31 July 2010 – Getting In & Getting Out (Ken)

As a new homeowner I’ve had to become informed about some rather interesting things that: one, I didn’t know before; or two, had some knowledge of, but never thought would apply to home ownership. The Army doesn’t tell you that when you’re learning this stuff.


My bookends.

For example: As one of my special projects while in Afghanistan, I took on the responsibility of rebuilding the main entrance of our shared Afghan / American camp to include two very large steel reinforced gates, new reinforced walls surrounding them, guard posts both next to and at a standoff from the vehicle inspection point, and a rather massive amount of road improvement to make the area from the Kabul road to the Brigade Headquarters not only trafficable, but also presentable. I was perhaps motivated by my proximity to that gate while carrying between $15,000 and $50,000 (U.S. Currency) in my right cargo pocket (under my pistol, just so you know) as I went about my business buying parts and supplies for the Brigade. All told, I spent over $300,000 in just a few months, actual cash going through my hands, with the maximum single purchase being $2500 (Army spending rules, unlike the Special Forces guys we replaced who were dropping off bags of $250,000 at a time – no receipts necessary).


Home sweet Afghanistan, circa 2003.

What does this have to do with owning a home? Besides wishing that I had been allowed to “keep” some of that money for myself, I’m now faced with some severe landscaping challenges at my new home due to the previous owners never intending anyone to actually make it to the garage on anything larger than a goat. Now, while I do rather enjoy “narrow” and “steep” during the warmer months, Winter shall make this not only dangerous, but also impractical. Let us just imagine that LT has allowed me the right of visitation and I decide to pack heavy: My F-250 is 19 feet, 6 inches long. My box trailer is 24 feet long (with tongue). Add in the hitch and this monster is longer than a commercial bus… which is great for holding four bikes, but not for turning around unless I decide to go into the yard.


Not my truck, but the same model and size.

Oh, I forgot to mention that. The house is on one side, a rock wall on another, a sheer drop of ten feet on the third, and the yard doesn’t have a single flat spot anywhere (it’s all either up or down). Last time I took my trailer into the yard to turn around I scalped the yard for about 10 feet before the tandem axles actually touched down again. This isn’t healthy for either my yard or the trailer, and I doubt that come winter I’ll be able to do that and not get stuck (I’m just at the edge of Southern Michigan’s “lake effect” snow coming off Lake Michigan). I really wonder sometimes why they built the house with such poor access; there is only so much nature you can have if you can’t get to the house in the first place.


Come Winter, I’m not getting any company…

So, all of that training I received back at the beginning of my carrier, what once was called the “Scout Platoon Leader’s Course”, where we went page by page learning about route classification and the minimum radius of a curve that a vehicle of a certain size can turn without hitting the shoulder, not to mention all of the time walking the back woods of Fort Knox actually measuring percent grade of a slope by hand (take that all you Army Engineers), mix in Afghanistan for building, and Iraq for tearing down, and I’m all sorts of ready to make myself a expressway back into the 14 acres that I own.

But.

Renting a bulldozer is going to be expensive and messy. I know, I’ve used them before. Oh, and I’ll want to level the surface some more and maybe compact it. That’s going to cost, not to mention getting a couple dozen cubic yards of crushed limestone dumped, spread, and compacted as well. Without someone else to pay for this I might need to scale back my plans a bit, at least for a while. “Why a bulldozer,” you might ask? Oh, this is heavy work here. Pushing hundreds of cubic yards of sand, tree stumps, gravel, and rocks is no work for a tractor and a blade. Especially if you’re looking at cost-benefit and you pay for the rental of the item by the hour. This is where not having access to Uncle Sam’s toys really makes me sad; although, to be honest, a D-9 bulldozer (my particular favorite) would be so large and clumsy for such an operation that it would make a nightmare of even getting into some of the areas that I plan on working. You don’t even see equipment that big at most building sites; maybe at a strip mine, but not when they’re leveling ground for a 7-11 in your neighborhood.


