Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Ranting Temper

This will be short, brief - to the point.  I was watching TV last night with Mary.  Normally - we watch racing.  Its our thing....grown men driving in circles with nothing better to do than try to sell me battery operated underwear and butt cream for babies.  Its just amazing what someone will put on the side of a race car and the depths to which those guys will sell themselves for nothing other than to ride around in circles.  What does that say about people who watch them!!!  What can I say - I am easily amused by the travelling carnival show called NASCAR..

Somehow, I managed to catch some news about this debt debate in Washington, and nothing is making me more stressed than those blundering idiots giving my money to the Polish government to study cow flatulence.  Or writing an open check to the Pentagon to build the next new superweapon.  And guess who gets to pay for it?  Why - you and I.  OF COURSE, right?  Well, after watching an hour of CNN and seeing them march senators and representatives in front of their cameras, pointing fingers and blame at everyone BUT themselves, I finally decided to spend my own 30 seconds in front of a camera.  This is my version of "I have had ENOUGH of this"!  Just click on the link, and it should take you to a youtube video I recently posted about how I feel about this whole debt ceiling and crisis and politicians and.....well, just watch. 

The Ranting

Peace & Love Everybody!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Turkey Comin' Thru!

SFC Terryl Pasker

If you haven't melted under your house yet from all this heat, I am guessing you live in a freezer or Antarctica.  Its the summer time heat I hate the most and man is it ever in full force in my neck of the woods.  Even looking at my Harley is making my face cook and my legs fry.  And as if it wasn't bad enough, I just got my electric bill, and I must say that AC feels nice until you get the bill.  Add to that the 15% rate hike and all the fees, and you have the makings of a revolt.  Its only money, right?  I mean, really - how many folks think like that?  Well, I know one, and his humor isn't making me laugh right now.  I know - stop your whining guy - its making me sweat.  I guess I can't do much else about it, so I'll just have to live with it and be thankful for the house and the AC I have.

Welcome Home!
Riding has been awfully hot lately.  I commute to and from work, and then work most of the weekend so I don't have as much time riding, but I did one Welcome Home for a National Guard unit, and rode in escort for a military funeral this month.  Lots of soldiers coming home from Afghanistan this month.  Lots of families reunited which is always great to see.  The unit I escorted home was deployed over a year, and they looked good, albeit a bit tired.  As the troop of Patriot Guard Riders walked in, we were greeted with a very warm standing ovation.  Believe it or not I feel a bit embarrassed by all that attention.  The troops deserve more attention than I do, but it goes with the territory.  I remember when I served - we never got the welcome the guys now get.  In their defense they earned every second of it.
Arrival at Welcome Home - The press trucks!
A view from the windshield just for escort departure

Lined up to escort SFC Pasker
With the good, also must come the bad.  SFC Terryl Pasker was killed by an Afghan security guard while serving in Afghanistan.  For reasons not yet known the guard opened fire on two of our soldiers, killing SFC Pasker before being fatally shot by the second man in the same vehicle with SFC Pasker.  I decided to ride in escort of the remains and do funeral escort knowing the conditions would be quite hot.  The body was returned on July 15th, and about 30 bikes showed up to support the escort.  The ride itself was quite uneventful, and even noticed full semis pulling over to salute the fallen soldier, and a couple times actually blocking traffic for us while we escorted by.  While we did witness a number of folks showing their respect, there is always one or two idiots who just insist on being jerks, but with police escorting the motorcade, I noted one unlucky imbecile who was pulled over for failure to yield to a patrol officer.  Other than that we arrived in good order, rendered honors to the family and returned to our normal duties.

Pre Ride Briefing and prayer

The funeral escort took place July 18th, and with all the excessive heat warnings out, I took extra steps to make sure I was fully hydrated, even skipping my usual one cup of coffee to avoid the caffeine.  I took one quart of ice water with as a precaution, and headed out.  After a mix up in meeting places, I finally found the group, including a beautifully prepared  Freightliner semi that paid honor to the fallen heroes we escort.  What a beautiful truck!  We lined up and headed for the church, and got in our usual flag line, and that when the heat started taking a bit of a toll.  I drank my ice water, and three additional bottles of water.  I felt OK but it was becoming obvious the heat was going to be bad.  I took on some peanut butter crackers just to keep some calories in my stomach, but we waited a long long time for the services to conclude.  After one more bottle of water, we waited another 30 minutes before we started to head out to the cemetery.  At about the halfway point I realized I wasn't feeling right, but continued assuming we would have a chance for more water.  By the time we lined up and waited for everyone to arrive, it was 97 degrees, and I knew something was wrong, and as the service started, I looked at one of the fellow riders and asked for help. 

Standing Flag Line - HOT!!

I am doing better, well, the heart rate calmed down anyways.  The next day I decided as a safety measure to take a day off and try to let my body recover a bit.  In looking back, several things contributed to this.  One was the mistake of wearing a leather vest - a black leather vest, with a black tshirt, and not leaving the vest off during the flag line.  The other was the excessive time it took to get the funeral motorcade moving and the lengthy amount of time it took for everyone to gather, in effect prolonging the time we were standing in the heat.  The last was my caloric intake for the day was minimal.  My mistake was assuming we would be done by lunch time.  I had only one slice of peanut butter toast and some crackers.  My body was eating up more than I was taking in.  After conferring with the doctor, I was released to go home, but my days of doing that kind of thing are pretty much over.  The worry now is now that this has happened once, it can happen more frequently and could be damaging to my heart if allowed to go unchecked.  I am also told that I need to cut down on my stress level some.  This means no more jumping up and down screaming like a maniac when Michigan or Oregon loses a football game.  That means no more getting wound up about a car race.  That means that as much as my coworkers tick me off I must refrain from my usual "teddy bear" demeanor.  No more road rage, and no more arguments with Mary.  Well, lets not get carried away!

