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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resetting the Odometer

On the way home from work tonight I was thinking about my bike, riding and how many miles I put in this year.  I accomplished a few goals, I finally found the time to do some pleasure riding...traveling just to travel and hitting part of the Green Swamp Encounter; which I had been wanting to do for some time.

Maybe add a "bumper"?
At this time I don't know what my final mileage for the year was.  I am under doctors orders not to ride for a bit, and my bike is in the shop getting healed anyway.  I know I was close to a milestone.  20K?  15K?  I may call up Affordable Motorsports after the new year and find out, just to have a record.  At this time I am planning on riding, once I get my bike back, and in 2013 have several goals I want to accomplish.   It's slow baby steps...but this accident was also a wake up call.  They really are out to get me.

In a lot of ways with the coming of the new year I will be "resetting the odometer."  While I like my job at 3M, I've also reached the conclusion that it's probably a dead end for me.  BUT, that is okay for now.  It has killer medical benefits and a decent retirement program...and at this point in my life (I'll be 47 this coming year) that matters.  Plus what really interests me right now is my secondary job.  I know I'm just a glorified paper boy...but I'm my own boss.  If all goes according to plan next year I'll make about 15K.  Not great money to be sure but good money.  This job has paid for oriental rugs (a passion of mine ever since I worked at a rug store one year in college), furniture and cruises.  Now if I can only get the Goufrais Chocolates into a few stores life would be grand!

I'm also planning to purchase a second home in January for rental income.  Well neither of these little side projects will replace 3M it's nice to have options.

We have to reset the odometer in another way as well.  Due to some health reasons (not mine), our household is going on a low-glycemic diet.  It will take some getting used to...but I will cheer her on, she will cheer me on...that's what you do in successful relationships.  Lucky for us our little garden in the backyard is growing nicely.  We are using a one-pot system, meaning that one or several plants is grown in a container.  It saves time on weeding, prevents erosion and keeps bugs to a minimum. Another added benefit is bending is kept to a minimum as well!  I'm old damn it!  Right now we have two pots going but are planning on expending our garden in other ways.

I've been tempted to start a food blog about this new adventure, but I don't feel qualified.  I eat well, but if left to my own design it be mac and cheese and pizza most nights.  Lets be honest, nothing beats the taste of food grown and picked fresh out of your own backyard.  In case your wondering, we are not allowed to plant a full garden in our we are using urban gardening ideas.

Speaking of blogging, I am considering doing a political blog.  I'm a dyed in the wool Dem but don't always agree with my party.  I actually joined the Green Party a few years ago and believe that there has to be an alternative to the current sad state of affairs were in.

Or I might just take up the challenge of something I was working on years ago.  I was part of a team that was trying to edit and publish a "rough guide" to US soccer.  It fell apart due to various egos, mine included, but such a thing would be easier today...and easier to publish as well.

So lets reset the odometer, look down the road and consider the possibilities.  2012 is gone, 2013 is coming and it's going to be an interesting year.  That is a given.

Happy New Year to you where ever you may be!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The "Happy Holiday" edition

The Holiday Season for me always begins about mid-December.  I have recovered from the over stuffing that is Thanksgiving and have been lucky enough to have been born into a family where my brother is a trained chef.  My ex-wife was a fabulous cook who would put any Iron Chef to shame and my current girlfriend was a restaurant chef and manager for 20 years.

In other words I eat well.  Very well for two months straight.

A fair example of what's in store.
 This Holiday Season is especially important to me this year.  In the past year, I have lost two very good friends and find myself questioning my own mortality.  Tragedy's like the recent shootings at Sandy Hook and a movie theater in Denver have not changed my day to day life in any way, but it does force me to question where we, as a nation, may have gone wrong.

On Friday, the 21st of December...I was hurt in a accident.  Well banged and bruised up, my gear did exactly what it was supposed to do.  I never lost consciousness.  No bones were broke.  Until the police finish their report and the insurance company looks at my bike I can say no more at this time (there was another vehicle involved that left the scene).  I will say this, if I had questions concerning ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) I'm a believer now.

This also confirms my desire to take the Road Guardian class and get re-certified in basic first aid.  My getting back on the bike was never questioned.

It's Christmas, I am happy to celebrate it with the ones I love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sulphur Springs...a ghost town in the city

Recently I learned via the local paper that the state of Florida was going to renovate the Sulphur Springs gazebo.  The more I read about this the more curious I became.  My adopted state is not prone to preserve it's history, it's coast lines, its communities...unless it feels that there is some way to make a dollar off of the tourists.  When people speak of "Old Florida" they don't refer to 300 years ago but the Florida of the 1920's and 30's.  Some even refer to the 1950's.

You can still picture men and woman in 20's dress enjoying the grounds
It seems that nearly 100 years ago the town of Sulphur Stprings was very well known and the local spring, which was contained in the two story, columned gazebo was one of the countries "health clubs" at the time.  Elegant carved maidens and the letter "R", for the owner/developer Josiah Richardson; who may have been one of the fathers of the modern shopping mall, ringed the building.  At one time the complex he owned on the same grounds contained various cottages, a swimming pool with a slide, a dance hall, Ferris wheel, bathhouses and; this being alligator farm.  Also on the grounds was a European-style arcade with shops on the first floor and a hotel on the second floor.  Today all that remains is the water tower and gazebo.  At the time Ripley's Believe It or Not dubbed it "a city under one roof."  During the early part of the twentieth century many people believed that natural springs had medicinal value...and the strong smell of sulphur and a constant temperature of 72 degrees  made the springs a natural health club. 

All that remains from the spring today, you can still smell the Sulphur
 Richardson also catered to "tin can tourists", who traveled by camper.  "They would close in the truck, take a bed, build a little camper on it and come down to Sulphur Springs," local historian Linda Hope said. "Sometimes they would winter here. That's how some of the housing grew up."

By 1933 Richardson had gone bust, it was in the middle of the Great Depression and when the local dam on the nearby Hillsborough River burst, flooding most of Sulphur Springs, including the arcade. Richardson lost everything.  The local neighborhood continued to thrive through the 1960's.  However by the 1970's the area became crime ridden.  The springs have been closed to swimmers since 1986 due to fecal coliform bacteria.  Although the city has been slowly been investing in bringing the community back starting in 2000.  The city has established a local park around the gazebo and a 214 foot water tower that Richardson also built.  You can't help but notice the white concrete tower driving south towards Tampa.

View from the park
Local legend also tells of the time when pirate ships would use the springs to replenish their water supplies.  There are supposedly still trees in the area marked by these sailors.  Sadly however my brief research could turn up nothing substantial to back up that claim.  Still however, it's a neat story.  That's the wonderful thing about history...we just have to open our eyes to it.

Just another look at the Gazebo

Here's a modern house done in the style of the time.  I don't know about you but I can picture Jay Gatsby and Daisy living in such a house.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nothing to say....

It's been a few days since my last update.  I try to do at least one update - even if it's something silly or stupid  or just a time waster - once a week.

Yes, me in shorts in December.  Eat your hearts out.
This past week or two there has been little to report.  Nearly all of the riding I've done is back and forth to work, I spent one beautiful weekend on my roof cleaning out the gutters and mowing grass (Yes, even in December you can mow grass in Florida).  In other words, I've been trying to play catch up on the never ending work of being a home owner.  Being on the roof did give me an interesting advantage to observe a family of Cardinals however.   I was also considering accepting another independent job, which would have doubled my monthly income, in the end however I turned it down...sometimes mental health is more important than money.  Still it was nice to be offered the job.

Our tree 
We spent an afternoon putting up the tree and decorating it, while various holiday songs played on the computer thanks to Pandora, although I believe that Handel's Messiah was a bit over represented.  The lovely Sue will actually be leaving later today for a week meaning that I will be a free man for a change.  I might have more to write about then, as I consider finishing the Green Swamp ride or a few other places that I've been meaning to go to.

I considered posting something to the challenge laid down by Princess Scooterpie, for I've had some wonderful Christmas pasts and some not so good.  If you ever spent Christmas night eating Chinese food and going to a strip club for something to do, then you know loneliness.

Considering the events at Newtown, CT recently anything that I write seems to pale in consideration.  I can't even begin to imagine the emptiness that the parents must be feeling.  It's put a damper on the Holiday spirit here, and in a way has made the holiday all that more special as families will pull each other closer.  The memories that will be created will be all that more special for those with small children, knowing that despite your best efforts...tragedy can happen in mere seconds.

If any good can come from this, it's knowledge that life really is a wonderful, precious and amazing thing.   I'm lucky to live my life in peace.  I only hope that those who lost loved ones recently - friends and family - can find some peace.  Some hope in the coming days.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A boy and his toys.

I've a neighbor two doors down from me who, about a month ago, bought a Suzuki Boulevard GZ250S, I've seen him on it a few times and even waved at him a few times as he rolled on by.  I've not talked to him about his bike though, mostly because he is the type of neighbor that everyone calls "Mister" and is very rarely seen.

Yesterday his bike went up for sale.

Yesterday I started considering buying it.   Seriously.

It's a smaller bike of course, with less horse power than my Burgman 400.  I don't need another bike, and the Boulevard GZ250S is not going to work for me as a commuter bike - the roads I commute on require a bike capable of doing 60 - 70 MPH (96 -  113 KMH) consistently.     While the Burgman was really not designed for highway driving, it has little issue with being quick off the line and maintaining that speed.   Frankly I'm sure the Boulevard would not be capable of that.

What interesting to me about it honestly is that it's a "real bike."  Now don't get me wrong, I love the Burgie. I love scooters (after all the blog is named Scooter Revolution), but I've not ridden a "motorcycle" since my endorsement class.  Relearning the gearing, the clutch and how to operate all of them smoothly appeals to me.  It's also a good bike to learn on, being low to the ground and with lower power.  Eventually I will have to replace my Burgie, and as much as I would love a BMW, the long term girlfriend is pushing for a trike.  I will need to know that gearing unless I get a MP3 or a custom scooter trike.

I also realized, that like it or not, the fact that I'm even considering buying a second bike means only one thing.   I caught the bug.  I'm doomed.  Doomed I tell you!  Logically of course it makes no sense, it's an extra expense that I don't need.  Still though...the idea has been planted.

Tis the season for Toys for Tots bike runs.  That time of year when the biggest burliest biker shows his soft side and gives a needy child a little bit of joy, showing that Santa does in fact exist in our hearts.  A friend of ours, Craig, was planning on going to one and we were going to tag along.  Sadly due to  an illness he was unable to go and I - to be honest - felt silly going to one all by my lonesome.  Even though it's for a good cause.

That's the wonderful thing about living in Florida, the riding season never really ends and there are two more rides that I know of between now and Christmas day itself that support this fine organization.  I know that some child, either girl or boy, will get a good gift.  After all isn't that what the holidays are for?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Road Guardians - Anyone interested in taking a class?

Somewhere, somehow I came across a review of the Road Guardians safety class.  I put out some feelers and am now thinking of actually hosting a class at the community clubhouse where I live.  Basically the Road Guardian class is designed to provide basic accident scene emergency training that is motorcycle specific.  It is not a first aid or first responder class, but a class designed to assist EMS and the police in case of a motorcycle accident.

I was surprised to learn for example that when trauma results in the use of CPR there is only a 1% chance of survival and that many EMS technicians may not know how to properly remove a bikers safety gear (such as chaps).  Or at least this is what is reported on the website.

At this point in my life I mostly ride alone.  That may change in the future, and I do see a lot of bikers and scooters on the road.  I also know that eventually I will see an accident because frankly I see a lot of idiots on many.  Being able to help in some way  in case of an accident appeals to me.  In 2007 for example, motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities.  That's a ridiculous number.

This class is a one day program and I should stress it's not going to give anyone CPR or first aid certification.  If I feel there is enough interest in it, I may looking into bringing in a CPR/First aid trainer as well.  I live one hour from Tampa, one hour from St. Pete and one hour from Orlando.  So I'm centrally located and have access to a building that could be used to hold a class.

So I am going to put feelers out.  Starting with the St. Pete Scooter Club and the Orlando Scooter Society.  I figured a few other forums I belong to might spread the word as well.  If there is enough interest then I'll look into it a little further.  No harm in that is there?