La Cascada guys got hit crossing the 5-lane, 60 mph highway. And there was an unattended bicycle parked nearby.

I was right.

I later learned Josue Noriego, 28, Brookland was riding his bicycle across the highway when he was hit by a Toyota pickup truck driven by Daniel Barber, 32, of Jonesboro. Barber was arrested on suspicion of DWI/drugs. Noriego was flown to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis for treatment but investigators didn’t think his injuries were life-threatening.

We wish him a quick and complete recovery.

Photojournalism Ethics 101


Never alter reality in a news photo.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Now it’s personal


J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was murdered by Islamic extremists this week, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Quote of the Day

rollingstone“These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherfuckers can rot in hell.”
Bob Dylan in the Sept. 14 issue of Rolling Stone

Read more:

Friday, Sept. 14: I went to Barnes & Noble today and the only RS they had was dated Sept. 13 and featured a hack job on Mitt Romney.

Get it, Jack!

jack pounce72

Jack is working on his frisbee skills.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Y indeed?


I found myself following this BMW with a provocatively funny plate at 1:26 p.m. today on Johnson Avenue in Jonesboro, Ark.

Dylan at 71 – better than ever


I discovered last night that Bob Dylan’s new album – “Tempest” – was released yesterday, so I went to to check it out.

The MP3 download for all 10 songs is a mere $5, so I pulled the trigger without hesitation.

This is Dylan’s 35th studio album and, at age 71, he seems to be at the top of his game. The years show in his voice, but they only serve to make it richer and more expressive.

I am in absolute awe of his word/rhyme choices, his timing and the nuances and colors in his voice.

This is the best $5 I’ve spent on music in years.