Saturday, October 31, 2015

45 years ago today


Happy birthday, Stephen Michael Flora.

You make me proud.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Swiss Legend Neptune–a wristwatch for a gorilla

gorilla watch

I’ve been on the lookout for an attractive, inexpensive watch with an easy-to-read analog display that I could wear on motorcycle trips, letting me leave my more expensive Breitling Chrono Avenger at home.

So when the Amazon Vine program offered me a Swiss Legend Neptune watch to review, I jumped on it.

Sure enough, its analog face is easy to read, but good God, it’s absurdly big and heavy.

I thought my Breitling was heavy at 5.5 ounces. The Neptune weighs in at an astounding 10.8 ounces – more than two-thirds of a pound!

I’ve been fiddling with the clasp trying to take some slack out of the band, but it appears the only way to get it down to the size of my wrist is to remove some links. It turns out that link removal is pretty simple and straightforward if you have a set of tiny screwdrivers. Which I do. I removed four links and now it fits my wrist.

I had no illusions that this watch is a fine Swiss chronometer like the Breitling. The back reads “Swiss made movement” but the Amazon listing says it’s from China, which makes sense.

I don’t have diminutive hands and wrists – I wear an XXL size motorcycle glove – but this thing looks and feels ridiculously big and awkward on my wrist.

It would probably look ok on a gorilla’s wrist.

Another Windows 10 installation in progress

maria win10

I’m upgrading Maria’s desktop computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10 this morning. So far, so good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The good news is…

Plastic grilles for the 2004 Lexus RX330 can be had for less than $30.

Ditto, the Lexus emblem that is mounted in the center of the grille.

And it looks very easy to attach both.

I ordered them this morning.

The State Farm adjuster called this afternoon. I told him to close the file since we have a $500 deductible and the fix will be less than $75.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


lexus grill gone

Maria called about 11:15 a.m. today to say she just noticed the grill is missing from our 2004 Lexus RX330.

We have no idea whether it just fell off or was stolen. Falling off seems unlikely, since one would almost certainly notice when it happened. But who steals Lexus grills?

State Farm Insurance is on the case.

At last! Paper funnels and they were free!

paper funnel

I had given up on finding paper funnels to carry on my motorcycles for use in low oil emergencies.

None of the auto parts stores here carry them and the ones I could find online were crazy expensive and sold in huge quantities.

I bought some paper funnels at an auto parts store several years ago, but when I needed one last July on the way home from Montana, I discovered the glue holding them together had disintegrated.

Then this morning I found myself in Sam’s Club passing a free sample machine hyping Mobil Delvac motor oil and distributing paper funnels – one to a customer.

Happily, three other people decided they didn’t really need a paper funnel and left their freebies lying on a case of Delvac.

Now I can sally forth into the 2016 riding season secure in the knowledge that I have paper funnels.

Hey, Dad! There’s a deer in the garage!

dora garage door

Dora heard the garage door closing as Maria left for work this morning and stood up at the door to the garage to investigate.
Then her head snapped around and she froze - she noticed the mounted deer head I have propped up and peering out of a garage window.
She growled and barked, but the deer ignored her.

deer window

Monday, October 26, 2015



I wonder how many celebrities who think it’s cool to be seen wearing Beats headphones would do so if they knew they only cost about $14 to make and are obscenely overpriced.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

New photo checks

check 01

check 02a2

check 03

check 04

I just ordered new personal checks featuring these four photos. Can you tell I really love Jack and Dora?

Thursday, October 22, 2015


fusion channel guide

This is how the Fusion Media cable system channel lineup has looked since about 6:30 p.m. yesterday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

O, frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!

santa feEinstein Bros. Bagels is high on the list of things I miss about Indiana and I try to visit one of their places whenever I’m back in the Hoosier state.

I was resigned to the idea that I’d probably never see an Einstein Bros. Bagels in Jonesboro.

Until Monday when I saw a Facebook post referencing an Einstein Bros. Bagels in the new Humanities and Social Sciences atrium on the Arkansas State University campus.

I drove down to ASU yesterday morning, grabbed what turned out to be an illegal parking spot (luckily, I didn’t get ticketed) right in front of the building and found an abbreviated version of Einstein Bros. right where I expected it would be.

It’s not a full-blown franchise – they don’t sell mugs and other paraphernalia – but they have the essentials of bagels, coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

My favorite – the Santa Fe breakfast sandwich – has mutated into a wrap, but the girl taking my order said they would be happy to make it with an Asiago bagel instead of a wrap.

