Tuesday, May 23, 2017

36 years later, these BMWs still excite me


This is the double-truck (two-page, for those who don't speak Printer) ad for BMW's R100CS and R100RS motorcycles in the May 1981 issue of Rider magazine.

This is when I found myself lusting for a BMW motorcycle for the first time - something I never got over. It was also around this time that I bought my first BMW - a 1971 R50/5 that was originally sold by Roman Cycle Shop in Youngstown, Ohio. The guy I bought it from was an engineer for Allison's who lived in Brownsburg. Since then, I've owned a 1981 R100RS like the one pictured here only graphite gray, a 1991 K100RS, a 1994 K75S and a 2003 K1200GT. I still have the last two and wish I could still have all of them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Generation


Pete Townshend of The Who is 72 years old today. He was born nine weeks before me, so I feel a special My Generation kinship.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prophetic


My old Indianapolis News compadre Gary Varvel drew this prophetic cartoon in January. Today he notes that the Democrats have reached Stage 6.

We cut the cord


We cut the cord on our cable TV several weeks ago as a money-saving measure.

We had been paying $184.65 a month for basic cable and the highest speed internet connection that our cable provider offers.

I returned the set-top DVRs to the cable office in March and told them to shut off our cable TV. The result is a monthly bill of $91.96, which is still too much to pay for high-speed internet, but they're the only ISP in our neighborhood.

Do we miss TV? Not really. I certainly don't miss yelling at my TV over fake news. Our aging Blu-Ray player offers several streaming options, like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu that make it possible to keep up with some favorite shows and watch content of our choosing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not mine


I don't think Maria wants me messing with her radio preset buttons in the Subaru.

Or else she's channeling her inner seagull.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Airport cop scooter


I drove down to the Memphis Airport yesterday afternoon to collect a young couple and, while I was waiting, noticed this scooter in the livery of the Memphis Police Department.

Looks kinda like a Segway on steroids. It's called a T3 and it has a top speed of about 23 mph. A three-hour charge yields eight hours of riding.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New look for our front door


We pulled the hinge pins on our dull gray front door and laid it on a couple of sawhorses yesterday where Maria gave it three coats of Sherwin Williams Moscow Midnight dark blue paint.

We think it looks spectacular.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Google recon


I've been using Google Maps street view to revisit familiar places. The Google team has yet to travel down the two Delphi streets where I grew up. Ditto for the Thorntown street where our house is.

College Avenue in Indianapolis is a different story and I was interested to note that, as of last October, the house where my sons were raised, has been pained a gray-blue. But the most significant observation is that the present occupants apparently haven't kept the central air conditioning working because they have a window air conditioner in the master bedroom.

Also, the tulip poplar tree in the front yard has grown to enormous proportions in the 16 years I've been gone.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Thanks!


I have an app that makes a record of where readers are from and I'm pleased to see I have a loyal cadre who have continued to check in even though I've neglected this blog terribly.

Thanks for sticking with me. I promise to do better.

Here's the new ceiling fan I installed on the back porch last Sunday - just in time to help the dogs through hot weather.

A mystery and shaving


I have neglected this blog for the past few months because we are engaged in a life-changing project that requires a measure of secrecy. I will reveal all when the time is right.

In the meantime, here's a tidbit.

I've used a shaving mug, soap and a brush since the early 1980s when I bought a mug and brush from a downtown Indianapolis gift shop called Kittle's Other Side - across Pennsylvania Street from Kittle's furniture store.

I say "use" advisedly since I've worn a beard for much of those 30+ years, but when I do choose to go clean-shaven, I lather up with a brush. This is not the original mug - it's one I found on Ebay that has my Alpha Tau Omega coat of arms and was a party favor from some unknown ATO chapter around the time I was an active member at Indiana State University. The brush, however, is the original.

These days, the mug just holds the brush because my shaving soap of choice has its own lidded container. It's Proraso shaving soap from Italy and it's the best I've found. I gifted some to my son Steve and my father-in-law and it was well-received in both cases. I discovered it when it was offered to me in the Amazon Vine Program.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Newspapers are the walking dead of communication


Here's an example of how newspaper editorial writers delude themselves into thinking they help shape public opinion and influence events.
I spent my adult life in newspapers, but their day is past and they become more irrelevant every day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taxed

The Congressional Black Caucus wants to tax white people for being white.

I just wrote a $2,500 check to the IRS. I'm already being taxed for being white and having an earned income.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Godspeed, Mike


This guy changed my life and gave me the skills to save my own life and the lives of hundreds of other motorcyclists. He will be missed. Here is his obit from the Brown County (Ind.) Democrat:

Michael Williams Farabaugh, 68, of Morgantown, died Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in his home.

