Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blogger Stats

After about a year and a half of blogging, I admit that I had hardly ever looked at the Google Stats in the blogger program. I was amazed. First surprise: One of my posts last year around Thanksgiving, regarding Native American Spirituality, is the most viewed, by far, of the more than 100 posts I have done. And that post is not even about scootering, the primary theme of my blog. Second surprise: Where the viewers are coming from. The USA and Canada does not surprise me. The United Kingdom is a distant third, but many of the other countries surprised me. Oh, it's just a few from other countries, but was interesting. Russia? ..... Really? South Korea? VietNam? A few european countries were represented. Spain, The Netherlands, Germany. I found the statistics on page hits to be very interesting. I guess that I always assumed that the number of comments received was a good indicator of how much my blog was read. And I guess I always knew that some people read it, but didn't leave comments. I faithfully read a lot of blogs, but do not always leave comments. But now I realize, even more so, that number of comments is not really very indicative of readership. I love comments on my blog. Sometimes they are just as much fun as the post itself. And I like to pester people by commenting on their blogs. But sometimes it just becomes a matter of available time, not enough of it. Then another question is raised. How many if those page hits are my own? I frequently look at my own blog to check for comments. Some days I will do this many times, other days not at all. I guess I could click on my blog more often and artificially increase my own hits, but what's the point of that. Back to that Native American Spirituality post, though. I suspect that a reference or link in Google Images might have something to do with the number of hits to my blog. I had 'borrowed' a few images from there to use in the post. I am guessing that somewhere in Google Images that there may be a link to my blog. I really have no idea how this might work, and don't really care, but to me it is the only possible reason why that post has had so many hits. It certainly can't be from motorcycle or scooter enthusiasts. The number of hits is more than 4 times the number on the next highest post. Go figure. What this all means? I haven't a clue! I had a very excellent Statistics professor in college that said on the first day of class, "You can make statistics say anything you want them to if you just play around with the numbers long enough." I have never forgotten what he said and I think about that statement a lot, particularly when looking at television or other advertisements. Sometimes numbers can be very misleading. So maybe the Blogger Stats aren't that important. There may be certain interesting results, but in the long run I don't think it will change whatever modus operandi I have for the blog. I just enjoy blogging.

Monday, December 27, 2010

8,000 Miles Later

It's not a monumental feat, but in a little more than 2 years, I now have 8,000 miles on that scooter I call Max. Being sort of a numbers guy, I decided to do a little math, just for fun.
To be somewhat accurate, I need to make a few assumptions.
Average gas price: $2.80
That's a guess. It has probably ranged from $2.55 to almost $4.55 per gallon.
Average miles per gallon:
Max: 70
Subaru: 22
I tracked the mileage pretty close on Max for the first 8 or 9 months. In town, where I do most of my riding, I consistently got 75 mpg. On a highway, if riding hard, I'll get about 60 mpg. For the Subaru I used what I get in town for comparison.
Max: Total gallons used: 8,000 miles / 70 mpg = 114 gallons
I recall that I used to have a pickup that had a 30 gal main tank and a 20 gal reserve tank.
Total cost for gas: 114 * $2.80 = $319
That seems pretty low, but then I remember that a fill up is usually only about $4.
Gallons used if I had driven the Subaru: 8,000 / 22 mpg = 364
Cost for gas: 364 * $2.80 = $1,019
Okay, I saved about $700 in gasoline over the last 2 1/2 years. Maybe not quite a boatload, but.....
Consider the difference if my car was only able to get 15 mpg, or 10 mpg. .
There are many other differences in cost. The initial purchase for Max was just a little more than half of what I paid for the Subaru. Max was brand new, the Subaru was well used. Taxes are less. Insurance is less.
. Lots of other differences as well. I can't carry as much with Max. The wagon holds a lot more. And the Subaru has heated seats. And I love the Subaru almost as much as Max.
. But do you want to know the real reason I prefer taking Max to work each day?
. It's a whole lot more fun!
. But I bet you already knew that.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Just a Wonderful Little Holiday Story

