Saturday, November 28, 2015

Finally Turning Heads

Moisties, my best friend in college and I used to call them.  Moisties, as in pre or young teen aged girls who exist for three basic reasons: playing with make-up so they look like harlots, traveling in packs, and giggling constantly whether they be at an amusement park or a funeral.  Moisties, as in the kinds of girls who'd never have given us the time of day when we were their ages because they would have been WAY too cool to have associated with clean-cut, well-behaved, young gentlemen such as we were when we'd have been their schoolmates.  Moisties, whose primary domain was the shopping mall, wherever it might have been back then when malls were all the rage, the places to be, and weren't closing their doors and becoming photographic features in "Abandoned America" left and right.

I knew that when I became a scooterist, finally I'd be cool.  Cool enough not only to turn the heads of moisties as I rode by who'd see me on that big, loud scooter and wish they were forty years older than they were, as well as to turn the heads of their grandmothers who'd wonder what it would be like to have their lady parts pressed tightly against the pillion seat of a Piaggio BV250 with their arms wrapped for dear life around the manly frame of the tough guy who'd be maneuvering a kick-ass scooter through the valley traffic.  And, believe, me, I knew that all just as well as I knew it when I was convinced that volunteering to play the tuba in the high school marching band would make me a babe magnet of neodymium strength.  Sure enough, back then I had to move through crowds of adoring women by swinging the bell of my Sousaphone back and forth in front of me to clear a path, just as I now have to do with the yoke of my scooter.

So it was today at the Wyoming Valley Mall as I cockily strolled down the concourse with my hands wrapped sturdily around the handles of my walker, and the bumble of my Santa hat flopping back and forth with each confident step I took.  From the corners of my eyes I saw women checking me out shamelessly as if my being a scooterist was in my very blood and somehow I was giving off the scent of rugged biker - as if I were exuding scooter exhaust from every pore!

What most caught their attention though, especially that of the two moisties who were passing by giggling, was my phone sounding the ring tone assigned to my younger daughter.  There I was mid-stride with that same full sense of manliness that Travolta had to have been feeling as he swung through downtown Brooklyn with that shit eating grin on his face while "Stayin' Alive" blared in the background.  I was passing by one of the three dozen or so cell phone kiosks when the moisties and I heard it - that high pitched, squeaky, little girl voice of Agnes from "Despicable Me" calling from my phone the inimitable words, "Look at that fluffy unicorn!  It's so fluffy, I'm gonna die!" and repeating until it registered in my nearly 60 year old brain that my phone was ringing.

In that moment as I pulled the phone from my pocket and slid the virtual marker to the right to take the call, I could feel a sense of finally having made it to the big leagues as a man hitting me over the head like a cave woman's club might have done were I just a little older.  Finally!  Forty some years too late a couple of young teen aged girls noticed me.  I mean, really noticed me.  And until the full picture came into focus of me in my Santa hat, guiding a walker across the tiled floor, and answering a phone that was screaming about a fluffy unicorn...  It felt good!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Real Scooter Post!

This is probably the most on target scooter post you'll see here, so if you're a visitor who doesn't give a rat's ass about my other brain rambling posts that might or might not have anything specific to do with scooters , I encourage you to savor it.

I noticed some time ago, on a day when I took a 102 mile ride up and down and across the valley, that there are three distinct positions in which I can sit on the scooter and that each of them more or less depends on where I choose to place my feet. 

By far the position in which I ride most often is this one.  My heels are firmly planted at the very front of the sideboards, with my toes and most of my feet extended off to the sides.  Sitting this way is most comfortable as it allows me to lean backward to some degree and I find that to be less tiring on my spine and butt.  I've noticed one other significant thing about this position.  In it, my knees bend out to the sides and into the wind, past the sides of the front fairing.  For some odd aerodynamic reason, this creates an airflow that bypasses my face which is especially good in both very hot and very cold weather.  If I could measure the difference in the flow of air that's going around my face rather than directly at it as it does in the other two positions, I would bet that the difference is significant.  It's odd to me that in spite of the high windshield on the bike, the placement of my knees seems more significant in keeping my face out of the wind.  If I were to replace the BV250, the ability to ride with my feet positioned like this would be a major requirement for a new bike.