Truck leading the funeral motorcade
As for Mary - her pain has returned.  AGAIN!  Now the neurosurgeon wants to implant a nerve stimulator.  Not really sure what that will do, but results seem to be good with it.  The schedule is still iffy, but it looks like another three weeks off for recovery assuming all goes well.  The last surgery she needed more time to recover, so we will see how that goes.  She has been at work for about 3 weeks now, and she has been doing better, but the pain just keeps coming back.  As it turns out, her condition is degenerative, and genetic.  Her father had a similar condition, and suffered terribly from the constant back pain.  In those days they did not have the extensive treatments that are available today.  The surgery in January did relieve the pain in two areas, but this is a new area, and the condition will continue to work its was thru the back.  The kids are taking it well.  Jesse is working at Wal Mart while she contemplates her next "career" move.  She realizes school is important, but getting back is another matter.  Cheyenne - well, she has this disease - senioritis! She will be 17 in a few weeks, and she is already looking into graphic design.  I have watched her on the computer, and she does have an eye for it.  How we'll get the tuition, well, that's another story.

Arrival at Funeral Services

I was going to chat a few words about those yaywhos in Washington, but I think we're all hot enough under the collar about THAT!

Ahhhh Old Man Winter!!!

Peace & Love Everybody!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom Rings!

My stop on the Minnesota State Line
July 4th - the day we all as Americans celebrate our "independence", and a day we reflect on the freedoms we all enjoy.  Its amazing what you think about on the Harley - riding through the county roads, drifting around corners effortlessly, gazing over the landscape as you crest a hilly knoll.  Taking in the scenes, the aromas of summertime plumage.  Today is July 4th, and as usual, I took in a rather lengthy 450 miles on Melissa yesterday thinking about life, liberty, my own personal pursuit of happiness gone awry.  Spending some time NOT at my desk, but rather just getting away for a day to pause and take stock in the things I enjoy most - my wife, my daughters, family, friends.  This year has been a very testing and trying time for Mary Lou and I, but not without its rewards.  Even as I write, Mary is preparing to finally, we hope, return to work.  Our test has come full circle, we hope, but the time to celebrate is today - when we all must remember to thank those who have given us the freedoms we enjoy.  Who have sacrificed of themselves in some way to serve our country.  The next time you see a soldier, a sailor, an airman - thank THEM for their service, to our nation.  You'll be glad you did.

Found this sign in a little river resort
stop.  Almost think  this belongs
somewhere in Washington DC.
My riding has been, well, not riding.  Lately work has so overtaken my life that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I get up, go to work, come home, work some more, and collapse at 11:30 PM, only to rise at 5:30 AM the next morning and start all over.  That's not a life.  I finally decided to give myself a long weekend this July 4th and took a day to do nothing but ride.  Anywhere really, but this trip I went to Minnesota.  The route was not really meticulously planned, but I knew the area I wanted to ride - along the Mississippi River.  Some of the views this fall will be even better, but the route is very curvy and challenging, something I needed to take my mind off work.  Riding a bigger bike can be challenging anyway, but this route would help me understand weaknesses I have in my riding skills, so that I can work on those.  Fortunately, the only weakness I found was turning around from a wrong turn, but the riding was excellent.  Lots of viewing, some rocky cliffs overlooking the route, hilly peaks and curving cliffs made for an exciting way to spend an afternoon.   Finally after about four hours I ended up feeling a bit hungry and found a place to eat and call home.  Unfortunately I cut my trip short after finding out that I might run into rain on my way home if I had gone a different route, but instead I altered my planned route home and took the OTHER scenic route home - along the east side of the Mississippi.  Again - the views of the Mississippi River Valley are impressive, and even seeing the barge traffic was neat.  Still have to work on my navigation skills, though, as I took a couple more wrong turns, and was forced to turn back.  Note - if anyone is wondering, a great Christmas gift for me would be a navigation unit for my bike!

The GPS monument set by the
County.  The number will help
to locate the correct notes.
I did stop once to locate one site that has a personal interest to me, and the work I do as a land surveyor.  In September 2010, the local newspaper did an article about a survey of the original Iowa-Minnesota border in 1852.   The starting spot for that survey was a 12 inch x 12 inch oak post and was the starting point that crews used to begin the survey of the state boundary line.  Since that time, the original post has long since rotted away and was lost for a lengthy time, but last July, a crew of ten students led by one of the senior surveyors in the state restored the monument with a new one, which is located in a park just north of the town of New Albin, Iowa - a town that sits just south of the Iowa Minnesota border.  I didn't locate the post, but did locate a GPS survey marker in that same park area.  I will most likely return, after contacting that surveyor in hope that I can navigate to the post and write a short story about my findings.

One of the many rocky bluffs foound
along the Mississippi River - this one
in Winona, Minnesota.

Stay safe everyone - and Happy Fourth of July!

Peace and Love!