Monday, December 19, 2011

In Need Of Gas

 A look at the gasoline gauge on Max a few weeks ago indicated a problem.

Sort of.....

As many of you know, I have not been able to ride lately, for the last almost eleven months actually.

The gear jackets and pants sit forlornly in a closet.

Max has patiently waited in the garage. I have been getting him out every 2-3 weeks or so. Starting him up and riding around the neighborhood a bit. It had been 3 weeks since the last escapade.

I was due. Max was too.

I have been cheating on the driving restriction a bit lately. About once a week I have gone to pick up a carry out dinner. But that's about it.

 We have a winter storm approaching and my wife and I have a rule that we should always have our vehicles filled up with fuel, just in case we get stranded somewhere in a raging blizzard.

And I thought, very wisely I think, that we should fill Max up too. Because you never know when you might be out riding your scooter and get caught in a blinding snowstorm. Wouldn't that be awful?

I even checked the tires. A few pounds needed in both tires.

I laid out the helmet and gloves on the seat. They had been in the top case since January. I was afraid that I would forget how to do the buckle on the helmet. Wasn't a problem. Got the heavier gloves out , but decided that I didn't need the red fleece liners. It was about 50 degrees (something like 14 celsius), an absolutely beautiful day.

I paused to take a reflection picture in the window of the famous Canadian Subaru before I left. The tree in the background is filled with about 400 lights and is quite a scene at night.

It is fairly busy at the gas station. Everybody preparing for the winter storm to come? I didn't forget how to use the pump on Max either.

A whopper of a total there on the pump. The tank supposedly holds 1.9 gals. Hell, I could have gone at least another 20 miles or so.

Once finished, I take off for the local Eddie Bauer store. I had an email that said everything was 40% off. When I got there, I discovered that everything had been marked up 35% the day before.

Oh well, Santa has elves, I have Target!   (supposedly)

For some reason I like shadow and reflection pictures. Above is at the shopping center, below in my driveway back home.

A short ride, but hard to describe how good it felt.

I go see the cardiologist on the 11th of January. Fingers are crossed.

Sincerely hope everybody has a wonderful holiday season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SIPDE for Walkers

There is much evil in the world.

As I was walking I approached the intersection of Central and Edgemoor. I SCANNED the situation noting where the stop lights were in their never ending cycle of traffic control. The light for me was green. I wasn't sure how long it had been green, but it looked like I could make it across the intersection, even if I had to jog a bit for the last few steps.

I was walking to the west. There were 3 lanes of traffic to the south where vehicles were stopped at the light. I would have to cross in front of these vehicles as I crossed the intersection. The first two lanes were occupied by SUV's that were a little hard to see around. The third lane appeaered to be empty, but I IDENTIFIED a car approaching the intersection in that lane.

I PREDICTED that the person driving the approaching car might have trouble seeing me because of the SUV's. Sure enough, the person in the car continued toward the intersection a little faster than necessary and the driver was not looking my way.

I then made the DECISION to stop walking immediately.

So I EXECUTED my decision and stopped in front of the SUV just next to the lane with the approaching car.

The driver barely looked up at me as she sped by. I noticed she had a cell phone in her hand.

SIPDE works for walkers, too.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seen While Walking To The Bus Stop and Other Trivial 'Stuff'

I am still doing a lot of walking these days, but now with Autumn temperatures descending upon us, the color of the trees has been nice to look at. This tree is on the way to the bus stop fom my home. I just liked the colors.

And these two little scotties are a regular sight for me on the way to the bus stop. A nice man walks them 4 times a day, so he says. I see them about once a week or so. They are extremely friendly and give me a good sniff every time I see them.

We had some freezing temeratures lately so we picked the last of the peppers and pulled up the plants. We'll probably cook them in the smoker and freeze them so we can use them throughout the winter. We did that last year, too. This year's plants really suffered through the heat we had, and when the temperatures dropped a bit, they really started to produce. It was a very short growing season. Maybe better next year.

Our illustrous governor wants to emiminate the state income tax around here. Sounds good, but I don't think there is much of a plan to replace the revenue with anything that makes much sense. It will probably be a higher sales tax or maybe they will pass the obligations to more local taxing districts such as counties and cities.

At any rate, our governor has said that our tax structure should be a lot more like Texas, in fact some say he wants us to be a lot more like Texas in every respect. Well, I am not so sure that is a good idea. In Texas,  large corporations are treated with lots of preferences, maybe with more rights than even people have.

Then again, there are some certainites in life, like Google.

