Friday, July 31, 2015

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

bmwmoa pin salem

I hate to miss the 2013 BMW MOA Rally in Salem, Ore., but events conspired to keep me at home.

Happily, the ladies from the BMW MOA Country Store, who sell all things MOA, brought a good supply of rally pins from previous years to this year’s event in Billings, Mont., including pins from the Salem rally.

My collection now includes 34 of the 43 BMW MOA rally pins. I know you find that absolutely thrilling.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another Newsie gone

jack averitt boxed

Jack Averitt, former State House reporter for The Indianapolis News, died this morning.

Jack lived in Dublin, Ohio. He was 91.

Jack understood Indiana tax law so well that legislators ran their proposed bills past him before they submitted them.

He crewed on B-24 Liberators in the China-Burma-India Theatre in World War II. I think he said he was a radio operator.

That qualifies him for hero status in my book.

Godspeed, Jack. You were a class act.

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

bmwmoa pin billings

Here’s the official pin from the 2015 BMW MOA Rally earlier this month in Billings, Mont. It’s the 23rd BMW MOA national rally I’ve attended since Laguna Seca in California in 1986.

Just for the record, here’s a list of all of them since ‘86. The ones I attended are bold faced. Put another way, I’ve only missed 8 in 30 years:


2015 - Billings, MT

2014 - Minneapolis, MN

2013 - Salem, OR

2012 - Sedalia, MO

2011 - Bloomsburg, PA

2010 - Redmond, OR

2009 - Johnson City, TN

2008 - Gillette, WY

2007 - West Bend, WI

2006 - Essex Junction, VT

2005 - Lima, OH

2004 - Spokane, WA

2003 - Charleston, WV

2002 - Trenton, Ont.

2001 - Redmond, OR

2000 - Midland, MI

1999 - Rhinebeck, NY

1998 - Missoula, MT

1997 - Fredricksburg, TX

1996 - Morganton, NC

1995 - Durango, CO

1994 - Moodus, CT

1993 - Oshkosh, WI

1992 - DuQuoin, IL

1991 - Flagstaff, AZ

1990 - Rapid City, SD

1989 - York, PA

1988 - Madison, IN

1987 - Escanaba, MI

1986 - Laguna Seca, CA

Brookland to Billings to Brookland

garmin 01

garmin 02

garmin 03

Here’s the tale of the GPS. I rode 2,873.2 miles in 45 hours and 13 minutes for an average speed of 63.5 mph. I hit 111 mph while passing a couple of cars.

The total time and time stopped are meaningless because I usually turn off the GPS when I park the bike to eat or sleep.

And it’s 89.8 miles from the Cenex gas station in Thayer, Mo. to home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another BMW brother heard from

badlands jeff

This is Jeff Vestal, a BMW GS rider from North Carolina I met at a gas station/convenience store at the Badlands exit on I-90.

We waited out a hellacious thunder/hail storm there. I wheeled my bike around to the lee side of the store when incredibly strong winds threatened to blow it off of its sidestand. Jeff’’s GS was wisely pointed into the wind and didn’t require shelter.

He sent me an email last night from his motel room in Bloomington, Ill., saying he didn’t get onto the road yesterday until 11 a.m. because of a huge storm and spent the day racing it with the prospect of more to come today.

Those Vistaprint calling cards come in handy.



Jeff sent me this photo marking the end of his 4,868 mile ride on Thursday.

A morning of frustration

I spent 3 hours and 15 minutes assembling this kitchen cart.
But I never could get the cam lock connections to fasten securely, so it may collapse. I used Gorilla Glue to secure the top and a couple of other pieces, so it's a bit sturdier now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bath Matt

dear guest

Apparently, the management at the Springfield, Mo. Comfort Inn & Suites has a problem with guests stealing stuff from the rooms because I found this notice on the desk in my room.

They must think Bath Matt is short for Bath Matthew.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Two days on the road, one to go

perkins in mitchell SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – I left the rally site around 8’ish with plans to rendezvous with Ray Kaufmann in Mitchell, S.D. and share my room with him. He was traveling with Theresia Shearer and they left about 45 minutes before I did.

I rather expected to pass them at some point, but it was not to be.

I rode down to I-90, stopping at the west edge of Rapid City for gas and a Subway lunch before pressing on.

