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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Almost the end of another year

Later on today I'm supposed to pick Kimmie up from the mechanic.  Her new rear wheel cost me $175 bucks (including labor).  It's a price I'm not that worried about.  Even though the tire didn't look that damaged and I feel pretty confident that the sidewall was not damaged, I decided in the end not to take that risk.

I've driven cars where the brakes have failed.  I've driven cars where a tire has blown.  I've no desire to push my luck on a motorcycle tire.

Road hazards happen, belts will break, oil changes need to be made, accidents will happen.  Generally speaking it seems that 2016 was a year of repair.  It was also a year of accomplishment.  It's been the first year in a while where Susan and I were in generally good health.

We have traveled to caves, to the worlds smallest post office, an old friend came for an extended visit, we had to deal with two hurricanes this year and I got to take part in a world wide motorcycling event.   I rode to places that I normally don't ride to; pushing Kimmie a bit further out each time to take in the lakes, hills and curves of the center of the state.  I even managed to go to a rally. 

I even got a new toy or two.

It's not over yet, I still have about 3 more weeks to add to my millage, which is already over last years total making me a very happy camper indeed.  My main goal for 2016 was to ride more.  To do more, I feel that I've succeed there.

My main goal for 2017 has not been determined yet.  Susan and I are looking at some options.  We're considering our options, and yes a new bike may be in the cards.  Although I'm against it for a few reasons, I would like to get at least two more years out of Kimmie.  Maybe a bit more.  She and I are not done exploring yet.

I'm not saying it is....but it may be

Even though I consider myself to be solidly agnostic, I've been blessed.  Looking ahead to 2017 it seems full of promise which, considering the last few years, seems odd.  So I for one am looking forward to new adventures.  Happy Holiday's everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2016

A run of bad luck

Where's the crime in a streak of bad luck? - Jay Farrar


I woke up this morning and glanced at Kimmie.   Shining like a star in her rear sidewall was a roofing nail.  It was simple chance that I picked it up.  It was the third or fourth thing in a row.  A streak of bad luck.

I recently sank $80 on a new battery and I'm concerned about why I'm only getting a year or two out of a battery.  The other day I got stuck on the side of the road due to my running out of gas.  My gas gauge has been down and I don't see any reason to replace it...since I know I can go about 150 miles on a full tank.

Except my tank wasn't full.  So I got stuck on the side of the road waiting for my lovely, and very angry wife, to bring me gas.

Now I picked up a nail and I know that a rear tire needs to be replaced.

Unlucky.

I've been using Michelin City Grip's on my bike. I've been happy with them and see no reason to change.  I know however that I'm looking at about $80 for just one however.  The tire I've on Kimmie now is relatively new.  I could go with a cheaper Shinko but would prefer the performance of the Michelin.

It's just another expense.  One that is not needed at this time....and one that I have to pay.

Unlucky.

Of course, it could have been worse.  I would rather find the nail in my driveway than find it going 80 miles an hour down the freeway.  In that case I am lucky.  In that case I'm blessed.

**UPDATE**

Even though the tire was not losing air and I don't believe the sidewall was damaged, I decided to replace the tire.  I would rather be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Battery - 1.5 years

To be completely honest I don't remember the last time I put a new battery in the bike.  A quick search of my blog stated it was over a year ago.  One would think that I would get more than a year out of a motorcycle battery, and as I placed my $80 dollars for a new battery on the table of my local dealer he told me that this one should last about a year and half. 

I bought me a Bike Master AGM Battery.  I probably could have payed less for it on the internet, but I have an event that I wanted to attended on Sunday and frankly I think Sue didn't want to hear me bitch about being off the bike anymore.  

There's your problem!  Somebody stole your battery
It's an easy enough job to replace the battery and after I did so Kimmie fired right up.  I took her around the block of my neighborhood,  being thankful that it was not something more serious like the stator.  I also decided to buy a trickle charger just in case my bike would end up sitting for longer than I would like (it more or less sat for two weeks as I fought off a mild case of the flu). 

I still have the old battery and want my mechanic to run a load test on it.  More for my piece of mind than anything else. 