Google is now a verb, dontcha know.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Monday, October 24, 2011


 Yeah, It's spelled right. It's the name of an excellent company that manufactures bicycle trailers among other things.

When our kids were young we used to have one. It was expensive, but it was well worth it. Put a helmet on the kid, slap them into the trailer, fasten the seat belts (yes, it has seat belts) and go for a ride.

We got a few years of use with our Burley and when our kids got too big, we gave it to a relative that had younger kids than we did and it got even more years of service. We occasionally used to take it to the grocery store as well because you could fit a lot of groceries into it.

On a recent Friday morning, I had a couple of errands to perform. We had closed the office that day and I decided to take the bicycle out to do the errands. The first stop was to a local hardware store to return a little plumbing part that didn't work out. That done I headed north with a particular destination in mind. On the way though I noticed a sign for a rummage sale and bake sale at a nearby Episcopal church. (Didn't Robin Williams once refer to that as 'Catholic Light'?)

Now, in past years, I have been known to visit garage sales in our neighborhood. I rarely bought "stuff", but sometimes did and was always fascinated with other people's "stuff" and what they might want to discard from their lives. After seeing the sign for the rummage sale, and having plenty of time, and not a particular need to really have to go to my original destination, I decided to head towards the church.

Sometimes a large sale like this can be more interesting because of better selection. So many garage sales have just things like the dreaded piles of baby clothing that I just frankly don't have much interest in anymore. At one garage sale, however, I came across a complete set of Playboy magazines from 1962 to 1973, but the owner wanted too much and would only sell it as a complete set. Alas, not for me that day. But this sale looked sort of promising even if there would probably not be any Playboy magazines there.

Then I saw it! Right there by the front door. A piece of masking tape identified the price at $20. (Don't they know these things are like $250 new?) Upon closer inspection, it was a little dirty, the tires were flat, but it appeared to be nearly identical to the one we owned very many years ago. Should I get it? Do I really need it? Probably not. But it looked to be in good shape even if it needed a couple of new tire tubes and a lot of cleaning.

I was a bit excited and asked one of the 'church ladies' if there had been any interest yet in the bicycle trailer. (Now don't get me wrong! I don't use the term 'church ladies' in a demeaning way. I just have very fond memories of the old SNL routines (wasn't it Dana Carvey?) about the 'church lady', and the ladies running the sale were definitely from that mold.) She said she would make me a helluva deal on that trailer (though she might not have used the word hell). I said I might be back. (You know, make 'em sweat a bit)

Home was only half a mile away, and I only had $13 on me, so I rode home to tell Jayna about it and see if she was even a bit interested. She immediately asked why I hadn't purchased it on the spot and brought it home. So we raided her purse (she almost always has little hidden stores of cash), and I hopped back on the bike to make the purchase.

I walked right in and promptly and proudly laid my $20 bill down on the table to the same 'church lady' I had spoken to just a little while earlier. She was ecstatic to have made the sale. Well maybe just sort of pleased. Another $20 going to a good cause, don't you know. And I was sincerely proud to help out in my own little way.

Of course the task then turned out to be "How to get it home". But I had faith! I had faith that my new hand held frame pump attached to "Bruiser" (that I had never used) would work. I had faith that the tubes in the tires would take and hold at least a little air, long enough to get me home.

The senior pastor (priest?) was there to watch me attempt to pump up the tires. We struck up a brief conversation. The pump worked and the tires seemed to hold the air! The trailer attaches to the bicycle by way of a rather interesting mechanism that attaches to the bicycle frame just ahead of the rear axle. It works amazingly well in that it is secure and works on just about any bicycle. It attached to "Bruiser" flawlessly.

I put my helmet back on (ATGATT for the head, don'tcha know) and rode off. I was delighted to see that the trailer rolled smoothly, the wheels seemed to be true and was just as light and fun as I remember our old trailer to be.

I actually stopped by a store on the way home and made a small purchase and put my sack in the trailer for the ride home. Worked great! I rode home and Jayna and I spent numerous minutes looking it over and recalling all the good times we had with our first trailer. And there are many very good memories.

The next task was figuring out a place to store the trailer. Mind you, our garage is fairly full, two cars, a scooter, a table saw and woodworking tools. I actually hang up "Bruiser" on a hook in what we call the shed so he doesn't take up a lot of space. But I did find a way to hang the Burley right next to "Bruiser" and I think it will work very well.