He was born May 7, 1948 in Norwalk, Connecticut, to David Farabaugh and Dorothy Williams Farabaugh. He was a freelance photographer and director of the Lucas Oil Motorcycle Division.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Debby Crotty Farabaugh; a son, Ryan Farabaugh (wife, Holly) of Morgantown; a sister, Nano Farabaugh of Elkhart; a brother, David Farabaugh (wife, Sherri) of Thornton, Colorado; and a granddaughter, Phebe Lynn Farabaugh.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

His friends knew him for his honesty, integrity and loyalty. Family and friendship were the most important things in his life. Michael was a founding member of ABATE of Indiana and the Motorcycle Rights Foundation; he was instrumental in starting the motorcycle safety program in Indiana. Michael was inducted into three different motorcycle halls of fame. He was a board member of American Motorcyclist Association for 30 years. He started Miracle Ride, a huge fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children; and he started MDA motorcycle events. He was a lobbyist for motorcyclist rights. His last endeavor was to author a book “Freewheelin’,” documenting his photographic inspirations of traveling on two wheels throughout North America. His life could be summed up by saying he was the most avid motorcyclist in the world.

A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25 in Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home, 1682 State Road 135 North, with a gathering of family and friends at 9 a.m. prior to the service.

A pitch-in celebration will follow the service at the Farabaugh residence.

If friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to Riley Hospital for Children, 705 Riley Hospital Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Online condolences may be left at BondMitchellFuneralHome.com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Got my Lexus back with a new dashboard

I met a guy from Lexus of Memphis about 11:30 a.m. today at a Jonesboro gas station and swapped the fancy loaner Lexus for mine.

The new dashboard, replaced under a warranty recall, is a perfect fit and I am more than pleased with the level of service.

My only complaint, and this is barely worth mentioning, is that the guy who drove my car up from Memphis is a smoker. I'm pretty sure he didn't smoke in the car, but it was on his clothes and my sensitive nose picked it up immediately.

No problem, though. I stopped at an auto parts store on the way home and bought a new Febreze air freshener.

The only cost of the project was the gas to and from Memphis. I would have bought the air freshener anyway.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting in style


The service writer at Lexus of Memphis figured my car's dashboard replacement probably won't be done today, so he advised me to take the loaner - a 2017 NX200t worth about $50,000 - home and they would drive the 80+ miles to my house tomorrow to deliver my car and retrieve the loaner.

That is so far above and beyond my expectations that I'm still having trouble wrapping my brain around it.

The NX200t drives like a dream. It has radar assisted cruise control that automatically slows the car when it overtakes another vehicle, then resumes the programmed cruise speed when you move to the passing lane. I has Bluetooth to pair with my iPhone for communication or music, and also SiriusXM satellite radio. The list goes on, but without an owner's manual, I can only guess at how to make some of it work.

Stuck in Memphis with the Mobile Blues again


I'm hanging out at Lexus of Memphis today while I wait for the technicians to install a new dashboard (under warranty) in my 2004 RX330.

The service writer said they may not get the work done today since they have only 3 guys doing 5 dashboards, meaning I'll have to come back tomorrow to claim my car.

The good news is that they gave me a loaner - a like-new crossover model that has an amazing array of electronic gizmos. I was sufficiently intimidated by it that I just drove the car from the service department to the nearest parking space where I swat for a half-hour puzzling out some of the essential stuff. It had a half tank of gas and I think I know where the gas filler door control is, if I have to refuel.

The on-board GPS is sufficiently complex that I'll use my Garmin in its place if I need to do any fancy navigating.

Fortunately, they have a splendid customer lounge with lots of amenities,including free snacks and beverages and a couple of quiet little cubicles for wifi use. Which is how I'm posting this blog entry.

Friday, March 17, 2017

WCP attaboy


I covered the Indiana State Fair for The News for 10 years. WCP seemed to like my work.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Artwork inherited from my parents

My two favorite Carroll County paintings.


Jeanie Taylor's painting of the fountain on the southwest corner of the Carroll County Courthouse square. I lived next door to Jeanie on East Franklin Street when we were little kids. This is a print on canvas.


"Sycamore Row," an original painting by Mary Swisher of the sycamores that grew from a stretch of corduroy road on the old Michigan Road south of Deer Creek.

Monday, March 13, 2017

My fortunate son


That's my son Steve on Sousaphone (often improperly referred to as a tuba) backing up John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival) at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I played Sousaphone in the Delphi High School marching band. I never could have imagined that I would have a son playing the same instrument with a headliner in Vegas.

