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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Passing through - 2016 year in review

Scooter Bob hanging with the cats.
Despite the crash and relative bad luck that was November and December of this year...I can honestly state that 2016 was a good year at the Wilson home.

My dearly departed Kimmie and I managed to put some 6000+ miles on her before her death.  It's hard for me to believe that a mere 3 weeks ago I was looking forward to the adventures of 2017.  Now we are in the closing moments of 2016 and I'm seriously debating if I'll ever get on another bike again.

It's been a year of connecting with old friends and making new ones.  It's been a year of kitchen remodeling and getting involved with projects that took up a lot more time than I originally expected they would.  While I loved having Scooter Bob here, I was unable to do everything I wanted with him due to my work schedule and other issues.  He hung out with the cats a bit more than I would have liked. 

I raised over 600 dollars to help fight Prostate Cancer and Men's Health issues.  I received a very nice imprinted poster for my efforts.  As well as a wonderful feeling that I was part of something bigger than me.  As I rode with some 150 other bikers in and around the city of St Petersburg and Tampa proper I was truly the happiest I've ever been on Kimmie.  I'll probably have that poster framed one day, although I'm not sure where I'll hang it.

It was a year where I finally got out of my comfort zone and rode out to the central parts of the state.  Spending time in Winter Haven and around Orlando.  These are roads that I wanted to spend more time on in 2017.  It was nice to finally take the time and ride over to St Pete and that part of the Tampa Bay area in general

I guess that won't happen now.  Or at least not for some time.

For now I'm looking at physical therapy although I do feel relativity well.  Despite a overnight stay in the hospital because of the accident I walked away from it more or less intact.  This one though...honestly has put the fear of God into me.

We will see what the future brings...but I could not let the year pass without some sort of review.  Some thing to keep up with tradition. 

So I want to wish each and everyone a Happy New Year.  May you be healthy, safe, wealthy and wise in the coming year. 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holiday's to the blogging world.






I have a lot to be thankful for this Holiday Season.  I'm not a religious guy, preferring the world of math and science to any spiritual realm.  It's been a week since Kimmie and I went down and even though their is nothing that physical therapy and a little bit of grit can't fix...I've been hurt in other ways.

For the first time in a long time I've been reminded that my actions affect others.    Well a Can-am or a trike may be in my future, Susan feels they are more stable and therefore "safer", I'm not sure if and when I'll climb back on.  My faith in myself and my ability has been shaken to the core.

So I just want to thank my friends, my family for their support and love during the last few years of this blog.  I have met a few of you.  I have smiled and laughed at your adventures.  I've made friends.  I've gone on adventures that I would not have otherwise; and hope that you smiled, laughed and enjoyed the ride as much as I have.

I don't know what lies ahead.  Maybe I will take up cheese making, or finally get around to that home brewing kit that I've threatened Sue with for years.  All I know is this...your always welcome into my life and into my home. 

Happy Holiday's my friends.  May the New Year be full of adventures.  I'll be reading them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The final post?

Oh poor Kimmie




This may be the final post I make on this blog.


As some of you know, I was involved in a motorcycling accident on Saturday, December 17th 2016.  It was completely and totally my fault and was the third such accident I've been involved in in the six or so years that I've been on a scooter.

It may also be my last.

I made a promise to the woman I love that if I was involved in a third accident that I was done.  I fully intend to keep that promise, interestingly enough Susan is seeing this from a different perspective than I am,  She thinks that I should continue to ride, although on a three wheeled machine.  At some time in the near future I may change my mind and climb on a bike again.  At this time though...I'm done.


Beloved cycle
My day started simply enough, I was riding around on Kimmie through Zephyrhills and Dade City.  I had a plan in mind to slowly make my way down towards Ybor City and my favorite watering hole.  It was a clear day, warm and sunny.  I jumped on the highway and started making my way down towards Ybor.  I don't like riding the highways because things can happen so quickly but at the same time they are open and give you a bit more "escape routes" if something does go wrong.

