Friday, August 28, 2009


My annual exercise in sleep deprivation and my season lasting fix for baseball did not happen like I had planned it this year. My little scooter accident played a role in my not being able to participate like I usually do.

Wichita as I mentioned in a previous post has an interesting baseball history. We have had various minor league basebal teams here over the years. Our current team is known as the Wingnuts. They even had a contest to name that team and couldn't apparently come up with a better name. But I don't think the name is so bad.

Its fun to sit in the stands and yell "Go Nuts!"

We have a very old and somewhat storied ball park along the river downtown that was built as a WPA project in the 1930's. It has been refurbished and updated throughout the years and still could use some work, but it is not a bad park and is in some ways kind of fun.

To me though, the really interesting summer saga at the ballpark occurs when the National Baseball Congress tournament is held. The tournament is generally held during the first couple of weeks in August. This year is the 75th anniversary of that event. It is a semi-pro tournament and the circumstances have changed over the years, but is a fun event comprising anywhere from 30 to 40 teams coming to Wichita every year to compete in a double elimination tournament.

This tournament is the culmination of summer league baseball from leagues and teams from all over the country.

When the tournament was first established, many companies, armed forces bases and other organizations had baseball teams and competed in leagues over the summer. Many companies hired people (ringers) that maybe had some major league experience and were at the tail end of their careers, but still wanted to play ball.

The winners of some of these leagues are then invited to Wichita to play in a national tournament at the end of their respective seasons to crown a national champion.

Today's teams consist primarily of college players that join a summer league team to hone their skills and gain experience. There are two of these leagues in Kansas and various smaller towns host the teams. Players live in people's homes for a few weeks as the teams play out their schedules. These little towns go all out for their teams during the hot summer and the baseball is fun to watch.

These aren't sometimes the most experienced players and you see some really interesting "bonehead" baseball along with some really great baseball as well.

There have been many famous major league ballplayers that have passed through Wichita in this tournament before they made it big. Major league scouts frequently attend the tournament and it is not unusual to see professional scouts in the stands with their pitching speed guns all pointed at the field as a prospect is pitching.

With 40 teams participating, double elimination and only 2 weeks for the tournament, you can realize that games are played literally around the clock sometimes. Some games occur early in the morning and others very late at night.

In an effort to keep some fans in the stands during these late night games, the promoters started a contest called "Baseball 'Round the Clock" (BBRC) . Fans that want to participate get to attend an entire weekend for a nominal admission charge and If they make it through the entire weekend, they win a T-shirt and other silly prizes commemorating their stupidity.

I myself have done this 5 times. Just one of many reasons that people say I have a loose screw somewhere. And I am really not a big baseball fan. But these players are here to play for the fun of the game. They don't get paid huge salaries, and they literally play for the love of the game. Because of that, I really enjoy this kind of baseball. It is not always beautifully played, but the effort is always there and you have to appreciate that.

The best baseball game I ever saw was at this tournament. I have seen some bad baseball as well, but it certainly is fun.

The BBRC contest starts at 5:00 Friday evening and does not end until about midnight Sunday night.

Here's the catch. The BBRC participants have to check in some time during every game, but the check in time and location in the park is determined by the tournament officials. It might be anytime during the game. That keeps people from registering and not staying in the stands to watch the games. After all, part of the reason for doing this is to have some fans in the stands watching the games in the middle of the night. If they don't check in then they don't qualify to continue for the remainder of the weekend.

I know it sounds ridiculous. Sometimes the late night game might end at 4:00 am and you can get a chance to go home, take a shower, and catch a bit of sleep before you have to report back at 8:00 the next morning. Sometimes that does not even work and you get the pleasure of staying at the park all night long.

Sometimes the heat is unbearable in the middle of the day. There is of course little if any shade and If there is no breeze, well then you can imagine.

It can also be difficult to get any sleep, although many people try and you will see people with sleeping bags in the stands. The ballpark is a noisy place.