I overtook a nasty looking storm at the Badlands National Park exit and listened with alarm to reports from westbound travelers about golf ball-size hailstones and torrential rain. A BMW GS rider from North Carolina named Jeff and I shared a bench on the porch of a convenience store and studied the weather radar for a break, but the intense storm cell seemed parked across the interstate about 5 miles east of us.

I ended up waiting more than an hour before it showed signs of weakening and rode off in the direction of a horizon-to-horizon rainbow. I got into a few miles of heavy rain, saw a BMW rider being treated by an ambulance crew and finally made it to the motel in Mitchell sometime after 9 p.m. I caught up with my friends at the Perkins restaurant next door and had a light dinner before checking into the motel and unloading.

Ray and Theresia and I enjoyed a free motel breakfast at 6 a.m. today and they hit the road immediately afterward. I took my time and rolled out of a nearby gas station with a full tank at 8:08 a.m.

I was grateful for a thick cloud deck that spared me the ordeal of riding into the rising sun, but had to pull off to don rain gear just west of Sioux Falls. The rain was short-lived and I tuned south and away from it at Sioux Falls.

The rest of the day is was blur of gas-and-go, highlighted by a gas stop at Elk Point, S.D. where I finally got around to checking my oil sight glass and found there was no oil showing. Fortunately, I had an unopened quart of BMW motor oil. Unfortunately, the paper funnels I stashed under the seat years ago fell apart because the glue was cooked and dried out. Fortunately, the clerk had a couple of paper funnels, one of which worked perfectly.

The stressful low point of the day was the slog around the north, east and south sides of Kansas City in torrid heat and blazing sunshine. By the time I got off the interstate and onto U.S. 49, I was fried. I had some ice cream and took Wayne Garrison’s advice and tried a bottle of 5 Hour Energy before phoning a reservation in to the Comfort Inn & Suites on the north side of Springfield, Mo.

The elixir swept away my fatigue and gloom and made the last 120 miles of the day rather pleasant, despite the 101-degree heat index. My LDComfort shirt did a splendid job of evaporating my perspiration and keeping me surprisingly cool.

I checked in with Maria, showered and had a cajun pasta dinner next door at Ruby Tuesday before returning to my room to blog and crash.

Just for the record, I rode 533 miles yesterday and 590 miles today.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday morning rally report

billings mcd2

BILLINGS, MT – I was just settling in for the night in my tent last night when a drunk on a bicycle hit one of the guylines, shaking the tent violently enough for me to think there might be serious damage.

I charged out yelling obscenities and found myself facing off with a flabby, sloppy, helpless looking drunk babbling apologies and beseeching me to be calm. I told him he had just triggered my fight-or-flight mechanism and I wasn’t inclined to run away. He introduced himself as “Buddy” and helped me reset the line and its tent peg before stumbling off walking the red mountain bike he foolishly had tried to ride through a crowded campground. It’s miraculous that mine was the only tent line he hit.

This, friends, is what you have to expect if you camp next to the Airheads club campsite. Never. Again.

I made it to McDonald’s again this morning for breakfast and Wifi and found myself sharing a table with Rick Nelson, who was doing the Sudoku puzzle in the local newspaper.

I think I’m ready to get back on the road. I just hope it doesn’t rain tonight or tomorrow morning because I hate packing a wet tent.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday morning rally report

billings mcd BILLINGS, Mont. – I arrived at the BMW MOA rally site in Billings around 1 p.m. Wednesday after a relatively pleasant ride up from Belle Fourche and found the Indianapolis BMW Club campsite in turn 3 of the fairgrounds racetrack infield.

The area is apparently subject to afternoon windstorms – the one on Wednesday nearly folding my tent double before friends helped me stabilize it with loaner guylines and tent stakes. Dinner was at Subway about a half-mile uphill from the venue.

I slept well Wednesday night despite or because of two or three brief showers.

Thursday morning I was chagrined to see that my online advance registration was rendered pointless by the fact that the line into the registration area did not segregate pre-registered from non-registered people. Deb Parsons helped me short circuit the process and avoid the block-long line.

I searched out audiologist Marilyn Navia who determined that the solder connection on my right in-ear monitor was faulty. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the equipment here to repair it, so I’ll ship it to her when I get home.