I was less than 5 minutes from my destination.  In an area that I know can have stop and go traffic, I was traveling in the far right lane near the emergency exit lane for that very reason, leaving myself an exit lane just in case.  That just in case happened.  The brake lights of the car went on suddenly and I saw them a second or two to late, pulling back hard on my brakes...then I started to aim to the emergency lane....then, sadly, I ran out of room.

It's funny how the mind works, I don't remember hitting the car or going over.  I do remember the tumbling.  I can tell you exactly where my visor broke off my helmet.  What I was thinking..."Try to tumble away from the car"..."That's it...I'm done riding."

I'm not sure where I stopped but I knew it as I slowly got up.  Something, somewhere, was seriously wrong.  Nothing felt broke...I was in pain but that is understandable.  I went into diagnostic mode.  I was lightheaded and sick to my stomach. I was conscious but dizzy... "Call 911."  I told the other driver.  "I'm seriously hurt."

I took off my helmet (which on second thought I should not have done) and watched another biker set Kimmie upright.   A 30 second look told me all I needed to know...poor Kimmie was dead. The biker and I exchanged one or two words.  Than another biker pulled over.  The other driver let me sit in her car and I laid down in her back seat.  

It took longer than I would have liked but the ambulance showed up shortly.  My blood pressure was 70 over something.  It was low, to low...I had guessed right, I was going into shock.  They started a IV with saline solution and within a few minutes my pressure started to climb.  Now the EKG was showing something that worried them.

So I'm lying in the gurney in the emergency room hallway, trying to stay lighthearted as each and every Doctor and Nurse that pass thank me for wearing a helmet.  Even the cop that takes my statement thanks me.  The nurses poke for blood work that needs to be done, as the machine I'm on beeps intermittently.  One of the doctors tells me they are keeping me overnight because they think I may have had a very mild and very brief heart attack according to the EKG.  But they won't know till the blood work is in.

Thanks love for the undignified photo. 
So I am staying the night.     All the blood work, thankfully, comes back negative and the EKG settles into a pattern that the doctors feel is normal.  No heart attack...just shock.

Overall things could have been worse.  I have scrapes, I have bruises.  I have sprains and swelling.  I had to suffer the indignity of going to the bathroom in the hallway. I am however very much upright and alive.
It could have been much worse.

It's not the accident that got me scared.  Going down is part of riding.  If your afraid of that...then you should not be on a bike in the first place.  I already miss riding, I truly do love the freedom and peace of mind it brings me.  I was finally starting to feel "part of the local two wheeler community" whatever the hell that means.

Kimmie and I had plans.  Plans for longer trips to the center of the state and to explore the south of Florida a bit more.  I was planning on running her down to my favorite winery in the state sometime after the new year.  For the first time in a long time the future looked bright for Sue and myself, and getting out on the bike was part of that future.  I had already managed to put some 6000 miles on her, which was about 1000 more than I had in the last two years.

For hitting the back end of the car and a scary hospital stay, I'm actually in wonderful shape.  I have bruises and scrapes to my knees and a nasty abrasion to my right foot.  My left wrist suffered some soft tissue damage but nothing that time can not fix.  I walked away...thank God for good gear.

The jacket tore and I got a minor scrape
What "scares" me is hearing the fear in Susan's voice as the paramedic tells her they are taking me by ambulance to the local Hospital.  What scares me is her telling me...that she does not want to buy a funeral dress anytime soon.

What scares me is my elderly mother and father not being prepared for their son's demise.  What scares me is putting anyone through that.  Riding is selfish.  It brings pleasure only to ourselves, but in a case like this, it shows it's ugly side.  Accidents effect everyone...even if they are not on a bike with us.

I know...I know.  It's an accident and accidents happen.  Funny thing is that this one is my own fault and I know it.  A second or two longer and it would not have happened at all.  Playing "if only" games however don't change facts.

I'm also 50 years old and am not bouncing back like I did 25 years ago.  It takes time to heal and I don't want to break a leg at 53 or 63. 

So I'm not really sure what the future holds at this moment.  I may climb back on a bike within three weeks or three months.  I may sell what good gear I have and never climb up on it again.  I can honestly say I don't know.

