Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Happy feet

My feet are unusually happy right now, thanks to the Amazon Vine Program, which sent me a 2-pack of Burton Weekender Socks.

I would never spend $29.95 for a couple of pairs of socks, so these are a real treat. They come in garish colors and have elastic arch and ankle support and a reinforced toe and heel with a chafe-free link toe seam and stay high comfort band. They're warm without being uncomfortable and should come in very handy on long motorcycle trips where temperatures fluctuate wildly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I encountered this guy when I walked to the end of our driveway a few minutes ago to retrieve the trash can. He was rattling his tail furiously, trying to convince me he was a rattlesnake, but I'm pretty sure he was just a rat snake.

He was gone by the time I hauled in the trash can and returned.

Ahh, Arkansas! I've seen more snakes on our property here in eight years than I did in 62 years in Indiana.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Godspeed, Leonard Case

Leonard Leach Case Jr., 84, of Beulah, Michigan passed away on Saturday, April 16, 2016. He was born to Leonard Leach Case and Florence Ellis Case on July 13, 1931. He called Benzie County home for his entire life. Leonard graduated Benzonia High School in 1949 before attending Michigan State College where he attained a degree in Business. He worked nights at General Motors in Lansing to pay for his schooling. Leonard entered the U.S. Army in 1954 and served two years active duty in Korea in the quartermaster corps. He was honorably discharged in 1962 with the rank of specialist 4th class.

Most of Leonard’s professional career was spent overseeing the iconic Cherry Hut Restaurant in Beulah where he worked 69 years, 56 of them as the proprietor. In 1946 Leonard, then a high school sophomore, was hired to work at the Cherry Hut Jam Kitchen and since 1948, with the exception of two years in the army, has personally prepared the delicious jams and jellies of the Cherry Hut. In 1959, after two years as manager, Leonard purchased the Cherry Hut from the founding family, The Krakers. During his time as owner, Leonard transformed the Cherry Hut from an outdoor food stop with a limited menu only open for 12 weeks in the summer months to a modern three dining room restaurant with a full menu of entrees, sandwiches, and salads which is open Mother’s Day until the end of October. Leonard worked hard his entire life and that continued through The Cherry Hut’s 93rd season in 2015.

Leonard wintered in Orlando, Florida during the Cherry Hut’s off-season. While there, he became fond of the handmade sweets of Carolyn Candies. Looking to stay busy in Florida, he purchased the candy business, which made and distributed pecan rolls and pralines, in 1967 and owned it until 1972. Leonard hired a manager to oversee the slower summer months while he was away in Beulah running the Cherry Hut. He would then resume operations upon return to Orlando in the winter. Leonard also developed a passion for flying and took pilot training at a small airport south of Orlando in Kissimmee. After attaining his private pilot’s license in 1969, he purchased a small single engine plane, a Cessna 150, and flew it between Kissimmee and Benzie County.

In 1972, Leonard married his wife of 44 years, Brenda Joy Deering. They were married at the Benzonia Congregational Church UCC, where five generations of the Case Family have been members since its founding in 1860. In 1976, a son, Andrew James Case was born and in 1980, a daughter, Amanda Joy Case.

Leonard was an avid world traveler. His adventures brought him to the Terracotta Army of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the beauty of the Danube River, the treasures of the Kremlin, and the battlefields of Normandy among other numerous historical sites. However, out of all his many travels he settled on two favorites, The Grand Canyon and sunsets on Crystal Lake. Leonard was a prolific reader of historical nonfiction. He spent countless hours reading books on American History and the places he had traveled to or wished to travel to. He was most passionate about WWII, The Civil War, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the discovery of the American Western Frontier. Leonard enjoyed swimming in Crystal Lake, boating, golfing, and always looked forward to a good game of cribbage. When he wasn’t traveling or reading you would find Leonard at the Cherry Hut or spending quality time with his family, which was the greatest importance to him.

Leonard is survived by his wife, Brenda Case, son, Andrew (Christy) Case, daughter, Amanda (Ashley) Williford. Grandchildren, Carson Leonard Case, Caleb James Case, and Zachariah Wray Williford. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, June Deering, brothers-in-law, Norman (Barb) Deering, Edwin Deering, and several cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leonard Case, Sr. and Florence Case, Brother, William (Lorayne) Case, and sister, Marietta (Sherman) Nelson.

