Monday, December 26, 2011

New Me At Age Forty Three

It's December 26th as I write this. This time of year, a lot of bikers the world over (or at least in the Northern Hemisphere) take the opportunity of winter to rebuild or repaint or otherwise re-do their bikes. My bike is running great, no need for paint, either, and here in Texas we ride year round anyway. However, I'm about to start an even bigger rebuild project. On myself.

First, let me say that I'm opposed to New Year's Resolutions. Everybody makes them; hardly anybody follows through on them. The only New Year's Resolution I ever kept was about fifteen or twenty years ago when my resolution was to never make another New Year's Resolution. I'm still going strong on that one. So, this isn't one of those. However, my birthday is the 27th of December, and honestly, that means more to me than flipping the page on a calendar, anyway. I'm gonna build a new me at age forty three.

It's time for me to trim some excesses in some areas and to build up other areas of my life. I've spent a lot of my life sort of spinning my wheels, wasting time. Not terrible on a Saturday afternoon when you have no plans, but not so good when that Saturday turns into your twenties, then your thirties, then runs into your forties. There are things I keep thinking I'll do “one day”. Well, on the back side of the big 4-0, you start to realize “one day” isn't guaranteed. It's time to put up or shut up.

First up: I'm taking a break from drinking. I've been doing it more lately and it's just become a distraction from other things I want to accomplish. I've also had some instances where I didn't realize just how much I'd had until way too late. I'm 42, not 22; I don't need that. I think I need to reboot and recalibrate that internal gauge that says “Hey dude, you've had enough – back off”. Starting on my birthday, I'm going going a full year totally 100% sober. No alcohol at all. Birthday to birthday. Which, actually, since this is Leap Year, will be like a year and a day, but that's okay. I don't think it's a serious problem, because I don't have to drink. If I find that going dry for a year is a real challenge, then I'll address it as a problem, but I think a simple reboot is all I need. That, and being able to focus on other things.

Next on the list: I recently had my first physical exam since I got out of the Navy. Which was twenty years ago. The only real surprise I got was that there were no major issues. I'm out of shape, which I knew. The doctor said I should probably lose about ten to fifteen pounds, but I've put on thirty since I quit smoking a couple years ago, so that's what I'm going to shoot for. My cholesterol is high, but he said if I start exercising and watch what I eat I should be able to avoid medication. We'll see at the next check up.

I'm always saying I want to start exercising more. Well, now I have my motivation. I need to lose the weight and get the cholesterol down. Also, it would be nice if my back didn't ache 90% of the time. I'd really like to stop making old man noises every time I stand up, too.

I used to read all the damn time. There have been times I had a book I was reading on my lunch breaks at work, a book on my nightstand I'd read before bed, and maybe even a book in the living room that I'd pick up during commercials. I haven't read like that in years. Damn internet. I need to spend less time with “Facebook” and more with “book”.

Which leads to the next point to be trimmed. I'm going to be spending less time on social networking. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with people from all aspects and time periods of my life, but it's also an awful black hole of time. It just sucks me in. I don't think it's a bad thing to spend a few hours on it once in a while, but I'm not going to do it every day anymore. Sadly, this means I'll be stopping a lot of the political and theological debates that I've grown fond of. Those really suck me in, keeping me waiting for someone's rebuttal so that I can retort. I'm not saying I'll never engage in those debates again – they'll just be fewer and farther between. I think I've also been sort of harsh and offensive at times with some of those posts. I'm going to make an effort to soften that a bit. Not that my line of thinking has changed, mind you. I just don't want to alienate anyone. Well, okay – anyone I care about.

Cutting out the social networking will leave me more time for writing. It's funny. For most of my life, I've sort of thought I'd be a writer “one day”. I just always thought it would be fiction. Turns out I don't get much inspiration to write fiction, but I do get these sociopoliticoreligious ideas that beg to be posted to anyone with an internet connection. I'd like to post more often, but I get distracted by Facebook, TV, Jim Beam, etc. If you follow this blog, hopefully you'll have more to read more often now.

I'm going to work on being more conscientious at work, too. For years, I've sort of felt a “me vs them” environment and I've acted accordingly. I feel “they” don't cooperate with me, so I haven't been very cooperative with “them”. It affects my attitude, and I wind up just adding to the negative atmosphere. It's really gotten me nowhere. What I need to do is to accept the situation as something I can't change, and change what I can: my attitude and my reactions. If I can't change them, and I can't really fight them, maybe it's time to rise above them – time to be the better man. It is what it is. Deal with it. Right?

While I work on cleaning up a lot of this mental clutter, I'll take a stab at the physical clutter, too. It's not that I'm a hoarder, and I'm not dirty. I am, however, very sloppy and messy. Time for me to grow the hell up and deal with it.

I've already begun working on my fiscal fitness. My credit was really really bad. Terrible. But I've had a loan on my bike for four years, had a credit card for about six or so. My name is on the lease here. My credit's looking up. On a whim, I applied for a Sears card a few months ago. Holy crap, they approved me! I remember years and years ago, Sears was really picky about who they approved, so I figured I must have done some good credit repair. Then, a couple months ago, I got an offer for a new credit card, with 0% interest on purchases
and balance transfers for a year, after which the rate would be 14.99%. Well, hell, my bike loan was already 14.75%, and the credit card was 23% (thanks to a quick rate hike before some new law took effect in 2009). So, I'd be better off after the year was up either way. I applied, and got approved, and for what I considered an astronomical credit limit! I moved my bike loan and my old credit card balances to the new card. So, now, the bike is technically paid off, and I canceled the old card, because it also charged an annual fee. If I buckle down, I can be virtually debt free in a year's time! That'll be a new feeling for me – it's been so long, I can't even remember the last time I wasn't in debt.

Finally, I have a tendency to be depressed or angry when things don't go so much in my favor. I hide it in public, but it's there, beneath the surface. I've heard throughout my life, but I'm starting to believe it more lately, that your thoughts and words can shape your attitude and reactions. I'm going to work on being more positive, and try to guide my thoughts in a better, more productive direction.

So, there we go. Self Improvement, HandGrenades and Horseshoes style.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"-Porn" As A Suffix

“Porn” can mean different things. It’s usually applied to sexual imagery or writing. That’s an appropriate context, and probably the only one considered correct by the people who write and edit dictionaries. However, if you think about what it is that distinguishes porn from what I’ll call for convenience “normal sex”, then you can broaden the definition.

The separation comes from the fact that pornographic photos represent some “ideal”, usually in the form of a woman. Actually, a photo of a woman who’s probably had some “augmentation”; she’s been reworked with makeup, and finally the photos have been modified with editing software. In other words, a modification to fit some sort of fantasy ideal. Porn viewers who are honest with themselves will admit that they know this is something that can never actually be attained. It’s there to enjoy visually, to daydream about maybe.

I’m not a huge fan of pornography myself. Nothing against it. Have at it if it’s your thing. I just never thought of sex as a spectator sport.

However, with the broadened definition, well, now we’re getting to my point. The broadened part being that intent of visual enjoyment and fantasizing.

At some point in the last year, I was introduced to the term “bike porn”. It was after I’d spent an evening reposting pic after pic of cool bikes on facebook. An old friend of mine from the Navy, who is currently without a motorcycle, commented “Enough with the bike porn! You’re driving me crazy!”