An ARMORED D9, buried to the cab, outside of my perimeter in Al-Anbar, Iraq – 2005

So, as I sit and consider this, I remind myself that there are reasons that the house sold for $70,000 less than the asking price. This is one of them. Will the house slide off its foundation if I don’t fix this before winter? No. Will it be more difficult to load the trailer and maneuver around the truck? Yes; however, I will not be driving anything other than the F-250 this Winter, not counting my Ural, so there’s something to be said for keeping the driveway a little “difficult” for those folks that I don’t like stopping by anyway…


Afghanistan at its best…

It’s all in how you look at it.

Ken

30 July 2010 – A fair day’s pay…

I had the fortune recently of getting to know a high school teacher from Mississippi. We compared teaching experiences and the duties of our respective job descriptions. She works far harder and has far more oversight over what she does. She even has to have liability insurance and access to a lawyer for fear of litigation. She’s probably more passionate about teaching too, having entered the profession for all the right reasons. She gets paid approximately 30% of what I make as a college professor. Now I know what you’re saying — she entered the profession of high school teaching knowing there wasn’t any money in it. But there should be some semblance of being able to earn a living too. She lives in an apartment, and can probably forget about getting a house on her income. And there’s no hope in sight. I’m trying to help her come up with business ideas to parlay her experience into making money on the side as a consultant or writer. My real advice to her is to finish her Master’s degree and get out of secondary education. Getting paid a fair’s day pay for a fair day’s work is a time-honored hope.  Truth be told, if it wasn’t for DT I’d probably have an attitude in the classroom, not having received a raise in 5 years. But it’s all relative, and it’s hard for me to bitch about a lack of a raise amid the fears somebody else has over making ends meet. Life isn’t fair, and we all have choices, but it smacks of injustice when I see somebody so passionate about teaching young minds yet who worries about whether she can get by on the income of her profession. It all makes me feel very fortunate for what I have.

The call will go out next week to make contact with my old CA unit here in Pcola. I won’t be able to transfer until I take a PT test with them, and I have a damned pulled leg muscle that will take 2 weeks to heal. I refuse to take a PT test until I can max it, so mid-august the paperwork should start going through. If I’m going to get deployed, I’ll get a 30 day heads up. If that happens, I’ll immediately shut down DT and focus on getting my things in order for a lengthy vacation. I should be good through the fall term, but you never know.

TTYL – LT

27 July 2010 – For The Sake Of Love (Ken)

After finally settling into my new home (after three months), I now find my garage organized to the point of finally getting access to the three bikes I’ve currently set as my “steady girls” for this summer. My 2009 Harley Road Glide, a 2006 S2R1000 that was my first Ducati, and a recent addition to my collection, a 2006 Paul Smart with some minor modifications and a full Termi exhaust with ECU.

Steady Girls, eh? I’ve written about the first two bikes before, but some might wonder where my 999S went. Well, there’s a bit of a story there that includes a lesson of sorts. The lesson I learned from my 999S wasn’t that it was a bad bike, but rather that it was a bad bike for me. It seemed to whisper sweet things into my helmet once underway. “You can take that 15 MPH curve at 70.” Or on a more sinister note, “… you know I don’t really start running right until it’s at least three digits on that speedometer, don’t you?”

No matter how I tried to resist those whispers, it seemed inevitable that sooner rather than later I would end up having a one-way discussion with an officer of the law (what we call half-duplex communication). So, what to do? Well, this is where the rule of “buy what you can ride, ride what you can keep, keep what won’t get you into trouble” comes into play. While there was nothing inherently wrong with the 999S, it was a bike that demanded to be ridden, and (in my opinion) was a shameful waste on me.

If I were still living in California (where the S2R1000 wasn’t actually fast enough with stock gearing to run comfortably down the super-speedways there), or in Virginia or Maryland (where literally thousands of curves await straightening out in the Appalachian Mountains), it would have been something for the record books. As that isn’t the case, I can only look back and wonder what might have been different if I had gone the Superbike route as my first bike. However, being as that didn’t happen and I don’t have those lush playgrounds in my back yard anymore, it was time to make a change.

So, how hard is it to get a Playboy Playmate off my hands? Well, there is an old saying that no matter how hot a woman is; someplace, somewhere, there is a guy who is fed up with her. Such was the 999S. Everyone was stunned by her good looks, but they didn’t want to step up to the plate. What’s that about super hot women? They’re lonely because every guy is so intimidated by their looks (and performance?) that no one will ever ask them out. In my case, it was me seeking out someone with a HOTTER Playmate and asking them if they wanted to trade (and so my 999S became a 2006 Paul Smart).

