Monday, November 16, 2009


This post is just me venting. I'm disturbed by humans and how crass we can be. Let me explain: On Saturday evening I got called out for an accident on I17. It was at mile post 306, right at Stoneman Lake exit. The accident happened at about 5 or so in the evening and by the time I got there it was nearing 6. A Dodge pickup truck was sitting perpendicular to the road with the rear bumper sitting on the guardrail. The truck had been traveling north, towing an empty tow dolly. It crossed the median, ending up in the southbound lane. When I went to assess the damage to the guardrail I also looked at the truck. The front end was smashed and the driver's door was gone. I looked around and saw the door laying under the guardrail on the other side of the road. Then I realized that there was a body under the guardrail as well. Not the kind of thing I need to see but it's part of the job. The clean up of the accident took a long time. Whenever there is a death on the highway the police officers must treat the scene as a crime scene. That means that they measure tire tracks, survey debris, etc. It takes forever. When they were through I went to ask if there was an ETA on the medical examiner. The officer told me that there had been a mix up with communication and that it could be a bit longer. Finally, around 11:30 the examiner's van showed up. Two guys got out, grabbed the guy by the hands, pulled him from under the guardrail and unceremoniously plopped him on a gurney. In the act of pulling him from the guardrail the victim's pants were pulled partially off. There was no effort made to adjust the pants or reposition his shirt. In short dignity was not part of what they did. Dignity in death. Gosh, we all hope for that. I'll warn you; there's no dignity in death if you die on the side of the road and the coroner comes to get you. This guy had been under the guardrail for at least 6 hours and then thrown on a gurney by guys who didn't seem to have any respect. If the victim's loved ones knew of the apparent disrespect I think they would be mortified.

Ok, I'm through and I promise to avoid being maudlin in the future.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wow, it's been since June 2. I'm a slacker. The real situation is that I've become addicted to Facebook. It's Lela's fault. And Andrea DeCarlo's. And Mary Lynne's. Oh heck, it's everybody who talks to me there. I've decided to slow my participation, mostly to see if I can. Gentle withdrawal. I hope I don't get the shakes.

It's coming on winter. I think I may have mentioned a time or two that I hate snow. I don't hate winter, I just hate snow. And bitter cold. We've already had some frigid temps. On the way to work this morning the computer in the car said 13 degrees. Let me reiterate; 13 freaking degrees. Too cold to ride The Beast. Some of the folk on Facebook from Phoenix are just getting their bikes out of storage for the riding season. Shouldn't I live there? Yes. But not if I want to live with Linda. And I want to live with Linda. But now if I want to ride I'll have to scrape the frost off the seat. Maybe we could compromise; Linda can have June, July and August in Flagstaff and I get the rest of the time in Phoenix. Yeah, sounds good to me.

Lots happened this summer. I'm feeling the need to expound on it. Of course a good deal of it involved wheels; two and four at a time. Next post will be in a day or two.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've got this thing that I do that may seem a little odd, but it works for me. I have a cordless razor which I keep in the car. On my way home I shave. That way if Linda wants to make out I'm ready. No stubble to scratch her lovely face. I don't shave in the morning because I don't care if the reprobates I work with see me with stubble. Linda matters way more than they do. One flaw in the system is that because the razor is in the car I usually don't shave on Sunday mornings before church. Not a big deal. I've probably gone somewhere on Saturday and taken that opportunity to shave. But on the way to church I've got on a tie which makes shaving difficult.

Last Saturday, Lela went to Sakura, the local Teppanyaki style restaurant. She came back raving about the sushi. Yes, Lela, who doesn't like using the same deep fryer I use because I've cooked fish in it, was raving about the sushi. Goes to show, you never know. Well, it was nothing doing except we all had to go to Sakura for dinner last night. We invited Ron, Karla and Aaron Brewster to join us.