Then, I discovered Blogger and Tumblr. I found a lot of blogs that post lots of photos of custom motorcycles that I’d love to have/ride/build. These, too, have been repainted, had their frames and suspensions modified, they sometimes only bear a vague resemblance to their stock form. However, much like the sex starved man who will never be with the porn star, I know I’ll never have these bikes. Which is fine - I’m actually very happy with my current ride. But still, it’s nice to dream, eh?

Same with tattoo blogs. Again, with the changing and customizing of the body to fit a desired appearance. This one’s a little different, though - more attainable. I’m pretty heavily tattooed, and I’m not stopping. I really appreciate the artistry and imagery of tattoo.

Thus, “porn” as a suffix. Most of the blogs I follow are either bike-porn or tat-porn.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Older Man's Christmas Wish List

Isn't it funny how our Christmas wish lists change over time? And yet, how often they stay similar, but we just modify them a bit? They say the biggest difference between men and boys is their toys, but personally, I think the toys are a lot alike. For example, look at this sample wish list sent to Santa Claus from a boy under 10:

1) Tinker Toys
2) BB Gun
3) Little Red Wagon
4) Pony
5) Erector Set

We can all picture a young boy making this list and thinking of all the possibilities these gifts hold for future fun and excitement.

And yet, I say that a man over 40 could make the same list, and be just as excited by the potential fun in store for him, post-Christmas. Take a look:

1) Tinker Toys
2) BB Gun

3) Little Red Wagon

4) Pony

And, finally:

5) Erector Set

Friday, December 9, 2011


I'll never understand it. Why are we expected to pay more for merchandise just because it has a company's logo on it?

They take a black T shirt that's worth about $7, tops. Then, they silk screen a Harley Davidson logo on it, for example. Now, it costs you $25. I can go to Wal Mart and buy a Dickies work shirt for about $16. But if I look in the Dennis Kirk catalog, I can find work shirts with logos of Vance & Hines (exhaust), Throttle Threads, Yoshimura (exhaust), Wiseco (pistons), Suzuki, etc. starting around $55! I realize there may be some cost associated with the patches and/or silk screening, but come on. Seriously?

Why the high price tag? Because the shirt maker/vendor had to pay the company whose logo they're using a licensing fee. Which is kind of stupid, if you ask me. I think Wiseco (or whoever) should look at it as free advertising. They should be freaking subsidizing the price of those shirts, just to get them out there in circulation! But no, they charge more. Then, some people are ridiculous enough to pay the inflated fees for the "privilege" of advertising for these companies.

It's like charging the billboard to display the ad, ain't it?

(Honest disclosure: I do indeed own shirts with motorcycle company logos, but I've never bought them myself - they've been gifts or door prizes at events, with the exception of buying one dealer T shirt - but they were a cool dealership who'd cut me some deals, so I felt I was repaying the favor.)

Thanks to my Other Half for the title.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Rules For Kids

Unfortunately, there are some things that children should be learning in school, but don't. Not all of them have to do with academics. As a modest back-to-school offering, here are some basic rules that may not have found their way into the standard curriculum.

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me" and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sailor's Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and he lived in a crowd,
In a 40 man berthing, with shipmates so loud.
I had come down the exhaust stack with presents to give,
And to see just who in this rack did live.
I looked all about, and a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stockings were hung, just boots close at hand,
on the bulkhead hung pictures of far distant land.
He had medals and badges and awards of all kind,
and a sobering thought came into my mind.
For this place was different, it was so dark and dreary,
I had found the home of a Sailor, this I could see clearly.
The Sailor lay sleeping, silent and alone,
curled up in his rack, dreaming of home.
The face was so gentle, the berthing in such good order,
but not how I pictured a United States Sailor.
Was this the hero whom I saw on TV?
Defending his country so we all could be free?
I realized the families that I’ve seen this night,
owed their lives to these Sailors who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a new Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the Sailors, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, on a sea far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The sailor awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, for this life is my choice.
Defend the seas this day, the peace do I keep.”
The sailor then rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours so silent, so still,
and we both shivered from the night’s cold chill.
I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night.
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the sailor rolled over and with a voice soft and pure,
whispered, “Carry On Santa, it’s Christmas. All is secure.”

(Stolen from a friend and fellow Navy veteran on facebook, original author unknown)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(click on the pic to see it larger)


On Dec 10, 2007, I bought an '03 Suzuki SV1000 naked with 21,555 miles. Today, I turned 71,000 and some miles on her. So, I'm around 500 miles, or about 4 tanks of gas from hitting 50,000 of MY miles on this beauty. In four years. That's an average of 12,500 miles per year.

Average, mind you. That 21,555 it already had on it? I doubled it in eleven months. She's taken me from Austin to Dallas, Del Rio, Lake Corpus Christi, Seguin, and on many rides through the Texas Hill Country, not to mention a lot of adventurous urban riding in Austin itself. Financial downturns stopped me from traveling as much  after that first year, but I still ride to work nearly every day. I don't need an excuse to ride to work, I need a damn good reason to drive the truck before I'll leave the bike at home.

Ride 'em, don't hide 'em!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I don't usually get into the idea of a contrived "I'm thankful for ..." speech/toast/post, but for whatever reason, inspiration took hold just now. So, in no particular order and not complete, here's a quick list just off the top of my head:

  • My children; and their laughter, smiles, and hugs
  • My Love and her embraces, laughter and smiles
  • Voices of relatives on the phone
  • Motorcycles
  • Good coffee
  • Tattoos
  • Living in a cool city in a moderate climate
  • Brothers and sisters who are related by choice, not by blood
  • Both the right and the ability to speak my mind (even if I'm clearer with a keyboard than in person)
  • This digital medium to stay in contact with so many people from all aspects and periods of my life

Whatever it is that triggers your gratitude, hang onto it and enjoy it and appreciate it every day, not just today. You never know when some or all of it will be whisked away from you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How A Bike Motor Should Be

I keep thinking about my bike and her engine. Super reliable - five years, fifty thousand miles, and only routine maintenance so far. I put her on a dyno a couple years ago, and granted, she’s got a Yoshimura aftermarket exhaust, but that’s the only performance mod. 101 hp at the wheel. 71 ft lb peak torque. Just over 400 pounds. Kick ass high revving V twin growl. Nice neutral, comfortable riding position. Regular fucking gas, not premium. 42 miles for every gallon. Fifty mpg if I keep it at 55 mph (I only know that because I got caught in construction traffic on a holiday weekend for an hour or so once).

Reliable. Economical. Powerful. Cool sound. Everything a motorcycle engine should be. Why aren’t they all like this?

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Baggers

Photo taken from

In the late 1960s, Robert M. Pirsig took a motorcycle trip. He told the story of that trip, and mingled in philosophy and a bit of autobiography in the book "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance".