It can be noted that an additional reason I prefer my feet out to the sides like this is that from the front it gives me the appearance of being on a cruiser style motorcycle so that oncoming bikers will return "the wave" rather than snub me while thinking, "Oh, look at the old man on the scooter, thinking that I'm going to return his bike wave."

I think of this second position is that of a more classic European scooter rider as I picture those continental chaps scootering about with their backs up ramrod straight as if they'd just come from the chiropractor's office.  My feet are flat on the sideboards causing me to sit most directly upright.  In this position, as in the first, my calves and upper legs are protected from the apparent wind created by the scooter's speed, but the trade-off is that the airflow to my face is increased.  Because I'd rather my face be least buffeted I tend to sit like this only when I'm giving my back a rest, or when I'm cruising along in leisurely fashion where I can cruise at a slower speed to savor the sights, smells, and sounds of my surroundings and when I don't have some other motorist hot on my tail because he's in a hurry.

I'm trying my best here not to go off on the tangent where I get all pissed off because most drivers seem to be okay with following a slow moving tractor trailer or piece of farm equipment, but want to run you off the road if you're on a scooter going just as slowly.

This third distinct position has the balls of my feet planted on the sideboard, with my heels free.  It's the one I use the least because it angles my upper body forward which I find to be comfortable only if my spine really needs a break because I've been riding for a significant amount of time.  Like the second position it tends to bring my knees behind the fairing which causes the airflow to come back at my face.  And, in my mind's eye it makes me look like a twenty-something on a crotch rocket which I definitely don't want to look like at any cost, so even if my back is aching you won't find me sitting like this anywhere except on the most remote back roads and byways.

There is, of course, this last position, but I only "ride" like this in the evening on chilly days.  It's totally comfortable, but least gratifying.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When the Place Becomes the Post

It took me a little while to get the screen brightness and the angle of the screen just right so I could write here, outdoors, under a full sun, but I'm finally fulfilling that urge from last week to write from a remote location.  I'm at a municipal park, by a picnic table alongside a baseball field, although I had pondered what might have transpired had I simply walked into someone's backyard where there was a table and chairs, and set up camp.  Seeing an old geezer sitting in one's yard typing might be less disturbing than other things said geezer might be found doing in one's yard, but while such thoughts come to me now and then, because as I'm often reminded  "normal" is just a setting on a washing machine, I don't usually act on them.  Well, unless sufficiently dared or given some other compelling impetus to do so.
The dot just beyond the first base line is where I set up camp to type today's blog entry.

There are times when I buy something on impulse and am barely back to the house when my brain starts yelling, "What the hell did you buy THAT for?  Such is not the case, though, with the Bluetooth keyboard which is interfaced with the tablet and upon which I am now typing.  The key spacing is nearly identical to that on a full sized keyboard so that I'm keying my thoughts just as quickly as I can do on the desktop PC keyboard.  Most crucial, that all important backspace key is right where my finger expects to find it, so all is good!

 The scooter barely fits through the opening beside the closed and locked gate to the fields.

The peacefulness out here is even deeper than by my desk at home where street noise is an ambient undercurrent to which one grows accustomed, but which is always somewhat distracting.  Admittedly there's a nearby crow that caws out a guttural hello now and then, but he's part of the overall scene here and very welcome as long as he doesn't fly overhead and feel the need to gift me.  I could get used to a place like this very quickly, but for the coming winter which my joints and other parts of me are already fearing.  