We’re camped next to the Airheads club who are somewhat notorious for their late-night revelries. They retired relatively early Wednesday night but carried on loudly until about 2:30 a.m. last night. Wayne Garrison explained to me this morning that we got paired with them because both clubs require access to electrical power – us for our CPAP members and the Airheads because of their lights and bike lifts they use for motorcycle maintenance.

It appears that Sprint never heard of Billings. I had better cell service in Burkesville, Ky. last May than I have here. The BMW MOA Wifi is also spotty and weak outside the vendor building.

At this point, I’d rate this rally a C for venue and organization, but I remain hopeful that things will improve.


After struggling with the kinda-sorta Wifi in the MOA internet cafe, I gave up in exasperation and suited up to ride to the nearest McDonald’s.

Roc Shannon, an MOA ambassador from Bloomington, Ind. and a longtime acquaintance told me the IT guy who was supposed to set up the rally Wifi was in an accident and we’re stuck with something slightly slower than dial-up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 2 – 584 miles

i90 rain BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. – I did another 584 miles today, 4 miles less than yesterday but way easier despite encountering rain.

My day started with free breakfast at the Crossroads Best Western Motel in Council Bluffs. There were no empty tables, so I asked to join a guy who turned out to be a pipe fitter named Kip from Kansas City who rides motorcycles and used to have a BMW. It was a pleasant start to a good day.

The weather was clear and cool through the morning, but began to warm a bit by the time I got to Chamberlain, S.D. where I had a cheeseburger at Dairy Queen and called in a reservation to the Econo Lodge in Belle Fourche (pronounced Bell Foosh).

Back on the road, I noticed rain on the western horizon and nursed the hope that it would track south of I-90. It didn’t and I pulled under an overpass on a surface road east of Belvidere to pull on my Frogg Toggs rainsuit top and wait for the rain to slacken. Presently a couple of guys joined me. The were brothers – one a Harley rider from the Bakersfield, Calif. and the other a Gold Wing rider from eastern South Dakota. They were headed west too – aiming for Bakersfield.

Presently the rain slowed to a drizzle and I headed off again, but ran into heavier rain a few miles on that forced me under another overpass for a few minutes.

The rain was made worse by a strong crosswind from the south that amplified the windblast from trucks at stretches where construction routed eastbound traffic into one of the westbound lanes.

Somewhere along the line, I crossed into the Mountain Time Zone and arrived at the motel at 5:15 p.m. MDT, rather than the 6:15 p.m. my watch and bike clock and GPS registered.

Dinner was a so-so chicken enchilada at the American West Bar & Grill next door to the motel.

Barring any surprises, a four-hour ride should put me at the rally site in Billings around mid-day tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Brookland to Council Bluffs – 588 miles

cb best western

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Here I am in my $100 room at the Crossroads Best Western in Council Bluffs at the end of a 588-mile day.

I left about 6:15 a.m. after almost forgetting to pack my air mattress and inflator. It was a steamy 80 degrees, but I stayed reasonably comfortable most of the day as I worked my way north through cooler latitudes.

The only real angst of the day came after I left the Pilot truck stop/Subway at Collins, Mo., heading for Kansas City. Garmin started alerting me to 99-minute delays ahead, which I suppose is the default maximum delay in its traffic vocabulary. I checked each one and clicked the Avoid button, but to no avail. A couple of times the female GPS voice started repeating the alert every 20 seconds, nattering on without cease about supposed traffic crises ahead.

I decided to ignore the warnings and follow Garmin’s recommended path around the south and east and north sides of KC and encountered only one stop-and-go construction delay that cost me about 5 minutes. Once past Kansas City, the alerts stopped.

I stopped in St. Joseph, Mo. for an Arby’s jamoca shake and to nail down lodging for the night. I probably could have done better, but there it is. I’m on pace to reach Billings by Wednesday night, where I could camp free and save motel money. I find that idea appealing.

I got to my motel at 5:40 p.m., dumped my stuff in my room and stumbled across the parking lot to another Arby’s for a roast beef sandwich.

It’s still about a half-hour before the 8:52 p.m., sunset, but I’m giving serious consideration to going to bed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A quick and decisive response


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson yesterday directed the Arkansas Adjutant General to arm all on-duty National Guard personnel in response to the terror attacks that left four Marines and a sailor dead in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Here’s the press release:

LITTLE ROCK – In the wake of the shootings Thursday at the Navy and Marine reserve center in Chattanooga, Tenn., Governor Asa Hutchinson has authorized Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General Mark Berry to arm full-time military personnel.