This year as a result of my injuries from my recent accident, it was not possible for me to try and do the BBRC for 2009. But that did not stop me from attending some of the games.

The Santa Barbara California Foresters were the winner of the tournament last year. We saw them play a team from Anchorage Alaska. The Foresters trailed most of the game but scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to regain the lead and that lead held up to win the game.

The next game had the San Diego Stars vs the Seattle Studs. Great name for a team. Apparently a local lumber yard in Seattle once sponsored the team, hence the name.

San Diego's starting pitcher was from the University of British Columbia. The Studs pitcher was from the University of Washington.

The final night of the tournament featured a classic display of hitting vs pitching.

The El Dorado Kansas Broncos had some good pitchers and were undefeated through the tournament. The Anchorage Alaska Glacier Pilots were a good hitting team and had only lost one game in the tournament. On the final night, if Anchorage were to win the tournament, then they had to defeat El Dorado twice.

Rain delayed the game twice during the evening, but eventually El Dorado won in the 11th inning by a score of 2-1.

The ballpark features a manual scoreboard. I parked the scooter just outside of the left field fence and took this picture of the the "dude" in charge of placing numbers on the scoreboard from the back side. What a cool job that would be.
There is lots of places to park scooters at the ballpark. If you look closely enough you can see the scratches and the crack in the side of the scooter from the recent accident.
But how about that helmet!
Next year I am likely to try the BBRC again.
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Monday, August 24, 2009


Here's some pictures of the school where I do a little part time teaching. It's a small private college originally founded by a Quaker organization in the late 1800's.

The campus is dominated by a really old (for Wichita) and beautiful building (Davis Hall) that now is used mainly for administration purposes. There is a really nice auditorium in the buiding that has amazing acoustics and they still have concerts there occasionally even though they built a new fine arts building many years ago.

Last Saturday we had a meeting for some of us adjunct instructors and I made it a goal for the week to ride the scooter to the meeting. I also wanted to take some pictures for the blog because I had written a couple of posts, but not yet taken some of the pictures I wanted to include.

This was my second ride on the scooter since the accident. I also had to visit the scene of the accident again since it was very close to the school. It was a little wierd to cross that intersection again, but there was no boogeymen waiting to make a left turn directly in front of me on that day.

My hip is still very sore, but showing steady although slow improvement each day. I plan on using the scooter for the daily commute to work starting immediately.

You know that the severity of accidents is all relative. My own accident was worse than some, but not as bad as many, and not as bad as it could have been. Many thanks to the people that convinced me that armored gear was a good idea.

But I am getting a little tired of reflecting on the accident. It is time to move on to other topics.
But I guarantee you that the experience has changed me and I will be more cautious on the road. I know it may take much longer for my hip and shoulder to heal up. I am just very thankful that the injuries will heal.
I have discovered that my riding routine will have to change a little bit with the new helmet. The new helmet fits in the top case, but not under the seat like my old one did. Therefore all the stuff that I used to carry in the topcase will now ride under the seat. Virtually everything will now be in a different place and the habits I used to have will have to change a bit, but not really a problem, just different.
Both of my children went to school here. My daughter is almost finished with her degree, just finishing up her student teaching this semester. My son graduated a few years ago and is now a high school teacher.
I am so happy that I don't have to write checks to this school anymore. In fact, now they write some checks to me for the occasional classes that I teach here. Sort of like getting them back!
This college, like a lot of others, has some traditional college age students. But. many students here are older and are going back to college to complete degrees that maybe they never finished up. Some local employers pay tuition to help employees get their degrees and the school very effectively markets for students like that.
I have been teaching accounting classes here for a couple of years. My students are not the traditional college age students and are in what the school calls a "degree completion program". They take one class at a time but can generally finish a bachelor's degree in 2 years in many cases.
The classes I teach are for 3 credit hours, but only last 5 to 8 weeks, so the study is rather intense and most of the students work full time as well.
The school has very good facilities and the business school here has good computers and audio visual equipment for instructors and students to use.
The campus is very nice with lots of gardens and other amenities.
As I walked through the campus that day I was accosted by this squirrel. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the squirrels on this campus have a reputation for not being afraid of people. But there is a sinister side to them as well as I later found out that they are secretly in charge of all surveillance activities on campus. So even though he seemed friendly to me, he was actually making sure I was not some sort of terrorist. Walking across campus in armored gear may have set off a silent alarm.
This is the building where my classes are held.
They don't pay their adjunct instructors a lot of money, but there are some other benefits. One benefit for me is that I can use some of my teaching time and count it toward the continuing education requirements that I have for my CPA designation. It saves me at least a few hundred dollars a year.
But the real reason I do it is that it is enjoyable for me and helps to keep me current in my profession and keeps me on my toes.
Then there are those moments when you see a student grasp a concept. Sort of like the proverbial light coming on when they understand something. Dan Bateman at Musings of an Intrepid Commuter has spoken very eloquently of these moments in his motorcycle safety classes. It can be a really rewarding and feel good moment. Sort of like making a difference in someone's life or abilities.
You really get many chances to connect with students. Some of those moments are priceless.
Then again, maybe I am just trying to get some of my money back!
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