 How much happier I'd be overall if there were never the threat of snow, and I'll never understand in a million years the people who look forward to its coming.  For one who used to prefer the cold to the heat of summer, I'm starting to become one of those old people who bundle up in multiple layers just to watch the evening's offering on TV.  I'm finding my sitting here in a full sunbeam to be most pleasant, no doubt though because of low humidity, a gentle breeze, and not much heat being radiated back at me from surrounding objects.  

 What might it have been like had I been able to spend my career by teaching in an outdoor setting such as this one?  But, today's a relatively perfect day as far as days go with the sun and breeze so well balanced, and all without bugs except for the stray ant who was here on the table when I arrived.

I need to mention that without the scooter I couldn't be here.  The entrance to this area of the sports complex is gated to prevent vehicular access, but a small gap in the fencing allows the Piaggio and me to sneak though.  Oh, I suppose a desperate person might park in the parking lot at the other end and hike to where I am, but since any lengthy walking these days done by yours truly is with the aid of a wheeled walker, it would not be I walking from the lot to where I am now.


It shouldn't surprise me, I suppose, that the simple place from which I'm writing this has become the focus of the post.  I've done that before when writing from somewhere other than at my usual space by my desk.  It's so truly liberating this feeling of isolation and peacefulness, that it would be difficult to concentrate on other things if I needed to do so.  What I write here for the blog, while it will be read by a few others, is really for me as kind of an extension to the keen introspection that often occupies me when I'm on the scooter heading nowhere in particular.  I want to remember these most pleasant moments in the days ahead when the daylight will become shorter yet and the temperatures, even in full sunlight will confine me to the usual PC desk in a way that's nearly claustrophobic.  I want to fill up on times like this to sustain me during winter’s grip of the cold and the darkness that will virtually enshroud my spirit for weeks on end.


Part of why I take so many pictures, on and off the scooter, is to catalog and store up memories for when I need to return to them to help me move myself beyond a stronghold of negative things, be they weather phenomena, health issues, general doldrums, or other items of mental rubbish that need to be purged.  Blog entries, too, can take me back when I need them to, to easier, simpler, more joyful times than the ones in which I’m facing some forms of unpleasant reality.  I can easily envision this post to be one that I’ll revisit more than once during the winter months, not only to savor the memories of what is, at the moment, a delicious day all around, but to give me something to look forward to when the double whammy of cold and dark creeps into my bones and does its best to make me sigh, “Meh,” as my daughters would grunt in less than ideal times and circumstances.


In just a little while I’ll put the finishing touches on this piece of writing, pack up my things, and head out of this wonderful bit of time in which I’m wallowing.  Back at the house I’ll put this together with the pictures I’ve taken while pausing between paragraphs and sentences, no doubt by then with some supper in me and my evening lounging clothes on me.  After that it will be time to read a few friends’ two-wheel blogs, savor something warm - something Sonja M. might refer to as a “cuppa” – and pull in the sidewalk for another long (almost winter’s) nap.  Life is good today.  Here’s a prayer that tomorrow will be too, for all of us.  God bless us, everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Weighing in on the Red Cup

I was talking recently about the walking I've been doing since the cardiac issues and noted that I was walking at the local mall the past few days because the weather's been crappy.  I was pointing out that with Radio Shack now gone from there, there's NOTHING left for a guy my age to enjoy shopping for.  Clothes, shoes, jewelry, and cell phones.  That's about it.  We used to have two book stores, the Shack, and Spencer's for me to look around in while the rest of the family went about spending our money on clothes and shoes and jewelry.  The horror of the story was when I pointed out that there's nothing left in Spencer's for me any more either which led the person to whom I was talking to suggest that maybe I'd finally grown up.  God forbid!  