The visitation to celebrate the life of Leonard will be from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13 at the Jowett Family Funeral Home in Benzonia. The memorial will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m. at the Benzonia Congregational Church, UCC. Dr. Chuck Guerreno will be officiating. Memorial contributions may be directed to The First Congregation Church of Benzonia, 901 Barber St. Benzonia, MI 49616

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Going in for repairs

I've mentioned it before, but this bears repeating: I love my Swiss Army knife.

The one I carry these days is the altimeter multitool (see illustration) that was a gift from my son Sean eight years ago.

It has a barometric altimeter and a thermometer that can read out in metric or English scales. Since I live in relatively flat terrain, I use the altimeter more as a weather predictor. And the thermometer pretty much always registers 84 degrees in my pocket.

But I carry the knife all of the time and I use its blades and tools several times a day to open packages, tighten the screws in my glasses, open beer bottles, open envelopes, cut string, trim my moustache, remove splinters, write notes, and on and on.

Victorinox makes a dizzying array of Swiss Army knives and I can't imagine walking out of my house without one in my pocket.

Sadly, the electronic functions stopped working a few months ago and I finally got around to getting a repair order from Victorinox preliminary to shipping the knife to their service center in Connecticut for repairs. It will go into the mail tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I rummaged through my trove of dresser drawer stuff and found another - lower-tech - Victorinox Swiss Army knife to carry.

Will I ever use it?

When I renewed the plate on my K1200GT last month, I figured I would have it back from Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles long before now.

But the inability of Grass Roots technicians to get BMW Motorrad in Germany to send them a fully functional starter relay makes me wonder if I'll ever need to apply the sticker to the license plate.

With the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky. only about four weeks away, I'm starting to think the only way I can attend is by car, and that's very depressing.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

History in a lamp

Maria, ever the thoughtful wife, bought me a keepsake lamp for the living room to showcase some of the odds and ends of my personal and family history.

I set it up this afternoon, topped with a $24 3-way LED bulb.

Some of the items include my 1956 Captain Midnight Secret Squadron decoder badge and Ovaltine cup, my dad's Bulova Accutron wrist watch and big green Shaffer fountain pen. There's also one of my Air Force dog tags, my Alpha Tau Omega membership card and a couple of ATO badges, my Boy Scout Tenderfoot pin, Indiana State Police press card, Cub Scout pocket knife, a BMWMOA pin from the 1998 national rally in Madison, Ind.,tiki god pendant, and a Linotype slug with my byline on it.

A bath and chicks for Jack

We took Dora to the Oerscheln farm store for a bath four weeks ago. It was Jack's turn this morning.

Jack behaved himself splendidly and was interested in everything, especially the baby chicks. He was remarkably poised and cooperative when tethered in the dog washing tub and seemed to enjoy the attention. He is one of the most endearingly affectionate dogs I have ever known and we are truly blessed to have him and Dora in our lives.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


When things are broken or unstable, I get uneasy.

And my level of unease is pretty freaking high right now.

Here are the loose ends that bother me:

My K1200GT has been in the shop since March 10 and I still have no idea if or when BMW will come up with a fully functional starter relay. The first rally on my calendar is about a month away.
The people who are supposedly handing a plumbing problem at our Thowntown house say there is $800 worth of work not covered by the home warranty policy we have and they will not begin the work until I pay them. I learned this after their offices closed today, so I can't do anything about it until tomorrow morning.
My son Sean's landlord wants to sell his property, which would dispossess Sean and his Rock & Roll Bed & Breakfast on Sauvie Island, Oregon. I'm frustrated because I can't do anything to help him and I'm going to feel off balance until he gets this sorted out.

Sean at a crossroads

My son Sean, who lives on Sauvie Island northwest of Portland on a rented property and operates a recording studio/ bed & breakfast for musicians, is coming to a crossroads.

I worried that this day would come - his landlord wants to sell the house and nine acres.