15 Days After

My first ride since the accident. I was a little nervous. 2 reasons really. 1: A mental concern. What would my frame of mind be like as I rode again. Ever since the accident I wondered If I would be very timid or super-careful my first time out. I always thought I watched out for myself very well. Looked for potential dangers and tried to avoid them. Would I be too careful? Is my newly enhanced suspicion of all cage drivers going to affect my ability to enjoy the ride? 2: A physical concern. I am not entirely healthy yet. My shoulder has healed very nicely, still a bit sore, but range of motion is good and it feels strong again. The hip is another matter. It feels like every muscle attached to my hip is pulled and sore. The soreness gets better each day, but the improvement is very slow and very frustrating at times. But I no longer have to hold myself up against furniture or walls and can walk, albeit slowly, without the aid of a crutch or other device. I still walk with a bit of a limp and cannot walk very fast at all. But my scooter, Max, had been at the dealership ever since the accident and it was time to get him home. He started right up and ran beautifully all the way home. I think he survived the accident better than I did. He has some scratches and a bent turn signal bar, but otherwise he is ready to go. As I headed out, the traffic was not real heavy, but normal for a Saturday afternoon. Lots of people were out doing errands and other things. It was a bit windy, some small thunderstorms in the area. But otherwise a beautiful afternoon. I was also excited to wear my new helmet for the first time, my first full face helmet. I was a little surprised how the helmet quieted the ride. The purring of the engine was still very noticeable, but other sounds were a bit more muffled. As I rode on I was very conscious of how other drivers behaved and was very aware of the relative positions of other drivers as I went down the road. But I did not feel the need to be extra cautious and actually felt quite comfortable. The only problem I had while riding was putting my left leg down when I had to come to a stop. It was a bit sore when I did that, but not excruciating. Some thoughts occurred to me regarding a fellow blogger with an arthritic hip and the pain he must experience at times. As I rode I actually became more interested in the differences in the ride that the new helmet made. I was a bit concerned that my field of vision might be more restricted, but really did not find that to be the case. The quietness of the helmet surprised me a bit. It also seemed to catch the wind more than my old helmet. It was certainly heavier than my old helmet. So far, I like the new helmet very much. The route home was very similar to my route home from the office so the streets were all very familiar, just some new road repairs in a couple of spots. My wife had dropped me off at the dealership, intending to stop at the grocery store on her way home. I spent a little time with Lloyd at the shop as we checked a few things out on the scooter and took a few pictures. I arrived home just after my wife did. She didn't say so before dropping me off, but when I got home she said she was worried about me riding, for the same reasons I was concerned. But the ride was enjoyable and rather uneventful, which was just fine with me. In fact, today the physical concerns were probably more important to me than the mental concerns. But over time I think the physical concerns will go away almost entirely as I eventually heal. The mental concerns will stay with me a bit longer, and maybe never completely go away. It will become a part of a learning and experience process I think. The ride was about 7 miles. Maybe not a great ride, but definately a good ride! It was good to feel the air again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Storm Trooper