Ruh-roh!

I wore my Michael Kors smartwatch to the fitness center this morning to see how accurately it measures steps.

It didn't do very well.

The treadmill said I covered 1.13 miles and burned 100 calories.


But the smartwatch, which had been counting my steps since I got up a few hours earlier, said I only covered .4 miles and burned just 31.4 calories so far today.


That's a pretty significant discrepancy.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A smartwatch for grownups

I'm evaluating the new $295 Michael Kors Access Hybrid Brown Gage Smartwatch for the Amazon Vine Program this week and I think I like it.


When I think of smartwatches, the first thing that comes to mind is the Apple Watch, which is actually a wearable little computer. This is NOT an Apple Watch. It looks like an ordinary analog watch with an easy-to-read silver-on-black face and a couple of function buttons.

There is no way to change the face and have all of the tricky features that come with the Apple Watch, but therein lies the feature that makes me prefer the MK watch - those features come at a heavy energy price. The Apple Watch has to be recharged every 18 hours or less, depending on how much you do with it. The MK watch has a battery (CR2430) that is expected to last about 40 days - maybe more, depending on usage.

After nearly 20 years with a self-winding Breitling, the idea of charging my watch every night tells me the Apple Watch is a toy that is not to be taken seriously as a daily wear timepiece. The MK watch makes a lot more sense to me in terms of energy requirements.

The MK watch uses a proprietary MK Access app that you download free from wherever your smartphone gets its apps. It walks you through the initial setup process, which synchs your phone and watch via Bluetooth.


The MK watch is also an activity tracker of modest abilities - it calculates how many steps you take each day and estimates what that means in terms of calories burned.


It also monitors your sleep pattern. In both cases, you get to set your step and sleep goals and you can tell at any time where you are in your pursuit of the goals.


The top button swivels the hands around to indicate the day of the week (hour hand) and day of the month (minute hand).

You can program the bottom button to ring your phone, control the music on your smartphone, trip the shutter on your phone's camera or track your goal progress.

It can buzz when someone you deem important calls you (a handy feature if you're in a place where you have to mute the ringtone on your phone).

The MK watch may be short on entertainment, but it has lots of features that are actually useful. In short, it's a smartwatch for grownups.

Liberating


There's something supremely liberating about having a trailer hitch on your car.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Adios, wicker loveseat


Soon after we moved to Arkansas, one of Maria's reporters gave us a white wicker chair and loveseat for our front porch.

The squirrels decided they might be food and spent the last several years gnawing on them to the point where they are no longer an asset. I put the chair out for the trash last Tuesday and the loveseat went this morning.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Busy

Today has been fairly productive so far.

I pulled all of our tax information together, filled out some forms our tax preparer sent us, and dropped it all off at his office.

I also picked up the foyer rug at the run cleaners, had lunch with Maria, and bought some wood screws and Gorilla Glue at Lowe's to repair a dining room chair.

Now I'm off to make the repairs.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Watching for a new watch


The Amazon Vine program has offered me one of these $295 Michael Kors Access Hybrid Brown Gage Smartwatches to review.

Naturally, I said yes.

Unlike the Apple Watch, this smartwatch doesn't have a changeable face, but it does interface with an iPhone or Android device to work with a dedicated app to track activities and sleep. I'll post a copy of my review here after I have a chance to evaluate it.

I kinda hate to put my titanium Breitling Chrono Avenger aside for a watch that costs only 1/10th as much, but we all must make sacrifices now and then.

Logging


James Reddig, who works at First United Methodist Church with Maria, is always on the lookout for free firewood, so we offered him the two trees that have fallen out of the woods onto our property in the past few months.

He showed up today with his 4WD truck and logging trailer and spent about five hours cutting up the logs into manageable lengths and loading them onto his truck.

Before he arrived, I dug out the diagram showing the location of our septic field so as to avoid damaging it with the weight of truck and trailer.

There is stil a lot of deadwood to be cut up and burned, but James gave us a headstart on cleaning up the property.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yes, I'm from THAT Delphi


I was raised in Delphi, Ind., where I enjoyed a safe, idyllic childhood.

There was only minor crime and I can't recall a single murder in the 18 years I lived there with my parents before going off to college.

And whenever someone asks me where I'm from, I'm used to getting blank stares when I tell them. I usually end up saying it's in north central Indiana about 18 miles east of Lafayette-West Lafayette - you know, where Purdue University is.

That ended abruptly last week when two young girls were murdered just outside Delphi on a walking trail near Deer Creek. It immediately became national news and now, in the mind of most Americans who have been paying attention, Delphi is forever linked with this senseless double homicide and the search for the killer.

And that will attach to all of us who grew up in the Carroll County seat, wherever we go and whenever we are introduced as being from Delphi.

It's a helluva reason for a town to be famous.

Hauling


Having a trailer hitch on the Lexus is surprisingly empowering.

Morgan bought the desk on the left of the frame for $50 a few years ago when she first lived with us and she and Maria set about stripping it for refinishing. The project bogged down somehow and the desk has sat in the garage, taking up space, ever since.

Until yesterday.

I rented a 5x8-foot open trailer from U-Haul for $18.95 and Maria and I drove the desk and a baker's cabinet to Morgan's house where we left them in her garage. Then we returned the trailer to U-Haul, had dinner and drove home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BMW steins


I got an email the other day from someone who works for BMW Motorrad in Germany expressing surprise and curiosity after they stumbled across this image of my two WWII BMW motorcycle steins online.

I explained that they are not uncommon and turn up occasionally in stein auctions like The Stein Auction Co. (tsaco.com). And there is also a 1 liter version (see photo below).

Phew!

We lucked out on the error notifications, etc. on the Lexus.

I turned the guys at Gateway Tire loose on it and they solved the problem(s) for only $70.53.

I feared we were going to have to spend $2,300 for a new catalytic converter, but it appears the error codes and the three non-functional power windows were the result of the kids at Sam's Club not knowing what they were doing when they installed a new battery last Friday afternoon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hayden and us


We had breakfast yesterday with Austin and his daughter (Maria's granddaughter) Hayden in Lebanon, Ind.

It's always something


We put a fast 950 miles on the Lexus over the weekend after getting it fitted with a trailer hitch and a new battery.

As we set off for the weekend, I noticed that the driver's power window was the only one functioning and made a mental note to check with the U-Haul trailer hitch installers. In retrospect, I think the marginally trained kids at Sam's Club who put in the new battery may be the culprits.

Driving home from the U-Haul store this morning, I was startled to see the Check Engine light come on, along with the VSC and TRAC OFF warning lights.

A little online research leads me to believe (worst case scenario) I may need a new catalytic converter, or maybe sensors, or a tighter gas cap. One can make a case for the catalytic converter since I occasionally smell sulfur dioxide when accelerating rapidly.

I have an appointment with the guys at Gateway Tire tomorrow morning and hope they can solve the seemingly unrelated problems of power windows and warning lights as cheaply as possible.

The village has more than its share of idiots

I joined a news group on Facebook today to keep current on a crime in my home county.

Now I wish I hadn't.

I realize that, having been a professional writer (newspaper journalist and freelance writer) all of my adult life, I risk being called an intellectual snob or an elitist, but I can't help but be horrified at the barely intelligible gibberish many people are posting there.

Like run-on sentences that go on forever without capitalization or punctuation, egregious misspellings (even through Facebook flags misspelled words), and garbled sentences that leave you guessing at what the writer had in mind.

I am a product of public school education in that county, so I see no excuse for people not knowing basic grammar and syntax.

I am embarrassed to say I came from the same place as these people who lack the writing skills of a competent third-grader.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lights


The electricians retuned to our commercial building this morning to make the final lighting improvement.

Now all we need is a new tenant.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chairs



The folks at the Justice Network left a few things behind when they cleared out of our downtown commercial building, including these three chairs from the waiting room.

I advertised them for sale on a local Facebook yard sale site over the weekend, but nobody wanted them for a paltry $20, so I gave them to our remaining tenant, the Pregnancy Resource Center. They seemed happy to get them.

Bad winter for the PCH


My favorite road is having a hard winter.

This map was posted on the Big Sur Information page on Facebook with the statement:

"Highway 1 from Carmel to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is in good shape so you still have access to all the restaurants, hotels, art galleries and businesses in the Big Sur valley.

"Nacimiento-Ferguson Road closure listed on this map goes into effect at 5:00 PM, Wednesday, February 15."

The winter storms are always a threat to the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, but this year is worse than most.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I killed my Brother


I accidentally murdered my Brother all-in-one printer last night.

We are moving stuff around in the office and I plugged it in at its new location without shutting it down properly before I unplugged it at the original site. I noticed a small spark when I plugged it into the power strip, followed by a spontaneous power up and power down. After that, it was dead as a doornail.

I called the Brother customer service line this morning and we determined that:
1. It needs professional service and
2. It's out of warranty.

Since I got it free a few years ago from the Amazon Vine Program, I'm not out any money and happily I have a nice Canon all-in-one printer that I got from the Vine Program that has now taken its place as our prime printer.