Sean is casting about for investors/partners to buy the property. You can see details at this Facebook page:

This is one of those times when I wish I'd won the lottery so I could invest in Sean's future.

Any takers?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I have always hated yard work, especially raking leaves and anything involving a shovel.

But we got some significant work accomplished over the weekend that makes me feel better about the place.

Maria and I raked the accumulated leaves away from both sides of the chain link fence that keeps our dogs safe and secure. Then I drove down to ACE Hardware and bought a new chemical sprayer, since our old one no longer worked. I loaded it with Roundup and treated the perimeter of the fence and also the outsides of the house. The point of treating the fencerow was to prevent weeds and grass from growing up and shorting out the electrically charged wire that keeps Dora from burrowing out.

I also bought a kit to straighten a Kwanzan flowering cherry tree that the neighbor's dog bent and nearly killed when he got loose and his chain got tangled around the tree trunk. It's probably going to take a season or two for the tree to adjust itself, but it's a start.

We also laid waste to several out-of-control shrubs in front of the house and now we can see the azaleas that were planted there about 10 years ago. I rather expected to flush out a snake or two when we went after the shrubbery, but none appeared.

I managed to mow the dogs' yard despite the holes Dora has dug chasing moles or gophers over the past couple of years. I have to raise the mower deck on the John Deere LA125 and creep over the tortured landscape and I worry that one of these days, it's going to wreck the mower, but so far, so good.

Here are some of the azaleas.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

New Anonymous Book

Membership in the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America has lots of benefits, not the least of which is the Anonymous Book.

It's a state-by-state, province-by-province, and country-by-country listing of members who can offer varying levels of help if you have a problem while on the road. Each entry has a coded listing for what the person has to offer - everything from coffee and conversation to a trailer and tools. It doesn't include names, which makes it anonymous. The book is published every year and is just the right size to fit into a tank bag or saddlebag.

And the 2016 edition arrived in our mailbox yesterday.

I keep the current year's edition on my 2003 K1200GT (when it's not being held hostage by BMW) and shift the previous year's edition to a saddlebag on my 1994 K75S.

Friday, April 15, 2016

I'm in starter relay hell

Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles finally received the starter relay from Germany, and the bike starts fine. It just doesn't have any lights.

So it looks like I won't get to bring it home tomorrow.

They have a call into BMW in Germany to get another, fully functional, relay or to get permission to put in a jumper that will make everything work.

It's been in the shop since March 10 and I feel like my riding season is slipping away.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Free Wifi: you get what you pay for

I have a data Speedtest app on my iPhone and I used it the other day when it occurred to me that the free Wifi at Panera and Barnes & Noble seemed slow.

That's because it was.

Keeping in mind that my home Wifi performance is 14.24 Megabits download and 1.90 Megabits upload, I got these results when I checked the free Wifi:

Panera - .99 Megabits download, .97 Megabits upload

Barnes & Noble - 2.56 Megabits download, .32 Megabits upload

I haven't checked anyplace else, but I suspect other businesses - like Starbucks - aren't significantly better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


What started out as a leaky upstairs toilet has turned out to be kind of a major deal at our Thorntown house.

The plumbers determined that a 4" cast iron pipe that runs from the upstairs bathroom to the basement has split. They determined this by opening the wall in the dining room. (see photo) They also determined it was beyond their abilities to repair and the home warranty insurance company we use has subbed it out to another company whose people are scheduled to show up at the house next Monday.

This had me freaked out when I got the initial call about noon yesterday, but after a couple of hours on the phone to Indiana, I think I can relax about it for awhile. At least until Monday.

I dropped by our commercial building and recruited one of the secretaries to hold a file folder as a laser rangefinder target so I could figure out the dimensions of the building - 34.4 yards by 24.4 yards. That works out to 7,554.24 square feet - actually less inside because this excludes the thickness of the walls. I called the county assessor's office and was told their assessment is based on a higher square footage estimate, so they're sending a guy out to redo the assessment.

Likewise, they're looking into the erroneously high (by a factor of 10) number of feet of chain link fence at our home.

Those are things that have been on my plate too long and I'm relieved to have things moving on that front.

Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles was closed on Monday - as are most motorcycle dealerships much of the year - so today was the first day of the week that they could receive the starter relay that BMW has presumably shipped from Germany to make my K1200GT whole. I won't embarrass myself by pestering them about it, so I'll try to be patient and wait for their call. Unless I don't hear anything by Friday. Then I'll call.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

GT report

I called Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles yesterday afternoon to see if my bike would be ready to pick up today.


The starter relay (like the one pictured here) that BMW Motorrad in Germany said was shipped a week ago has yet to arrive in Cape Girardeau, so it looks like the earliest I could possibly retrieve my 2003 K1200GT is next Saturday.

Actually, I'm a little relieved because today's high temperature is only going to be in the mid-50s, which is a bit on the cool side albeit doable with the proper gear.

The other upside is that I'm home to collect today's mail, which includes a Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Laser Rangefinder from the Amazon Vine Program for my evaluation and review. It has special features for bow hunting that I'll never use, but I can think of plenty of uses for it, including being able to get an accurate measure of our commercial building's dimensions. Why? Because I think our property tax assessment is too high, based on an erroneously high square footage figure. I haven't done anything about it until now because I don't have a tape measure of sufficient length to easily measure the building.

The laser rangefinder is accurate to +/- 1 yard out to 800 yards, so it should be precise enough for my purposes.

Here's an image I shot with my iPhone showing the distance to a neighbor's yard as 78.1 yards.

The vertical angle is o°, so a bow hunter would calculate it as 78.1 yards also.

I've wanted one of these for a long time, so this is a very pleasant review assignment.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Mouse problem solved

The scrolling wheel on my Logitech MX Revolution wireless mouse quit working a couple of days ago and ever since I've been constantly reminded of how much I used that wheel.

I don't suppose I have much right to complain, considering that I've been using the mouse since June 20, 2008 - coming up on eight years.

I looked for a software solution and checked a few forums (in Latin, that should probably be forii) for insight. I updated the Logitech Set Point software to no avail.

Then I tried the simplest solution - blow eight years worth of accumulated dust and crud out with compressed air.

Voila! Full function was restored. I love it when I can actually solve a problem and not make it worse.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

DNA results

I got the results of my National Geographic Genographic DNA analysis this morning and there were a couple of mild surprises.

I'd supposed my Flora DNA was mostly from Germany or Switzerland. Turns out, it's 56% Great Britain and Ireland and 19% Scandinavian, 12% Southern Europe, 11% Eastern Europe (that would include Germany), and a puzzling 3% Arabia.

The DNA kits were a Christmas gift from Steve and Nicky. We finally got around to sending in our samples on Jan. 29, so it takes awhile to get results.

I have only 1.2% Neanderthal DNA, compared with 2.1% for the average homo sapiens. I'll take that as a good thing.

Still waiting for notification on Maria's test, but it should show up very soon.

Monday, April 04, 2016

First mesh jacket ride of the season

It's a sunny 78° and we were out of milk.

The solution: put on a mesh jacket, fire up the K75S and ride down to the Dollar General. Lovely spring day.

Friday, April 01, 2016

A starter relay on its way from Germany

My friends at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau got an email from BMW Motorrad in Germany today saying a new starter replay was being shipped for my bike.

Presumably, it has been tested to assure it is free of defect. BMW has put a hold on all of the starter relays for my bike in the U.S. because of frequent failures.

This means that, depending upon the speed of shipping, I may or may not be able to retrieve my bike next weekend.

Not amused

Just for the record, I absolutely hate newspapers and broadcasters who think playing April Fools jokes on their readers or viewers is a good idea.

The former Noblesville (Ind.) Ledger used to run an April Fools joke story on page 1 every year. When I was working on the suburban desk of The Indianapolis News, I routinely had to explain to my editor that the stories were bogus when he assigned me to follow up on them.

Deliberately presenting phony "news" in the name of humor constitutes a breach of trust. Any news agency that would do it, begs the question of what other falsehoods would they put before their readers or viewers if they thought it was funny or in the public interest.

Speaking as someone with more than 40 years of experience with newspapers, I have a hard time respecting any editor who indulges in this childish practice.

From the log