Could it really be that the Offical Fart Joke Book, and the tongue depressor and adhesive tape gift box for guys with E.D. are no longer funny?  Am I so far beyond the psychedelic flashing lights and wall sized posters of glamor girls that there's nothing left for me but a nursing home?  Suddenly feeling all adult like would demand that I take on serious pursuits like digging back into Kant's Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, or taking on the current Starbucks' Red Cup Controversy?  I chose the latter.  It allowed me to take the scooter up to Starbucks just in time for their two-for-the-price-of-one special on holiday drinks.  I actually sat on the scooter in their parking lot for five minutes before venturing in because I was early for the offer that didn't start till 2 PM.  If that wasn't adult behavior, I don' know what is.

Just in case you missed the longer yellow bus, the red cup thing has to do with Starbucks issuing a holiday cup this year that's red, but devoid of the secular Christmas/holiday decorations their holiday cups featured in the past.  Now, I don't drink Starbucks coffee.  Ever.  It's overpriced and tastes like mule piss.  But I had to get me one of those nefarious red cups just to post pictures here.  Who says that blogging isn't serious journalism?

Here I am with my "Satan Sipper" as Ellen Degeneres called it in her recent tongue-in-cheek take on the issue.  For years Ellen was on my idiot list because of the sitcom she had years ago in which she played a self deprecating buffoon of sorts.  I didn't like her because she was always putting herself down.  Hearing what she had to say about the red cup, though, gave me somewhat of an appreciation for her wit.  Even if a staff writer came up with what she had to say, she executed it very nicely.  The quote that hit me was this, "The old cups had snow flakes, and Santa's sleigh, and elves.  You know - all the things you find in the Bible."  This in no way pokes fun at Scripture, but it does put into perspective how the religious/secular natures of Christmas have gotten all messed up and have become blurred.  Yes, Christmas began with the celebration of Christ's birth, but it's also celebrated as a secular holiday by many folks who aren't Christian and I do not begrudge them that. 

For many centuries we, Christians, have co-existed relatively peacefully with other religions.  Oh, yes.  Let there be no doubt that we acted shamefully at times throughout history.  We led violent purges against others, and acted complacently when others were being persecuted while we sat back and watched, but eventually we came to our senses.  We had our Christmas and nobody seemed to think we were somehow being out of line with all of our celebrating.  For a long time others tolerated, dare I even suggest enjoyed the festive nature of our wreaths, our trees, our creches even on "public" lands, our Santa traditions, our holly, and ivy, and carols, and I don't think we were bringing Western civilization to its knees.

Then, along came one particular religion that shall remain nameless here, which for some reason all the others felt a need to defer to.  The die-hard liberals made it such that we found it necessary to step back, bow down, and kow-tow to its adherents in spite of their holy book being full of hatred and urgings toward violence until every one of us becomes one of them.  Yeah, that pisses me off.  Should we really abandon Christmas and the way of life that believing the birth of Christ was something special demands because somebody might be "offended" by it?  Hell, no!  But I don't think that's what Starbucks is suggesting we do.

One Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of Design and Content has this to say.  "In the past we have told stories with our holiday cup designs.  This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.  Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays.  We're embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it.  It's (a) more open way to usher in the holiday."

Really?  A sanctuary?  Starbucks?  That's the kind of bullshit writing I should have majored in.  Marketing, do they call that?  Public relations?  It's like lawyer-speak, but even more blatantly dishonest.

I have long said that if the mission statement (And I'd dearly love to strangle the jackass who invented the useless mission statement in the first place.) of any company doesn't start with, "To make as much money as possible by...," then it's dishonest.  If the big wigs at Starbucks think that using this plain red cup will increase their holiday sales, God bless them.  It's not their business to honor, respect, promote or otherwise acknowledge in a positive light any particular religious tradition.  It's their business to fatten the pots of their stockholders.  But...  If the red cup either positively or negatively impacts their sales, we're in a sorrier state as a species than I'd ever have believed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Just to the Store

I got a hankering for a good bowl of chili yesterday after breakfast and because I've never found a local establishment that makes a truly excellent pot it would be up to me to craft my usual brew of it.  My recipe is my own, tweaked a little just about each time I make a batch, but with the same basic framework that keeps it more or less consistently decent.  Most of the things I need to make it I keep on hand because after I make a pot I generally stock up on the canned items I'll need for another on the next trip to the supermarket.  I almost always have onions in the pantry, and ground meat in the big freezer. Shopping for a pot of chili usually requires picking up a green pepper and a bunch of celery, and nothing beats the scooter for a quick run to the nearest supermarket which is only a few blocks away.