Argue with me on this if you will, but the Paul Smart is that stunningly simple woman who needs no makeup or flashy jewelery to stop all conversation when she walks into a room. She’s capable, smooth, and won’t be rushed. The Superbikes are glitz and glamor with spectacular moves, but they’re HIGH MAINTENANCE demanding ALL your attention ALL of the time. You have a fling with a Superbike, you have an affair (of the decades variety) with a motorcycle like the Paul Smart.


It may be a messy relationship, but it’s never dull.

Ken

26 July 2010 – Something in the water?

I’ve posted before about my views of what I call “one-percenters” – those rarest of people who just plain think differently that the rest of us and have different expectations for customer service. In actuality, it’s more like one-tenth of one percent. I have thousands of customers, and only have 8 people on my one-percenter list. I think that’s pretty damn good. After being in business 8 years, there are only 8 people who I’ve made a mental note to never sell to again. The weird thing is that until last month, there were only 5 people on the list. I don’t think I’ve changed my attitude recently, so I’m a bit perplexed at things. Is it something in the water that Ducati owners may have drank?  IDK. Here’s a recap of events.

1. Customer wanted to get a free Hottie calendar with his preordered ST4S silicon hose set. When things fell apart with you know who, I circular-filed the calendars. Customer wanted a rebate for the price of the calendar, even though he never paid for one and the promotion said “while supplies last”. He got pissy over the lack of a calender, so I threw him into the circular file as well.

2.  I responded to series of emails from the customer up to his placing an order. He ordered the day I decided to leave for a 3 day weekend in the mountains, so I couldn’t ship until I got back. He got angry that I wouldn’t be able to ship the next day saying his bike had been laid up for 2 months and now I was the cause of him not being able to get things back together. I kindly responded that my customer service obviously didn’t match his needs, so I refunded his money and sent him politely on his way.

3. This was the worst ever.  Customer had placed quite a few orders with me over the past year. Several weeks ago he praised me that I’d get all of his business from now on (big red flag — a lot of flattery may mean mood swings). He ordered a fuel-injection box from me and sent me a question that hit my mailbox at 9 at night as I was climbing into bed. I was tired so waited until the next morning to reply. When I awoke a terse email was waiting for me that since I didn’t respond to his earlier email he would never order from me again (see, the mood swing… I told you). I used my canned response that I was sorry that my customer service didn’t match his needs and that it was best if our business relationship ceased. The customer then contacted Paypal and filed fraud cases against me for that order, plus the previous 3 orders, then sent me an email saying that he hoped I had fun dealing with Paypal. Oh yeah, he also called me a douch bag (I thought douch has an “e” on the end, but I decided not to correct him).

So there you have it. That’s a trifecta for a two month span. Is it something in the water? The luck of the draw? I don’t know. I’m careful to not let such occurrences effect my relationships with other customers, just as I don’t let any bad student experiences effect how I deal with other students. It does cause my blood pressure to go up though. Last week was particularly bad because sales decided to drop 50% for no apparent reason, so I didn’t need the customer issue. I’m getting better at not sweating the little things, but when it’s your business it’s hard to not take things personally.  My motto has always been that life is too short to put up with people lacking civility. If people wore such signs, they’d be a lot easier to spot. Of course, I don’t know how that would work for an e-business. 

Enjoy your work week.

TTYL – LT

22 July 2010 – Decompressing

I’ve been decompressing of late, enjoying my workouts and my careers, and getting out and about on the weekends. One thing I’ve gotten away from is the constant bombardment of all things motorcycles. The bikes will continue to cower in climate-controlled conditions until the Fall, and I’m not spending much time in the workshop. This affords me some respite to charge my batteries for the sport. No man can survive on motorcycling alone. By taking some time away from the hobby/sport/pasttime, I have managed to keep it a staple of my lifestyle for a long time, since 1995 and the birth of the motorcycle club I started, and further back still to 1985 and my first bike. I would argue that unless there is balance with the hobby, burnout is inevitable. I’ve teetered on the verge of burnout from motorcycles in years past, so I know the symptoms and the methods to restore vitality in that arena. I have no complaints though. Motorcycling has been good to me, and for the most part I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my life with them. 