In addition, the Governor has issued a proclamation ordering the state flag of Arkansas to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, July 20, 2015 as a mark of respect and as an expression of public sorrow for the four Marines killed, including Arkansas native Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Russellville.
Governor Hutchinson released the followings statement:

"Our hearts break at the news of another senseless act of violence and terror, this time out of Chattanooga,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Our prayers go out to all the families of the victims, especially the family of Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Russellville, one of Arkansas’s own.

“I want to join in those who are calling for greater security at our recruiting stations and military installations. We’ve had numerous instances of attacks. Clearly they are a target, and for us to have unarmed military personnel makes no sense, which is why I am directing Major General Mark Berry to arm full-time personnel as he deems necessary at military installations.”

I am a native Hoosier and spent most of my life in Indiana, but the past eight years in Arkansas have given me a new perspective and a deep appreciation of the South and the spirit and character of Arkansans.

Gov. Hutchinson’s quick and decisive response to the threat of Islamic jihad in the United States impresses me and I sent him an email yesterday thanking him.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin have taken similar action in their states.

Citizens-Watch-Recruitment-Center-Fox-5-News-640x480At the same time, I am heartened to see news reports of private citizens turning up at Armed Forces recruiting stations to provide volunteer security unless and until the delusional commander in chief and his dithering high command decide to arm these otherwise vulnerable military personnel.

These folks are protecting a recruiting station in Hiram, Ga.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip…

drip spout

I’ve looked at this little piece of PVC pipe poking down through the ceiling in the garage many times in the nearly eight years we’ve lived here, but never knew why it was there.

I found out this afternoon.

The first clue was a stream of water reaching from the shelving over to the motorcycles. At first, I wondered if something frozen had finally melted. But that makes no sense since the freezer has been gone from the garage since we moved it to the kitchen on June 20.

Then I noticed water on top of the dog food hopper and on some of the items on the shelves.

For the first time in our experience, the weather and humidity have been so brutal that this overflow pipe came into play. I put a bucket under and noted that the water is dripping at a rate of about one drop per second.

We’re having a similar problem in one of the businesses in our downtown commercial property.

And there’s no relief in sight. The 10-day forecast is for highs in the mid- to upper 90s with a couple of 100º+ days thrown in.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hot weather consequences

no weatherI charge my iPhone overnight on my bedside table and I reach for it and my reading glasses when I wake up.

The Weather Channel app is one of the first things I check.

This is what I saw at 8 a.m. I got the same result after I connected with our home Wifi.

The Wifi signal was at its usual strength, but there was no internet data.

And the Sprint signal was noticeably diminished, down to three dots of 1x where I’m used to seeing three dots of 3G service.

I can only suppose that the cable internet outage caused an unusual number of Sprint customers who use the nearby Sprint cell tower to use their phones to access the internet, hogging the bandwidth.

I’m not surprised at the outage. The cable TV signal was off and on for awhile this morning as well. A Fusion Media technician told me a few weeks ago that extreme temperatures – high or low – play hell with the network because of the expansion and contraction of components in the infrastructure.

The internet service was restored about noon and we noticed a Fusion Media guy and his truck at the southwest corner of Pine Log Road and U.S. 49 when we went in to town for lunch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sean’s studio is famous

Willamette Week loves Sean’s Rock & Roll Bed & Breakfast recording studio. Hell yes, I’m proud!rnrbnb-willcorwin

Sean Flora at The Rock n Roll BnB

IMAGE: Will Corwin

The Rock n Roll BnB (Northwest Sauvie Island Road, 971-275-6795, definitely has the bells and whistles one would expect from a modern recording studio—a clutch of high-end microphones from Neumann and Sennheiser, preamps by API, and a vintage Hammond organ. Sean Flora, the studio’s owner, has an impressive résumé to boot, with engineering credits for work with the Shins, Stephen Malkmus and Cake to his name. But what makes the Rock n Roll BnB special is the view. Situated on Sauvie Island, Flora’s residential recording operation has been gaining acclaim both regionally and nationally as a go-to getaway for musicians who want to get lost in the Pacific Wonderland and live free of distraction for as long as they’d like. When they come to record, they just stay there, amid tree-lined paths and a patio-top grill. “It was such a great way to work that it always stuck with me,” says Flora, who worked with the legendary White Horse studios in the ’90s, and has more recently put in work at Larry Crane’s Jackpot Studio in Southeast. “You’re working and you’re in the head space and you don’t have to commute or leave. It’s definitely more efficient—people work better this way and get more deeply into it because there aren’t the distractions. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautiful place to be.” PETE COTTELL.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It could be worse. At least I’m not this guy