As I rounded the turn into the supermarket parking lot I did a double take and saw a bike rider's worst nightmare - a bike down in the middle of the two parking aisles nearest to the entrance to the store.  By the time I could put down my own kickstand and take a picture, the owner who seemed unscathed had gotten it back up only seconds before I could press the shutter release.  Judging from the small crowd of people who had gathered just since I had come around that corner on my way in, I missed witnessing the accident by less than a minute, and perhaps missed being IN it by fewer than two.  Getting myself knocked over on the scooter isn't something I consider as a possibility when I'm just running to the store.  Then again, do I ever really consider it within the genuine realm of possibility?

I've read quite a bit about gear recently, from a somewhat derisive viewpoint in which us NON ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME folks are referred to as "squids," to a very nicely done blog post in which the author compiles some statistics revealing scooter riders to be, perhaps, the least careful of riders when it comes to dressing appropriately for the occasion of taking a ride.  I'm a squid, comfortable in my own tentacles, jokingly saying that the only gear I changed when I went from the 50cc scooter to the BV 250 was to swap out my flip flops for a pair of sneakers with some tread.  I think us scooter riders, in general, perceive the dangers out there facing motorcyclists as being less than for our bigger engined and chromed friends simply because our machines are simpler and less noisy. 

 Not only is it riding a humble scooter that gives me the illusion of being safer, but I suppose against the supposed belief that most accidents happen within a few miles of one's own home, I sort of think that nothing's going to happen if I'm just going to the store rather than on a pilgrimage to Sturgis.  I guess the best any of us can do, after we've confronted our own fears with the calculated risks that we know we take, whether we're talking about riding a bike or going out in the cold without a hat in the winter (I put that last one in there for my mom.) is to go boldly wherever we're going in full hopes of getting there without a scratch.

Although I hadn't checked any weather forecasts when I started the chili simmering yesterday, it turned out to be the perfect day for a hot pot of something good.  I've snitched by the spoonful and sampled it all day, and I do believe it's about time for me to fill a bowl and get ready to face a rainy, cold evening warm, at least, on the inside.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shiver Me Timbers!

I was so thrilled to have written yesterday's blog entry at least in part from the "open road" (i.e., about 4 miles away from where I hang my hat and park the scooter) that I was hell bent on doing it again today.  And why not?  The temperature on the deck was 60°F under a cloudy sky with a 0% chance of precipitation.  A light jacket over my flannel shirt with a tee shirt underneath and a good pair of gloves, and I'd be warm enough to head to the state park that was my intended blogging destination.  It was a brisk ride and when I got to the lake from which I planned to type these very words (or some similar other words) I headed to a lakeside picnic table with my writing gear and started in on my apple while watching a bunch of ducks playing in the water.  A beautiful day in spite of cloudy but non-threatening skies.  God was in His heaven and all was right with my ride.

Before the apple was half eaten, I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers.  The wind, while not necessarily howling was making itself heard and felt, and it's a factor that a glance at the thermometer doesn't take into account.  I really should have known that setting up camp alongside a lake on an autumn day that isn't sunny wouldn't be such a hot idea, but when it comes to deciding when to go riding and what to wear, I tend to be an idiot.  Now I don't mind when my idiocy shows when I remark, "I'm an idiot," and hear a sweet voice ask sweetly, "Yeah, but whose idiot are you?" to which I get to reply, "Yours!" but when I'm alone and have to admit sheepishly to myself that I made another bonehead move, it tends not to have that cutesy ending.