Here is a list, excerpted and compiled (and  paraphrased in places) from lists of his own in the book, telling what he carried on his trip:

  1. Two changes of underwear
  2.  Long underwear
  3.  One change of shirt and pants for each of us. I use Army-surplus fatigues. They're cheap, tough, and don't show dirt.
  4. One sweater and jacket each
  5. Gloves
  6. Cycle Boots
  7. Rain Gear
  8. Helmet and sunshade
  9. Bubble (he refers to a snap on face shield available for the helmets of the day - full face helmets weren't around yet)
  10. Goggles
  11. Shop manual for his bike
  12. Chilton's Motorcycle Troubleshooting Guide
  13. A copy of Thoreau's Walden
  14. Two sleeping bags
  15. Two ponchos and one ground cloth. These convert to a tent and protect the luggage from rain
  16. Rope
  17. Maps
  18. Machete
  19. Compass
  20. Canteen
  21. Two Army surplus mess kits with knife, fork, and spoon
  22. Collapsible Sterno stove
  23. Aluminum screw top cans for food and condiment storage
  24. Brillo
  25. Two aluminum-frame backpacks
Toolkit containing:
  1. Large adjustable wrench
  2. Machinist's hammer
  3. Cold Chisel
  4. Taper Punch
  5. Tire Irons
  6. Tire patch kit
  7. Bicycle pump
  8. Chain lube
  9. Impact Driver
  10. Point File
  11. Feeler Gauge
  12. Test Lamp

Spare Parts:
  1. Plugs
  2. Throttle, Clutch, Brake cables
  3. Points
  4. Fuses
  5. Headlight & Taillight Bulbs
  6. Chain Master Link
  7. Cotter Pins
  8. Baling Wire
  9. Spare Chain

Notice he had no cell phone, no rainsuit, was prepared to make major repairs including changing tires and/or the chain while on the side of the road. Also notice his tent was no lightweight, waterproof nylon thing with lightweight shock-corded aluminum poles that set up in five minutes.

Also notice he was traveling with his teenage son, and had all this stuff piled onto the bike. For seventeen days. No interstate travel, either - back roads and two lane highways as much as possible.

What kind of bike did he use? A Harley-Davidson Electra Glide? Nope. Indian? Nope. A Honda CB360. Including the passengers and gear, the bike was probably carrying its own weight.

And nowdays we feel we need fairings and windshields and radios and CBs and CD players and mp3 players and GPS and a big monster engine.

No. We just need two wheels and to get on 'em and RIDE.

Friday, November 18, 2011


People like to talk about God's Plan For Them. That seems a bit narcissistic to me, and unrealistic, too.

As of last year, there are estimated to be over 6,840,000,000 people on the earth. Currently living. Add in all that have ever lived and all that ever will. Now, doesn't it seem a bit conceited to think God has a life plan all outlined for you?

Also, we're talking about a being who created all of reality, theoretically by saying a few words. You're saying that if he wanted you to do something, you'd really be able to do anything else? Calls into question either Free Will or Divine Omnipotence, eh?

Have you ever done something for absolutely no reason at all? Like absentmindedly peel the label off a beer bottle, or toss a rock into a pond? Well, don't you think it's possible that after God built everything and hit the "On" switch, that maybe he just sat back to watch the ripples spread out from that pebble he chucked into his fish pond?

Just some theological thoughts that ran through my mind today. I'm pretty sure God didn't plan for me to share them with you...

Work is the Curse of The Riding Class

The day before yesterday, it was just one of those days. In a good way, though. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky. The temp was chilly, but not outright cold, the bike just seemed to feel and sound right. I was wearing a combination of comfortable, familiar, broken-in jacket and gloves so old, they've conformed to the curvature of my fingers, and a new helmet that I'm loving. I was rolling up the road, coming to where I had to turn into the shopping center where I work.

I looked up at that deep blue, cloudless sky, listened to the roar of the V twin engine beneath me, and I swear I heard Matthew Broderick's voice in my head, from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", saying: "How could I be expected to handle school on a day like this?" I really wanted to keep riding, and just ride. All. Day. However, I sadly remembered that we were scheduled for an unusually large shipment that day, and that there was really no one else who could be called in to replace me. So I exerted a herculean amount of willpower and made the turn and went to work. Damn that sense of personal and professional responsibility, no matter how small it may be...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Words of Wisdom

A list of more aphorisms suggested to me by friends after yesterday's post:

Si vis pacem para bellum.
(If you wish for peace, prepare for war)

Res firma mitescere nescit
(A firm resolve does not weaken)

écrasez l'infâme
(Crush the infamous)

l'enfer, c'est les autres
(Hell is other people)

Ex tenebris lux
(from darkness, light)

Futue te ipsum et caballum tuum
(the gist: Screw you and the horse you rode in on. Literal translation: Fuck you and your horse.)

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
(Kill them all. Let God sort them out)

Thanks Tony, Mark, and Gabrielle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Getting Through The Day

C'est la vie
(That's Life)

Qué Será Será
(What Will Be, Will Be)

It is what it is

illegitimi non carborundum
(Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down)

Mentsch Tracht, Gott Lacht
(Man Plans, God Laughs)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Movement's Disturbing Reaction to Rape - HUMAN EVENTS

Occupy Movement's Disturbing Reaction to Rape - HUMAN EVENTS

Thoughts On An Early Saturday Morning

This seems so unlike me. I've never been a morning person; always the night owl. Always one to stay up late and often to sleep the day away. I'd always wind up regretting losing most of the day to sleep, but usually couldn't bring myself to set an alarm on the weekend. On workdays, I always got up with just enough time to frantically get dressed and rush out the door and off to work.

In the last couple of years, though, I've been getting up much earlier. I've come to appreciate the time to drink coffee and have breakfast at a relaxed pace before heading off to work.

Apparently, it's spilled over into weekends now, too. Baby Girl woke us up at 6:00 a.m. We fed her, then I got up with her so my Other Half could go back to sleep. Later, Baby Girl decided to go back to sleep, too. Against what has been my nature most of my life, I decided to stay up. So, here I am, at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, and awake for no reason other than I just want to be awake. Just saying that feels odd to me.

Ah, well. People change. We all evolve, no matter how constant some of us want to think ourselves to be. I guess this is just another step in my personal evolution. Yes, I'm a little sleepy, but I also like that I'm not going to waste a day snoring away. I need the coffee for comfort right now, it's true, but I'm also appreciating being aware of this moment, right here, right now.


Good Morning. How's your day shaping up?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Motorcycle Wordplay

Please, please, please stop using the following terminology. It just makes you sound fucking stupid.

  1. Front fork.
    Seriously. Where the hell else is there a fork? Sure, I know there are some internal pieces, but they’re specified (shifter fork). We know it’s not a rear fork, so just drop the “front” - it’s redundant and useless.
  2. Rear swingarm.
    Same damn thing. Okay, a few months ago, I read an article on a Bimota that’s using a front swingarm, but it’s probably the only one in existence. Maybe some of BMW’s front suspensions are close, but even they don’t consider the telelever and paralever to be swingarms. So, until some rip in the space/time continuum happens and the Bimota design becomes standard, let’s just say “swingarm”, and leave the word “rear” out of it. Or else I’m going to start talking about my front headlight.
  3. “Assless chaps”.
    Don’t. Just don’t say it. I don’t care if you wear them, hate them, laugh at them, think they’re only for leather-fetish gay men or for rodeo cowboys. It’s redundant. By definition, chaps ARE ASSLESS. If they had an ass, they’d be PANTS!! What, next you’re going to talk about sleeveless vests? Oh, I know: check out my new legless T shirt.
Okay, I’m done with my language related rant. For now. As always, I reserve the right to return to this topic and rant more when (not if) I encounter more dumb word usage.

… like saying “8:00 a.m. in the morning”. As if there’s an 8:00 a.m. in the evening? Oh, hell. Don’t get me started again…

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ride To Work, Work To Ride

It's a sad fact that most people commute in their cages cars, insulated from the world around them, listening to morning "Zoo" shows on the radio, trying in vain to find something humorous in their morning routine, all while subconsciously focusing on the dread they're feeling for their workday. They make disparaging comments about Monday, and spend all week willing Friday to hurry up and get here already.

Pitiful, really. These people are defining their lives by their work, and they wish 5/7 of Life away, eagerly anticipating those 2/7 where they then use at least part of their minds to dread the Return of Monday.