What a find! What a lot of great memories! Perhaps a future grandchild will ride in this trailer. Certainly groceries are an occasional possibility. Perhaps I will revive my interest in garage sale-ing and take the trailer to hold my new "stuff".

Monday, October 17, 2011

Every Couple of Weeks

It is amazing how much brighter your lights can be if only you would clean off the bugs from your headlight lens. I stood back to admire my work after applying a little glass cleaner (even though the lens was plastic). A few of those bugs had been on there for a long time.

I was thinking that I sure have missed out on a lot of riding this year and this is my favorite time of year to ride. Temperatures ranging from the 50's to the 70's are what I like. A ride to work when the temperature is about 50 degrees is a good way to wake up and feel alive for the day ahead. Just cool enough to be a bit chilly. Not too cold on the fingers.


I miss it!

Max stood in the driveway gently idling away as I cleaned up the light. We had just ridden around the neighborhood to get his battery charged up a bit (mine too) and to make sure he was operating okay. He started right up, like he usually does. The idle sounded good, steady and even. A touch to the throttle and he responded instantly.

Two weeks ago on a Saturday, I had the same plan. Get Max started and ride around the neighborhood a bit. But it had been about 4 months since I had even tried to start Max. I know, bad idea to wait that long, and as could be expected, the battery was pretty dead. I pulled the battery, attached it to the trickle charger and let it go overnight. Started up fine the next morning. From then on I vowed to start Max at least every other weekend and this past weekend was one of those.

I added a little air to the tires and did some thinking about upcoming maintenance needs. Max has 8,111 miles and will be due for a valve adjustment, new spark plug, cooling system flush and new air filter at 9,000 miles. I am thinking springtime will be perfect for that. With a little help, I have performed those tasks before and am pretty confident I can tackle them by myself next time. I will probably do an oil change before I start riding again, hopefully in February.

Cleaning off the headlight lens reminded me that my helmet visor is pretty dirty as well. I would have cleaned it up as well, but the helmet was locked up in my top case while Max was idling and the key to the top case was on the key ring in the ignition switch. Oh well, that will give me something extra to do two weeks from now.

Take care all! Go out and have some great fall rides for me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chili and Sleeping at the Office.

Do you remember that comedian by the name of "Gallagher"? He was famous for smashing watermelons and other fruit and vegetables during his routines. Pretty funny guy. Haven't heard much about him lately, but assume he still might be around.

One thing I remember him talking about was "colors that only exist in yarn". He would go on about this for a few minutes and I would laugh my ass off.

Well, this weekend we rented a pickup truck that reminded me of Gallagher and his comments about colors.

How about mustard yellow for an F-150!! Pretty Cool Huh?

Well you might ask why we rented this baby and the reason is so I can take naps at the office. Let me explain.

With my heart condition, I have discovered the value of a nap in the afternoon, even if it is just for 15 to 30 minutes. So we moved a couch up to the office so I might be able to take a nap if I need one. And on some days I really need one.

After we moved the couch we decided to take in some of the Chili being offered up at the local "Chili Cook Off". As we walked down a few blocks to the area of downtown blocked off for the event we ran across this sign for a local theatre group for a play they were putting on.

We noticed that the price of admission seemed a bit high. Could it have been $19.00 instead of $1,900.00?

When you arrive at the chili feast you pay $5.00 and get a wristband. Then you sample each vendor's chili and later vote for your favorite with a bean that you place in their jar at their table. Each vendor has a booth and table along with litle cups and a spoon.

 The first chili we tried looked like this. It was a vegetarian chili that just seems to defy all the logic of what chili should be. But my daughter and I actually liked this one very much. It had very good flavor despite the lack of animal proteins. Not too bad for our first taste.

 A lot of the vendors identify themselves with a funny team name like this one, the "Chilionaires".

 Here's another catchy team called "Low Bid Chili", not bad, not bad.

 At one of the booths, you could decorate your chili with cheese and some jalapeno peppers, which I did, and I enjoyed this one very much.

 Wichita even has a hockey team, yes you heard me right, hockey, and the team mascot was here to help promote their booth. Go Thunder Dog!

 At one booth there was a warning about the contents of their chili. Oddly enough, this chili was sponsored by a local bank. (One that didn't need a bailout)

 Even the mayor of the city was here, well at least a cardboard cut out of him was. Apparently you could throw beanbags through him and win a prize.

Why, I don't know.

 There was a little sideshow from the players at Old Cowtown as well. Here a banjo player was accompanying a guy trying to swallow some sort of a balloon.