I hate to throw it into the trash, but I'd useless to me and takes up space.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I found my old Palm Treo 700p PDA/cell phone in the garage yesterday, along with its charger and a wireless keyboard.

It was a big deal when I bought it in October, 2006, but it is positively primitive compared with today's smartphones.

I hooked up the USB charger and the battery still shows 100% more than 24 hours later. That made me confident enough to offer the whole bundle for sale on Ebay where the phones alone are going for about $15.

Terry's Cafe


We went to Paragould for breakfast this morning, but found our first two places closed - one didn't serve breakfast and the other looked like it was out of business. So I suggested asking Siri for a good breakfast spot and she came up with Terry's Cafe in downtown Paragould. She obligingly guided us there.

The place is wildly popular with the locals and serves a good breakfast with a charming down-home ambiance.

Pay no attention to the wraiths passing through the photo - when you shoot an iPhone panorama, things that move turn out weirdly.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The fabulous Flora Building


After installing 16 new fluorescent light fixtures, having the carpet professionally cleaned, having a cleaning crew wipe down the woodwork and clean all of the glass and restrooms, and having a painting crew touch up the scrapes and glitches and screw and nail holes in the walls, the vacant side of our commercial building is ready for inspection by prospective clients. To that end, I went to Sam's Club this morning and bought a bale of toilet paper to make sure that the four restrooms are well stocked in case prospective tenants need to use the facilities.

As I mentioned earlier, the former tenants were forced out of business by a vindictive newspaper campaign and a couple of judges who were intent on fixing something was wasn't broken.

The former tenant has until the end of June on his lease and has promised to keep paying rent and utilities until then or, ideally, until we get a new tenant to take over the space.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Locker room memory aid


I had finished my 1+ miles on the treadmill at the fitness center yesterday afternoon and was in the locker room getting ready to shower when I noticed a guy who had obviously forgotten which locker he used to stash his clothes. The lockers have electronic keypad locks that let you enter your own four-digit combination. Once you unlock the locker, the lock waits for the next user to enter a combination.

As I walked off to the showers, I made a mental note to help him search if he hadn't found his locker by the time I finished showering.

Happily, he found it on his own. So I shared my secret for never losing track of my locker number.

I snap a photo of the number with my iPhone. I keep my phone with me when I work out because it pairs with my Bluetooth headphones to provide one of two exercise playlists I've created.

I'm proud to say my memory is good enough that I've never had to resort to the iPhone photo backup, but I'm not embarrassed to say that day may come. And I'll be ready.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Michael Lindberg


I found this 8x10 in a box in the garage this afternoon. It was creased and torn and I restored it as best I could.

Michael Lindberg struck me as an interesting, but enigmatic guy. This photo reminded me that he was a Vietnam vet and set me to wondering if PTSD factored into his suicide.

Rest in peace, Michael.

Dog gate

News relic


The Indianapolis News gave subscribers these little pocket Rand McNally road atlases back in the 1990s. Here's one that turned up yesterday.

Monday, February 06, 2017

50 years ago today


Today - Feb. 6, 2017 - is the 50th anniversary of my first day at The Indianapolis News.

I came to The News after five months at The Tipton Daily Tribune in Tipton, Ind. The News, also known as The Great Hoosier Daily, was Indiana's largest evening newspaper with seven editions daily, Monday through Saturday. My starting pay was $110 a week.

Over the next 33 years, I was a city desk rewrite man, city desk reporter, makeup editor, state and suburban desk reporter, suburban bureau chief... I shot my own photos to illustrate my stories most of the time and came to believe that a reporter who wasn't a shooter, wasn't a complete newspaperman (or woman). Happily, Maria wrote and shot photos too. I did about everything except over sports in my years at The News.

I started my newspaper career in the latter days of the hot type era when we wrote our stories on typewriters and printers set them in type on Linotype and Intertype machines. (In those days, a printer was a human being who worked with type, not a printing device attached to a computer.) Consequently, I know most of the arcane minutiae about printing with lead type, including the old "type lice" trick printers loved to play on rookies.

My career saw the advent of computers in the newsroom and the gradual phasing out of a whole generation of printers and typesetters and the transition of photography from film to digital.

I began to lose my enthusiasm for the job when The News staff got merged with The Star folks in 1995 and when The News ceased publication in 1999. I hated working at The Star and by October, 2000, Gannett had sucked the last bit of fun out of it.

So I fired The Star for wasting my time and took early retirement at age 55.

Since then, I've been a volunteer at Maria's newspapers in Crawfordsville, Ind. and Jonesboro, Ark. and can honestly say I've spent my entire adult life watching bean counters and other idiots ruin perfectly good newspapers.