We Who Ride get to escape that. Other than knowing what time I need to leave and the route I'll follow, I hardly even think about work before arriving. After breakfast, coffee and computer time, I put on my riding gear, kiss My Girls (The Other Half, and Baby Girl), and head to the garage, where my mistress motorcycle waits. Honestly, other than your lover's or child's voice and laughter, there's not much better sound than the sound of a garage door rolling open followed by a motorcycle engine firing up.

You dread your "morning drive time" (in the jargon of radio programming). I enjoy my daily morning motorcycle ride. You fight traffic on the way home; I enjoy my daily evening motorcycle ride. Seriously - I feel sorry for those who don't ride motorcycles to work. I mean, I get to enjoy my hobby/lifestyle/obsession twice every workday. How freakin' cool is that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ride 'em Don't Hide 'em!

Two pieces in two separate motorcycle magazines, related only because they both referenced Vincent motorcycles got me thinking today.

One was all about the history of this one particular specimen. (Apparently, there are some avid Vincent enthusiasts out there who archive every detail they can about every bike the company made). It goes on about an American and his quest to own a Vincent, then the current owner's quest to obtain it. It was a pretty interesting article, but I won't go into details, mainly because I haven't bothered to get any authorization from the author or the magazine. Anyway, decades after the original owner parked the bike for his last time and covered it with a tarp, it was bought, and brought back to life. The decision was made to leave it as is, with the original tires and everything. Now, I respect not wanting to tart it up and try to make it look like it just rolled off the dealership floor. But the sad thing, which really upsets me, is that there is NO intention of riding it. Blah, blah, blah... need to preserve blah blah blah ... future generations ... yada yada yada...

Come on, by my estimate (which is based on absolutely no real information), approximately one quarter of all Vincents ever made are being "preserved for future generations to appreciate". Fuck that. It's a motorcycle! Ride the damn thing or sell it to someone who will. It wasn't designed and manufactured to be preserved. It's a machine, and taken out of its context, it loses its identity. It becomes statuary. If you want a sculpture of a motorcycle, hire a sculptor; it's probably cheaper than buying and restoring a Vincent anyway.

The other was a letter in another magazine, referring to a previous issue. This other magazine had run an article on Falcon Motorcycles, who created a sweet custom bike based on a Vincent. The letter writer was offended that the builders would desecrate what he considered to be some holy grail of motorcycle perfection by modifying it. Guess what, dude? People have been modifying motorcycles since the dawn of motorcycle time. Hell, the existence of motorcycles is owed to people modifying bicycles!

Again - a bike is not a relic, it's not a museum piece - there are plenty of those already. If you have an antique, ride the damn thing or sell or give it to someone who will. I can understand not making it a daily rider due to reliability, comfort or parts availability issues, but don't turn your garage or living room into a shrine.

I understand some folks want to hold things like antique motorcycles sacred, but let's be honest: sacred cows make the best burgers. Anyone hungry?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bumper Sticker Stupidity

I passed a car today with a bumper sticker which read:

Socialism is for lovers.
Capitalism is for haters.

How freaking ironic can you get? The bumper sticker was designed, manufactured and sold to make money.
The car was designed, manufactured, and sold to make money.
It runs on fuel, and uses oil that are sold at a profit.
So……the entire existence of this bumper sticker, and the bumper it rides on, is owed to the capitalism which it so inanely derides.

Stupid should hurt…

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Abbreviations vs Stupidity

“OMG”, as an acronym, was created to abbreviate “Oh My God”. In other words, to shorten the phrase. So lately, why the hell do I keep seeing people typing “Oh Em Gee”?

They're typing out phonetically an abbreviation that's as many letters long as the original phrase! What's the point? Why don't they just use that original phrase instead?

I don't get it.

Seriously, Double-u Tee Eff?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Tell Me "It Could Be Worse"

I know. I understand. I get your point. To a degree, anyway. But seriously, lay off. When somebody’s down, sad, depressed, hurting, however you want to word it, it’s really no comfort to remind them how much worse off they could be. When you do that, you’re not comforting - you’re diminishing. You’re telling them they don’t have the right to how they feel. And that’s not right. You have no idea how much they’re being impacted at the moment. And whatever it is that’s bothering them may seem trivial to you, but obviously it’s not a small matter to them.

I’m not saying to have pity, necessarily. But don’t condescend, either.

Just because there are people with broken legs and soldiers who have lost their legs to wounds, doesn’t mean a sprained ankle hurts any less.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Navy Day

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Navy!

Me, graduating from Basic Training in 1987.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seasonal Headscratcher

This thought recently occurred to me, and I honestly don't know what to do with it.

Toy Run season is about to be upon Those of Us Who Ride, so I guess that's why I thought about it.

Most bikers are politically conservative, and in all the online debating, postulating, and general talk, I've heard plenty of outrageous comments from both the Right and the Left. One of the comments I've heard more than once is in reference to public assistance for people who can't afford food and/or health care. At least two people have said the exact same thing, verbatim: "Not my problem." Okay, I get where you're coming from - it's not your responsibility to provide for anybody outside your own family.

What confuses me is the inconsistency in the coming months. Toy Runs are seen as nearly obligatory by people in the biker culture. The thought is "These poor kids won't have a Christmas without these benefits we do." And that's true.

So...... it's "not your problem" if they starve or die from an otherwise easily treatable ailment the other 365 days of the year, but by god, that one day, they'll have toys to unwrap.

If you don't care about kids starving, why do you care whether they have toys? Are Toy Runs just to make us as a subculture look a little better in the public eye? Dammit, I sure hope there's more to it than that.

I'll be participating in the Toy Runs, just like I always do, but I'm confused by what I see as inconsistent attitudes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not-So-Good Advice

"“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
                                         - Steve Jobs

How inspirational. And it would be great if we could all live like that. No disrespect to Mr. Jobs, or to his memory. However, there are very, very few people who are able to live this way. Maybe 2% of us make a living doing something we would spend our last hours on earth doing. For the other 98% of us, this quote is terrible advice.

If I truly lived every day as if it were my last one, I'd spend all my time on the phone with my parents, hanging with my Other Half and my  kids, going for a long bike ride, then drinking too much and trying to take my lady to bed.

In other words, work, paying bills, even eating well, would be the furthest things from my mind. About a week of living like it's my last day alive would have me unemployed, broke, evicted, hungover, and living in a box under an overpass.

Better advice is to live every day as a teaching legacy and a mental snapshot of your life for your loved ones. Be responsible enough, have fun enough, show your children how to enjoy life now, while also ensuring that continued enjoyment. And sometimes that means doing the absolute last thing you'd do if you knew you were going to die at the end of the day.

Carpe diem, as much as you can while also illegitimi non carborundum.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hey, Bro!

"Bro" is short for "brother".  Some of us take that word seriously.

Don't call me Bro unless you can call me Brother.

Don't "bro" me if you don't know me.

In other words, don't call me Brother unless you can treat me like we have the same mother.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Would you read a book and try to drive at the same time? How about a letter?

Would you try to write a letter while driving in traffic?
Of course not.

So, why the HELL do you risk the safety and lives of everyone around you by trying to read, type, and send fucking text messages while you're pretending to be in control of a car? You can't even stay in your own lane half the time.

DWT (Driving While Texting) just might be worse than DWI. At least drunk drivers try to pay attention to their driving, asshole.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ironic Protest, Part II

So, I was talking about the whole Wall Street protest thing with the Other Half, and she made a very good point. I don't remember her phrasing, so I won't even try to quote her (except that the final line here is hers), but here's the gist of it, with my verbose expansion.