My journey to the dark side may now be complete. I ordered it Sunday morning through my phone to one of my favorite web sites dealing with motorcycle apparel and products. New Enough Ltd. I have ordered other products from their site and like it because they give very detailed descriptions of the products they sell. It can be very helpful, especially with size issues that you can encounter with ordering products from the internet. They also seem to have some really good closeout deals at times and this purchase was one of those. Being an accountant, I am known for being cheap. I like a good deal and this appeared to be one. Monday morning I promptly received an email confirming the order and a notice that it had been shipped with an anticipated delivery on Wednesday. The email also gave me tracking info for the Fed Ex site so I could check on the progress. Not really necessary, but kind of fun. It was like Christmas in August. I was replacing my helmet that was slightly damaged in my recent accident. This helmet was not my first choice, but my first choice was over $300 and that wasn't in the current budget. I was able to get this one for about 1/3 the price. And it had pretty good reviews from another web site that Sharon of Sojourner's Moto Tales had turned me on to recently. She has a new Scorpion helmet as well. I was really excited about the purchase. I occasionally tracked the status of the shipment and all appeared to be in order for delivery on Wednesday.
But at 7:00 on Wednesday evening, it still had not shown up at the house.
I wondered If the Grinch had suddenly appeared out of nowhere to rob all the presents from that particular Fed Ex truck.
Then at about 8:00 the doorbell rang signifying that there was justice in the world, Christmas had been saved, and that my precious shipment had arrived.
It came in a plain brown box. The helmet box fit neatly inside. I had also ordered another lens and it was packed carefully in the box as well.
Now, with these closeout prices, sometimes you have to deal with size availability issues as well as styles and colors that might not be your first preference.
I was originally looking for just a plain silver or white helmet. I am really not into wild colors and patterns. But with the savings involved, I could put up with a little bit of obnoxiousness.
Plus I sure don't mind that this helmet is probably fairly visible to cage drivers, my new mortal enemy.
I was pleased that it seemed to fit very nicely the first time I tried it on.
So what do you think?
Will I look like a Storm Trooper?
Is Darth Vader really my father?
Am I too old to be a Storm Trooper?
Will the eternal balance in "The Force" be altered when I put the helmet on?
There are just so many questions!
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wimp or Tough Guy

9 days after the accident and I am itching to ride again. It will maybe be a couple more days before I feel stable enough with my left hip, but it is feeling a little better each day. I have had a pretty boring week. Seeing doctors, watching movies on TV, and icing various parts of my body almost constantly. My shoulder is much better, still a little tender, with a very colorful bruise on the upper left portion of my chest. I have been getting a kick out of seeing people and saying "Hey, You want to see my bruise?" The main problem I have had is with my left hip. Both my MD and chiropractor have concluded that I hyper-extended my left leg somehow in the accident. Walking has been very difficult as my body doesn't want me to put much weight on my left leg very much. The healing with my hip has been slower than the shoulder, but I am starting to see some slow improvement and beginning to believe that it may just be a very few days before I can ride again. For someone used to riding almost every day, the withdrawel is starting to get to me. I just bought a new helmet. It is a rather obnoxious looking full face Scorpion EXO 700. I think I got a good deal on it and the visibility should be much greater than what I had with my old helmet. Dealing with the insurance company has been a little slow, but things are progressing. I am sure there will be some hassles to deal with, but so far, so good. Max's repair estimate is close to $900, but consists mostly of replacing scratched body panels. Mechanically, he seems fine. But I have to admit to feeling like a bit of a wimp in my recovery. I conclude that recovering from something like this at age 52 is much different that at age 25. A whole lot different! I had some friends that told me just to take it easy and the soreness would eventually go away. They said to take some time off and relax and just concentrate on getting better. Other friends have said that as soon as you can, get around and walk and do things, even If it hurts a bit. Just be careful and not over-do it. So there is the dilemma. Be a wimp and take it easy, or be the tough guy and push yourself a bit. I admit to bring the wimp for the first few days, but recently I am getting tired of just lying around. Just yesterday I actually got out and helped mow the lawn, even though I still have a pretty strong limp and I had to take a couple of breaks to let the pain in my hip subside. Then last night we went to a local baseball tournament for about 5 hours, saw some old friends, and enjoyed some peanuts and soft drinks in the night air of the ballpark. Saw a good game also. I thought when I went to bed last night that I might have overdone it a bit with yesterday's physical activity, but woke up this morning feeling even a little bit stronger. Things are looking up! The tough guy is starting to take over from the wimp. My wife has been incredibly supportive and understanding. I know she is tired of waiting on me. But she also has a keen sense of when to let me just rest or see that I need to prod myself a bit and push myself a little harder. Many thanks to the kind comments many of you have left me. I appreciate it, and try to comment back to you If you are so generous to leave a comment. But recently, have just not been feeling like it all that much, so forgive me a bit. Ride Safe Everybody!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