Now in spite of my apple being half polished off and my fingers freezing I still planned to get out the stuff and start writing what you'd be reading here.  On the second half of that apple, though, thoughts of this old computer chair at home were starting to sound pretty darned good.  Truth be told, I was starting to wonder how I was going to get my sorry ass home with at least a little feeling left in my fingers. 

Pity the ducks in that cold water, but they didn't seem to mind the chill in the least as they frolicked about and made raucous noises like Burgess Meredith playing the role of the Penguin on the old Batman series that I loved as a kid.  I'd worn a pair of gloves that I was fairly certain would get my hands back to being toasty with real fur of some kind on the inside and leather on the outside.  They'd been my dad's and Mom tells me that he already had them when they got married in '56, but sentimentality aside, they failed miserably at getting my fingertips any warmer when I donned them for the ride back, and by the time I got home I swore I was going to have frostbite with which to contend.

What might I have written from the lake had things gone differently and I hadn't given in to the cold to the core feeling in my fingertips?  I truly don't know, but something would have come to mind.  Instead, however, I'm left with this narrative of yet another poor choice in riding apparel.  If I had a buck for every time I went out for a ride only to end up beginning a thought with, "Gee, I should have worn...," I'd be going out for a first rate lobster dinner this evening.

To salvage the ride, though, when I got back to the house and rode down the alleyway to the backyard I saw at the far end of the yard the two feral kitties that I'd scared earlier when I came out of the house like a bull elephant and headed to the scooter.  They sat there calmly as I parked the bike, dismounted, and drew out the camera slowly, and I knew I had just the perfect leftover chicken thigh in the fridge to share with them.  They warmed my heart at least, though they did nothing for my fingers.

Friday, November 6, 2015

On the Road Again

It had been a number of years since I started the blog and then one day got the bright idea that it would be very cool if I could write some of my posts untethered.  At that time the best I could do was to get my hands on an old IBM Thinkpad which was rather clumsy and which didn't have USB ports by which to transfer a written file from it to the PC for publishing.  

 Through the years I got a netbook and while it does a good job of things it takes forever for it to boot up and to launch programs.  With my extremely low patience threshold I knew after an attempt or two that it just wasn't going to work for on the road writing.  When I got a full sized laptop, it was a bit cumbersome to take out on the scooter, and far too good a piece of tech to risk anything happening to it out in the elements. And later even when I got a tablet it didn't take long to realize that I wasn't going to be typing anything serious on it longer than about a sentence.  It's like texting on the phone, which I despise on those touch screen keyboards; good for about a sentence or two, tops.

There I was at Best Buy a few days ago just window shopping when I came upon the cutest little Bluetooth keyboard that would connect nicely to my tablet.  Actually, there were two different kinds - one with a built in tablet easel and one that was just a keyboard.  After playing with both and then leaving the store to take my walk and to mull over which keyboard I thought would better suit my needs, I returned about an hour later and chose the one without the easel.  I already have a tablet cover that becomes a quick, easy easel, and using it would allow me to buy the much more compact keyboard which had a definite better feel to it.

So here I am at the county park that I often haunt, composing my first blog post using the tablet and keyboard.  I'm liking it very much, and foresee a lot more "on the road" posts coming your way, albeit mostly from the other side of winter.  Okay, admittedly it took me way too many tries with various pieces of communications technology, but I do believe that this time I have it right.

And, chicken that I am, when the wind started blowing up at the park and the sky got ominously grey awfully fast, I hightailed it out on the scooter.  I'm continuing this piece from the comfort of my deck, and with a warm cup of coffee to boot!