On this coming Sunday, I hope to take part in the Orlando Scooters "Ride through the city" event.  It is literally a ride from the northern tip of the city of Orlando southward to the southern tip of the city on a lazy Sunday afternoon.   I'm wanting to attend simply because I've been wanting to take Kimmie out further than I have in the past.  Orlando is about 77 miles away, then I ride through the city...then back home.  So I'm looking at at least a 150 miles day (to and from) plus the ride through the city.  

That's not a bad ride and I've been wanting to build up my tolerance for riding anyhow.  So it's all good.  I just hope that life doesn't rear it's ugly head and something comes up, like work.

Plus, getting out of my comfort zone is not a bad thing.  Come December and January I will be putting more effort into working independently, which frankly is not an easy thing for a introvert like me to do.    That's my goal for the year of 2017.  Taking the bike out to Orlando, Jacksonville, Sarasota and other places.  I really have no excuse not to anymore.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not again! More electrical issues

I have not been riding Kimmie hard or for very far in the last two weeks or so.  I've had a persistent head cold and/or allergy and/or sinus issue that has made me lightheaded at best, miserable at worst.  

The weather has been glorious however so I've tried to take it out when I can.  I know she doesn't like the cold and a few mornings here have been a bit brisk.  It's been dry and by the middle of the day the temperatures are perfect for riding, being neither to hot or to cold.  By the time I would ride home from work the "brisk-ness" had returned but it's nothing a light sweatshirt or my Freeze-out jacket could handle.

Still though, I sided on the caution to protect my health.  

I'm wondering now if I should not of invested in a battery tender or  rode the bike more.  Now I'm searching around trying to figure out how old my battery is (1 year?  2?...3?).  

Sue asked me to run to the store and get a few last minute items, nothing major.  I jumped on Kimmie, she fired right up and I was off, a few moments later arriving at my destination.  We were having seven people over the house for dinner, and I was not going to be late. 

It was not even ten minutes after my arrival.  I jump on the bike.   No power, no turn over, nothing.  I lift the seat and see a little light burning...so she has something in the battery.  I check the connections and they are nice and tight.  

I get an electrical jump off a car and tell Sue the problem, going about 1 hour and forty miles out of my way in an attempt, misguided as it may be, to charge the battery.  

I get home, our guests have arrived.  I eat, I chat, I drink a wonderful wine that highlights the turkey and ham beautify.  I laugh.

That is till I try to start Kimmy.   Nothing, nada, nope.    

Sadly I have to work all day tomorrow being that I drawled the proverbial short stick, but I'm hoping that Saturday I'll be able to get down into the nitty gritty of the problem.    

The beginning of the Holiday Season

I just want to thank all of my readers.  I'm truly thankful for the few minutes you spend here.  The comments you leave and the advice and encouragement that you give. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all. 



Thursday, November 17, 2016

two roads diverged in a yellow wood

I'm out on Kimmie, it been a bit due to a head cold that I can not seem to shake.  It's a lovely day, perfect for riding and I've no destination in mind.  

I let here choose the route through the back streets and country roads, I've got a lot on my mind lately and I'm hoping the simple act of riding, of having to pay attention to the road ahead of me will silence the competing thoughts in my head.

The Sena plays some older jazz from the 50's and early 60's in my headset, Cannonball Adderley's quintet hums in my ears as Kimmy eats up the miles.  I'm lost but I'm not worried, the phone is charged and my GPS can get me home.  I have a rough idea of where I'm at, a blue dot superimposed on the map in my brain.

I come to a fork in the road, and stop.

One road is paved, it appears to be well traveled and more or less smooth.  The other, well it's paved as well but appears to be less traveled, more of a paved dirt path than anything.  

Robert Frost's poem leaps to the forefront of my brain and I sit there for a moment, torn by direction.  I'm facing this very same issue in my professional life. 

I like my job, I like the people I work with and am in year number 3 of doing it.   However I expected a bit more from it, I was over promised some things.  While I've learned a lot and have accepted new responsibilities and such it also occurs to me that for a variety of reasons I'm not going to advance beyond my current standing.  This has less to do with my ability and everything to do with how the upper management thinks and operates.