So one more Yankee amenity has come to northeast Arkansas. There’s a CVS drugstore on the way and now I’m hoping for a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I’m more impressed than I expected to be with the UP2


I’m evaluating the UP2 wireless activity and sleep tracker by Jawbone for the Amazon Vine Program.

(And by the way, I understand Amazon is under fire for presumably having fake product reviews. I can assure you that every product I have received for evaluation and review has legitimately earned whatever review I gave it. There have been some products that I thought were absolute crap and I said so. At the same time, if I like a product, I’ll say so and to what degree.)

I decided to review the UP2 after seeing it and its big brother, the UP3 at Sam’s Club and becoming intrigued by the promotional material. I evaluated another activity tracker, the NUYU, about a month ago and declared it wildly inaccurate and of little value in a fitness regime.

The UP2 is easily the most stylish, least clunky device of its kind that I’ve seen. It looks like a piece of understated jewelry and is light enough that I hardly notice it when it’s on my wrist.

I’m particularly impressed by the free UP2 app, available for iOS and Android platforms.


Here’s the summary of my sleep and activity on Oct. 18. The software has set goals for me of 8 hours of sleep and 10,000 steps per day. You can see that I’m better at sleeping than I am at stepping.


Here’s the detailed look at how I slept the night of Oct. 17-18.

up2 03

And this is the analysis of my steps/calorie burn. I disagree with the “Longest Active” category considering that I put in 30 minutes on a treadmill that afternoon. But the rest of it seems reasonable.

At least the UP2 and its app motivated me to get onto the treadmill three days in a row.

I think this is something I can stick with for awhile.

Monday, October 19, 2015

No more international sales on Ebay

maria iphone 01

I sold Maria’s old iPhone 5 on Ebay last week.

At least I thought I did.

The high bidder was a guy in Germany who says his name is Dawit Balajan. After a couple of days of non-payment, I sent him a query and he responded with a cryptic, “Ond.”


I replied that I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me. No response.

I suspected there would be problems when I noticed he had zero feedback in his Ebay profile. The name doesn’t sound German to me and I wonder if he might be among the hordes of “refugees” currently destroying the German national identity.

So I sent him another message this morning, noting that it has now been five days since the auction closed and I have not received an intelligible reply from him. I told him he has until midnight tonight Greenwich Mean Time to pay, otherwise I’ll cancel the sale and re-list the phone.

And this time I will specify no international sales.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gone but still in our hearts

ruthie goodbye[4]

I blogged this four years ago today:

This is me saying goodbye to Ruthie at the vet’s office.

I told her how much we love her. I told her to go into the Light and I told her we’ll see her on the Other Side.

(I’m typing with tears in my eyes.)

As a Catholic, I believe euthanasia and assisted suicide are murder when it comes to people and Ruthie always felt like a little person to me, so having her put down yesterday afternoon left me with a horrible guilty feeling. She trusted me and I had her killed and I’ll never be OK with that.

But the vet, Dr. Jon Huff, did his best to make us understand we were doing the right thing for Ruthie. Her Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Alzheimer’s for dogs) was filling her with confusion and terror, especially at night when she roamed the house endlessly, scratching on doors whether they were open or closed, panting hysterically and trembling uncontrollably. Increasingly heavy doses of Valium did little to calm her.

I did my best to make sure she enjoyed her last day with unlimited treats and petting. We spent her last hour at home sitting on the back porch with her gazing out at the woods through her cataract-hazed eyes and me petting her.

She climbed eagerly into the passenger seat of my Honda del Sol and we drove down to Maria’s office where we transferred into the Subaru. Ruthie sat on Maria’s lap and poked her nose out the open window, taking in the kaleidoscope of city smells on the way to the vet’s office.

Dr. Huff gave her two injections – one to sedate her into unconsciousness and the second to stop her brain and heart.

She was trembling violently as she lay on the table for the first injection, but began to relax immediately. The right side of her face, contorted for the last five years or so by something akin to a stroke, relaxed and she began to look like a puppy again.

Maria and I sat on either side of the table and stroked her gently as she drifted off. I’m confident that she never felt the second injection or any pain from her heart stopping.

Knowing how much she loved to chase a laser dot, I like to think she saw the Light and went to it eagerly, reveling in the release from the limitations of her worn-out body and mind.