While I was still on the way to the park I rode for a time behind a dumpster truck that had "DOG DAZE" printed behind the cab.  Apparently that's the "name" of the truck.  I laugh frequently when I'm in a gated community at times (which I think of and refer to as the "Communist compound because of the elitist ways of its inhabitants) and ride around seeing all the little signs to indicate what the homeowners have named their properties and homes.  Does a house really need a dorkish sounding name like "Sparrow Villa" or "Windy Willows?"   I think not, unless you're the sort who likes to have little dinner parties for your elitist friends and such.  But, then again, why would some burly driver of a dumpster truck need to name his rig "Dog Daze?"

I should shut up now because I know some of my friends have named their scooters with cutesy sounding monikers, although I don't think any of them stop by here to read my scooter ramblings.  When I started the blog I never revealed its URL to my family and friends.  Many years ago, before the open internet as we know it was up and running,  I  belonged to a local BBS named "The Den" by its sysop, Bear.  It might sound silly, but when I logged into The Den, it felt like I was in a warm cozy different place rather than just at my own home in my computer chair.  It was like a hide-away place where I could "go" and express myself without worrying about what my family and friends might think about my writings.  Scootin' Da Valley is sort of like that to me now.  While it's not a "place" in my head like The Den was, I can still write from that part of myself that wishes to stay somewhat private.  On Facebook, they can all see what I think, but what I choose to share here is somehow different to me in a way that I can't explain.

Sometimes I write myself in to a corner in a way in which there's no way to end a piece that tidies up the random thoughts that come out of my fingertips as I'm writing.  This is one of those times, so I will bid you "Until next time!" dear reader without the kind of ending that leaves one feeling, "Ahhhh!" as one might at the bottom of a cup of hot chocolate that hit the spot in just the right way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Shadow Knows

I can't say that I grew up ever really wanting to ride a motorcycle.  (We're not going to quibble here about if a scooter is a motorcycle or an entirely different being.  To me it's a type of motorcycle as a Sousaphone is a type of tuba though there are purists in low brass circles who disagree.)  Anyway, riding as I do on the scooter is nothing I ever dreamed about when I was a kid and thinking about all the fun I planned to have when I was all grown up.  (Neither am I going to argue about whether or not I'm grown up.)  Oh, I know I put a playing card on my bicycle sometimes so it would make that brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp sound, but not with any delusions in my own mind's eye of trying to present myself as if I were a biker on a Harley.

There are some things with which I just never occupied my thoughts as a kid because I knew (in some part of my brain that Freud might not have given its own name) that certain thoughts would just have been absolutely unthinkable.  Like asking my mom if we could get a dog.  Like asking my dad for a go at the circular saw.  Like telling either of them that I'd like to get a motorcycle of any sort.  It would have been simply out of the question, so my brain didn't bother itself with any fantasies of the kind.

When I got my first scooter, for a time the novelty of being on it and riding around was just utterly fantastic.  This was myself cruising around on a two wheeled motorized bike! I saw myself almost as if on the sidewalk watching myself go by sometimes rather than from the viewpoint of the rider.  I was doing the unimaginable!  The unthinkable!  The verboten!  I was riding a bike and not working up a sweat!  I was on two wheels as when I was 10 and on my trusty bicycle, but this time my chariot had a gasoline engine and no pedals!

Admittedly, I've gotten used to being on the scooter and the novelty is well worn off.  My viewpoint is no longer from the observer's perspective; I'm the guy holding the yoke and controlling the movement.  It's still a thrill to ride every time I'm on it and it's no less enjoyable if it's my tenth ride or my thousandth.  But, most of the time I miss the glee of being surprised in what I'm doing and having overcome the "Don't you even think about it" barrier.

Until I see my shadow, that is!  Every time I see that the black silhouette on the pavement is clearly the two dimensional, dark doppelganger of me on the scooter, that initial glee of having overcome the boundaries of the unthinkable is with me once again.  This time of year, especially, as in the spring, the longer than usual shadows are hard to miss and I take much delight in seeing that black 15 foot high silhouette of me not going by, but accompanying me.