Recently I've seen managers step down or even resign their positions do to the manipulations of upper management. 

I turned off the music, removed my helmet and shut Kimmie down.  I got off the bike and stretched.  What a sight I must of been to the lonely cows as I thought to myself in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere. 

I have two choices. At 50 years old I have to start thinking about my retirement, my future and other things and even though I've been preparing for this since I first started working all those years ago, I'm also hurting.  I'm not where I need to be.   The great depression cost me greatly, and even lead to me leaving the financial and insurance field for about 7 years because I was sick of it. 

Even though I've recovered somewhat, I'm not where I want to be financially.  

A few months ago a former boss of mine started his own company and I've joined him, not in any official paid capacity but I've been willing to help him where I could part time.  It's been slower than either of us would like as we build something new. 

It occurs to me that I really don't know much about marketing as I try to build something for myself.  As I put ads in the local papers and hang flyers.  As I arrange to give talks at churches, senior centers and health fairs.  It's not costing me much but it's not making me any money currently either.

About the same time I was offered a chance to do more or less the same thing with an existing organization part time.  I could still work my current job till my feet are under me and, once I establish myself, leave my current employer.  It's well established, it has the support structure that I feel I need at this time.

Being established, I should start to make some money quicker with this option than the other.  However it's still a uphill climb and I may not have as much freedom to pursue what interests me in the field.  

The path I took was to go with my former boss, however I see now that may have been an error.  It's nothing he did or I did but more of a difference in goals and desires.   I'm looking down the road trying to see 6 months into the future...and I'm not sure if option A is the right choice.

Option B is still open, and truth be told it's not a "either or" situation.   Their are other options, other paths that are open to me.   All however, much like riding my beloved Kimmy, are fraught with dangers...and rewards.  

Financial sales, like riding a motorcycle, is a learned skill set.  You try to mitigate the dangers, you try to be as safe and secure as you can...but the world always has a surprise.  How you react to that surprise is what matters.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" I mumble to myself as I place my helmet on and turn Kimmie around, going back the way I came...going home. 

I see no reason why I can not take both paths for a bit, eventually I will have to choose but not at this moment, not at this time.  Other roads are open to me and worth exploring as well...the world is full of possibilities.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts on the election 2016

I debated about posting something political.

I actually created a separate blog for political posts but gave it up after a short time simply because it became apparent to me that my chosen candidate, Bernie Sanders, was not going to be nominated.  Like many, I felt disappointed but I predicted a close election...however like many I expected Hillary Clinton to win.

Although in hindsight the same issues that I had with Clinton from the very beginning were the ones that doomed her in the end.  I'm not going to repeat what the pundits are saying because they got it all wrong...I'm giving my personal opinions on why she failed.

1)  The White House is not a prize to be given from father to son or from husband to wife. - The American people still remember what happened the last time that happened.  Well no pundits will admit to that part of the puzzle, I think Americans feel that their government is being controlled by only a small group of people (and it is).  When the public is feeling frustrated with many issues concerning our government, having someone nominated who seems to think the White House was her birthright was a bad idea.

2)  The Democratic Party was out of touch with it's own people. - The DNC email leaks showed a clear preference for Hillary Clinton.  Which lead to cries of voter fraud and "rigged" elections (remember that word for it's important).   When she accepted the nomination she should have clearly apologized for that, calling out the DNC leadership and reached out to the various Sanders supporters during the convention. Instead of doing that she was left facing a mass exit of delegates during the convention.  A group that voted for her in the end (most of them) or stayed home election day (some of them).  Or voted for Jill Stein and the Greens (like I did).  

When Sanders won states in the rust belt and Midwest he did so because his economic message was resonating.  Interestingly enough, his anti Trade speeches and Trump's anti Trade speeches were not that different. 

The DNC did not pick up on this.   Or other concerns that Sanders showed the American people were concerned about.  What little she did learn from the Sanders campaign she seemed she didn't believe.  This lead to an enthusiasm gap.  