True political protests have potential to make a change. Why? Because they're about political change. Public policy. Law. War or the cessation thereof. Politicians want your vote when it's reelection time. So, if you make enough noise, and convince them that enough voters are behind your cause, they take note and make changes so that they can keep their jobs.

The problem with the Wall Street protests is twofold. For one, it's just that: protestS. Plural. There's no cohesive, specific unifying message. Just "We don't like that you make too much money".  The other problem is that these executives don't have to answer to the protestors for anything. The protestors are already ensuring the executives' continued employment, because they keep buying the products and services. If they want to make a difference, they need to suck it up and organize boycotts. If that means not using ATMs so that banks lose revenues from the fees, so be it. If that means cancelling cell service or internet service, not buying computers, etc., so be it. That's how you get to a CEO: affect the bottom line. Make a difference in the P&L report.

Vote with your wallet.

Ironic Protest

Anybody else find it funny that these people protesting in New York are tweeting and facebooking about it? I mean, they're using smart phones and laptops and cell service ALL purchased from publicly traded companies. They're paying money -directly to- the companies they're accusing of making too much money. Kind of like protesting lack of health insurance by exposing yourself to a disease...
To truly protest a thing, you kind of have to not use it or risk being called a hypocrite. For example, if I'm going to protest that liquor companies get rich off an addictive substance, it would sort of be wrong for me to camp outside a brewery with a case of beer and a few bottles of whiskey and drink the whole time, eh? I'd need to get sober first. The protesters in the 60s didn't have social networking, but they did what they felt needed to be done, and they were able to make themselves heard.
Why criticize those who make money when you're one of those who paid them? The gain was the incentive for creating. If it weren't for the potential gain, people wouldn't quit their jobs and live on Cheetos for a year while inventing the next generation computer/motorcycle/cell phone/gizmo for us to enjoy. They'd stick with punching their time clock and getting a nice, safe, guaranteed, hourly wage, and we'd still be writing letters with fountain pens, using rotary phones (the operator would have to dial long distance for us), and listening to radio shows instead of watching 300 cable channels. 

This isn't so much a statement for or against the protestors or their cause, as it is a snarky observation of the irony of the situation and their methods.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Abuse The Retailers

Okay, I work in a bookstore, and have for fourteen years now. Not the same location all these years, but the same company. If you've ever worked in retail or in the service industry, you're aware that there are a number of behaviors that get on the nerves of the customer service person. We (customer service folks) all understand these general items, and we all deal with them in our own ways.

The book selling world, like every other specialty retail industry, has its own set of gripes, though. Lucky for me, the vast majority of my time with my employer has been spent as a Receiving Manager, so I don't deal with the public on a regular basis. I have “been there, done that”, though, and I still am occasionally called on to help out on the sales floor, so I've had my share of … “experiences”. Plus, the Receiving room seems to be the default “venting zone”, where booksellers go directly after a stressful experience, to vent their frustration in tones and vocabulary that would get them in trouble elsewhere. So, I get to keep abreast of what's going on in the world of bookseller abuse.

Here, then, in no particular order, are some common bookseller gripes. Please take heed, because you may very well be guilty of some of them yourself.

Where's your nonfiction section?

Okay, I understand that in Elementary school we were taught that the school library was divided into “Fiction” and “Nonfiction”. You're not in third grade anymore, Toto. When we're asked this question, our deepest desire is to point to the quarter of the store that houses Fiction and its sub-genres, and say “You see that corner? It's everything else”. Seriously – what do you expect to find in this nonexistent “Nonfiction Section”? Books on Astronomy? Then we can direct you to our Science section. Web Design? You need Computers. Home Improvement? Art? Collecting? Pets? These all have their own sections. Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll get you there a lot quicker. Without wanting to plunge a pen into your eye or ours.

My kid needs this book tomorrow.

Seriously? Little Johnny or Susie has had. All. Freaking. Summer. To read this book. Or maybe it's just half the semester. Whatever. You and I both know damn well that his/her teacher didn't just assign the book today with a deadline of having it tomorrow. Your child's procrastination isn't our fault. We're out of the damn book because all of Johnny's classmates already came in and bought or ordered their copies. Don't get mad at us because the only copy available is in a warehouse in Tennessee. You should've been here last week. Or, you know – at the beginning of the summer.

How could you be out? Everyone is buying it.

I know, I know. Your teacher told you the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. She was wrong. This is a stupid question. Yes, everyone is buying it. That would be exactly why we're out of it, you brain trust. Yet, this is a direct quote from a customer several years ago. Pardon me, while I sigh and slap my forehead....

I don't know the title. Or the author. But it was about a man. And a woman.

This ranks right up there with saying “Oh, you're from Random City? My friend Joe is from there, too. Do you know him?” Seriously, folks, a highly vague description, without even any non-generic plot points to distinguish the book? And we're supposed to just reach our magic hands right into your little subconscious, dig around and find that literary gem you're so intrigued by that every detail has escaped you? Puh-lease.

Oh! It was a bestseller five years ago.

Let me guess: It was also featured on Oprah, right? Like approximately five thousand other books. By the way, there are hundreds of “bestseller lists”. There are two that matter to us. The New York Times Bestseller list, and our own, which is populated by books that sold the best in our stores. Just because a Sci Fi fan magazine has its own bestseller list doesn't mean anyone else outside their own readership pays any attention to it.

And I'm sure it had a blue cover. Does that help?

Not even a little. Please stop; you're giving me an aneurism now.

Ugh! It's cheaper online, you know.

In other words, you only came in here to use our air conditioning, browse through and dogear, rip, and tear the covers on our hardcovers that you “browsed”, leave a stack of picked-through newspapers which are as hard to reassemble as road maps, spill coffee on the carpet, and leave magazines in our restrooms. Yes, those magazines. We know all about that, you're not fooling anyone...

Gee, too bad Amazon doesn't have to pick up the electricity, monthly professional carpet cleaning, and daily janitorial bills, too.

Do you have a copier?

What's the word I'm looking for, here? Oh, yeah: plagiarism. It's a crime. If you don't know what it means, Google it.

***Correction*** It was pointed out to me in the comments section that I misused the word "plagiarism". I absolutely hate when I do things like this. It's not plagiarism, it's copyright infringement, but it's still a crime.

You only sell liberal (or conservative) books, and hide all the others, because of your company's bias.

Sure. That's exactly right. That political book that's a runaway bestseller? Nope, we don't want any of those sales dollars. You know, because we're not a business or anything. I mean, it's not like we're here to make money, ya know? Hey, Mr Beck fan, while you're bitching about how all the books on the display are by liberal authors, I want you to stop and think about three months ago, when it was all conservative authors. Why didn't you accuse us of bias then? There are two factors at work here:
  1. Displays tend to have a theme. You don't usually see books about Pug puppies and 1970s Muscle Cars on the same table, right? Or books on Hinduism and Christianity? There's a reason for that. They don't go together.
  2. For some reason, I don't know if it's intentional on the part of the publisher, coincidence or divine intervention, but there seems to be a pattern that a bunch of books by conservatives will come out, then a few months later, a bunch of liberal books will be published within a couple weeks of each other.

This is not us plotting against you. This is a combination of natural rhythms in the publishing world and good merchandising.

Phone customers who have us look for a bunch of books, then don't put them on hold.

