Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saturdays during Tax Season

We work all Saturdays from the beginning of January to April 15. I got on the scooter last Saturday morning at 7:30 and noticed that the odometer said 5,555. Is that a sign of something? I broke 5,000 miles on my trip to Topeka in October which means I have only ridden about 500 miles since then. Hmmmm. (Note to self; Gotta Ride More!) On my way downtown I encountered a bicyclist. I gave him a wave. A blank stare was all I got in response. Oh well. I was just maybe a little too excited to see someone else on 2 wheels. It rained again overnight last night, but stopped raining just before I needed to go. Two of the last 3 three mornings have been that way. Am I doing something right? With all the crappy weather we have had recently, it is nice to get a little cooperation from the weather. On the way home last night I got mad at a cage driver. On my normal route home I need to make a left turn at the fairly busy intersection of Central and Woodlawn. There are two lanes of traffic in each direction on both streets with additional left turn lanes at the intersection. There were 4 or 5 vehicles, including myself on the scooter, that had stopped at the light to make the left turn. Some cages were in front of me, some behind. Just to let you know, when making a left turn in a situation like this, I almost always make the turn into the first lane I approach, the left lane (Aren't you supposed to do that?). On occasion, I might not, particularly if I need to make a right turn soon after, but in that case I try to be very cautious and always signal my intentions. At this intersection there is an entrance to a shopping center soon after the turn and many people will not enter the first lane they approach, and then proceed to make the right turn into the shopping center. No problem for me, just gotta keep an eye on them. (The never ending effort to watch out for what is behind me as well as what is in front of me. We've all been there.) On this occasion, the cage following me proceeded into, you guessed it, the right lane and stayed just to the right of my ass as I proceeded along in the left lane. Not a problem, I knew where the cage was, but in about a half mile I need to make a right turn to get to my house. The cage was right behind me to my right. I sped up a bit thinking there would be plenty of time to get in front to safely change into the right lane and make my turn. (After All, wasn't I in front of the cage!) Damn cage sped up too. Right on my butt. Well, SHIT! Not being one to start a race on a busy street in the dark, I eventually decided to slow down and let the cage get in front of me before I changed lanes and made my turn. As I got behind the cage, I submitted a (not so friendly) wave of a certain finger just before my turn to the house. Probably shouldn't have done it, but........... It was just a little event. We have all been there and done it. Not turning into the first lane you get to is a little pet peeve of mine. Just felt the need to vent! Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time is Money (Blogging? Not so Much)

That phrase is particularly true for me this time each year. At the office we sell time. The more we work, the more we can bill. We don't try and gouge our clients, but we need to survive financially in these depressed times. As a result, my blogging efforts will most certainly decline a bit over the next few months. Posts are liable to be less frequent. What posts there are may be shorter and comments I make on my blog and others will be less frequent. But I am always thinking about riding, and I will try to keep up my reading of the many blogs I follow. I did ride to work today. It rained last night, but stopped early this morning. It was 36 degrees, streets wet, but the ride was wonderful. We have had an unusual amount of fog in the mornings recently and that has hampered the riding a bit. Sure is nice to get out and ride again. I recently upgraded my technology a bit. I upgraded to a newer Blackberry phone and bought a new Lenovo laptop. So watch out! I may do some postings from the road in the future. The local scooter club is planning to participate in a St Patrick's day parade in March. Maybe I'll do a post from the scene of the parade carnage. Tax season is a very mental effort. A high degree of concentration is needed and time is precious because of deadlines. At times I become very mentally drained. So even though my presence in the blogging world may be less frequent for a bit, I promise to stay around and promise to be back with a vengeance! Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Friday, January 15, 2010