I don’t have much other news to report. DT is doing well, I’m healthy and fit, and the stars seem aligned for other endeavors. I have a few product ideas I may resurrect in coming months. I’m refocusing on maintenance items rather than bling. The tightness in customer wallets continues, and recurring maintenance seems to exhaust disposable incomes for many enthusiasts. I understand completely.

Have a good weekend. I know I will.

TTYL – LT

19 July 2010 – What is possible

I was out at the beach this past weekend. I was amazed at how much Pensacola beach has healed. I’m sure if you dig down in the sand you’ll find some oil, but the water was clean and the sand was white again. There’s a bad algae bloom, but other than that the water was fine.

I haven’t been following racing very much lately. I manage to check out the results, but I’ve watched few races this year. I’d probably be more dedicated if the Marlboro and the Xerox teams were doing better, so maybe I’m a band-wagon racing enthusiast. There are worse things to be.

The latest issue of Cycle World had a shot of the limited edition Biaggi replica Aprilia V-4. Drool Drool. Of course, it’s priced similarly to a D16, so I’ll worship it from afar. Both it and the D16 throw off about as much heat as a Bugatti Veyron, so I’d put them in the class of the MV F4… Winter bikes!

Michael Lock, pres of DNA is stepping down after a 7 year reign. Ducati is a lot better off now compared to when he took over, but there’s a lot more of the storm to weather before they can breathe easy. They’ve got to start thinking of a superbike redesign in the next few years and prices of bikes are not conducive to the wallets of cash-strapped customers.

I was at the gym today, grimacing through another tough workout. As I always do, I did some people-watching, noting both the physiques and techniques. I used to lamant my body structure, cursing my genes and the slender frame that I have. Now I’m grateful for being trim, and work as best I can to shape things within sensible possibilities. I will never be a power-lifter. I’m just not built for it. Some exercises I excel at simply because of the body structure I have. I’ve learned to work on those things that I’m weak at and capitalize on those areas where I’m already strong. I’m also much better about using good form. That isn’t necessarily the case of my fellow gym attendees. I see awful form, bad routines and bad physiques everywhere. I don’t critisize the physiques. I do chuckle to myself when I see bad form. Sometimes I tell one of the staff when I see somebody doing something that I feel is dangerous to them, but otherwise I keep my mouth shut. Pulled muscles are a good way to remind oneself of what to do and not to do. I learned the hard way, and so will many of them.

The reason I bring up this working out stuff is because my analogy relates to motorcycling. I have virtues and vices as a rider based on my physique and mental capacities. I’m very good at long-distance riding, can handle very tall bikes due to my inseam, am fairly quick through a turn, and can fix just about anything that breaks. I’m not good when the going gets hot, have no patience for a lot of stop and go stuff, don’t like bikes with high rear-sets, and don’t like bikes that throw off a lot of heat. In terms of riding, I try to work on those areas where I’m weak and capitalize on those areas when I’m strong. But I have vices and virtues based on me as a rider. As Clint Eastwood said “a man has got to know his limitations”. I think he’s mostly right. In order to capitalize on your full potential you really have to work hard and dedicate effort in those areas. I pick and choose my fights because there isn’t enough time to do everything I want to, either as a rider or as a career chamelion.  Being the best you can be can be taken three ways – either to imply being the best at those things you are already good at, good in some now arena or overall as a sort of decathlete.  I’d rather be a generalist, knowing a little of everything. Society pays for specilization though, so doing something better than somebody else is important.  I just try to focus my energies on those things that either offer the most satisfaction or are preventative. Hence my career schizoprenia and workout penchants. I’m just glad to be at a place where I can discern what’s really important, what is possible and to reconcile the two.

TTYL – LT

13 July 2010 – The Good Old Days

We all have images of the “good old days”, those magical times in our mind’s eye when things were right in the world and life was simpler. Those memories are usually constructed realities based on faulty memories, but I won’t burst your bubble with the facts. I have my own memories of the Good Old Days. Here are my random remembrances of a better time.

