Sunday, June 30, 2024

The luxury of failure

It’s been said a person learns more from their failures than from their successes. That may be true but the lessons learned can be very different from person to person. One of the big factors is the cost of failure. 

Does anyone else get sick and tired of hearing about a person’s many failures before they found success? If you have wealth or come from a family with resources failure isn’t too dire. Heck, someone will probably end up writing it off their taxes. Nobody is going to miss any meals. 

If a person of little means fails the costs can be dramatic. Say someone invests their pitiful life savings in a business and it goes under. Those savings are gone and sorely missed. There’s no money to try again. Vehicles and houses are repossessed. Meals are missed. The stress tears families apart. 

It’s said the way to win big is to risk big. That’s not exactly useful. For every big winner there are a multitude of losers. Only a person of means can afford to keep risking big. 

It’s not just mistakes in business that are hazardous for the poor. Let’s say that, against the odds, you get a degree in a high paying field. Odds are big student loans will be necessary. That expensive degree better pay well. What if you get that job and find you hate it? A well off person can quit and find something else. The person with massive loans has to suck it up or get financially destroyed. Remember, not matter what, student loans have to be repaid. 

Obviously the system is rigged in favor of the well off. Once you understand the game you can decide how to play it. It’s not a surprise that hustle culture is falling out of favor. Most of the benefits of the hustle don’t go to the hustler but to the businesses they serve. Many people are reclaiming their time and taking better care of the health, both physical and mental. The risks of going for the big score are too high for many people. Instead they are looking for a balance that will make them happy instead of rich. 


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Crazier than my friends

Over the years I’ve experienced a lot of interesting adventures. In my younger years it wasn’t too hard to find friends who were willing to do wild things. Young men, in general, don’t make the wisest decisions. That’s why the military wants to get them before they get too smart. 

Thirty below zero? Sure, let’s go on a snowshoeing adventure. Three day camping trip living off the land? Sounds like fun. Free climbing mountain cliffs? No problem. Plenty of friends wanted to join me. My white water canoe trips attracted lots of interest. 

I almost signed up for the Water Tribe small boat race. I even built a boat for the event and lined up a  good friend who was willing to take time off from work to do the event with me. That fell apart. However, my lovely wife and I took our Oday 19 sailboat down about 90% of the route in a much more relaxed manner without dealing with the race rules. 

My lovely wife was often very willing to partake in adventures. Hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, sailing, van life -you name it, she was good to go. 

So who’s going to join me on the Scooter Cannonball? None of my friends have any interest in the event. Of course, we are all getting long in the tooth. That might be an issue. It could be as simple as me finally finding something too crazy for even my crazy friends. 

This looks like it might be a solo event. 

. . . however, I do have a daughter who expressed an interest in driving a support truck for me. Must be my genes influencing her to make crazy decisions. 

 . . . or maybe she’s afraid what her dear old dad will get up to without adult supervision. 


Friday, June 28, 2024

Knees and hips and other things

When I joined the fire service my dad gave me some great advice. Back then we were still riding on the pumper tailgates while standing up. 

Dad said to always bend your knees. It doesn’t matter how tired you are never lock your legs. Here I am at 66 and my knees and hips are in pretty good shape. That’s impressive considering I’m overweight. 

Most of the guys I worked with had knee and/or hip replacements. My fire captain had 5 knee replacements and ended with a fusion when the last knee went bad. 

It’s funny how a little bit of advice can save you a world of trouble down the line. Of course you have to actually listen to the advice. 

Back in high school there were a lot of people who smoked to look cool. Lung cancer isn’t cool. Even if you avoid the big dangers smoking will age you. It’s really bad for the skin. I’m glad I never started smoking.

Drinking to excess will catch up to -one way or the other. Same goes for hard drugs. 

Bad food will take its toll. I’m fat but I’m fat on good food. Maybe that’s why my sugar and blood pressure results are decent? Actually, maybe it’s just luck with good genetics. 

Here’s one that makes a huge difference: find the right partner in life. So much agony, grief, and financial ruin can happen in the wrong relationship. All the health and financial advice can be tossed out the window if you have a bad relationship. They don’t even have to be bad people -just people who aren’t right for you. Being single is much better than suffering through a bad situation. 