Again, why, I don't know.
Apparently this group later in the day tried to beat a Guinness World Record for fire eating by enlisting a lot of audience participitation. They weren't successful. But, Hey, You only live once.
 The only evil thing going on this lovely afternoon was a preponderance of "strollers". Yes, "Strollers". More evil than V-Stroms. More feared than K-Bikes. Inviting more dread than Bonnevilles. Some of these devices are huge, encapsulating entire city blocks and carrying more children than the ball roomplayhouse at McDonalds.

And this one didn't even have a child in it. They all walked along the side with Mumsy and Daddy, all carrying their little chili cups and spoons. Oh, the humanuity of it all.

 Here's the booth for our favorite, "Code 3 Chili". This booth was offered up by a local firefighter's union and their chili was delicious.

 After growing a bit tired of fighting the crowd, we went our way back to our mustard pickup. You know, the one with the color that only exists in yarn. But on the way, we spied this Harley trike parked along the street. It was only barely bigger than some of the strollers we saw that day.

 As we walked along we went by an antique store and had to stop and peruse the goodies. Out front was some early ATGATT merchandise for sale. Still looked usable.

And inside I found this picture that looked like it may have been off of an old pinball machine. The guy remionded me of many of my fellow bloggers. You know, those that have this kind of swagger and that always have women hanging off them.


Monday, August 29, 2011

East Douglas on a Sunday Morning

My next older sister had called me on Saturday to check up on me and chewed my butt pretty good for not posting anything on the blog for a whole month.  I apologized to her and said there were two reasons:

1) I can't drive a car or ride my scooter right now and it's a bit tough to come up with motorcycle content for the blog. Yeah, a bicycle ride is fine, but I bet some readers are bored with that.

2) It has been hotter than Hades here. Yesterday was our 48th day this summer where our high temp reached 100 degrees. The record number of days is 50 from 1936 (Dust Bowl Days). August isn't over yet and it is predicted that we will break the record. Our normal for a summer is more like 11 days, so there you have it.

But my sister did get me thinking, so on Sunday morning I took off at 7:30 am on Bruiser, my mountain bike for a ride downtown to check out the car and motorcycle show that had been going on all weekend.

I arrived downtown at about 8:00. The show was scheduled for 8:00 to 4:00 for Sunday, but it was obvious that a lot of people and cars hadn't made it back downtown when I first arrived. Not a lot of cars or motorcycles yet to look at. I did find a display trailer for a Kawaski dealer from Hesston, KS, about 40 miles from here. This red Kawasaki is way too big for me.

But they also had a Kymco Agility Scooter.  (Too small for me)

Then there was this screaming green Kawasaki sport bike. Pretty nice , but not much in my taste either.

The next trailer over was for another dealer here in Wichita. They sell lots of bikes, everything from Honda, Suzuki, even BMW's on occasion. I talked with the sleepy looking guy manning the trailer a bit. As I took a couple of pictures, he asked me if I rode. I said yes and said that I had a scooter, but sometimes wondered about stepping up to something a little bigger, I mentioned a V-Strom, a Bonneville, even a Honda Silverwing scooter.

He said they had a Silverwing in stock, a 2010 model and he liked the V-Strom. Here's a Honda Shadow they had on display.

The local Harley dealer had a big display last year, but didn't see them this year. They still might have been around and I just didn't see them. Harleys are very popular here.

But just in case you run out of cash while you are at the show, here's a portable ATM for your convenience.

I rode back around the convention center and checked out a few cars. Here's a nice roadster.

And I really liked this pickup truck. A '34 Ford if I remember correctly.

 Then this Mini Cooper caught my eye.

And then this Mini Mini Cooper caught me eye as well, (check out the valve cover).

I eventually decided to ride back home in a leisurely fashion down East Douglas Street

I arrived at the train station onthe east end of the downtown area. Wichita has not had passenger train service since I have lived here. But we do have a marvelous old train station that over the years has been owned by a couple of corporate entities, most recently I believe by the local cable television provider.

I notice as I ride by that it is for sale again. Kind of a shame, if you ask me.

Then about another mile to the east of there, is the former world headquarters of  Big Dog Motorcycles. They produced very expensive motorcycles from the 90's to the early 00's at the rate of maybe 2,500 per year. That was until the economic downturn of 2008, where the company essentially tanked itself as people gave up their luxuries. Apparently not many people needed $30,000 motorcycles no matter how beautiful they were.

The building housed  a former Chevy dealership. They declared bankruptcy last year and formed a new company (BDM) to take care of parts and supplies for the Big Dog motorcycles still out on the road.