1. When you could fill your gas tank with a few bucks.

2. When there was no fuel-injection for motorcycles, you could correct leanness with a change of jets and o2 sensors were the stuff of Popular Mechanics. 

3. When hi-test was king and you could afford race fuel for weekend runs with your buddies.

4. When an enviromental disaster was you spilling a quart of oil in the garage and you had no knowledge of the millions of gallons of oil being pumped into the Gulf.

5. When you had time to do all the things you wanted to do but no money to do it.

6. When your gal was unfaithful to you, they put her in the center of the town square, shaved her head and ridiculed her. No wait, that was Nazi sympathizers in Belgium, Holland and France at the end of the War. Just wishful thinking on my part.

7. When there was no such thing as internet dating, and you just drank myself silly between relationships. Just kidding, I’m sure you didn’t drink… just masturbate incessantly.

8. When you could fit everything you owned into a pickup truck and move anywhere because you had no ties.

9. When you had more close friends than motorcycles in your garage. Wait, is that only a pertinent fact to me?

10. When pulled muscles healed over night and you could use your Johnson to hammer nails.

Ah, the good old days. I’m sure you have similar tales to tell…. or not. Enjoy your workweek. My sense of humor seems to be returning. Hopefully the smartass in me will remain under lock and key.

TTYL – LT

12 July 2010 – Mountains and Beaches

I had a good time in the mountains this past weekend. It’s always tough to determine which weapon to take up there. It was calling for rain on Friday night, the temps looked damn hot and the cabin we rented was at the end of a steep gravel road. That killed any idea of riding. I also didn’t want to throw a bike in the back of the truck because I didn’t have the inclination to load all the crap and then have to load/unload from a gas station in the mountains. I also didn’t want to just take the truck becuse it isn’t very fun in the mountains. Then there was the idea of the Boxster-S. 350 miles each way of slab and the steep gravel road scared me out of taking that. In the end I chose the lowly Kia Forte Koup. Boy did I make the right choice. I know, it’s a Korean car. The Forte is their first attempt at a sporty car with some oomph and handling capabilities. It won’t win any awards for acceleration, but the 2.4 liter is pretty peppy, and is a pretty good compromise between performance and fuel economy. It did rain on Friday night and the gravel drive was indeed steep. Thanks to the front wheel drive on the Kia (I’m not a fan of front wheel drive in a sports car), it scooted right up the driveway. The first thing I did after getting to the cabin was strip all the loose items out of the Kia. I mean EVERYTHING. Anything not in the center console or glove box was vacated. If you’ve ever thrown a sports car around a mountain road, you know what can happen to stuf f inside the car — they become projectiles. Once the car was empty, I proceeded to take out my frustrations on the mountain roads. The Kia was unflappable. I slung it as hard as I could into corners and it didn’t flinch. Sure the Porsche handles better, but it doesn’t handle THAT much better. I was simply amazed. By bracing my left leg against the door and my right leg against the center console I kept myself still while corner carving. A 5 pt harness would have been better, but overkill as well.  There were a lot of bikes up in the mountains, but I never saw one in my rear view mirror and a lot moved over to let me by. Between the roads, the sight-seeing and the vineyards, much fun was had. The cabin was awesome too. A big thanks to the Heltons and the amenities in their cabin. The hot tub didn’t hurt either.

Last week I decided to try out Pensacola Beach to see if there was any change in the conditions. The only people on the beach were the cleanup workers. They’re doing the best they can, but there’s only so much they can do. Granted I only perused the stretch towards Ft. Pickens, but I’m guessing Casino Beach has similar issues. The workers are scooping up the big tar balls, but there are minute little ones everywhere. And they’re more like tar paddies than tar balls. The entire beach needs to be scooped up and purged of the oil, something they aren’t about to do. I braved the smell and the toxic looking surf to go for a walk. By the time I returned the bottoms of my feet were black from oil and I reeked of it. I had to crank the A/C on high on the way home just to keep the smell bearable. A quick shower removed the offending Texas Tea. The cleanup workers were all properly garbed except for one thing — no respirator. You can expect there to be lawsuits from the workers in years to come should they come down with respiratory ailments… which some will. There’s no way you can breathe that in without there being damage. I walked across to the sound side and it was fine, but people come to the beach to see the Gulf, not the sound. It will be a hard sell for Pensacola Beach to encourage visitors with these beaches. There was a park ranger at the end of the boardwalk and I chatted with her. She said the water was fine but I should wash when I got out. You’ve got to be kidding. There’s no way I’d swim in that. You can see the oil in the water and the entire surf looks like some molten concoction. It’s just too depressing. I’m staying away for awhile. Officials can put on the brave face all they want, but it’s a disaster. I should have a one-day sale the day that the CEO of BP is canned. All I can remember is his two infamous quotes “I want my life back” and “it’s just a drop in the ocean”. What an Fing moron. The beaches will heal just fine in the coming months/years. I’m just glad my livelihood doesn’t depend on the Gulf.