She came into our lives around this time in October, 1997. We chose her from dozens of dogs at the animal shelter in Crawfordsville, Ind. I had my laser pointer with me to test the alertness of dogs in the kennel and she had the most enthusiastic response by far. And she seemed to know that she was our dog. She looked at Maria as if she had been waiting for us.

She was a very very very good dog girl. Even though Pete is dozing behind me on the carpet, the house feels empty and lonely without her. Pete spent much of last evening searching for her in every room of the house.

I’d write more, but it’s getting hard to see the monitor.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I hear hunters in the woods

deer window

I finally figured out what to do with the mounted deer head I picked up for $10 at a neighbor's garage sale at the end of January.
It came to me as I gazed out the window while doing time this morning on the treadmill in the garage and noticing the deer head lying on some boxes nearby.
Considering that deer season is upon us, it seemed wonderfully apropos.

Friday, October 16, 2015

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

2015 falling leaf pin

Marilyn Roberts of the Gateway Riders BMW Club graciously sent me (for the modest fee of $2) the pin from this year’s rally, which took place last weekend.

It had been on my calendar since last October, but I couldn’t make it because Maria and Morgan had to make a flying trip to Indiana last weekend, which left me to care for our combined pack of four dogs. Yes, I could have kenneled the dogs, but the cost would have been ruinous.

The anvil references the anvil shoot that has become a tradition at the rally in Potosi, Mo. This year’s rally featured a triple anvil shoot – three at one time.

Thursday, October 15, 2015



I’m evaluating the UP2 fitness tracker system for the Vine Program.

I tried the NUYU fitness tracker for Amazon a month or so ago and concluded that it’s wildly inaccurate and not a reliable tool for tracking activity.

Here’s what the listing says about the UP2:

A beautifully slim health and fitness tracker with the smartest app for everyday wellness. On the outside UP2 is the thinnest, sleekest, most style-savvy tracker out there. On the inside, Smart Coach generates fitness insights and activity plans that make reaching your goals that much easier. And with 10 days of battery life you'll be charging less, and living better.

It pairs with my iPhone via Bluetooth and works with a free UP2 app that I downloaded from iTunes.

I’m still feeling my way through the menus and features, but I’m guardedly optimistic that it will turn out to be a decent product. I noticed it’s selling for $99 at Sam’s Club.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


maria iphone 01Maria’s 16GB Sprint iPhone 5 sold today on Ebay for $112.59 – more than twice the $50 was willing to pay.

It’s boxed up and waiting for the buyer in Germany to send money to my PapPal account.

I always pay for my Ebay purchases immediately after the auction closes and I consider it bad manners for a buyer to let more than 10 minutes go by without paying.

I know he was present for the close of the auction because he sniped it at the last minute. (Unless, of course, he uses sniping software.)

Anyway, our resale of old 5 series iPhones has more than covered the step up to the iPhone 6.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Department of Cool Guy Stuff





My late first father-in-law was a career soldier and a World War II veteran.

He spent a few years teaching Army ROTC at Purdue University, which included teaching college kids to shoot.

Among the things of his that I ended up with was this cool ammo box in which the Savanna (Illinois) Ordnance Depot shipped 1,040 rounds for the venerable .30 carbine – the very same weapon with which I qualified as an expert marksman during U.S. Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas.

It was shipped sometime between January, 1957 and July 1, 1963 when Zip Codes went into effect.

I use it to store pistol ammunition and gun cleaning supplies.

Free samples


I was wandering around Sam’s Club, waiting for a prescription to be filled this morning, when I noticed a woman filling a machine that dispenses free samples.

Today it was Dentastix dental cleaning sticks for dogs.

She noticed me waiting, tested the machine with one of her cards, and gave the package to me, saying, “Now you can have two.”

(The machine will only dispense one per Sam’s Club membership card.)

So now Jack and Dora can each have one.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Electro-shock therapy for a charley horse

tens calf

An excruciatingly painful cramp in my right calf blasted me out of a sound sleep at 6:25 a.m. yesterday, an apparent consequence of not enough potassium in my diet.

I was able to walk it off as soon as I got untangled from the blanket and sheet, but my calf muscle was knotted so tightly that it was still bruised and painful this morning to the extent that I could feel it with every step.

So, after feeding and watering the dogs and having my mocha cappuccino and biscotti, I applied the electrodes of my TENS unit and gave it more than an hour of electrical massage.

It’s still sore, but not so bad.