The flaw in my shaving on the way home plan is that sometimes the razor quits in the middle of a shave. No warning; just quits. So, I get one side of the face whisker free but the other side has little tiny hairs. By Monday afternoon it can be a bit unsightly. Of course it happened yesterday, a Monday, the evening of our Sakura adventure. Left side clean; right side hairy. So, to keep everyone from noticing my whiskers I knocked my water glass over, spilling water all over myself and breaking the glass in the process. No one saw the whiskers because of the scramble to get away from the rapidly spreading water. I was wearing white jeans which got soaked, but it could have been worse; it could have been Coke. By the time we got all that cleaned up it was time for the Teppanyaki chef to come and do his thing, flipping shrimp, making onion volcanoes and such. When that happens they turn the lights down making my whiskers unnoticeable. Life is good. The sushi was good too.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Buffett, not buffet

Thursday, May 14 was a lucky day for me. It was 777 days left 'til retirement and also the day that my kids took me to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Phoenix. Absolutely great concert. It was the four of us and it's nice to be together. The weather started out a bit warm, too warm for Linda, but by the time the sun set it was really nice. Jimmy played many of the songs I'd hoped for. The band played for over two hours but there are so many good Buffett songs that he just didn't have time for them all. One of the interesting things was the diversity of the crowd. We had lawn seats so we were amongst a large group of folk who were standing and sitting on the lawn. There were many people my age, most of whom were dressed in Hawaiian style shirts. Then there were the younger people, some of whom couldn't afford shirts. That's ok for the guys but not so good for the girls. Right in front of us were several girls who came to the concert despite their lack of upper attire. I think they were trying to get money for new clothes because they kept rubbing up against the guys, probably trying to pry the guy's wallets out of their pants. Or something. Anyway, it was a great show from right in front of us all the way to the stage.

Today is Saturday. I spent much of the day under Linda's van with Lela. We worked hard to change out the O2 sensors. One came out right quick but the second one took us literally two hours. There just wasn't much room for wrench twisting. We were able to cut wires off and make the removal SLIGHTLY easier, but when installing the new one we didn't have that option. We had to put the wrench on the nut, twist as best we could, turn the wrench over, twist a little, turn the wrench over, twist as best we could. It took us forty-five minutes to turn about 1/2 inch of threads into the fitting. I just could NOT have done it without Lela. She keeps right up with me and in most cases is ahead of me. She can anticipate what needs to be done next and help prepare, but best of all, she can see how it works and therefore figure how it comes apart and goes back together. She gets greasy with me and doesn't seem to mind. The real difference is that she looks better than me when she cleans up. We are both sore and I've taken some hard drugs for the pain in my shoulder.

Linda, Mary Lynne and Brandon got some good stuff done around the yard. The most visible thing was that they replaced the carpeting on the entrance to the playhouse. It looks good. They did a nice job.

The hard drugs are kicking in and I'm off to sleep.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bikes, 'Birds and the "May as Wells"

Phil, Angela and I went to the Harley dealership in Belmont yesterday where Angela traded in her Victory Kingpin for the Harley pictured above. Really nice ride. The Victory was nice as well but it just didn't quite fit her right. The new bike is similar to the one she rode to Laughlin last year. Come to think about it, almost exactly a year ago.

Its been quite a year. We're doing stuff I'd never dreamed that we'd do. It never occurred to me that Linda and I would be bikers. Yeah, if you can call a nearly 57 year old fat guy with no hair a biker. And if you called Linda a biker to her face she'd slap you. Regardless, I like riding. But I like having my family with me as well, so my mechanical pursuits this summer will center around the Thunderbird. Not so much to be done but some of it is rather daunting. I have a new dashboard that I want to install. Not just the dash pad, but the whole board. That means a complete teardown of the dash assembly. It's not usually the planned work that is a problem for me, it's the case of the "May as wells". I once pulled the engine out of a '63 Caddy because I wanted to change the battery cable end. Meaning I'm afraid of what I'll end up doing behind the dashboard. I'm figuring on all new vacuum hoses, but what about dash light bulbs? And taking the instruments apart for cleaning and sealing? I'm sure it will get worse as I get deeper into the project.

We just got home from church. A couple of good talks. I'm probably related to one of the speakers but we haven't figured out how yet. Mom may have some info for me.

Ok, one more little gripe and then off I go to watch "The Yellow Rolls Royce"; I'm waiting until November so that I have enough leave time to be off for a few weeks because I need some repair on my right shoulder. In the mean time, right now I'm in a bit of pain. Actually, quite a bit. I can't take any hard drugs because I'm on call. If the pager goes off and I need to go push rocks off of the highway on 89A I can't be loopy. Driving the plow truck takes all of my concentration. Especially going down the switchbacks. It's fun, but I need to be awake. Ah, and in the bottom of the canyon is a Dairy Queen!

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Toys and Presents

Lots happening but little of it interesting. The best thing in the last couple of months is that Linda and the girls got me an early birthday present. Tickets to the Jimmy Buffett concert in May. Linda must truly like me 'cause she is accompaning me to Phoenix for the concert. It's May, and the possibility of triple digit temperatures is high. That's how I'll be feeling though; high. Just from the music. I have a message board in my garage which says, among other things, " If you don't like Jimmy Buffett you're in the WRONG garage." I have a 50 disc CD changer in the garage. I usually listen to two discs; # 1 which is a compilation of Buffett songs I put together several years ago, and #2 which is a copy of #1. Just in case #1 gets scratched. Gotta have back up. Anyway, looking forward to it. It's GOT to be better than the Gordon Lightfoot concert we went to last fall.

The Flagstaff Six went to Cameron last Saturday for a short ride. Navajo tacos all around. Except for Angela who just has to be 15 degrees off center. She had a hamburger. She ended up not liking it. Ha! The tacos the rest of us had were huge, and I mean huge! Lin and I split one and didn't finish a quarter of our halves. There was at least four cows worth of cheese on top of each half. And two cans of green chilies. But what we did eat was really good. Next time we'll split a mini. Or I'll get my usual Navajo stew.

I spent too much money and bought a swell communication system for The Beast. I'm thinking that if it's gonna take naps (see the post of January 17th) then I'll need some way to wake it up. Shouting into a CB from another bike just might do it. Dang thing.

I saw a Tow Pac kit on Craigslist which I think I could adapt to Frankenbike. If I can just get Linda to agree..... This kit makes a bike into a trike. Actually a fourk. Or whatever you call it when the cycle has four wheels. We've been looking at them for several months but they usually run around $3500.00. This one is less than 1/2 that. Lin would ride with me if she could drive a trike instead of a bike.

Ok, off to play cribbage with the family. Great to spend time with them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Random Things I've Learned

Things I've learned in the last few years:

If you don't like snow, don't live where it snows. And if you push snow for a living you will soon learn to not like snow.

Pepsi may be for those who think young but Coke is for those who think they think young. I drink Coke.

Camping is for those who ARE young. Even with a 1 ton pickup and a 14 1/2 foot camper, I still end up sleeping on rocks. On a related note:

Smoked meat is different than meat with smoke on it. One is on purpose and the other is because you can't get away from it when eating around a campfire.

Ashes follow smoke. Ashes can be hot and don't taste good.

If your dog sleeps on the bed with you it doesn't take long before you're sleeping on rocks even at home.

If there's a "Concert of the Century" it will snow on that day and I won't get to go.

True friends and family will stand behind you, even when they know better and have told you so, but you screw up any way.

The day you've worked the hardest and need the hot tub the most is the day you will have forgotten to turn the controls from "Economy" to "Standard" so the tub is only 87 degrees.

The number 1 thing I've learned in the last few years is that when you are getting ready for bed and put your bedtime pie snack on your night stand, and your dog can get on the bed, by the time you get out of the shower you won't have any pie.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Beast has narcolepsy. That's the only explanation I've got for what happened today. Four of the Flagstaff 6 went for a ride. Mostly to ride, but we said it was to get out of the cold. Just a short jaunt down I17 to Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Sedona and then up Oak Creek Canyon with the obligatory stop at the Dairy Queen. The ride started off inauspiciously but wasn't without problems. Really just the one, but that one was enough. After a pleasant but quick trip on the interstate to Camp Verde we went through Cottonwood to Sedona where we made our planned stop at Kaiser's for lunch. Good food and good conversation. Post lunch we took a couple of side roads away from Sedona out into the Red Rock country. Really pretty and some fun twisties to play in. I was feeling pretty confident about my riding abilities and was having no trouble keeping up with Phil and Angela. Then when it was time to head home we stopped in Sedona, fueled up and headed up the canyon.