There is not much in the building right now except for a few bikes. I became somewhat interested in the reflections that resulted in some of these pictures. I was standing in the middle of the street when I took this shot. I am eerily visible if you enlarge the photo.

Most of the people that worked here have of course lost their jobs. Ironically, supposedly they sold lots of bikes to construction workers in the Las Vegas area during the real estate boom in Vegas. Well, Vegas now has one of the most depressed housing markets in the nation and it apparently spilled out into the motorcycle world as well.

Of course, this place is now for sale as well. Kind of a shame. They made beautiful bikes. Not really my taste, but beautiful bikes nonetheless.

Here's Bruiser up next to a chopper frame inside the building.

Down the road about a half mile further east is East High School. Built, I believe, in the 1920's and it only became known as East High after other high schools were eventually built. There is construction going on here at the school for a new auditorium. At the same time there is discussion about building 2 new high schools. But a potential problem with the new schools is that even though there is money available to build the buildings, there may not be enough money for the teachers. The state is bleeding money these days and education seems to be an area that is taking a hit.

It's a beautiful old school. Both my kids graduated from here. My son now teaches and coaches here.

About another mile east is a rather unique building with interesting tile work. There used to be an old guy that ran a hardware store here. It was one of those places that you could find something when nobody else seemed to have it. It was dirty, messy and grimy, but I loved the store. Even though it was sort of a mess, the old guy that ran it knew exactly where everything was.

Then another half mile east or so is the Hillcrest Apartments. It is mostly condominiums by now I believe. Condos are not real common here. There are lots of apartment complexes, but then there are also lots of single family homes. These condos are quite nice and somewhat expensive. As soon as one goes up for sale here, it gets snatched up pretty quickly.

A little further east again and there is a rather stately home. I don't know the history to this, but it's quite a place. This home sits just a little north of College Hill Park, possibly the nicest park in town.

And here's a view of another older home in the College Hill area. This home is on the National Register of Historic Places. As old goes, some would not consider it very old. Wichita wasn't even founded until 1871, but this home is just about that date, perhaps just a bit younger. This home sits atop a little hill in the park area. Bruiser is good at standing without a side or center stand. (No tachometer either)

Another view of the park. The park is surrounded by nice homes. There is a pool and it is a great place for kids to play and grow up. Following in the footsteps of Jim Ryun, who grew up in Wichita and went to Wichita East High School, the cross country team for Wichita East frequently runs and practices here in this park.

And finally at Douglas and Oliver sits what is essentially the first shopping center ever built in this city. It has been a fairly vibrant shopping center since its inception in the 1950's. Not huge by today's standards, but in its day......

There are residential neighbrohoods for the next mile east or so, but then you encounter the city of Eastborough, which was once a sort of suburb, and is now compleyely surrounded by Wichita, having steadfastly resisted the urge to be annexed into the city. But that is a whole other post by ityself. I'll get back to that someday.

____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____    ____

Just a final word about my health. I'm doing fine. I am walking about 2 miles a day and bicycling on the weekends. I'd probably do more exercising except for the unbelievable heat we have seen lately. I will not be able to drive or ride until at least February 2012, but I am in a way sort of enjoying the change in lifestyle.

The little gadget in my chest, designed to keep me alive should my heart screw up again, is amazingly sophisticated. I keep finding more and more about it as we go. For instance, not only is it a defibrillator, designed to be capable of completely restarting my heart should there be a need, but it is also a pacemaker too. It constantly analyzes the behavior of my heart. If my heart rate drops below 60 beats per minute, it will act as a pacemaker and get me back to a 60 bpm rate. If my heart rate goes to 170 beats per minute, it first studies my heart rate to see if my beats are steady and even. If so, then it assumes I may be exercising, and not give me the big shock, yet keep an eye on me. If my faster heart rate is uneven, then it may first try and pace me out of it using the pacemaker function of the device. If that doesn't work, then I may get a big shock from the device to hopefully restart my heart.

The device has a wireless transmitter and sends, once a week, some diagnostics to the manufacturer through a phone line connection in my bedroom. My cardiologist then can obtain this information for my chart. It is designed to report any unusual rhythms my heart has had and any attempts made by the device to correct those aberrant rhythms. Pretty fu*$in' amazing if you ask me.

To date the device has detected no unusual rhythms since the time it was implanted back in February. That's a very good thing.

The device is commonly called an ICD (Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator)

To me it might mean I Can't Die!