I’ve been busy tidying things up for Maria’s return this afternoon. I vacuumed and steamed the tile in the kitchen, hallway, half-bath and laundry room, cleared the flotsam and jetsam from the kitchen table to the point where you can actually see the surface of the table, and am about to shift the sheets from the washer to the dryer.

All the time I keep having the impulse to ride to the post office for the mail. Then I remember this is Columbus Day and there is no mail delivery. As I’ve observed on previous Columbus Days, it’s the sneakiest holiday. I never expect it when it shows up and disrupts my routine.

Here’s what Maria has been working on for weeks


Maria created this spectacular baby quilt that was presented yesterday in a shower for Austin and Morgan’s step-sister.

She conjured the design based on requests for butterflies and purple and I think she did a mind-boggling job.

JMF_6590 detail 72

I love the way the cornflowers and butterfly break out of the frame and the butterfly against the full moon is a beautiful touch.

JMF_6590 moon 72

Here’s the other side:


Morgan helped with the design.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

15 years ago today

iquit 01

iquit 02

My BMW motorcycle riding friend Howard Mudd had a bunch of these t-shirts made when he retired from his job as offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts.

I swapped him a Goobertown, Arkansas t-shirt for one of them.

I’m wearing it today to mark the 15th anniversary of the day I walked away from a job at The Indianapolis Star that had become intolerable.

The arrogant twits running The Star at the behest of Gannett completed the transformation of a newspaper into a newspaper factory and a modest golden parachute was the only good thing to come out of my mother’s departure from this life.

Fifteen years ago this morning, I was driving to work and talking to Maria on the phone.

“I think I’m going to quit today,” I ventured.

She came back with the perfect reply.

“You don’t have the nerve. I dare you!”

As soon as I reached the Metro North Bureau of The Star in Carmel, I called Human Resources and informed them that I was done, as of today.

I asked if I would suffer any consequences for not giving two weeks’ notice.

“Do ever expect to need a reference from us?”

Laughing, I replied, “No. I think 33 years speaks for itself.”

The HR woman noticed that I turned 55 a few months earlier and offered that I was eligible for early retirement with a reduced pension.

“OK, I’m retiring.”

I cleaned out my desk, reveling in the shock on the faces of my coworkers, and was gone by 11 a.m.

I’m still waiting for the panic attack.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How I start my day

mocha cappuccino

  • Get up
  • Put dogs out
  • Brush teeth
  • Shower if needed
  • Get dressed
  • Feed dogs
  • Take pills
  • Make mocha cappuccino
  • Drink mocha cappuccino with biscotti while checking email

On with the day!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Stupid, tragic waste of a life

erin dowdy

Erin Dowdy, 21, was found dead in her car in the Parker Road Walmart parking lot on the south side of Jonesboro on Wednesday.

She had a history of huffing hairspray and several cans of the stuff were found in her car.

Police said foul play is not suspected.

The dogmeister

red shirt bmw mug

The girls are en route to Indiana for a family weekend and I’m in charge of the dog pack.

I would have gone along, but the kennel bill would have been a budget-buster.


And there’s an irresistible compulsion to rustle some cotton to show Hoosiers what it looks like.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Leaning forward through three decades


I bought my first serious sport touring motorcycle – a 1981 BMW R100RS – thirty years ago this month.

It was a used bike that sat on the Cycle Werks of Indianapolis showroom floor for several months without attracting much attention. That was probably because the previous owner, a guy from Cincinnati, had put a silly looking tall windscreen on it that destroyed the elegant design.

r100rswindscreenI was looking to step up from my 1971 R50/5 and my 1978 Kawasaki KZ650 and I saw some serious potential in this smoke gray beauty.

When I sat on it in the dealership and experienced the forward-leaning RS riding position for the first time, I thought, “I’m either going to love this position or I’m going to hate it.”

Turns out I’ve loved it for 30 years ago four BMWs.

The first thing I did to it was replace the too-tall windscreen with a stock tinted windscreen, restoring it to the look the designers in Munich had in mind when they created the world’s first production motorcycle with an integral fairing.

A week or so after I bought the R100RS, I rode it down to Bloomington to visit my son Sean and take him for a ride.

The next July, I rode it west with Tim and Linda Balough for my first long-haul tour. The excuse for the ride was the 1986 BMW MOA Rally at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, Calif. It was a life-altering experience, a watershed event that permanently altered my thinking about independence and self-determination. What followed made the first 40 years of my life seem like a prelude to actually living life.