Profiting from Misfortune

Please imagine the following courtroom drama. Yes, Your Honor, the car came from nowhere and made a left turn right in front of me. I barely had time to hit my brakes. The last thing I remember is seeing the car a few feet in front of me and looking deep into the driver's eyes. The look on his face was full of horror, surprise, guilt and remorse as he realized that he had screwed up big time. Even though I was only unconscious for a moment or two, it seemed like days, Your Honor, before I really felt fully conscious again. I still have trouble remembering things, What was your name again? And the pain! You have no idea the suffering I have endured. My hip caused me excruciating pain for months because my left leg was nearly jerked from the socket. And my shoulder, even months after the collision, still reminds me of the incident with frequent sharp pains and stiffness. Yeah Well..... Even though this is somewhat of an exaggeration of the injuries I sustained in my accident back in July, certain attorney friends of mine said that these were the types of things I should say to any insurance company adjuster that might be interested. It was almost a personal injury attorney's dream scenario. I probably could have pursued it even further than I did, but somehow, it didn't feel right. Hell, I was negotiating with my own insurance company. But the legal and financial stars were aligned, the cage driver admitted fault at the scene of the accident and he had no insurance. This combination of circumstances might not sound good, but under Kansas law, I soon became aware that I was entitled to various benefits that I was (1) not really aware of and (2) not really all that interested in, (at the time). I eventually became much more aware of the meaning (legally) of the concept of "Pain and Suffering". Then they started trying to throw money at me. To shut me up? I was confused. What was I to do? Refuse? My attorney friends said they would be glad to help me out (30% fee). But I thought I could handle it myself and knew that If attorneys got involved, it would just take longer to close the "case". It had already taken close to 5 months. I truly was more interested in just getting healthy again. The injuries really weren't all that bad. Yeah, I was banged up a bit and pretty sore for quite awhile. At age 52 recovery from something like that takes a but longer than I care to admit. But there eventually came a point in time when I could sense that the insurance representative was speaking a little more in a posturing sort of legalese. Ever been there? Sometimes it was what she said, sometimes what she didn't say. It was getting a bit wierd. After all wasn't she supposed to be on my side? Why was I starting to get the feeling that our relationship was beginning to be a bit more adversarial. Getting the medical expenses paid was never really an issue and I even refused to do some other tests that one doctor recommended because I thought they were unnecessary. The scooter was repaired long ago, mainly just some scratched body panels to replace. But they damn near insisted that I take some money for "Pain and Suffering". And no, I am not kidding. My attorney friends advised me that I could easily ask for a little more than what they initially offered. I did ask for more $. They didn't bat an eye and agreed immediately. I really wasn't trying to screw anybody, least of all my own insurance company. Apparently though, this money comes from a pool of money that lots of insurance companies contribute to by re-insuring themselves with other companies. So, in effect my insurance company may be writing the checks, but this money really comes from all of us who have ever paid a premium. So I thank you one and all. Darn near like winning the lottery. It's really not a lot of money, I am not retiring tomorrow, but it is sort of a profit. I didn't realize that riding a scooter could be so lucrative. I would really rather that it not continue in that manner in the future. The current legal environment in this industry apparently makes insurance companies do certain things to make people go away and avoid lawsuits. Good or bad, right or wrong, it is just the way things are. I didn't anticipate the possibility of receiving this money. At the same time, it actually bothers me a little bit. The attorneys say I should take the money and enjoy it. But somewhere, somehow, in the back of my mind, I feel like I am taking unfair advantage of somebody, possibly everybody. Ahhh, the money isn't all that important. It has just been a bit surprising how the negotiations and final settlement all turned out in the end, five months later. The worst part of the final part of the process was recalling the memories of what happened on that day. It wasn't exactly fun. I really don't think the money makes me feel much different or better. Maybe I am supposed to feel better now that I have been paid off, so to speak. But somehow, the bad memories of what happened outweigh the receipt of cash. Then again, it isn't taxable!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Really Wanted to Ride