So, you thought ahead enough to call and make sure we had each one of the items in your long list of books? Great! I just spent half an hour running back and forth between the phone and five different sections of the store, finding and retrieving the books you seem to be interested in. There's only one copy of each of them, and I have them all stacked together right here. What? You don't want me to put them on hold for you? But – there's only one copy of each. We might sell it before you come in, otherwise. What? You were just curious as to whether we have them? So.... I just wasted half an hour and no small amount of aggravation, only to have to spend another half hour re-shelving them? Knowing the whole time that you will indeed come in for at least one of them. Five minutes after we sell it to someone else.

Your website said you have it”.

Websites are great. I'm glad you did a little research before you came in. However, there's no way that website can know if we have it right this minute. I'm pretty sure there's no software that can update stuff that quick. There might be, but if there is, I'm sure it's so expensive the only people who can afford it are NSA. Use the website to see if it's something we normally carry. Then call or stop by to see if it's in. But if you call, please don't be like the person in the last item.

The teacher said you have it.

My apologies to teachers if you're innocent of this, but seriously, teachers are one of our biggest frustrations. If you're going to assign Of Mice And Men to 300 of your students to read this semester, don't just call us and ask if we carry the title and then say thanks and hang up when we say yes. Geez, it's Steinbeck; of course we carry it. Probably about three copies under normal conditions. We would so love it if you let us know that you're a teacher in a local school and that you'd like to send your students to us. With the proper notice, we can have those 300 books here and waiting for those kids.

The author's website said it comes out today.

Sorry, but the author's webmaster and publisher don't always see eye to eye on availability dates. Sometimes that's a shipping date. Sometimes it's an optimistic projected date. Sometimes it's a WAG (Wild Ass Guess). Sometimes, it's an outright lie, intended to keep you salivating for the next sequel, hoping you'll be so happy to finally have it that you won't notice how formulaic and boring the series has become due to the author's ego- and alcohol- induced boredom with the whole thing.

You don't have it? No, I don't want to order it from you; I'll just order it through Amazon.

Then why didn't you do that to start with? Seriously. See the earlier item about things being cheaper online. They're cheaper for a reason: no customer service, no atmosphere, no flipping through the actual book, coffee in hand, before making that final purchasing decision.

Parents who watch their kid throw books/merch on floor and don't correct or clean up after said kid.
We. Are. Not. A. Daycare. Seriously. We've seen you drop your kids off in the Children's Department and disappear elsewhere in the store for an hour. Hell, at one store I worked in, we had a problem with parents telling their children to wait at our store after they got off the school bus until Mom got out of work. And then there are the parents who literally watch their kids throw books on the floor, pull merchandise off the shelf, open packages, making most of this stuff unsellable. Guess what? Some of it is even non-returnable for us, meaning we can't return it to the vendor for a refund when you don't buy what your kid destroyed. We have to write it off as a loss. So, when the price of that Sydney Sheldon hardback goes up? You and your negligent “parenting” directly contributed.

Rudeness to bookseller, just because he/she is a captive audience who isn't allowed to fight back from the verbal attack.

Okay, this one isn't bookseller specific. It applies to every retail, food service, beverage service, and even adult oriented industry worker out there. Yes, they are there to provide you a service. Yes, they are very limited in what they can say back to you. Yes, they have to stand there and take it to protect their livelihood. Which means if you decide to lay into a service worker just because you can, you are a total and complete asshole and a bully. And I hope somebody runs over you in the parking lot, dickhead.

There. Got that off my chest. For now, anyway....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sounds of a Good Day

Alarm goes off. You don't mind, because it's an hour later than usual and you're not going to work.

Hot shower running.

Bacon sizzling.

Coffeepot gurgling.

Garage door being rolled open.

Bike firing up in the garage.

“You ready, babe? Climb on.”

Clunk. First gear.

Motorcycle accelerating.

Greetings from brothers and sisters.

Waitress pouring a second cup of coffee.

Pack of bikes starting up in morning air.

Kickstands clatter up.

RPMs rising and falling as riders shift gears.

Kickstands click down and scrape onto gas station pavement.

Gas pumping.

Clink of Zippos.

Sodas and beers snick and hiss open.

Bikes roar back on the road.

Bikes power down.

Gravel crunching under tires.

“Welcome to the ______ Rally!”

Tents, sleeping bags thump onto the ground.

Hammers pound tent stakes.

Beers snick open, liquor bottle seals are broken.

(edited slightly from Worth Cadenhead's facebook post April 12, 2011)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Equal or More Equal?

Twice in two weeks or so, I've been slammed for trying to “oppress” friends' Freedom of Speech. A couple of Fridays ago on facebook, I called out two friends in two different posts about some pretty racist comments. The next Monday morning, a third friend posted the following:

“I've seen a number of post that some people find offensive lately, and to these people I say, hey this is America. Where you can say and believe whatever you want. Or even laugh to whatever you like. And yes even you have the right to not like it and say so. But it doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you a whiner, yeah, its my right too.“

And yes, of course it's his right to laugh at whatever racist jokes he finds funny. However, the comment thread contained comments about how Free Speech is not a one way street. Odd then, that the implication was that to disagree with the offensive comments was somehow wrong. Seems like we're veering to a one way street after all, just going the other way.

Last night, I posted a joke. I'll admit it was inflammatory, deriding religion. Actually, it was downright offensive, to be honest. But what's odd is that the same man with the previously quoted status accused me of “waving my atheism” in his face. As if my posting anti-religious items is shoving my beliefs down his throat (his words), but other people posting prayers and scriptures is just fine. Again, with the one way street.

There's a perception in this country lately that certain groups are under attack; that they're being oppressed. I just find it ironic that these people are typically the majority groups. Christians claim there's a “war” on their religion. Seriously? When we have their holidays, and even their day of worship institutionalized into our culture? Christmas, Easter, St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Halloween. (Yes, Halloween – the word is short for “All Hallow's Eve”, the day before All Hallows Day, which are Catholic holy days.)

So what if the current President didn't have a National Day of Prayer? Do we really want religion that enmeshed into our politics? The Right Wing says yes, but only because mostoutspokenly religious people in office tend to be Christians. I'm sure if we had a Buddhist or Hindu or Wiccan President who called for a National Day of Prayer, these same people would decry it as “forcing his religion on the rest of the country”.

Another segment claiming to be under attack is the wealthy. Now, don't get me wrong – I have no problem with people being compensated for a highly technical, difficult or even distasteful skill or job. I also have no problem with investors getting return on their investment. It's what keeps our economy going, and large corporations give us economy of scale, which enable people like me to buy things like motorcycles and computers. But executives aren't usually investors. They are given their stock, they don't buy it. I'm okay with that, but don't act like they “deserve” it any more than they “deserve” their salary. The Unions may be wasteful, may be corrupt, and may be in need of having their systems overhauled, but if it weren't for them, we'd all be working 18 hour days, six days a week for subsistence wages, with no sick time, no vacation time, no insurance benefits. We'd work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, often locked into our work areas with no means of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency. Had the executives done the right thing in the first place, there never would have been any need for labor unions. Higher wages and benefits for union workers is NOT where companies are losing revenue. Let's use Ford's CEO Alan Mulally for an example. In 2010, he “earned” $26,520,515. Funny thing, since his base salary was only $1,400,000. He took home $9,450,000 in bonuses. Get that? Bonuses. What the hell can you do that your bonus is 6.75 times your base salary? He also got nearly seven and a half million dollars in stock. Now, taking just his base salary, and looking at the wage that an autoworker with one to two years experience makes, it would take that autoworker 51 years to earn what this guy did. And that's just his base salary, which was only 18.94% of what he made. So, multiple that 51 years by a little over five. Corporations are hemorrhaging money from the top, not from the bottom. Also, bear in mind this guy didn't invent anything. He didn't even invest anything – his stock was given to him. So, basically, he's a paper pushing monkey in a suit with a degree. That's what he brought to Ford's table. That's what makes him worth over 255 autoworkers, in Ford's eyes. I don't see it.