3)  Hillary was running a conventional campaign during an unconventional time and against an unconventional candidate. - Against a more conventional Republican opponent, like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio she would have been able to point at her experience and successes.  She could have said basically "Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?" and got a resounding yes.  Because, like it or not, the Republicans really don't have a platform themselves.  They are in the process of redefining themselves and are having a small civil war in the party.

Hillary could have played against that weakness.  Trump was playing the fool and the media.  Knowing that everything he said would be picked up....your on the news more for saying something stupid than for policy.  If you break it down, Trump got more people talking about him than Hillary ever did.

Well some of it was clearly disturbing and often bordered on out and out racism.  He clearly got is message apart that the "swamp" needed drained...and that Hillary and her ilk were the cause of it. 

4)  Trump is a master of language.  No really! - or "it's not what you say but how you say it." - Let's take a look at the word "rigged."

Strictly defined it means to assemble or adjust.  The problem is that most of the media thought when Trump was saying the election was "rigged" they defined it as "voter fraud."  Which is not what Trump was saying.  He was basically saying "Those in power don't care about you."  or more specifically "Hillary Clinton doesn't care about you."

Given the email scandal, the issues of her trustworthiness, the various scandals real or imagined, the fact that she often seemed cold and calculating...the American people heard that definition.  Not the "voter fraud".  They heard that the powerful had "rigged" the election.  They were not going to put up with that.

He played off the fears, the anger, and yes...even the racism and hate in America.  He also attracted the intellectual, the gay, the mixed raced and yes even some Latino votes.  You don't get 59,937,338 people to vote for you if your only playing the racism card.  You get that many votes by using language that drives your points home.   Salespeople do it all the time...if your listening you will hear they are selling the need for you to have product X, and not the product itself.

5)  Don't believe the hype - The polls all showed Hillary winning.  So what happened?  How could the polls be so wrong.  Since is actually the second election in a row where polls have lead us astray.  So the question is why?

That I don't have an answer for, other than I think that pollsters are looking at the wrong sets of data.  That they are making assumptions that the data didn't bare out.  

I've seen more Trump signs than Clinton signs as I rode about before the election.   I saw more anti-Clinton memes and posts on Facebook than I saw anti Trump memes...and most of those were posted by liberals.  Sometimes a pollster needs to get out and actually be in the field pounding on doors.

So What Happens Next?

A) The Democratic Party may be damaged beyond repair.   
I know that seems drastic but let me explain:  They alienated a large chunk of their future voting block with younger, more liberal leaning kids.  The old unions and northern states are no longer solidly blue due to aging demographics and the failure of the party to capture the rural white vote (which went solidly for Trump).

They lost the Senate, House, the White House and the courts.   The move to the Center Right that started with Bill Clinton will probably end with Hillary Clinton.  Not that the left of the party is looking that great.  Sanders is currently 75.  Elizabeth Warren is 67 and will be 71 in 2020, plus she lost much of her credibility in supporting Clinton.  

If the party is to move forward it needs to get back to it's roots and that is the poor working man.  While there may be one or two leaders waiting in the wings, there is no one particular name that stands out. 

B)  The Republican Party can't celebrate yet.

They are still fractured and Trump is a business man first and foremost.  He is not beholden to any political agenda other than his own.  He's already stated he will not touch Social Security or Medicare (something the Republicans have threatened to cut in the past).  He's more of an isolationist than having a strong military, again this goes against the Republican grain.  

He's more likely to work with the minority to get stuff done, that means compromise which the Tea Party wing of the party has stood against.  Many in the party railed against him both in the primaries and in the general election...now that he is President the small civil war has calmed for a bit, but may flair up again.

Many in the Republican party were standing against Trump or flat out refused to endorse him, Trump may or may not be willing to push a particular agenda.  

so what should we do?

The damage is done.  2016 will go down in history as a watershed year for a lot of reasons.  All we can do is take a "wait and see" approach to things and hope for the best.  Personally I think that Trump is starting to feel the weight of the world about him...and is just as surprised as the rest of us.

In the end if he surrounds himself with staff that tell him what a "Great President" is and what a "Great President" does....he may surprise us yet.   He has so far.