I sold the R100RS six years later when I bought a 1991 K100RS. In terms of technology, performance and handling, the K-bike was a quantum leap from the R-bike, but I loved that R100RS and wish I still had it. I replaced the oil dipstick with one that had a thermometer dial on the end – like a giant meat thermometer, so I still have the original dipstick as a kind of touchstone.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Careless lifting

gt at the ra

I pulled a muscle in my back last week lifting my heavily loaded 2003 BMW K1200GT onto its centerstand for fuelling at a Citgo station south west of Mountain Home, Ark. while en route to the BMW RA Rally in Harrison.

The curb weight of the bike is 661.4 pounds, but when you add camping gear, the contents of the two oversize saddlebags, tank bag and GPS, it’s well over 700 pounds.

There is a subtle technique to getting all of that mass up onto its centerstand without having to effectively bench press 700 pounds, but if you do it a little bit wrong, you can strain something. And that’s what I did.

I spent last evening hooked up to my TENS unit, electrically massaging the sore spots, but I think I still may need the attention of our chiropractor today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

15 years gone


My mother died 15 years ago last evening at the Hoosier Village Health Care Center in Zionsville, Ind.

She was 85 years old.

I miss her every day.

Sold, I think

my I 01The Ebay auction for my old iPhone 5 closed this morning with a top bid of $132.

That’s more than twice the amount offered for my 32GB Sprint iPhone 5.

I’m accustomed to buyers paying promptly, like RFN, on PayPal but it’s been four hours since the auction closed and there has been no response to my invoice.

I’m a chronic worrier about stuff like this, so I just need to chill out and stay optimistic.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Problem solved

lexus windshield

The rubber gasket around the windshield on our Lexus RX330 has a nasty habit of coming loose.

This is particularly unnerving at high speeds when it suddenly begins flailing around like a big black snake.

When a technician from Safelite came to our house a few years ago to fix a chip in the windshield, I asked if he could fix the gasket as well, but he advised me it would involve removing the windshield and re-seating it.

I raised the issue again this morning with Chris at Gateway Tire where I was getting an oil change and lube job on the Lexus. He referred me to 4-Star Liberty Auto Glass where this guy knew better.

He cleaned the gasket on both sides of the car, then glued it down with the same adhesive they use to secure windshields.

And he did it for free.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

BMW Motorcycle Rally Pin of the Day

2015RA pin

From the 2015 BMW Riders Association national rally Oct. 1-4 in Harrison, Ark.

A nice little rally with lots of riding opportunities, especially for dual sport GS bikes.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

An abbreviated BMW RA Rally


Where have I been?

Harrison, Ark. for the BMW RA Rally. I pre-registered in July at the BMW MOA Rally in Billings, Mont. It seemed like a good idea, being in the Ozarks and all and I expected to see lots of my Indianapolis BMW Club friends there.


2015RA03I was one of only seven Indy folks in attendance – two couples who were staying in motels and a couple of guys who ride GS bikes and like to bash around on fire trails and gravel.

The weather was good – chilly, but sunny. I studied the forecast and chose my equipment well. The heavy-duty Browning sleeping bag was just right for Thursday and Friday nights when the temperature dropped into the mid-40s. Friday morning’s low was 45° and this morning’s low was 47°.

I didn’t go on any rides because I was more into hanging out. Unfortunately, this rally wasn’t much for hanging out and socializing.

2015RA01The most adventurous thing I did was add another stamp to my National Parks Passport when I discovered I was camped within two miles of the Buffalo National River offices. I think it’s the first stamp I’ve added in a couple of years. I carried the passport to Billings, but never bothered to look for stamp opportunities.

My Willis & Geiger Diaplex windstopper pullover turned out to be the perfect all-around comfort garment for chilly evenings and cool motorcycle rides.

I decided I’d had enough boredom this morning and struck camp. I was on the road a little after 11 a.m. under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60s. But somewhere east of Mountain Home, the mercury began dropping and the sky clouded up. I was reasonably comfortable except for my hands. Somewhere west of Hardy, I pulled over and put windstopper glove liners into my gloves, which seemed to help along with the heated grips.

I rolled into my garage about 2:45 p.m. and thawed out with a hot shower.

I think most of my rally-going Indianapolis friends chose to skip the RA rally this weekend and, instead, go to the Falling Leaf Rally next weekend in Potosi, Mo. I have to pass on that one because I’ll be dog-sitting.