So, to the people whose faith is the prominent one, which has attempted throughout history to dominate all others, and to the wealthy – who have the real power in a capitalistic society, I say it's not your equality that's under attack, it's your supremacy.

Edit: I intended to include the link where I obtained information about Mr. Mulally's income, but forgot to do so. Here is my source:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Protection or Fashion?

Full face helmet: check

Full finger gloves: check

Textile, armored mesh jacket: check

Good for you, Ricky Rocketrider. You've prudently chosen to make sure your vital organs and skin are protected in case some jackass blind, cell phone talking, text messaging soccer mom in an SUV knocks you off your bike.

Wait. What the fuck? Shorts? On a motorcycle? You're kidding, right? Okay, guys who wear no protective clothing, and just hop on in shorts and a tank top to ride to the gym or whatever I can sort of understand. I don't agree with it, but at least they're consistent. But you....I don't get it. You're all encased in safety, but only above the waist. You make it look like you're concerned about road rash, because you wear the jacket even when it's blazing hot.

Dude, if you're worried about the skin on your arms, you definitely need to worry about your leg skin. If you go down sliding and stay on the bike, your arms may get lucky and avoid the asphalt altogether. Even if you come off the bike, you may only get minor scrapes on your arms. You can argue about whether or not to wear a helmet – your head may or may not even touch the ground. I've only gone down twice in 22 years of riding – once with, once without a helmet. I was lucky - neither my head nor my helmet hit the pavement. But the one guarantee about dropping a bike is that. Your. Leg. Will. Scrape. Along. The. Asphalt. Possibly with the weight of the bike on it. Wanna get an idea of what that would feel like? Have the biggest guy you know put all his weight on a cheese grater and rub it on your bare thigh. Then do the same thing over a pair of Levi's.

If you're smart enough to pilot a motorcycle in Austin traffic without dying, you have to be smart enough to realize all this. Which brings me to the conclusion that your flashy jacket and helmet aren't really for protection.

They're a god damned fashion statement.

Put some pants on, you fucking poser.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spam, Old People and Caps Lock

I'm in the habit of scrolling through the Spam folder in my email ever since I lost a "real" email from a friend years ago. I look to make sure nothing got filtered as Spam that shouldn't have, and I also like reading some of the subject lines because they can be funny.

This leads me to certain thoughts:

This one isn't exactly Spam related, but what the hell is the deal with CAPS LOCK? It seems to be mainly older people. Do they think "Hey, I'll just use capital letters all the time so I don't have to use the Shift key at the beginning of each sentence and for proper nouns"? You might as well go the other way, and never capitalize, because either way is equally grammatically incorrect, and to the rest of us, THIS IS THE SAME THING AS YELLING.

Is anybody fooled by an unsolicited email from a "bank executive" in an African nation who has a depositor who died with a large balance and no heirs, and just wants you to help him get the money before his government claims it? He chose you because you were referred to him because of your outstanding Christian morals, after all. All he needs is your date of birth, snail mail address, bank account number and password. What harm could possibly come from that? You have nothing to lose and millions to gain...

And how about those emails from "Face Book"? Women who can't spell their own names correctly, but they want to have sex with you. Tonight. And the emails directly from the women themselves with subject lines like "Wanna get it on?"...  I can picture some old man who just doesn't quite understand how the Interweb works, who feels the need to answer every correspondence:

"Dear Tatiana, I'm really flattered, but I'm a happily married man. You seem like a nice young lady, and pretty, too. I'm sure you'll have no problem finding a nice young man your own age to help you with your immigration problems."

Of course, being an old man, though, his reply would be in all caps and full of misspelled words...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later


Ten years later.


I wasn't feeling very well on the evening of the tenth of September, 2001, so I called my work and told them that if I felt better I'd be there, but otherwise not to expect me. Little did I know, the next morning's news would initially make me feel worse, then wind up making me entirely forget that I was sick...

The next morning, I was trying to sleep in, but my phone kept ringing. I finally answered it. My girlfriend was on the line, saying with a concerned tone “There's some shit going on.” My sleepy brain thought she meant some office intrigue at her work. Then, when I asked her what was happening, she told me a plane had hit a building in New York. Since she didn't sound panicked, I didn't grasp the enormity of the moment. I told her it seemed really weird that a pilot wouldn't see something as big as a WTC tower, and that even if it were extremely foggy or cloudy, planes have radar and various ways to fly “blind”. She agreed it was odd and said there wasn't much other information at the time. I went back to sleep.

Not long after, my pager buzzed (I was still living in the 90s and didn't have a cell phone yet). It showed my ex's phone number followed by 911, pager era “text speak” for an emergency. I was awake – I thought something was wrong with my son, who was two and half years old. I jumped up and called her. When she answered, there was no hello, no greeting at all, just

“Turn on the TV. Channel 4. NOW!”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it. Now. Do it!”

I ran into the living room, grabbed the remote, thumbed on the TV, pressed “4” and “Enter”.

I saw the second building collapse.

“What the fuck?”

We heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon. I realized I had known people while I was at Ft. Meade, MD who worked there. I wondered if anyone I'd served with was there when the plane struck.

News came in about the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and then we found out what had happened. True heroes on that plane. 

True heroes in NYFD. Anybody who can see thousands running in panic away from something, and then run toward it.... Well, any words I can think of are inadequate to describe their bravery.

I spent the rest of the day pacing back and forth between the TV in the living room, and the radio in my bedroom tuned to talk radio. I punctuated the pacing with phone calls to my ex, to my girlfriend, to my parents, and to my brother. He was out of the Army, but was still in that period of time that he could be recalled into service, so I was worried. I thought about all the people I'd served with in the Navy, and those I knew in other branches. I wondered how many were still in, and what would happen to them. I spent the day somehow both numb and in pain, choking back tears as we all watched those towers fall, over and over, replay after replay, slow motion, and true speed.

That evening, once I was pretty sure it was over and I wouldn't miss anything by leaving the apartment, I went to my ex's to hug my little boy.

That was my day on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Platform of the Horseshoes and Handgrenades Party

Well, it's about fourteen months from election time. I decided I'd go ahead and weigh in with my political stance now, so as not to be accused later of jumping on a bandstand, or intentionally being a contrarian. I consider myself to be solidly middle of the road. I think this is born out by the complementary facts that my conservative friends think I'm a raging liberal and that my liberal friends think I'm a conservative. The truth is that I take a liberal stand on some issues, and a conservative stand on others, but on most I find the most common-sense, easiest to apply solution lies in the middle ground. I'm sure this will confuse some and irritate others. I wouldn't have it any other way.

In no particular order, here are the issues that I listed on a piece of paper, and my very general thoughts on them.

Private Ownership of Weapons:

Okay, I get the initial objection. Who really needs military hardware? I mean, an RPG is a pretty stupid choice for home defense. However, I own guns, and if I could afford it and it were legal, I'd love to have a fully automatic weapon to play with at the range. I wouldn't use an automatic weapon for defense, though, because they require training I haven't received in order to be effective. Still, it would be fun to make matchsticks out of a tree trunk. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with veterans or anyone else who has received training with automatics owning them. It's not the regular law abiding citizen that should be seen as a threat. The Second Amendment gives the people the right to keep and bear arms. Notice that's “people”, not “state”, not “federal government”. The government doesn't need a Constitutional amendment to give itself rights; this is guaranteeing rights to you and me.