I just had birthday calls from both of my sons. They always make me proud.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Early birthday trip

john bass pro

Maria, Morgan and I drove to Memphis this morning for a visit to the spectacular Bass Pro Shops Pyramid store.

Maria and I were there a month or so ago with one of her brothers and his two sons, but this was Morgan’s first time to experience the place. I think she was impressed.

We broke for lunch at Westy’s North End, a great little bar/restaurant near the Pyramid where they presented me with Bass Pro Shops gift cards they bought while I was out in the parking lot cooling the car down in the blazing 100º+ heat index.

floras westys

They had burgers and I had a bowl of red beans and rice and we capped it off with two servings of Westy’s famous hot fudge pie.

Back at Bass Pro Shops, I applied my gift cards to the purchase of eight place settings of simulated stag handled flatware to go with my cowboy china collection.

flatwareAfter I unpacked the flatware, Morgan noticed there were three price stickers on the boxes, one on top of another.

Peeling away the $29.97 sticker, she found a $39.97 sticker and beneath that was a $49.99 sticker. I got about $100 worth of cool flatware for $59.94 plus tax.

It was a splendid day and a good time was had by all.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wildly optimistic

dogs grilling

Morgan brought us some excellent steaks for my approaching birthday and, since she had to work at the library this afternoon, we decided to have steak for Sunday brunch.

Steaks on the grill triggered a wave of enthusiastic optimism among our dogs.

Here are Jack, Dora and Tucker admiring a plate full of delicious beef.

dogs grilling02

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ready for the baler


This is what you get when you let an Arkansas lawn go too long without mowing, then mow when it’s still wet with dew. It looks like a freshly cut hay field waiting for the baler.

The heat and rain over the past week combined to let the grass get away from me. I donned a CamelBak hydration system and my Parrot ZIK headphones about 10 a.m. and attacked it with our John Deere LA 125 mower in an effort to get as much cut as possible before the day got seriously hot.

Now, at 10:52 a.m. the temperature is up to 89º with a heat index of 98º. The hose flushthick wet grass clogged the mower so badly that I had to stop twice and use the hose flush system to clear the underside of the mowing deck.

The flushing procedure is simple: attach a hose to the adapter and secure it to the mower, turn the water on full blast, lower the deck as far as it will go and engage the blades. It takes about two minutes for the blade-driven water to flush out the accumulated grass.

The grass inside the fenced back yard dog area is especially high, mainly because it is where the septic finger system distributes nutrients, augmented by lots of dog poop. It’s in deep shade most of the day, so I’ll have to wait until late afternoon – the blazing heat of the day – to cut the grass there.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Landlord stuff

tampon toilet

The north half of our commercial building in downtown Jonesboro is occupied by the Justice Network, a firm that works as a liason between the courts and offenders.

There are two restrooms in their part of the building – one for clients just off the waiting room and the other for employees back in the office area.

The toilet meant to be used by clients hasn’t worked properly since we took ownership of the building and the tenants didn’t seem particularly concerned. They just locked the door and told the clients that there were no restroom facilities for them.

But the employee toilet started having problems late last year and has required the attention of a plumber on two or three occasions. It happened again this week, and this time the plumber snaked deep into the system.

He finally found what caused the problem with both toilets – some vengeful idiot flushed 50 unused tampons down the client toilet. Fifty, for God’s sake!

And a new circuit board is on order for one of the air conditioning units.

I’m now waiting for a paving contractor to respond to my message about filling a couple of chuckholes in the parking lot.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Looks like cyberwar to me


BMW riding friend Rich Nathan sent me the link to which shows cyber attacks – their origin and their target – in real time and I find it very disquieting.