For the record, I had a dog too after I left Mom and Dad's house.  And I built some decent things while using a circular saw.  They never quite thrilled me, though, as much as riding that scooter - something about which I never dreamed.

It's nice to be reminded, by something as simple as a shadow, that even the wildest undreamt dreams sometimes come true - that life is full of surprises and some of the biggest and best never get old or stop thrilling us.

No matter how long those shadows get, as long as there's no ice or snow on the roads I'll be out there enjoying each of the seasons as I'm able and recounting here the thoughts that come to me as I'm riding along usually going nowhere in particular.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Time Enough

I grew up in a loving home with what were essentially two sets of parents - my mom and dad, and my maternal grandparents - until I was in the fourth grade and Mom and Dad built a new home for us in the late 60s.  My grandfather, affectionately known simply as Gramps to my sister and me, was my first hero, and to this day remains as the one person I'd most like to be like if I ever grow up.

I learned many things from Gramps.  Calligraphy.  Music.  Cleverness.  I learned, such as the time when I got a spanking with his belt for using scissors on a Sunday, that the Lord's Commandments were to be taken seriously.  (That "Keep holy the Lord's Day" thing meant no servile work in our house.)  I learned that St. Anthony was the go to guy when things were lost.  (Gramps would sometimes hide something he knew I was going to be looking for, and then tell me to pray to St. Anthony.  Lo, and behold, if after saying a prayer the thing for which I had been looking didn't show up right in a spot I knew I'd already checked.  Another miracle!)  But if there was one thing I learned from Gramps above all else, it was that being late for anything was unforgivable!

He used to say frequently, "It's better to be an hour early than a minute late."  I thought it was an original saying of his until I did a bit of research before starting to write this entry only to find that it was The Bard himself in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," who wrote, "...better three hours too soon than a minute too late."  I grew up knowing that being late was simply something I'd better not ever be.  To this day I have a very low tolerance for persons who are known for being late to everything and who show up just expecting their lateness to be okay.  It isn't.  It says, "I'm better than you.  I expect you just to wait patiently until I decide to bless you with my presence."  It's rude.  It's inconsiderate.  I deserve and expect better than to be kept waiting for anybody.  But I digress...

It was when I was resetting the clock on the dashboard of the scooter this morning that got me to thinking about time - its passage, its fleeting quickness when one is doing something pleasurable, its crawling slowly when one is about doing things that aren't fun in the least.  Its being considered an illusion by more than one philosopher.  Its being constant and continuous except at the speed of light at which point Einstein theorized that it is neither.  Its being the one thing that on my deathbed I will painfully regret having come to the end of that portion of it that was allotted to me.  For this last reason, I detest when my time is wasted in pursuits that are not to my liking or in waiting for others who haven't the decency to be on time.

As I finished resetting the time on the digital display and took off, time was on my mind and I knew my thoughts about it would somehow end up here.  That's why I rode downtown first - to get this picture which I knew would well accompany anything I might crank out to share with you.

I realized as I thought about it that I enjoy getting around the city and surrounding municipalities much faster on the scooter than in a car.  With the twist and go transmission I'm away from a stop like a bullet compared to the cars that take a good while longer to lumber along and catch up with me, and I can usually sneak through even the shortest of yellows at traffic lights with a nimble twist of the wrist on the throttle.  I can zip around obstacles for which other vehicles have to wait and I can get to most places at the last minute (but still on time) and create a parking space just about anywhere.  To someone as obsessed with being on time as I am, the scooter is the only way to fly, perhaps short of literally flying itself.

Though he never owned a car, I think that Gramps might have liked having a scooter.  I wish he'd had one.  I might've gotten more time to spend with him in the time he might have saved in getting from one place to another - on time or obnoxiously early, of course.

Although it might not still be up there when you're reading this, I created this picture to serve as the blog header for a while.  Behind me is my grandparents' former home where we lived with them till I was 10, and where I learned the importance of being on time.