My wife looked like she might have had some tears in her eyes when she came to work today. Cathy and I were wondering what was up. We sometimes donate goods to a local Disabled American Veterans Thrift store near our home. They have a drive-thru dropoff dock at the back of the store. We had this old cuckoo clock that we retired from use in our home recently and Jayna wanted to drop it by the store on her way to work this morning. She had a busy morning with a couple of extra errands and was anxious to get to the office. When she arrived at the store, she realized it was a few minutes before 9:00 and she would have to wait a bit for the store to open and drop off the clock. Not only that, but in front of her in the lineup of cars was a pickup truck with a topper that had smoked glass that you couldn't see through. Feeling some impatience, she was feeling a bit frustrated at having to wait, especially because the truck in front of her looked like it might take awhile to unload. Eventually someone came out of the store and they opened up the back of the pickup truck in front of her. It was full of presents. Jam packed from top to bottom. Balls, bats, games and everything imaginable for kids. Some Santa had just done a very wonderful thing. The people at the store were very excited to receive the gifts, that they knew would fly off the shelves and make for a wonderful Christmas for somebody somewhere. Jayna watched all of this as she sat in the car and shed a few tears as she thought to herself, "And all I have is this silly old cuckoo clock". Her feelngs of impatience disappeared immediately. There was something much more important going on here. Ahhh......... It's the Season ! Stuff like this happens all over the place this time of year. It's really special when you can be on hand to see some of it happen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Few Holiday Decorations

Our Santa Claus got a new place to reside this year. Right by the front door so all could see that he was keeping an eye on things around our house.
Inside the house a series of figurines take their usual place on the mantel. A lady that lives near Wichita designed these. We have a few of her creations.
Some of them may be more Winter themed than Christmas themed, but we like them.
After all, isn't it the memories what it is all about.
Our climate is not real conducive to ice skating, but we can still dream.
Back outside, just after Thanksgiving, we work on the fir tree in the front yard. We have close to 450 lights and "balls" we hang each year. The neighbors will begin hounding us to get the lights up if we delay even a day or two. Each year this darn tree gets a little taller and a little harder to manage. We enlisted the help of our son this year to help put up the lights.
And a night shot.
Hope everybody has a safe and wonderful holiday season. Spend time with your families. Maybe drink a little, but certainly laugh a lot.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Two Wheeler at the Tax Seminar

Thursday, December 9 I was putting on my gear while people were sort of chatting and milling around at the end of an all day tax seminar. One of the people saw me putting on my gear pants and commented to me that my ride home ought to be warmer than my ride that morning to the seminar. I said I was looking forward to the ride home, but the ride that morning really wasn't all that unpleasant. It was 33 degrees as I left the house this morning, about 50 degrees for the ride home. It was almost 15 degrees colder for the morning ride to work yesterday. Then the same person said "I don't know how you do it!" I wasn't all that sure how to respond, but said something about just being properly dressed and let it go at that. Then I wondered, am I really that weird to ride in cold weather? I don't see as many motorcycles out on the streets this time of year, but there are some and I know that I'm not the only one who rides at this time of year. I am sure of one thing though. I was the only person that arrived at the seminar that morning on two wheels. So maybe I am a bit unusual. Does that bother me? Naaaah! Let them think what they want to think. If they admire it, fine. If not, fine. I am mostly indifferent as to what they think. I just know how I feel about it. Maybe I am proud of being a bit "greener" than other people. After all, I probably got about 75 mpg getting to and from the seminar that day. Few others, if any, could claim that, and then only if they car-pooled. Maybe I like the challenge of riding in colder weather. Maybe I am secretly looking for admiration and respect from others. I do get a chuckle when I pull up next to someone in a car at a stoplight and they look over at me with this look on their face that tells me they are sure I am crazy. But that isn't it either. I just prefer not giving people the knowledge that one of the reasons I do it is because I enjoy the hell out of it. Now, as you might imagine, tax seminars for CPA's are not renowned for being very exciting. There was one sort of cool thing (I think) that happened that day. Most of the time we get a big notebook full of reference materials at these events. Sometimes there is a lot of paper and my office is full of old notebooks from past seminars I have attended. But just recently they started emailing the materials to us in a .pdf format. If we want to we can print off our own "book", or as an alternative bring a laptop or e-reader with the .pdf file already saved. I think this is a great idea. I brought the laptop and was able to read along as the instructor spoke. Some people brought I-pods, I-pads and other devices. A lot of CPA firms are going "paperless" and we will start that effort ourselves next year. We'll be trying to kill even fewer trees. The day was spent with much thought about changes in tax laws. I also thought about "green" things today. I barely even gave any thought to the temperatures today. The seminar was at a hotel on the opposite side of town. As a result, I had two really nice rides today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A New Glove Set-up