The Dairy Queen parking lot is large and covered in hard packed gravel. When we approached the lot, I twisted the throttle and got a little ahead of Phil. As I pulled off into the lot I noticed that the others were not following me and were pulling off onto the right side of the road. As I turned to see where they were going, The Beast decided there was a good place to nap, so it laid over on it's left side and turned itself off. As it began it's nap I stepped off. I didn't want to disturb it, after all it can't be easy hauling me all over the place. I figure if it needs a rest I should let it have one. I'm sure the people buying Indian jewelery from the stands there in the parking lot thought that I was a doofus and laid it down because I don't know how to ride. They don't understand about an obscure disease like narcolepsis motorcyclus. I hadn't heard much about it myself until The Beast contracted the disease.

After a little while I asked Angela and Jeff to help me wake the machine up. They came and assisted. It took the three of us but after much grinding of teeth we got it up on the kickstand. Life was good again. An ice cream cone ended all my worries. All in all a good day. The worst day riding is better than the best day at work.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cruisin' whith Pablo

"The days keep on gettin' longer, the desire to leave keeps on gettin' stronger." "Worlds Away" by Pablo Cruise, one of the best forgotten bands of the 70's.

It's January and the days are getting longer. Thank heaven. But with every snowfall my desire to leave Flagstaff keeps on getting stronger. Have I ever mentioned that I hate snow? Well, I hate snow! My brother Jeff says snow is white fungus. I think its God's punishment for all those people who rode their dirt bikes on Sundays in the summer. Well I didn't ride my dirt bike on Sunday, how come I have to be punished?

Part of what I do for a living is push the fungus off the interstate. Some of what happens out there is just weird. Remember the joke about the not so bright girl who follows the snow plow and follows the snow plow? After a bit the plow driver stops and goes back to ask the young lady what she is doing. She tells him that her dad had told her to follow the snow plow and she would be safe. The driver says "Ok, but I'm through with the Wal-Mart lot and now I'm going to do K-Mart." It's true; people follow the snow plow.

I plow I17 between Flagstaff and just south of Kachina Village. We've had some pretty significant snow storms this winter and during the worst of the storm people will line up behind me. I look in the mirror and see a line behind me for what seems like miles. And in reality it could be miles, I can't see the end of the line. Well, I plow the left lane for quite a while but eventually I need to turn around and go back the other way. I slowly move over to the right lane in order to take the exit and of course the entire line of cars moves over to the right lane with me. That part's ok, but when I take the exit and the first 17 cars follow me up the exit ramp I think that's pretty funny. When I turn left and go over the bridge across the interstate and 6 of them follow me, that's hilarious. But then when I get across the bridge and stop on the on ramp to clear my windows and they wait behind me, that's just stupid.

I'll let you in on a little secret: Plow drivers can't see any better in the snow than you can. In fact you can see better! Consider these parameters: A civilian's headlights are down below his line of sight. The lights illuminate the road in front of the vehicle less than the snow. A plow driver's lights are up high, above the plow when the plow is raised. That means that the lights are shining on the snow more than they are the road and the driver is looking down through the lit snow trying to see the road. I get white out conditions long before you do.

One more little fact: These days we are putting out SALT behind us. Not cinders like the old days. Salt is not a good traction device. In fact, I'm plowing off the snow, leaving a thin layer of ICE behind me. Until the salt has a chance to work, sometimes as long as 15 minutes, right behind me is the worst place to be. Move over into the other lane. Even if it's slushy. Slush will give you more traction than ice. Slow down! Everybody just slow down! I see way too many accidents out there. Cars and trucks upside down with families standing out in the snow wishing they had slowed down. That is those who CAN stand out in the snow. Some folk aren't so lucky. They are trapped in the ride or worse. Plow drivers hate to see accidents. Please slow down in the storms. Your safety and that of others with you and in the cars around you, is more important than getting to your destination sooner.

One other fact: snow isn't good for riding motorcycles in. I've had a ride planed with members of the Flagstaff 6 for several weekends. We've not been able to go for various reasons, not the least of which is the danged SNOW! I hate snow. And then on one the nicest weekends of late, I am on call so I can't leave town. The whole idea is to get out of here; go south where it's warm and there is no snow. Dang fungus. I'll have to content myself with making a modification to The Beast. I'm playing with some extra lights in the rear. I'll post pictures when I'm finished.

Off to sleep now. I don't get much of that lately. I've got a supraspinatus problem in my shoulder which makes it difficult to sleep due to pain. I can't take heavy duty pain killers because I might get called out at any time and I have to be able to function. Whine, whine, whine. I'll go get some cheese to go with that.