In addition to the whole gun control issue, is the fight that private citizens are now waging to be allowed to own pocket knives. Yes, in some places, there is a lobby to outlaw knives. The oldest and most commonly used tool in the history of mankind, and they're trying to take it away. Guess what? I carry a Buck knife with a locking blade between 3 and 4 inches long. Not as a weapon, but because I open boxes for a living. Sometimes utility knives get mislaid, and I can whip this off my belt and carry on with work without wasting time. Also, sometimes you need a sturdier blade than the flimsy, glorified razor blade in those box knives. I carry a Tinker model Swiss Army knife, too, because you'd be surprised just how often those little miniature tools come in handy. This doesn't qualify as an arsenal in my mind. But, with the Second Amendment, so what if it is?

The simple fact of the matter is that outlawing anything doesn't keep it out of the hands of criminals. Have you noticed that crack hasn't disappeared from the planet? If you outlaw my guns and knives, it just means that some guy breaking into my house knows I'm unarmed.


Well, this is quite the buzzkill topic, eh? Are we talking a child, here, or a choice? Both? Neither? Okay, here's my line of thinking. I really don't think it should ever be considered lightly and any woman who chooses abortion as her primary form of birth control should probably go join a convent or something. However, I will also say that I don't think a woman should have to carry the child of her rapist or molester. I also don't think that a fetus is a separate life until the pregnancy has reached the stage where the child can survive outside the mother.

Guess I'm not so long winded on this topic.


I like the idea of a safety net for those who need help temporarily. Yes, I know it comes from taxes we all pay, but think of it as insurance against people becoming those panhandlers who annoy you at the off ramp. What I do have a problem with is people whose career goal is “Welfare Recipient” and have no desire to earn a damn thing for themselves. I don't mind temporarily helping with food and necessities for the family whose breadwinner got laid off or injured and can't work. I do mind supporting lifelong laziness. I have no problem with requiring a drug test before handing out the food stamps and welfare checks. I'd include testing for alcohol and nicotine. Cigarettes are expensive with all the sin taxes being hurled at them lately. If you can't afford food, you damn sure shouldn't be literally burning your grocery money.


Okay. Hot topic. Lots of ranting and raving from the Left and the Right. We have a system in place to allow for immigration. I'm sorry, but it's not everyone’s God given right to live in the U.S. Follow the system. Stop making excuses for illegal immigrants. The key word here is “illegal”. They broke the law to be here. Don't give me that crap about “No person is illegal”. Of course his or her existence isn't illegal. His/her presence is. Amnesty for illegal immigrants is a slap in the face of legal immigrants, like telling them they went through all the red tape and jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops for nothing. On the other hand, if somebody has a valid driver's license, don't harass him for his green card or demand a birth certificate. I don't carry a copy of my birth certificate with me, and it's unreasonable to demand a U.S. Citizen to do so just because his skin is brown. We don't require our citizens to carry “traveling papers” here. Well, maybe in Arizona...

Capital Punishment:

Wow. I usually have a pretty good idea of where I stand, but I'm really unsure and clouded here. I really and truly believe there are people who deserve execution. I think it's jumped to too quickly in a lot of cases, though. I think, with a few exceptions, if there's a chance of rehabilitation, then a lighter sentence should be given. On the other extreme (hey, I'm full of internal contradictions) I think a sentence of life without parole is kind of dumb. You're saying you don't want any chance of this person ever being out in the world again. Ever. So you dump him in prison, where he costs the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year in food, housing, and guards. Plus, there's the chance he could escape. If he's never to be let out of prison, why not execute him?

On the other hand, many innocent men have been convicted, then later exonerated on new evidence. How tragic it would be to find evidence vindicating someone after he's been executed? That makes the state, and by proxy, all of us, guilty of murder. And don't give me that crap about “I'd rather execute innocent men than let guilty men go free”. Guess what, genius? For every innocent man imprisoned or executed, the real guilty one IS FREE. AND you've killed an innocent person.

Because of the fact that innocent people sometimes are convicted, capital punishment makes me nervous. I wouldn't call for stopping it, but I would strongly urge judicious hesitation in its use.

Creation of Federal Jobs:

Big subject here. Yes, I know their pay comes out of taxes. So would their food money otherwise. And those tax dollars going into their checks then goes into the economy in the form of buying groceries, paying rent, buying vehicles and gas and clothes and whatever else employed people buy that unemployed panhandlers don't. I know – you're thinking that then we have to keep paying them because they have this job. Well, look back at the jobs FDR created. Federal and Interstate highways. Yup, they're built, all right. Guess what? You like using them, right? Do ya like not having potholes and cracks in them? Federal parks – built. They still have to be maintained and policed, eh? There's work to be done, and if money is being paid to workers, then it automatically goes back into the economy.

Gay Marriage:

Don't tell me gay marriage in any way affects the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. The only things affecting the sanctity of your marriage are you, your spouse, and your actions. If the sanctity of your marriage is affected by anything outside that, go get some marital counseling. Think about all the straight people you know who have been married multiple times. I'll hold myself up as a bad example. I have two failed marriages and a failed cohabitational relationship behind me, and I'm in a cohabitational relationship now. That's four women I've lived with in 21 years. There are many gay couples who have been faithfully together longer than that. How is my situation any better than theirs? Some will claim Biblical reasons. I'd remind them of the separation of Church and State (more on that later), and also remind them that if we go Biblical, depending on whose interpretation you use, their own relationship may be called into legal question. I was raised to believe divorce was only allowed in the case of adultery, and that the guilty party had no right to remarry. You wanna institute that as civil law? No? Then let's not base our laws on a 1500 year old ambiguous text.

Military Action:

I'm no pacifist. I do think we stick our noses and guns into too many other countries' business too much, though. Like my thoughts on capital punishment and abortion, I think it should be a last resort to invade another country. I don't hold that against the troops by any means, however. They took an oath to give their lives to defend this country, and part of their job is to follow orders. They don't get to question, they just go. I'm a veteran; I understand this, and I thank those serving now. As a matter of fact, today is Friday – I wore a red shirt, did you?

Separation of Church and State:

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. “

I think a lot of people focus on the part that says “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, and ignore the part before it, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. I think it's telling that the forefathers stated the part about no laws respecting a religion before the part about not prohibiting the exercise. The first part means that freedom OF religion does indeed mean freedom FROM religion as well. If we don't practice the same faith, then how can I have freedom of my religion unless I'm free from yours?

Free Speech:

It's really tiresome to hear some guy go on and on about freedom of speech, only to have him try and shut you down when he finds out you disagree with him. Especially when he tells you you need to move out of the country because you're too liberal, or too conservative, or too religious, or too …

Freedom of speech is for everybody's opinions, not just the popular. The popular opinions don't need a law to protect them. Beliefs and speech supporting government don't need protection. It's the dissident for whom this Amendment was written.

And, as much as I support our troops, whenever somebody protests military action/war, and a veteran says “I fought so you could have the right to say that shit”, he's kind of contradicting himself, isn't he? He's saying he fought to preserve freedoms that this protestor is exercising, yet is offended that the protestor is is using the gift the veteran gave him. I've never understood this argument.

Federal Power vs State Power

Guess what? This is one that can take a whole post just by itself....