The site says, in part:

Every second, Norse collects and analyzes live threat intelligence from darknets in hundreds of locations in over 40 countries. The attacks shown are based on a small subset of live flows against the Norse honeypot infrastructure, representing actual worldwide cyber attacks by bad actors. At a glance, one can see which countries are aggressors or targets at the moment, using which type of attacks (services-ports).

You can see immediately and clearly that the vast majority of the cyber attacks are coming from China. They are not our friends.

What’s a Tuscon?

tucsonWhoever made this local commercial for Cavenaugh Hyundai made the embarrassing gaffe of misspelling Tucson.

What’s even more embarrassing is that it has been running on the local TV station, KAIT, for several days and either nobody noticed or they don’t care enough to fix it.

Was that the rainy day we were saving for?

4 inches of rainWe had 4 inches of rain in the gauge this morning – an accumulation that occurred in about 10 hours or less starting around 4 p.m. yesterday.

And there is more rain in the forecast for this evening and overnight.

Looks like I won’t be mowing the grass for a couple of days, which could be a problem since it’s overdue for harvesting already.

But this is nothing compared with what’s happening in southwest Missouri and parts of Oklahoma and Texas where the frontal boundary and storm systems have been parked for a couple of days now.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


As my 70th birthday approaches I’ve been thinking about what the world was like on July 14, 1945.

Germany was defeated, but the war in the Pacific continued and would go on for another month or so, depending on whether you consider V-J Day to be Aug. 14 when the surrender was announced or Sept. 2 when the surrender documents were signed in Tokyo Bay.

I was born on a Saturday, the day the first atomic bomb was hoisted to the top of a steel tower in the New Mexico desert. It was detonated on Monday morning, which makes me two days older than the Atomic Age.

We had radio, but no TV. The first TV in the Flora house was a black-and-white Philco table model that showed up around Christmas 1952. Television broadcasts were over the air, cable TV coming into widespread use in the 1980s.

Harry S Truman was president. I’ve seen 12 presidents in my time.

There were only 48 states in the United States and the flag had six rows of eight stars. Alaska and Hawaii were added when I was still in junior high and about to begin high school.

There was no rock & roll. That started around 1956. I remember being fascinated by the new music the summer of ‘56 listening to the radio in our 1955 Ford on the way to Yellowstone National Park and back. Cars had no seat belts and no air conditioning.

There were no satellites and of course no satellite TV or GPS. The Soviets put up the first earth satellite when I was in the seventh grade.

There was no U.S. Air Force as a separate service branch, just the U.S. Army Air Forces.

We lived in a two-bedroom frame house at 609 E. Franklin Street in Delphi, Ind. that had a coal-fired furnace in the basement.

Radios had tubes that took time to “warm up” before they could function. Transistors and transistor radios were more than a decade in the future and lasers were the stuff of science fiction. Computers, especially personal computers, were also science fiction subjects and only the most imaginative visionaries could conceive of the Internet.

Jet propulsion was in its infancy. I remember the first jet plane I ever saw flew high over my hometown when I was on the playground at recess around 1954.

Just about all of the adult population smoked cigarettes. My Dad smoked Phillip Morris and later, Winston.

Beer cans required an opener, jokingly referred to as a “church key.” Soft drinks only came in bottles.

There were no Interstate highways. President Eisenhower, impressed by the German Autobahns he saw at the end of World War II, launched the Interstate highway system as a defense project in 1956. Since state and federal highways were all we had, I can remember vacations with my parents where my dad figured 200 miles was a good day of traveling.

There have been profound changes in every aspect of life since I was born. I’ll probably add to this list as I think of more.

Gonna be a hot and steamy day


At 7 a.m. the temperature was 77 and the humidity was 90 percent – humid enough to steam our double-pane windows.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Back Home Again…

garmin indy 02garmin indy 01

I was killing time at Sam’s Club in Jonesboro this morning, waiting for some prescriptions to be filled, when I noticed this display of the Garmin Nüvi 65LMT GPS unit.

More specifically, the screen simulation caught my eye because the street names were familiar. I lived on North College Avenue in Indianapolis for more than 20 years.

Closer inspection confirmed the scene was downtown Indianapolis. After all, there is only one place in the United States where Interstates 65 and 70 intersect.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Almost like being there

nepenthe01Morgan visited my favorite restaurant last week when she was touring the California Big Sur Coast.

nepenthe mugNepenthe is the perfect spot to relax with a cappuccino and gaze at the mountains and the sea to the sound of wind chimes and Steller’s jays.