What day is it today? Do you know what your name is? Who is the president of the USA? Ever been asked those questions? Did you ever have to stop and think about it a bit before answering? The human body is amazing. The human brain has natural defense mechanisms that we do not fully understand. There are parts of your brain that you have complete control over but many activities of the human brain are automatic and you couldn't change them even if you tried. Many bloggers, perhaps most eloquently, Dan Bateman at Musings of an intrepid Commuter, has written about achieving a level of motorcycle driving skill such that, depending on the hazard presented in front of you, your best response will be automatic. A voluntary decision as to the rider's response may not be necessary. An automatic response to a hazard will occur based upon your level of training and ability. This can be especially important when a hazard occurs suddenly, requiring a quick response. There have only been a few times in my life when when I have been rendered unconscious. Most have been related to a medical procedure such as a surgery. Last Friday there was another brief instance. No need for any suspense. I was involved in an accident, my first on the scooter. There is no longer any question as to "when" or "if" I would ever be involved in an accident, because the "when" has definately now happened. In a strange way I am glad to get that question out of the way. As far as seriousness goes I would rank it maybe a 5 or 6 on a 10 point scale. I am banged up a bit, but nothing broken, just extremely sore right now, and Thank God for the invention of helmets and gear. Without them it could have been much worse. The strange part is that I am having trouble remembering exactly what happened. I was very politely (yes, politely) riding down a 4 lane street in the right lane, when a car surprisingly made a left turn from the opposite direction immediately in front of me. Remember the phrase: "Do not always assume that the other driver will always do the correct thing". Well in this case he screwed up 'major league'. He admitted it to the police and was ticketed accordingly. It happened very quickly, with very little chance on my part for a reaction. All of a sudden, there he was directly in front of me with me bearing down on the rightside of his car at about 25 mph. I remember it being a beautiful afternoon. Sun shining, not too hot, a perfect afternoon for riding. I remember braking hard (probably as hard as I could) when the car appeared in front of me. I just knew that the outcome would not be very good. The next thing I remember is lying on my back on the pavement and someone asking me If I was okay. I briefly took inventory of major body parts and systems and determined eventually that I thought I could stand up. My left shoulder and hip were sore, but the pain was not too bad (yet). I was able to get up and walk around a bit. Time was a bit of a blur at that moment. Obviously some time had passed from the vision of me bearing down on the right side of his car to my waking up and saying I was okay. Have no idea how long it was, probably just a moment or two. I remember police cars. An ambulance showed up too. I was relatively coherent but events are fuzzy and I am sure I was not all there for some of it. They checked to see If I was having any back or neck pain. I was not. I remember someone asking me those questions at the first of this post. I must have passed that part of the test. I called my wife and she showed up very quickly in the car. My son showed up as well. We declined the ambulance ride and they left. We did however go to the hospital a little later to get checked out a little more as the pain was increasing and I was having some trouble walking. It was painful to put weight on my left leg. Suffice it to say that at the hospital, they found no major anomalies other than a large vacuum inside my head that they noted on the CT scan. No broken bones and they gave me a sling for the shoulder and a prescription for Lortab and I was on my way. But ever since it happened, I have been trying to piece together what happened. It has been a little bit like trying to solve a puzzle or becoming a detective and try and figure out