A lot of people have told me that after I acquire my first set of heated gloves or grips, that I will want to kick myself for not having done so sooner. And No, I haven't done it (yet). My reasons, all with various levels of invalidity are as follows: 1) I am Cheap! The grips or gloves are expensive. 2) If I ask Jayna to spend more money on "scootering", she is liable to have a different idea or suggestion. And she is frequently right! 3) I am a bit afraid of messing with the electronics on Max. It would probably be fine, but I sure wouldn't want to screw something up. I am a firm believer in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". 4) I really do not need them very often. I have survived quite well in temperatures down to freezing. Below that, I have had some issues. 5) My commute only takes me about 15 minutes. I figure I can stand cold fingers for at least that amount of time. The rest of me stays mostly comfortable. 6) I have a level of insecurity about fiddling with the electronics. I would want to do it very right the first time. Ideally, I would want a device where I might want to plug in various devices. Maybe heated grips, maybe heated clothing, maybe a GPS, maybe a Christmas tree, maybe a Blaupunkt. And I am certainly too cheap to pay someone to do this for me (reason #1). But recently I found an old pair of gloves with a fleece liner. I removed the liner and am now using the liner with my regular winter gloves and it has resulted in a vast improvement. It is sort of a tight fit, and maybe a little less feeling on the controls, but much better than what I was doing last winter. I laugh sometimes about the clothing and gear I used that first winter. It was a process of experimentation as I discovered what did and didn't work very well. The 2nd winter was better and the clothing and gear experiments are ongoing. Two years from now maybe I'll look back and think about what an idiot I must have been. Live and Learn, I guess. I keep telling myself that someday I'll be really smart.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Family, a Rider and a Brewery

Some more relatives recently came to town to attend another wedding. They didn't want to make two trips for two different weddings, but part of the reason for the trip was to help celebrate our daughter's wedding last month. One evening we met them at a local brewery/restaurant for dinner and fun. The brewery has been here for many years, but I admit that it had been a long time since I had eaten (or drank) there. They make various types of beers of their own and you can easily find something to your liking anywhere from a pale wheat beer to some ales and a stout. I am not a big beer drinker, but have been known to imbibe on occasion. With relatives in town, the celebration was on.
They usually have 6 kinds of beer available. Each production run is a little bit different to make it interesting. You can order samples of each beer, which I did, so we could decide which one we liked. Here they are lined up in order of darkness, the stout at the left, the wheat pale ale at the right. There were only a couple I didn't really like and it was difficult to decide which one to order. Of course I felt it necessary to finish off most of the samples first.
These relatives were from Jayna's side of the family, had previously lived in the Wichita area, but now live in the Vancouver WA area. They want us to visit out there next summer. My threat is that maybe I should venture northward to Vancouver BC so I could bother Bobskoot. We'll see. You never know.
One of the relatives is also a rider, owning both a Ninja and a Honda. We didn't have a lot of time to chat about riding, but he told me a funny story about his first bike. He traded an old Chevy El Camino for the bike. He rides with a couple of different groups, one with mostly sport bikes and the other is more of a cruiser group. He likes riding with both groups for different reasons. It was fun chatting and getting to know him a little better.
Some people opted for pizza to eat, others for quesidillas and sandwiches. I, in a supposed health kick, opted for a soup and salad combination. All the food was good and we talked, laughed and drank for some time.
Jayna and I both ended up ordering the stout which was quite good. It had been a long time since I had a beer like that. It was somewhat mellow and very tasty.
Should I call this "beer porn"?