Deep down inside me there is a motivation to prove that a motorcycle/scooter can be a dependable, fun and economical means of transportation for the daily commute to the office. When I was younger I did a little bit of commuting by bicycle. That was fun and good for the exercise, but sweating was always a problem. You can imagine being a bit pitted out with damp clothing when you arrived at the office and not being real comfortable for the day. You can counter that problem by stashing some clothing at the office to change into but that is a pain in the butt also. When I bought the scooter, we sold one of our cars, so the scooter became my primary means of transportation. Yeah, there were some hassles with weather, but I would take the city bus in really bad weather. I rode in some rain at times, very cold weather at times, but all in all, the hassles were few and far between. I only missed about ten days of riding all of last winter due to snow or ice. This winter has been much different. Much colder. Not a lot of snow so far this year, but with the cold, the snow stayed around a lot longer and severely limited the opportunities to ride. We bought another car last summer so that I didn't have to totally rely on the scooter and the city bus to get around. That has been great and I don't regret buying the car even with my determination to be an almost full time 2 wheel commuter. That said, please know that my determination to be a 2 wheel commuter is still as strong as ever. The accident I had last summer gave me a few misgivings, but now I am almost more determined than ever in spite of that mishap. Maybe it is partially my desire to be different. Maybe it is because I want the economy. Maybe it is because I feel less dependent on foreign oil. Whatever the reason, 2 wheeled commuting has been a life changing experience for me. I also didn't anticipate that it would be this much fun. This winter, though, has caused me to reflect again. I have already missed more days of riding this winter than all of last winter and it is now only mid January. Very frustrating. Yeah, there were a few days when I felt a bit lazy and took the car, even though I could have ridden to work. But not many, and given the choice, believe me, I would much rather ride. I had ridden to work on December 21. It wasn't until last Sunday, January 10 that I was able to ride again. It was a Sunday morning, cold with a 25 degree temperature, but I really needed to wake Max up and get him going again. Max fired up reliably upon the first push of the starter key and we went for a short ride 1) to get me a fix for riding withdrawel symptoms and 2) to insure that Max's battery was okay. It was Mini Max's first ride as well and he seemed to enjoy it very much. I was very excited about the weather forecasts because it looked like there would be no precipitation for at least a week or so. The forecasts were for high temperatures in the 40's (maybe 50's) and lows in the 20's, not exactly warm, but not bad. Enough of the snow had been cleared off the streets to make it possible for riding. Caution was needed to watch for ice and sand patches, but the conditions were much better than they had been for the last 2 weeks. So, it was with great exitement that I was looking forward to an entire week of riding rather than driving. Alas, Murphy's Law was going to get me a bit. I had forgotten that we had a veterinary appointment for our newest cat on Monday. Oh well, the cat was more important than riding, wasn't it? I had very briefly considered bungeeing the cat carrier to Max, but wisdom took hold and I reconsidered that option. So I took the car. Again! I am thinking tomorrow will be the day. As I was waking up on Tuesday morning, lying in bed, trying to get the cobwebs out of my head, my thoughts turned to riding. I lazily wandered downstairs in my robe and slippers and proceeded out the front door to get the newspaper. Dense Fog! What the hell?! That wasn't in the forecast! Or was it, and I just blindly didn't see it, (or didn't want to see it). I surveyed the scene. One quarter mile visibility. Lots of moisture in the air. About 22 degrees (temperature wasn't going to stop me from riding). Driveway and streets looked clear, but damp. At this temperature, not a good sign. Still dark out, difficult to see whether it was slick or not. There was still snow (now compacted to mostly ice) on the sides of the streets. A little melting had occurred yesterday, but some of what melted yesterday just became water on the roadways, and of course had frozen again in small, thin and unpredictable patches of ice on the streets. I proceeded back indoors and turned on the TV to check the weather. A freezing fog advisory had been issued. Damn! The daredevil accountant in me said NTW! (not to worry) But then again, the voice of reason took over. I decided to take the car. I was glad I did as soon as I got out on the streets. There were interesting little ice patches everywhere. What really tucked me off was the knowledge that the fog would soon burn off and the ride home in the afternoon would have been glorious. Oh well, the forecast for tomorrow looks fantastic!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Introducing a New Friend

Sometimes he appears out of nowhere.
In places you least expect him to be.
Similar to the title of this blog, his motives may be premeditated, but the good news is that there appears to be no malice.
Cute? You decide. Friendly? I guess so, but he doesn't talk much.
He seems sort of enamored with Max. Like he wants to go for a ride. As soon as the weather improves a bit, I promised him we would do just that.
Can you imagine, just like a dog with his head out the window of a car, having him feel the breeze cascade through his vents as we ride together.
He even made it to the office one day. He watched me work as he surveyed the scene from the top of my calculator.
He seems to follow me around a lot. I think he wants to be my friend. I have decided that this is a good thing.
He has earned a place of honor on my key ring along with the keys to Max. This will guarantee that whenever Max and I are on the road, he will get to come along and enjoy the ride with us.
I have named him "Mini Max".
My psychiatrist worries about me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Addition to the Family

I have been trying to come up with an appropriate and meaningful way to announce something very special that happened to us during this recent holiday season.

About a week and a half before Christmas, Tyler asked me for my daughter's hand in marriage. I gave him my blessing because they are seemingly very much in love with each other.

He showed me the ring he had bought her and said he would be asking her to marry him very soon. That did happen a couple of days later and my daughter said yes.

Here's to Kaleena and Tyler!

May your future together be filled with love, joy and happiness.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I never do this. Never actually make a list. I may think about a lot of things that I would like to change for the new year. In the past, some of those changes may have occured. Others didn't. But this year, What the Hell! Here goes! 1. Be a better husband She knows what a piece of crap I can be at times. 2. Be a better father Room for some improvement there too. 3. Stop a couple of bad habits Not going to get specific here, but I know what they are. 4. Ride More And safely , too, I might add. 5. Remember to stop and smell the roses Way too easy to get bogged down with worries about responsibilities. It doesn't take that long to take a small break and look around a bit. 6. Take good care of Max He has taken pretty good care of me. 7. Listen to people People feel better about themselves when they know someone is actually hearing them. 8. The Dalai Lama said: If you want other people to be happy; practice compassion. If you want to be happy; practice compassion. 9. Did I say Ride More? If I did, sorry, but it deserves mentioning twice. It makes me feel alive and I am convinced that it helps make me a better person. So there!