TTYL – LT

9 July 2010- Local ride planned for Sunday (Mark)

Brad and I are going to try for a local ride Sunday morning. He used the term “early”. Our usual meet up spot is at the Whataburger on Stewart Street in Milton. I suspect he’d like to get together around 0700. If interested give me a call. I will post up the time when it’s coordinated via an “update” to this blog post.
Weather looks marginal but we’re hopeful the rain stays away. Enjoy your weekend wether riding or zip lining.

*****UPDATE:  DEPARTING the Whataburger at 0630.  Show early if you plan to eat there before riding.  Gonna be another scorcher so we plan to beat the heat.

5 July 2010 – The weekly deluge of random thoughts

The trip from the house to the Ark now has to go by this check point. Damn, I hate chin-ups.

What makes a house a home? I think good memories are very important in making a house a home. It helps if the interior furnishings give off positive vibes as well.  I’ve lived in my current house for 10 years now. That’s the longest span I’ve spent in any one spot since I was a kid. Do I like my current house? It’s okay. I love the property, but after being in Destin and Seaside this past weekend, I wouldn’t mind living at the beach. I’ll decide in the next year whether I want to keep this place. I think once the collection is pared down, I’ll decide to sell and move onto something else. This weekend we’ll be traveling to the Georgia Mountains, and that will probably remind me how nice it is up there.  I have a lot of good memories in my current house, but some bad memories cloud things. The house will always feel like it was for Suzi and me, and more recently other memories have filled it. I can wipe out the interior decor and change things, but houses have the ability to hold in memories. I think it’s easier to fill a house with new memories than move, so that’s what I’m trying to do. But coming back from Destin really didn’t fill me with excitement. When I feel that way, it’s usually time to take some more trips. I’m not much of a homebody anyway, so that’s cool.

I had a great time in Destin last weekend. I enjoyed the beach, ate great food, did a lot of shopping to upgrade my wardrobe, saw a nice fireworks display, worked at refining my martini-making skills, and received reaffirmation that I’m a lot smoother on a motorcycle than I am on the dance floor. The weather was spectacular as well, so it was a great trip.  I was also reminded that there is a LOT of money in the Destin/Grayton Beach/Seaside area. The people are also WAY better looking there than in Pcola, and the environs are nothing short of idyllic. We were chatting at breakfast about why people looked better in Destin and equated it to money and status. So does that mean ugly or fat people don’t have money? I don’t know what the deal is. All I’m saying is that there seem to be better looking people there. It’s kind of like why good looking people seem to shop at Target instead of  Walmart. Anyway, back to Destin…. I think I like their beaches better than Pensacola’s. They aren’t as deep or vast as the Pensacola beaches but they are more proximate to the condos and roads. I guess they’re just diffferent, and I like different.  Of course, they weren’t tainted with oil, which helps in the appeal category. The only thing I don’t like about Destin is how much more developed it is compared to Pensacola. There are endless stretches of condos and high rises. Still, you really don’t want to come back home after vacationing there, and that’s the mark of a good vacation spot. Unfortunately, I don’t live there, so I had to return. I’ll only be here for 3 days though, then we’ll head to the mountains for a wine-tasting tour on Friday, followed by an adventure zipline course near Atlanta on Saturday. Yes, I’m going to pay good money to abuse my body for half a day while I soar down ziplines and climb along rope bridges. We’re looking forward to it. We reserved a cabin at the top of a mountain in Suches for Thursday and Friday nights, but I won’t have time to do any riding. I know, it’s a crime to go to Suches and not be able to ride, but we have other priorities.  I’ve been meaning to do the wine-tasting thing again after doing it last Summer with Scott and Kelly. I was the third-wheel with them when we hit 5 or 6 vineyards. Most people in the Southeast don’t know it, but North Georgia is sprinkled with a bunch of vineyards. They lack the grandeur of Napa Valley, but they’re still neat. Speaking of Napa Valley, I’ve only been through there once. Back in my Master’s Degree days at Arizona State, I owned a Kawasaki Concours and little else. I sojourned over to the coast from Phoenix, rode across the Golden Gate bridge, and headed up into Napa Valley. I spent 3 days riding from vineyard to vineyard. I’d wine-taste, indulge a bit too much, and rack out next to my bike until I was sober enough to ride to the next vineyard. I don’t know about now, but back then it was free to wine-taste. And no, I’m not an alcoholic. I just thought it was important to cross that rite of passage off my list of things to do. I had a blast. Riding through the Sierras on the way back was probably the best part of the trip. Well, that, and the free wine was pretty cool.