I’ve loved the place since my first visit in July 1986 and have been back several times.

She brought me this coffee mug and some spectacular California-made biscotti that made me very very happy.

Now I want to go back to Big Sur. RFN!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

28 years ago today

John Flora with his 1981 R100RS at Grattan Speedway near Grand Rapids, Mich., the weekend of July 4, 1987. Flora made the long weekend ride to the Mackinac Straits bridge and back with Tim and Linda Balough and Doug Poucher.

Fourth of July, 1987 – I was 41 years old and on a three-day ride to Michigan with Tim and Linda Balough and Doug Poucher.

We spent the night of July 4 camped at Grattan Raceway near Grand Rapids where a WERA racing event was going on.

That’s the Frostline Kit tent I made with my wife’s sewing machine during my backpacking period in the 1970s. It rained bottle rockets much of the night, but happily none torched my tent.

The tent continued to serve me until the eve of the July 1990 BMW MOA Rally when a storm swept through the Rapid City, S.D. KOA and severely damaged it.

And that’s my 1981 BMW R100RS. I bought it in the autumn of 1985 and sold it six years later when I stepped up to a new 1991 K100RS. The R100RS was my first serious sport touring motorcycle and took me to California and Colorado as well as various destinations in the Midwest.

Friday, July 03, 2015

What a relief!

charging the gt

I haven’t ridden the K1200GT for several days, so I decided to ride it down to Dollar General yesterday to keep the battery up.

Unfortunately, I waited too long. The starter groaned and quit, telling me the battery was close to flat.

That’s a worrisome thing for a BMW K-bike owner because a low battery can cause the points to fuse on the starter relay, necessitating major surgery to replace the relay, best done at a BMW dealership.

It happened to my K75S five years ago and we had to trailer it 150 miles up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau to fix it.

I plugged the charger into the side accessory outlet, said a prayer in the hope that the starter relay was not fried, and let it charge overnight.

It fired right up on the first attempt this morning, to my great relief.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Loving the big pedestal fan

porch fan

When I requested this honking big 30” commercial pedestal fan from the Amazon Vine Program earlier this year, I had no idea what a cool move I’d made.

But the advent of hot weather and its attendant smothering high humidity made its value very clear.

I felt sorry for our Aussies last week because they spent many hours a day lying on the concrete floor of the screened back porch, panting in the 100º+ heat index temperatures. The ceiling fan is on its last legs and barely rotates, but it was never very efficient at cooling the porch anyway. I brought the dogs in for a few hours a day, but had to confine them to their kennels because I couldn’t let them have the run of the house.

When the big fan arrived a few months ago, I assembled it in the foyer just inside the front door, not wanting to lug the 80-pound monster around the house. That’s were it stood for a few weeks until I used one of our hand trucks to cart it off to the garage where it took up an awkward amount of space.

Taking pity on the dogs – by last week we also had Morgan’s bulldog and red heeler – I wheeled the fan onto the porch and set it up at the west end near the electrical outlet. I fired it up and was astounded at how it overcame a heat index of 101º and transform the porch into an island of pleasant coolness.

I had worried about dogs gnawing on the power cord, so I supervised its use for the first few days, but none of the dogs seemed interested in being electrocuted. So now they face the prospect of a summer of comfort and we get to use our porch in weather that would have previously kept us indoors.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July 1 report

library waiting

Here’s our view from the Lexus at 2:22 a.m. today while we waited for Morgan and her coworkers to arrive at the library, returning from a conference in San Francisco.

They showed up about 2:35 a.m. and we were back in bed by 3:30 a.m., getting up for the day about 9 a.m.

I got a call from one of our commercial building tenants yesterday reporting that an air conditioning unit was running constantly and icing up and that a pothole in the parking lot has reached hazardous dimensions.

I called out fixit guy and he acknowledged receipt of the message, but he apparently couldn’t get an HVAC technician there yesterday. They called again this morning to say the AC was still wonky and they now have a problem with one of the toilets.

And when I logged into my Amazon Vine Program account this morning, I was required to submit an IRS Form W-9 so the evil federal government can tax the value of free items I receive for review purposes.

Never a dull moment.