Goodnight sweet chariot


I am however going to say this.  Please, please, please get good gear and wear it at all times. 

Be Well and Ride Safe.

Rob Wilson

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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Scoot Tiki


Even though I don't really know them well, or get the opportunity to ride with them often...I consider myself part of the Scooter Crew.  It's an odd little collection of people that seem a little more geared (pun not intended) towards classic Vespa's and lower cc bikes.  Kimmie is one of the bigger bikes in the group but I've always felt welcome and comfortable in the group.

Handmade Tiki
Winter Haven is about 1 hour east of me, near Orlando, Florida and the rally itself was held at a private residence.  The name "Casa Del Tortuga" is Spanish and translated means the "house of the tortoise."  This is because the home has at least two wild Tortoise's living on the property although they seem pretty used to having noisy humans about.

guard tortuga
I've been to this location before and again was impressed with the designs of Gene Leedy (while the home was not specifically designed by Leedy, it was surely influenced by him). 

Sadly do to family commitments I was not able to attend Friday night or spend time there Sunday.  I was able to spend time going on two wonderful rides around the city of Chain Lakes.  It was a perfect day to do that ride, with clear skies and warm but not humid temperatures, and again Winter Haven impresses me with rolling curves, wonderful water views and gently sloping hills.  It is a lovely city that is trying to revitalize itself and is filling up with small restaurants and specialty shops.

Again I wish I trusted myself enough to take pics while moving down the road or had a Go-Pro video set up.  A few of us even talked about the Go-Pro's and their advantages and disadvantages.

That's the thing that I enjoy, getting into quiet conversations about life, food, bikes, beer, and what ever else we care to talk about.   I even got to slide my business card to two different people although that was not why I was there.

I went to spend time with people I enjoy being around.  I went to ride.  I went to have fun.

Andrew owns an open air Tuk-Tuk, a small auto rickshaw that are often found in Asian countries.  He pulled that out for a slow ride through the city as we went as a group for lunch.   It was interesting to ride behind him and see the look on people's faces as this small thing went by.


I have to admit that I wanted to ride in the back of it and wave.  I have to admit that I was surprised by it's speed.  It took a bit of time to pick up speed but once it started moving it maintained a good pace.  It was not "fast" by any stretch of the imagination but it held it's own. 

Sitting at the outdoor bar.



Vespa shoes...that's hardcore.  


Just a few of the bikes
Mid 80's I believe.
As a side note, this was the first time I've used the GPS function on the Sena to any great extent.  It worked wonderfully but at higher speeds I'm still having issues hearing it.  I'm thinking it may be more to my helmet (which I'm going to have to replace sooner or later) than anything else. 

I'm going to try a suggestion and let you know how that goes in a few days.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Caption Contest

No, I'm not dead.  I've just been exceptionally busy these last few weeks to get anything done.   However I did come across this little jewel and decided to have a caption contest.

The winner receives bragging rights and the praise of his (or her) fellow humans till the next caption contest I have....so probably forever.

You can enter here or on the Scooter Revolution Facebook page.

 
Due to me being an idiot, I accidentally deleted the two comments that were left.  From Mike Mike (that's his name)...we have
 
"What a deal I got!"
 
 
From David (or his wife)  we have:  "T-boned" or "new Tesla hybrid bi-directional motorcycle" or "training wheels now mandatory for new riders"
 
Personally I like my entry:  "Ride it like you stole it?  So I stole it."   Sadly I can't win. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

First Impressions of the Sena 20S bluetooth system

Susan told me she wanted to get me an early Christmas gift.  For the last couple of months I've been looking at buying a new helmet, and I was thinking that if I was going to get a new helmet...then I might as well get one that was Bluetooth ready.  That would be my early Christmas gift!

I've been riding for a bit over five years now, and I keep thinking that their is no reason for me not to ride to the other coast or other places.   I've been lost on the bike before and to quote my ex-wife.  "Every road goes somewhere, and once your somewhere you can always find your way home."   Still though, I've grown to depend on the technology and understand it better than most.  I don't care for the idea of being totally without it now.

Susan and I stopped over at Cycle Gear with the intent of buying a Bilt modular helmet with the Bluetooth built in.  As it so happened the sizes ran small.  Even the XXL large helmet was to small for my fat head.  They did have a few other helmets, most without Bluetooth, but nothing in the price range we were trying to stay within. 

That's when the debate started.  "Do we just buy the unit by itself?" 

One of the reasons that I've been wanting a Bluetooth is because of the GPS function.  That has been my primary concern, I just feel I would be more willing to travel to other places if I felt secure in getting there.  I don't really like the idea of using the phone or listening to music on the phone.  However having that voice in my ear telling me I was going the right way appeals to me. 

The option to buy a Bluetooth and install it in my current helmet was suggested.  I'm not very happy with the old helmet but the idea of being able to move it to another helmet later was just to good to pass up.  So just like that I became the proud owner of a Sena 20S motorcycle Bluetooth communication system.

So they installed it.  It cost a bit more than I would have liked, although I did get the two year extended warranty on the unit.  I now have access to the phone, music, FM radio, Pandora and can use either a one-to-one or group intercom (with up to eight people).  It will link up with other Bluetooth systems and there are even voice prompts.   Yes, even a smartphone application. 

Susan called me on the Bluetooth on the way home twice.  I was able to hear her clearly with the visor down and traveling about 50 MPH.  It was when I was on the highway and at a much higher speed that I had trouble making out what she was saying. In fact, that was one of the reasons I didn't do this before.  I've read reviews of the Sena headsets that have told me the same thing.

I kept losing GPS on the way home, mostly because my smartphone was in my pants pocket.  I think if I tucked into my jacket or a shirt pocket I would not have an issue with it.  Although now I wonder if a cell phone mount might be in my future (as shown in a picture taken from somewhere).  At least that way I would have GPS and be able to view the route as I approach it.  Although I would have to have a small hole drilled into the dash to have a charging cable added . 

About half way home I switched to the music function on my phone and tuned in the Billy Bragg station on Pandora.   Bragg is a singer/songwriter with a strong voice and generally just guitar to accompany him.  I figured he be a good test of the speakers.  Again, I was able to hear clearly as long as I stayed below certain speeds. 

Generally speaking I'm happy with the whole setup and will have to play around with the unit some to figure out how to get the most of it.  This may be the only Christmas gift I get this year but I'm happy with it.  I'm looking forward to those days when Sue will behind me and were chatting as we ride. 

I'm looking forward to getting out more.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

AIME impressions

I have to be honest, one of the reasons that I wanted to attend the AIME expo (American International Motorcycle expo) was the opportunity to ride bikes that I would not normally get the opportunity to ride.  As it so happened I only was able to ride one bike.  The Can-Am RT.

As much as I hate to admit it, I've always took issue with the Can-Am.  It's not exactly a motorcycle and people have told me they steer like sleds or lawnmowers.  The price has always been a little daunting and the size made me question if I would be able to handle one.

I can honestly say that starting today, they are on the list to replace Kimmie.  The ride was smooth, and although I had a little issue with low speed turns, in that I kept wanting to counter steer or lean when I could not - that would be corrected with time, I was impressed.   The bike is semi-automatic meaning it has a thumb shift to climb gears but the computer handles downshifting.  It took me about five minutes to get used to shifting that way but once I did it was seamless.  The bike had solid, but not stellar, acceleration and handled very well.  A few rough patches on the roads around the Convention center were handled without issue by the bike I rode.

Susan was also able to get on and off without much issue and that was another plus in the bikes corner.

I could have rode Kymco scooters, a few off road vehicles, the Beamers, the Suzuki's and others.  However we were alternatives to ride the Can-Am and waited over an hour in the hot Florida sun to do that.  Each demo ride out lasted anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.  Some dealers required you to supply your full gear (helmet, jacket, boots at minimum) where others were OK with you in long pants and a helmet (Can-am supplied Nolan helmets in various sizes for examples).

Inside the convention hall was a variety of dealers.  Most of which frankly didn't interest me.  I don't go off road riding, I'm not really that interested in the mechanical side of things.  Yes, I want the best performance out of my bike for the longest time possible...but I've not desire to go to your booth unless you have some nice swag.  So that left me looking at bikes and oh what a selection there were!

I showed Susan the Honda NCX 700 that is on the short list of "new bikes" when its time to buy a replacement.  I ended up have to defend a Suzuki Burgman 650 from a few people that were putting it down, but the woman there kept looking at it wistfully and I think I convinced her it was a good touring bike.."A lounge chair on wheels" is how I described it.

Vespa and Piaggio was both represented well and truthfully I didn't spend much time looking at their products.  While I love scooters I'm probably moving away from them and going towards a semi-automatic or fully automatic motorcycle.

I did however want to look at helmets and fell in love with a new Shark helmet.  It will not be able till March of next year in the US and will probably sell for $700 dollars.   However it was amazing, a full sun shield at a touch of a button, good venting and most amazing to me...I put it on and the ambient noise around me was reduced to zero.  I mean, nothing.  I could still hear, still focus on what was around but it was a several decimals lower than before.

For a cheap bastard like me to want one right then and there, and probably would have paid full price, told me I was going to take a closer look at Shark in the future.  Somehow I missed the Bell Helmet display even though I wanted to stop in.

one of the more interesting bikes on display

Overall I enjoyed myself and would love to go a second day.  Just to ride some of the bikes I am considering in the future.  To compare the smaller Kymco's to my beloved Kimmie (Kymco is discontinuing anything bigger than a 400 in the US for 2017).  To ride the BMW's and others that were there.

To take in some of the lesser know companies and display's.  To just look.







I've posted additional photo's to the Scooter Revolution Facebook page

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A post in several parts

1) - Hurricane Matthew - Oct 2016.


He skirted up the coast line on the Eastern side of Florida and caused no damage in the center and western parts of the state where I live.  It was however a bit scary to be that close to a "loaded gun."  We had a few overcast and rainy days, but the damage on our side was nominal.

The damage caused by him in North Carolina will run into the billions and it would not have taken much for him to have shifted just a bit  to the left and run rampant over Florida.  Well the hurricane season is not officially over (that's on November 1) it seems that is the last big storm of the season.  It's been an interesting year, and it's driven home the fact that it's only a matter of time before the "big one" hits us.

2)  Nickles and Dimes -

Lately I've seen to have been dying from 1001 small financial cuts.  It's nothing to be concerned about in the long run, as we have small family issues and friends coming into town.  Which means eating out, drinks, rides to the beach and everything else.

 A little need for something here, a little need for something here.  My bonus being about half of it normally is did not help matters either.

One such little need was the gas gauge on Kimmy.  I pulled in for gas the way I normally do, filling the tank to the brim and knowing that I would have at least 156 miles till my next fill up.  Generally I get gas around the 150 mark, no need to push the bike further than she needs to go.

I must have traveled a few miles before I realized the gauge was stuck at 1/8 of a tank.

This is not something that needs fixed right away and I'm pretty good at remembering to reset my tripometer. Kimmy is getting older and although she runs well, I was reminded that eventually she's going to start nickle and dime'ing me to death.  

I've discussed getting a newer model bike in the past and what I would like to buy.  However I'm not their financially yet and probably am about two years away from any new toys.

Things like a new helmet and jacket however can not be put off for to long.  I'm "expanding" in all the wrong places and will need a new jacket soon.  My mesh jacket recently lost it's shoulder pad, as it came apart in three places.  It's an easy fix, just order a new shoulder pad, but again I have two jackets.  Why not buy one very good three or four season jacket and be done with it?

The same thing applies to my helmet.  I would like to have one with access to a Bluetooth phone and GPS.  It's not necessary at this time, it's not needed at this time...but I want to plan for the future.  The helmet I buy today will last me for at least five years.  I am not the same rider I was five years ago, I doubt I'll be the same rider I am five years from now.  Why not prepare for it.