what happened based upon the evidence. I, for one, being a supposed eyewitness was not a lot of help because of the amnesia or whatever. I didn't talk to the other driver much either. The policeman kept us apart. I think the policeman thought that I might try and kick his ass. Not sure I was capable of that at the time, but my wife was sure angry. I don't remember hitting the ground although from the evidence I know my left side hit the pavement pretty hard. I know that I didn't hit the car. I am not sure how. The evidence on my gear does not show much of a slide, hardly any in fact. My helmet has some major scratches just above my left ear and the visor mechanism is broken. My gloves show some scrapes on the back side.(?) One guess I have is that in braking so hard I locked up the front wheel, probably hit just enough of a patch of sand or dirt, and down I went. If that was the case, then maybe a more proper response to the situation would have been to brake hard, taking care not to lock the front wheel and look for a possible swerve to the left around the car as I passed by. I fully admit to Irondad, the Jedi Master, that my response to the threat was probably not very sophisticated in terms of ability. But I also do not think that any reaction, conscious or sub-conscious, would have been sufficient to avoid the accident. Given the situation, I believe it would have taken someone like Luke Skywalker to avoid it. I do not have that much of "The Force" in me. (Yet!) But it troubles me that I cannot remember hitting the ground. Why is that? I know that I apparently blacked out for at least a brief moment, why would that memory loss start at a point in time just before the impact. Then it has been suggested to me by my family that at the point when I was bearing down on the car, and impact seemed unavoidable, that my subconscious brain took over. The conscious part of my brain was shut off temporarily and my subconscious brain maybe decided that, in the best interests of the body as a whole, that the best course of action would be to lay the bike down and try to avoid the car, even If it knocked me out to do it. I don't know about that, but it seems sort of plausible. Also sort of makes me wonder If a higher power of some sort intervened. I am not one to normally give a lot of credence to notions like that, but can't rule that out either. But then again I am not going to fret or dwell on what might have happened or what I should have done as much as to be glad that it was not any worse than it was. I do not have a clue as to what I might have done differently. It all happened so fast. But I wish that I could remember a little better what exactly happened. Because I would like to be able to learn from the event and If it happens again, I might be able to react in a better manner. As a relatively new rider, I know I still have a lot to learn. One thing I can guarantee you is a fresh new distrust for other drivers (who I didn't trust much to begin with). I pride myself on being a safe and careful rider. I really feel that what happened to me was rare enough that the chances of it happening again to me are very small. The exact same situation has presented itself to me hundreds of times on the road and never before has a car driver done something quite so stupid. You F***ing A**hole !!!! There, saying it makes me feel a little bit better. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger says in the Terminator movie, I'll Be Back. !!!!! P.S. It has been a bad week for motorcyclists in our area. In 3 separate incidents involving single vehicle accidents, 2 people are dead and 2 others critically injured. All of the accidents involved the failure to negotiate a turn adequately. Only 1 of the 4 people had a helmet on. She is still alive. P.S.S. I was heading home when this accident occurred. Ironically I had just been visiting a local motorcycle dealership and looking at (can you believe it) new helmets. I have one picked out. Guess I need to purchase it a little sooner than I thought. P.S.S.S. Max appears to have just some body panel damage. Mt good friend Lloyd drove him away from the accident site. Thanks to John also for giving Lloyd a ride. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed