16 March 2015

"Now Hiring"

We've been walking a lot here.
We first noticed it at the "Wendy's" we walked to-
"Help wanted. All positions."

The next day we walked to "Del Taco". On the front door was a sign- "Now Hiring".

A little later we ate at "Golden Corral".
Wait... don't get ahead of me now!
But you're right.

And it's not just the fast food joints.
The Home Depot just down the block is also begging for help.

So guess how we handle the "Homeless. Two kids. Will work for food." folks standing on the corner near the "San Tan Village" mall?
We ignore them. Then we wonder if it would do any good to inform them of the MANY employment opportunities available if they'd just open their eyes.

No. Of course not.
They're too happy getting the equivalent of $61,000 in government benefits while adding to that any money they can mooch while standing on the corner with a sign.

What have we become?

14 March 2015


We've now been in Phoenix three months.
We were concerned we'd hate it. Ya can't really get a sense of a place until you've spent more than a couple weeks there. Three months gives ya a pretty good taste.
The fact that we're already talking about coming back in the Fall says everything you need to know.
Communities like Yuma, Quartzite, and Gila Bend have populations that DOUBLE during Winter months. It's hard to put into words how PERFECT Winter weather is here. Couple that with views of magenta sunsets behind majestic rocks and you can understand why these towns explode in the Winter.
We'll be back.

We've been taking time to exercise. Out the door, South to Ray Street and return, the gps indicates a distance of EXACTLY two miles. The streets are wide and nicely landscaped. We walk this distance twice daily... once in the morning before it's too hot for Lucy, and again during and after sunset, also to avoid superheated pavement while enjoying the above-mentioned pastel colors in the West.
The morning walk takes 40 minutes. (By my calculations that's 3 miles per hour, folks.) The same walk in the evening can take a lot more time because lots of other folks are out walking their furbabies and we always have to stop, scratch under a muzzle, and "ooh and ahh" about the beauty or charm of someone else's critter. (Golden and Labra Doodles are all the rage here like everywhere else, but there ARE a few pure-blooded Standard Poodles in the mix that make me melancholy for my old pal.)

Midway during our walk, about a month ago we started smelling the most intoxicating fragrance. It was so reminiscent of Honeysuckle it made us homesick. We'd look around trying to figure out where the scent was coming from... to no avail.
Two weeks ago I was standing in a line of folks ten deep at "Harbor Freight Tools", chatting. When asked where I was from I made mention of the fact that one of the things that still knocks me out is to be on the bike at a stop and look left or right and see citrus trees full of beautiful, ripe fruit. The guy behind me replied, "Yeah, and right now the Orange Blossoms are REALLY doing their thing."
And there it was. Next time we were reminded of Honeysuckle we looked and sure enough... there was an Orange tree.

A couple pet peeves...
This whole area is governed by HOA's... Homeowners Associations. On our walks we are constantly picking up sandwich wrappers, plastic water bottles, soda cans, broken glass, etc..
We then frequently walk more than half a mile to dispose of stuff others have thrown out their car windows.

HOA's please... more trashcans along the route.

And... there are bike paths EVERYWHERE here!
Nice, smooth, two-foot wide pavement reserved by a white line alongside the roadway. Sometimes it even has the caricature of a bicycle rider painted in the lane to indicate what it's for.
Why is it then that we, as pedestrians, have to move out of the way to avoid being T-boned by bicyclists riding on the sidewalks?

Vote me "King of the World".
I'll straighten this place out!!

13 March 2015

Friday the 13th Patriot Guard Ride

Retired. We no longer set the alarm.
No matter when I get horizontal, I normally wake about 0730...
As I did this morning.

Into our "sitting room" with my cuppa to check my email and not bother Sara Jean, I prided myself on being considerate for about four minutes. She and Lucy were upandat'em too. I may as well have gotten SJ's coffee when I poured mine.

Gathering time for the ride was 0900. Kickstands up time was "TBD"... to be determined.
I knew it was a fairly short ride to the mustering point, but I wanted to refuel prior to be sure I wouldn't embarrass myself. So I was out the door at 0815.

What a day!
Absolutely clear blue sky... the temp was about 65 degrees.
I decided to locate the gathering point, then get fuel. An added bonus!
I found fuel for 12 cents per gallon cheaper than I could have bought it near home and saved 48 cents!

Tank full, I still made it to our starting point by 0845.

Mine was the seventh signature on the sign-in sheet. That meant this would be a fairly well attended ride... several others would show up before our departure.

Ride Captain Bob blew his whistle and briefed us all on the mission.
We'd be escorting a Viet Nam Vet just a few years my senior.

We always start our ride by playing and singing along with Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA".
This morning, about 20 members of the Veteran's family came over, joined hands with our members, and sang along with us.
Touching? You bet.
As always, we then had a prayer for troops still at risk, their families, for a safe ride, and thanks for our MANY blessings.

We departed about 1000 hours. Our route started out on arterial streets, then joined limited-access highway, then back on arterials, then back to limited access, until we exited on the street leading to the National Cemetery here.

The mountains seem almost touchable from the cemetery...
It is a LOVELY, quiet, sacred place.

There were 21 flag-bearers in our flag line at the cemetery. By this time if there had been a thermometer to read, it probably would have indicated 85 degrees or so. That's not all that bad. But we were in full sun with our flags, standing at a modified position of attention. The preacher honoring this Vet and his family liked the sound of his own voice a LOT.
He spoke for 45 minutes.
Then the eldest son got up to eulogize his Dad and the first thing out of his mouth?
"We thank the Patriot Guard for this WONDERFUL showing of support!"

Did I say anything about the heat?

11 March 2015

Svengoolie II

On the 16th of January I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that here in Phoenix I could no longer watch my campy, stupid horror show, hosted by Chicago's "Soupy Sales" imitator "Svengoolie".
None of you came to my aid.
What's up with you guys?

A few weeks ago Sara Jean was complaining she had no TV in the kitchen to watch as she was preparing the feast for yours truly. As is the norm for us men, the first order of business for us is to keep the woman happy during the time she is preparing the feast we have worked so hard to procure and intend to savor.
Therefore, I purchased an antenna called the "Terk" HD antenna, so my beloved could stay entertained while she prepared the sumptuous feast for her provider.
Amazingly, here in Phoenix this antenna sucks in about 50 channels for her to view. Some of them are broadcast in languages we don't understand, but that's irrelevant...
Even the ones broadcast in Spanish focus on pretty girls with pretty curves.
You can leave the sound off. With these curves... I'm a fan.

But here's the question at hand for now-
Growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, I remember three channels:
Channel 4 was an independent channel.
Channel 6 was NBC.
Channel 8 was CBS.

Later on, we added channel 13, an ABC affiliate. Then to make things complicated, channels 6 and 13 swapped positions on the dial and confused everyone.
Now? They DO.

Saturday night I was pokin' around the dial with our new "Terk". Guess what I found that you guys didn't help me with?!!!!
Channel "7.2" is "MeTV".
Guess who I found?!!
My Svengoolie was hosting an "Invisible Man" movie.
I'm now excited.

Guess where my fat derriere will be next Saturday night?

But... Channel 7.2?
What the heck is that?
I'm sure a 5-yr old understands it.
This 68-year old is still trying to sort it out!

19 February 2015

Hillary Vs. Jeb in '16?

Is this the best we can do?
It's no wonder we're all angry with one another.

If, in 2016, I have a choice between Hillary and Jeb, I'm voting for Hillary. Seriously!
(Given the choice between being beheaded and being shot while attempting escape, I'll choose the latter.)
What a mess.

I really hope Elizabeth Warren jumps into the fray, and chooses Ward Churchill as her running mate.
The idea of having another team of liars in the White House REALLY excites me.
(Vomits forcefully across the room.)

15 February 2015

While You're Alive, Why Not LIVE ! ?

I am frequently saddened by how many people have "given up".
The world has gone crazy and they feel overwhelmed.
You can cajole, argue, shout...
If they've given up, for the most part, it's a waste of time.

Then I see a video like this and realize there ARE folks out there with SPIRIT.
Folks who won't quit; WON'T give up no matter what.
And my cup is refilled.

Life is good, isn't it?

14 February 2015

The "Super Ten"-

So... how do I like the new bike?
I'm surprised.
I had REAL concerns.
One of my main fears about this bike was vibrations. I've owned and ridden Harley-Davidsons and the vibration levels on those machines cracked the license plate OFF due to metal fatigue.

I was fortunate the first time it happened to hear the plate skitter down the road behind me. I stopped, went back, retrieved it, then mounted it upside-down on the bike via the remaining undamaged mounting holes.
The second time it happened, I didn't hear it depart. When I got the replacement plate I mounted it on a blanket of rubber and that "Band-Aid" resolved my "escape artist" license plate problem.

The "Super Tenere" is a parallel two-cylinder motorcycle. This engine configuration USED to be renowned for having serious vibe problems. No more.
This 1200cc powerplant is counterbalanced. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate the vibe level at about a 2 or three.
No, it's not a GoldWing. You can hear AND feel the engine running, but it's not distracting or irritating.
I wouldn't be afraid to take off tomorrow on a coast-to-coast trip on it, and I'd expect to arrive with a smile on my face.

It's a fairly large motorcycle...
When I'm on it solo I can put the balls of my feet on the ground, but NOT my heels.
If Sara Jean is on behind me, the suspension squats enough that I can "flat foot" at stops.
But it nevertheless weighs 586 pounds with no fuel. On a couple occasions I have put my feet down on gravel or sand as I came to a stop and ALMOST had my foot slip out from under me. Only by luck did I not end up looking like Arte Johnson on his tricycle in the old "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" show.
It's just a matter of time until it happens. I'll be buying a set of crash bars to eliminate, or at least mitigate the damage when I make a fool of myself.

Anytime you operate a "new to you" machine, you go through a period of time trying to learn its quirks to get comfortable with it.
On the "Super Ten", that adjustment period took about 10 seconds.
Let me qualify that... this machine has electronic gadgets on it that may prohibit me from EVER actually being able to get it to do everything it can do. But so far as basic operation?
It's the easiest bike to ride I ever swung a leg over.
Below 55 mph Sara Jean even enjoys it. Above that speed, the wind buffets her helmet around and she pines for the GoldWing.

Reviewing the six bikes in my stable...
I have a new favorite motorcycle

11 February 2015


When I heard he died last week I was transported back to Summer, 1968.
I was learning to fly, getting ready to deploy to an area where I knew there were angry people who would like nothing more than to make small (or maybe NOT so small !) holes in my slow-moving helicopter.

I knew they'd also be ecstatic if one of those hole-makers happened to encounter flesh or bone along the way on its journey.
Knowing you'll be facing that environment in a few months will focus your attention; make you try to squeeze every wonderful drop of life out of every moment.

I have no idea where or how I first heard this tune. I was probably in exactly the right melancholy mood for it to have maximum impact... maybe I'd had an adult beverage or two.
All I know is that I went almost immediately and bought the record, and have it still.

When you listen, you'll need to be in the proper state of mind to fully enjoy it. Maybe you'll want to hold off until later?

You made my life better during a difficult time, Mr. McKuen.
I hope you know that.

10 February 2015

Murphy's Law- GPS Chapter

I wanted Sara Jean to see "The Riverwalk" in San Antonio. The plan was to spend one night in Dallas with loved ones, then head further South from there.
 From "Alamo Town" we'd then continue West on I-10 to Phoenix.
I estimated the entire trip would add 2000 miles to the odometer on the new SHO, and I really didn't want to do that. There was also another problem-
The community our son lives in does not allow cars to be parked on the street overnight. With his car and two motorcycles already residing there, there would be no room in the garage for any vehicle we brought.
Renting a car was the obvious solution.
After comparison shopping, the Hertz deal seemed unbelievable-
Mid-size "whatever"... one week... unlimited mileage... $248.
Sign us up!

The car waiting at the rental agency turned out to be a Chevy Malibu equipped with all the stuff you'd normally expect AND Sirius XM radio.
It DID NOT have a GPS receiver. No sweat... we have two portables.
I grabbed one, plugged it into the power port to insure it still worked, and figured we were ready for our adventure. Only after starting out did I realize I had grabbed the older of our two Garmin GPS units. Oh well, what could go wrong?

South to Dallas and at the start of our hop to San Antonio, all went well.
About an hour North of San Antonio we stopped for a bite to eat. Starting the car for our last leg to the "La Quinta Inn", the GPS failed to come up.
Cycle off/on... Nothin'.
Urgently... cycle off/on... Nothin'.
Desperately... unplug the unit, then plug it back in... Nothin'.
... Curse to myself for not using our AAA membership and having them send "Triptiks" for the entire trip to Phoenix.
Pull out the fuze to see if it's obviously frazzled. It's getting dark and I can barely see the fuze, much less tell if there's a gap in the filament.

Oh well.
I drive into town, spot the first La Quinta Inn we can see, and go in to get directions to where we have reservations.
All is good.

Next day I get on the computer and find a Radio Shack. I take the unit with me and me and the friendly clerk replace the inline fuze... Nothin'.
Heck with it. The rest of this sojourn is just a matter of insuring we stay on I-10. Who needs "Carmen the Garmin" anyway?

Gotta be the battery, right? The unit is old. Lithium-Ion batteries don't last forever.

Safely settled in our Winter quarters I take a closer look at the unit. I'm fearful of trying to replace the battery myself... there's no obvious place the unit pops apart to remove it.
So I get on the computer and find a "Batteries Plus" store nearby and call 'em...
"Do you replace GPS batteries?"
"Yes sir we do."

At the store I hand him the unit and he asks, "It's gonna be $35. Would you like me to give you the battery to replace it, or do you want me to do it for you?" I'm pleased the cost isn't MUCH more.
I tell him I'm scared I'm gonna break the thing trying to replace the battery. He smiles, shrugs, and says "No problem. I'll do it. Can you come back tomorrow to pick it up?"

Next day I go back and he hands me my GPS. I turn it on and the display lights up like a CHAMP.
But after it acquires the satellites I try to program it for "Home" and it won't respond to touch.
We cycle it off/on.
No dice. I hand it back to him.
He says "Let me have a look and I'll give you a call."

Two days later, the phone rings...
"Greybeard, I somehow tore a ribbon-conductor in your unit when I replaced the battery. Getting that part would cost more than buying you a new GPS.
So we're getting you a new unit. It'll be here in four days."

A NEW GPS unit for the cost of the battery replacement!
Isn't it nice to know there are still honorable business people around?
Guess where I'll be buying my batteries from now on?

07 February 2015

"That Ain't A Harley You're Ridin', Is It Boy?!", Continued.

The body had not yet been embalmed.
The mission was to assemble at Phoenix International Airport and from there, escort the remains an hour South to a Mortuary outside Casa Grande, AZ for embalming and internment.
I was a little concerned I'd get the same reception from this group as I had gotten during my last "Patriot Guard" event.
Fearing traffic around the airport I arrived almost an hour early.
Interesting- three bikes were there already... another GoldWing and two "Harley Clones", a Yamaha and a Suzuki "Boulevard" Trike. Not surprisingly, I sensed no "Attitude" about my choice of conveyance.
Over the next hour 30 or so bikes made their way to the assembly area. Of that number, I counted five Harley-Davidsons.

I have NO idea whether or not the group composition had anything to do with the atmosphere, but from the beginning this  ride was different. Everyone was friendly. Everyone seemed to be focused on the fact we were there to escort this hero to his final resting place.
We were FAMILY.

We saluted as the body was loaded into the hearse, then lined the bikes behind it to tackle what was now Phoenix "Rush hour" traffic for the start of our ride South on Interstate 10.
Can you imagine the difficulty? Try throwing a hearse and 30 bikes onto a slow-moving, six-lane highway!
It was exhilarating.
The Arizona "Patriot Guard" works with local Law Enforcement authorities and trains and equips "Road Guards" to go "Code 3"... lights and sirens to move and block traffic.
And folks on the road cooperated magnificently.
We moved through the cars like a knife through... well, ALMOST like butter!

Clear of traffic South of Phoenix we SAILED.
Have you ever been relatively at the end of a line of 30 bikes in staggered-left echelon going 70 mph on an Interstate Highway?
I now have.
And  lemme tell ya... IT'S A THRILL.

At the facility in Casa Grande we were met by the widow, standing next to the drive as we filed by, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Folks, if that don't make you cry, you ain't human.