Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Jonesboro got more than 6 inches of rain in three hours yesterday, turning streets into rivers and washing a 13-year-old boy several blocks through a storm drain before he was rescued by police who heard his calls for help through a curbside grate.

The drainage ditch south of Morgan's house turned into a raging torrent, partially flooding the house next door and threatening her house as well. She and Maria had challenging drives home at the height of the storm that more than doubled the previous May 24 record rainfall of 2.77 inches in Jonesboro.

It rained hard here, starting about 4 p.m., but when we checked the rain gauge this morning, we found only one inch of water. That eight miles between us and Jonesboro made a big difference.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How I spent my weekend

I spent the extended weekend (Thursday-Sunday morning) with about 30 of my Indianapolis BMW Club friends at the 18th annual European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky.

My Garmin Zumo 550 really really really wanted me to go via Memphis, but I really really really hate riding through that city and so I turned off the route mapping until I was across the Mississippi on U.S. 412 and well on my way to Jackson, Tenn. and I-40. I took I-40 to Nashville and let Garmin direct me north on I-65 until I ground to a halt at a miles-long traffic jam. I sweated and inched my way along for about 20 minutes before I realized the next exit was only 1.7 miles ahead. I took to the paved shoulder and cruised up to the Tenn. 52 exit and was soon headed east in very light traffic.

What should have been a pleasant ride turned hellish when I entered a yard sale zone about 40 miles long filled with drivers who weren't all that interested in moving briskly. I was cranky and frazzled by the time I got to the Burkesville City Park and the rally site, but I still had enough energy left to set up my big Eureka! tent (the exclamation point is part of the name) and trudge up to the courthouse square for a Subway dinner.

The next couple of days were characterized by rain, ranging from downpours to drizzles to mists, robbing me of any interest in riding anywhere, so I hung out with friends and caught up with their lives.

The Indianapolis BMW Club won the award for most members in attendance. I think we've won it for seven or eight consecutive years. The woman who coordinates the rally for the BMW Motorcycle Club of Nashville said last year that they wouldn't even have a rally if it weren't for the Indianapolis folks. As it was, we represented more than 10 percent of the total attendance.

I was one of the last to leave Sunday morning, taking my time to strike the tent and pack. I gassed at the Marathon station and, determined to avoid the Tenn. 52 yard sale hell, struck out south for a more direct route to I-40. Happily, Garmin agreed. At least for most of the route, still insisting on going through freaking Memphis instead of picking up U.S. 412 at Jackson. I was grateful not to be involved in the horrendous construction backup in the eastbound lanes just east of Nashville.

I stopped for a 99-cent Wendy's junior cheeseburger and gassed at a BP station west of Nashville. Somewhere around the 140 mile marker, I noticed my luggage rack load of tent, cheapo Walmart chair and sleeping bag had shifted badly. I determined the chair was the destabilizing element so I abandoned it next to the guardrail at an entrance ramp around mile marker 136.

I exited at Jackson and gassed again about 20 miles northwest of town where I slammed down a little bottle of 5-Hour Energy. Thus energized, I rode the remaining 118.3 miles home thoroughly enjoying XM-Sirius music on my enhanced (extra drivers) in-ear monitors.

I rode into my garage at 4:09 p.m.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Total riding time: 13:10
Average speed: 59.2 mph
Maximum speed: 95.1 mph
Total miles: 779.1

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rally pin of the day

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


This gender identity foolishness reminds me of a joke I heard years ago.

A first-grade teacher brought her dog to school and asked the class how to tell if it was a male or a female.

A girl raised her hand and offered, "Let's vote."

At least it used to be a joke.

Doesn't work and can cause cancer! How's that for a product from China?

I bought a package of this stuff in January and finally got around to opening and using it to repair sunglasses this afternoon.
Here's the review I wrote on

When you see more than half of the reviewers hate a product, you should consider yourself warned.
Unfortunately, I paid attention to the hype and not the reviews.

This product not only failed to perform as advertised - in this case to repair a pair of sunglasses - but came with instructions that are downright scary.
To quote from the Instruction Guide:

"WARNING! This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm."
"Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves
"Never look directly into the UV light. It can cause eye damage.
"Dispose of liquid material safely. DO NOT discharge into sewer or waterways.
"DO NOT allow clothing wet with material to stay in contact with skin.
"DO NOT allow wash water from cleaning or process equipment to enter drains"

I wish I'd never opened the package.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cheaper to replace than repair?

I got out my Poulan chainsaw yesterday to finish off the cedar tree stump when I discovered the sprocket that drives the chain had seized.

I dropped it off at a small engine repair shop down the road that charges $75 an hour. If the bill is significantly more, I will buy a new one for $111 and free shipping from Amazon and tell them to keep the old chainsaw.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy 15th anniversary to us!

Fifteen years ago this afternoon Maria and I stood under the Boone County Centennial Quilt in the rotunda of the Boone County Courthouse surrounded by friends and family and exchanged vows.

Boone County Clerk Lisa Garroffolo did the honors.

It was a spur of the moment decision and we bought my ring the evening before just before the jewelry store in Indianapolis closed.

Our reception was at a Lebanon ice cream stand that also had a playground, which prompted a young nephew to pronounce it the best wedding he'd ever attended.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bad bad starter relay

This is the original starter relay for my 2003 BMW K1200GT that developed an intermittent fault about eight years ago.

That's when I noticed I had to press the starter button multiple times before the starter would engage and fire the engine. In an effort to solve the problem I spent about $450 for a new right combo switch but the problem persisted.

Finally, when the bike refused to start after more than 150 button presses, Charlie Parsons and I hauled it up to Cape Girardeau and let the guys at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles dig into it.