It is for these reasons that I am planning to go to the Aime Expo this coming weekend. 

Which brings me to part three.

3) Time may change me, but I can't trace time

For the past 10 years or so I've run my own so successful part time business.   It started because I needed a job and the only one I could find was delivering papers.  I hated it but it helped pay the bills, then I realized that I could also deliver a few magazines in addition to the papers that were on my route.  So I picked that up.

Then we started with a weekly paper.  It grew, slowly at first.  At one time it was bringing me in another $15000 a year on top of my "regular job."  It wasn't hard, I would say approximately 16 to 20 hours extra a week in a car spread over 3 days.

It was the mileage that was the killer but thanks to a very weird American tax code,  I was making money even though it appeared I was losing money.  Frankly that's how Trump can report a huge loss of income but still be making millions.  In addition I could put my "losses" in to Roth IRA's and other tax advantage plans and make additional income.  I can't support the man but I understand how he's successful while still reporting losses.

Like everything however the business environment changes.  I was at a point last year where I lost money.  This year looks to be less of a loss but it still hurts the bottom line of the company.

Sue and I have discussed different options in the past.  From rentals to restaurants and each time we seem to hit a roadblock not of our making.  We have been outbid, we've had a scary illness scare, we were unable to get the loan because the property was leased, etc.

I've been involved in the financial and insurance fields most of my life.  I've been involved in sales most of my life (what ever happened to the simple guy that wanted to teach biology?).  With the exception of  about seven years where I wanted to do anything BUT financial stuff - this was after the great crash and I wanted nothing to do with it - I've always been involved in Banking and Finances and Insurance.

It's been a long time for me to get to this point but I've decided to open my own office.  I'm starting small, part time and with "simple: stuff - I'm still not ready to leave my full time job, but it's time.  I'm licensed in all states, I've been bonded, licensed and insured.

It's the project that has taken up most of my time these last two or three weeks and kept me off of Kimmie. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October plans


September has always been a bittersweet month.  September has always been a harbinger of change.  September found me riding a bit more and a bit longer but also found me being off my bike for the last two weeks or so.

The threat of Hurricane Matthew may, or may not, keep me off the bike for a few days as well.  Even though it appears that I am on the "dry" side and far enough to the west that damage in my area will, hopefully, be minimal.  The last one that came through the area caused minimum damage.  It's not scheduled to make landfall to Thursday in the early morning...but it should be interesting to say the least.  I'm hoping this one, which will hit the shore as a Category 4, will stay far enough east to not be a problem for me. 

I've spent most of the last two weeks or so changing departments at work, gearing up for our busiest time of the year...all the while considering an offer to supplement my income with an independent option on the side.   I was going to turn it down, but retirement is coming quicker than I would like and the possibility of building my 401K's and annuities is tempting.

I've spent much of the past month working towards goals: at work and raising what funds I could for the Distinguished Gentleman's ride.  Tampa raised about $21,500 for the cause and had approx. 150 riders in the event itself.

I have ridden to work where I could, I have rode here and there when and where I could.  The boring non-exciting day to day stuff that fills in most of our lives.   Now suddenly it's October and once again I'm faced with change, some of it is my own making.  Some of it has, like a inevitable change of seasons, been forced upon me.


It will be a busy month, as I attempt to once again take part in the Scooters for Hooters event.  This is an event I've been trying to attend for the last three years it seems, only to have something prevent me from attending.  I'm not fundraising for this, I'm intending to just pay my riding fee of $30 and riding with Kimmie covered in pink to support those that have had, or are currently fighting breast cancer.

Yes, Ladies you can talk me into buying a helmet
Later on in the month Tim Zbell, a old friend and drinking partner - and former amateur motorcycle racer, will be in town for wine, woman, song and the AIMExpo 2016.  This is another event that I've been wanting to attend for the past several years, but have been unable to for a variety of reasons.  This is the last year it will be in Orlando, as the 2017 show will be in Columbus, Ohio.    I am in need of not only a new helmet, but possibly a new jacket as well, and I can think of no better place then the AIME to pick up one or the other.