I’m lining up my trips for the fall. One dilemma is a double event. I want to participate in the Warrior Run in Nov from Atlanta to Tampa, but that coincides with a conference in Hawaii that I want to attend. If I can take who I want to take with me to Hawaii, that will seal the deal. Otherwise I’ll abuse my body again for the marathon. Of course, that depends on my knee cooperating. My doc appt is less than a week away. I ran last weekend on the beach and the knee felt great. It’s funny how it feels fine when running but walking is sometimes painful.

Biz is usually slow during the 4th of July, so that gave me time to catch up. I’m almost finished with Seth’s M900. I did the airbox mods and mounted the flatslides. All that is left is bolting everything to the airbox and installing a new battery. The flatslides are fairly plug and play, and rarely require much in the way of synching.  Once his bike is complete, the shop will be empty… again. I’ve toyed with the idea of selling flatslide kits on my website, but there are just too many fitment issues. Between the airbox chopping required, the throttle tube and cable assembly mods and cable routing I’d spend too much time answering question. I suppose a tutorial would help. Hmm, we’ll see. There isn’t much money in selling the damn things anyway, and stocking a $700 part isn’t my idea of JIT inventorying.  All that supply-chain crap looks good in the textbook, but schoolbook solutions discount uncertain lead times.

Every once in awhile I get an email from a customer indicating they are in town from some distant point, and they wish to drop by to see the place. I have to remind them that I don’t keep normal hours. I’m also careful about who I let see my toys. This isn’t a museum, and I’m not about to start treating it as such. I hope they don’t get offended, but there’s a reason this is a side business. My plans to have retail hours and a full-time staffer went out the window a few months ago.  

There are only 4 weeks of Summer school left. I was concerned about whether the events of April and early May would pollute my attitude in the classroom. That hasn’t been an issue. I don’t know whether it is because I have good classes or the possibility that I’m getting back to the old “me” from last year, but things have been awesome. Lectures have been fun (for me anyway), and I look forward to heading into campus each day. I’m already plotting what to do with the 2 weeks off I have at the beginning of August. To the beach or the mountains?… again, that depends on the company I keep.

Although it was nice to see Stoner get a podium, Lorenzo’s Yamaha is making things pretty dull. You just watch it unfold, waiting for him to check out. The rest of the field gave him a race though. Well, half a race anyway.  There are rumors that Val is switching to Ducati, but I’ll believe it when I hear the words from his agents’ mouth. The rumor is that that Stoner will jump to Honda for next year. That will leave Ducati scrambling to fill his slot. I’m sure you’ve all seen the spy shots of the mega Monster. I don’t get the concept, but who am I to question Ducati’s skunkworks.

We had our first weekly meet last week. One of the problems with meeting weekly is that people will blow off some weeks thinking they can always come the following week. We’ll see how things go this week. If attendance is scarce, we may make it the first TH of each month. Gee, how many times have we been through this in the 15 years we’ve been having get-togethers?  Talk about reinventing the wheel. I can’t make this week’s meet anyway. I’m leaving right after work on TH for the mountains.

 This will be the only post this week, so there are a lot of random thoughts. My apologies.

TTYL – LT