As I've blogged previously, they couldn't get a fully functional replacement part out of Germany, but were able to make do with a partially functional replacement and a clever workaround involving a jumper connection.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Freezer Isn't Making Ice? – Whirlpool Refrigerator Ice Maker Assembly Re...

Appliance repair people will charge you an insane amount to replace this. You can do it for $45 for parts and $0 for labor. I love the way YouTube can show you how to do almost anything.

Remembering Walt Kelly on Friday, the 13th

Click the image to see it larger.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

$373? No. $307? No. How about $137!

The ice maker on our 16-year-old Whirlpool refrigerator stopped working a couple of weeks ago.

I called Strong Arm Appliance Repair, a local company that has worked on our appliances before, and their technician said we need a new valve for the ice maker. He said it had to be ordered and they would call me with an estimate. They never called. Finally, a week later, I called and was told they contacted me and I okayed the repair for an estimated $307. WTF? I told them I never got the call and I decline the repair.

So I called a nationwide company and they sent out a guy yesterday afternoon. He told me I should have taken the Strong Arm deal because his company would charge me $373.


I could fix it myself and he showed me where to find the valve (with installation instructions) online for way less than the $109 he would have to charge me. I thanked him profusely and gladly paid the $120 diagnostic charge. Then I went to and got the valve kit for $17 with free shipping.

In the meantime, I'm happy to keep filling the ice bin with $1.53 bags of ice from the Dollar General store down the road.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Yard work

We had a productive day yesterday, taking care of neglected yard work.

We cut down a bunch of shrubs in front of the house a few weekends ago and left the cuttings to dry. We raked them up yesterday and piled them on an unwanted stump near the driveway and torched them.

Then the real fun began.

Maria has hated a scraggly cedar tree in our back yard ever since we moved here in 2007 and we took it down yesterday. I also chainsawed several limbs of other trees that I've had to duck for when mowing the lawn. And we accomplished all of this without encountering any snakes, which made me very happy. We did, however, inadvertently destroy a mourning dove nest in the cedar tree that had a couple of eggs in it.

I was shocked at how little stamina I had after all of this. My blood pressure registered 93/63 which could be an alltime personal low. My BP has been trending down over the past couple of years and the doc told me to back off of the Lisinopril if I felt light-headed. I did and I reduced the dosage this morning.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The GT is fixed and back at home!

Here's Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles service writer Brian Thompson filling in the blanks for a 6k service in my K1200GT maintenance manual yesterday.

I have nothing but praise for the guys at Grass Roots who figured out a work-around for the lack of a fully functional starter relay for my bike.

Maria and I drove up to Cape Girardeau yesterday morning and retrieved my GT, serviced and ready for a new riding season.

We stopped for lunch at Lamberts Cafe in Sikeston, Mo. We arrived minutes before noon on a Saturday. I can only suppose there is an even bigger noon-day crowd there today on Mother's Day, but we waited an hour to be seated. It was worth the wait for the throwed rolls, monster ice teas, pass-arounds and menu items.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Day 58 without my K1200GT

I just got a call from Dave, the senior technician at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles, saying the starter relay promised by BMW in Germany has not arrived and their computer system indicates it's not in the pipeline, even though someone at BMW Motorrad in New Jersey said it was shipped from Germany earlier this week.

That said, Dave is confident that the one they received a couple of weeks ago can be made to work by adding a jumper that completes the circuit for the lights - the one shortcoming of the latest relay. He said they tested the idea by connecting a couple of wires and everything worked fine.

I told him to go ahead and add the jumper and bang on it a bit to make sure everything works properly and I'll plan to come up tomorrow and pick up the bike. And if a fully functional relay ever does show up, call me and I'll come up and have it installed.

Kudos to Dave and his crew, curses to BMW in Germany.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

56 days and counting

As I sit here waiting for the appliance repairman to come and fix our ice maker, it occurs to me that this is the 56th day my K1200GT has sat at Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo., waiting for a fully functional starter relay from Germany.

It also occurs to me that I have been very patient. So far.

I just pre-registered for the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky. later this month with the realization that I may or may not have my bike back by then. If the bike isn't ready, I am prepared to go by car.

If further occurs to me that some of my less-sanguine friends would be crazy with rage by this time, vowing to anyone who would listen that they will never, ever buy another BMW motorcycle again.

I am not to that point. Yet.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Committing herbicide

When I mowed the dogs' part of the yard Sunday afternoon, I noticed there are places I can't reach with my John Deere LA125.

So this morning, I fed the dogs, secured them in their kennels and mixed up a gallon of Roundup. I hit the offending plant life hard, then stalked around the yard spraying around the bases of trees where poison ivy and other unwanted foliage likes to grow. The idea was to use the entire contents of the spray tank, so I could flush it properly, as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Then, I rewarded myself with a cup of mocha cappuccino.

And now, on with the day.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Happy Birthday, Dora!

Yesterday was Dora's third birthday. Here she is with her mother Mercy and her littermates.

She arrived just in time to ease the pain of Maria's exit from journalism and has enriched our lives more than we could ever have imagined. And Jack adores her.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

It's May 1st!

Germany awakened!


This is the cover of this month's issue of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America's official magazine.

It features a project bike that converted an old R100RT into a cafe racer with about $10,000 worth of Wunderlicht parts and accessories which will be raffled off at the BMW MOA rally in July.

It has generated a minor storm of controversy on social media because of the clueless-looking girl astride the bike. Critics point out she is in no way dressed to ride - silly shoes, capri pants, flimsy jacket and no gloves. She gets points for eye protection and a helmet, but that's about all. No mention is made in the magazine of who she is or why she was chosen to be photographed by Bill Wiegand, the BMW ON managing editor. My guess is she's the girlfriend of one of the builders.

There's another silly looking photo inside.