So much in life is unavoidable so it makes sense to practice good habits for the things you can control.


Thursday, June 27, 2024

Worse came to worse

In my previous post I wrote about wrenching on the motor scooter. I installed Dr. Pulley variator weights in the transmission. They were supposed to improve performance. Meh. Maybe they did, but they just didn’t feel as smooth as Honda original parts. Perhaps my installation wasn’t quite perfect? Anyway, I also went back to Honda parts for reliability. 

I think I’m done trying to tweak better performance out of the scooter. To be honest my biggest gains in performance can be accomplished by losing weight. So far I’ve taken off about 30 pounds. Since signing up for the Cannonball I’m getting really serious about taking more off. 

Even if I take off another 100 pounds I’ll still be a big man. There is no way I can beat those little flyweight guys. 150 cc of engine power can only do so much. My goal is to finish without missing any checkpoints and to enjoy the ride. 

There’s an outside chance I might have family following me in a support truck. That would be wonderful. Quite a few pounds could be shaved loading my gear and tools into the support truck. Just in case that doesn’t happen I signed up for the official Cannonball support truck. Of course, they have to accommodate a lot of people. They will pick you up if you breakdown, which is nice. Plus they’ll carry some parts and tires for you. 

I’m invested in the event and it’s inspired me to eat better and get more exercise. Whatever works, right?


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wrenching on the Scoot

The drive belt on my 2013 Honda PCX was original. Considering how hard it’s been working hauling me around it seemed like a good time to change it. 

I thought I had all the tools needed to change it on the road if I had to. Nope. I was wrong about that. Turns out I was missing an 8mm socket. Most of the bolts could have been turned with my other wrenches but two were deeply countersunk and needed a socket. After digging around in my various tool boxes one finally showed up. 

The old belt actually didn’t look too bad. Of course, they can have internal flaws that add up over time. While it was all apart I changed the old roller weights in the variator. They were replaced with Dr. Pulley sliders. The original weights showed wear so I’m glad to have changed them. 

For backup I’m going to buy a complete variator assembly with rollers. The Dr. Pulley ones are an experiment. Worse comes to worse always go back to OEM parts. 

That rain moved in as the last bolts were being tightened. I only did about a half mile test run but it didn’t seem to have any issues. Everything ran smoothly. A complete test can wait until the sun comes out again. 


Monday, June 24, 2024

Between Storm Bands

We’ve all seen the weather people on TV get overly excited about every little storm. When they get a significant storm to cover they go a bit nuts. 

So here in New Hampshire we had tornado warnings -a fairly uncommon event. I don’t get too excited about that sort of thing. Tornadoes don’t last too long in the mountains. What is of greater concern are the hailstorms. Actually, the most life threatening component of storms is the flooding. That’s an issue over the majority of the country, and even in places where you wouldn’t think it was a problem. 

The day started out with steady rain. Sometime after lunch that came to an end. It seemed to me that the whole storm watch was overblown. That happens often enough. Once the rain stopped I went for a ride on the scooter. 

The storm wasn’t over. We were just between storm bands. After driving about 15 miles down the road it started to cloud up again. A couple miles later the clouds got really dark. That’s when I turned around  and headed for home. I beat the rain by about ten minutes. 

We had some amazing thunderstorms but were on the edge of them the whole time. It wasn’t even that windy at my place, but there loud booms in the distance. There was plenty of rain though so I would have gotten pretty soaked had I kept riding. 

Note to self: get better rain gear.


Sunday, June 23, 2024

Put up or shut up day

It was put up or shut day for registering for the Scooter Cannonball Run. I’ve been yammering on about it for a while. Previous participants had a week or two before now to register. The remaining slots opened up Saturday at 10 a. m..  

The registration site got hammered with traffic. It took a bit but I was eventually able to get the process started. That was going well until it came time to pay. 

My card was declined. Okay . . .  So I was thinking that maybe I entered something incorrectly? Reloading the information didn’t work -a few times. 

Then I called my bank. They placed me on hold for a quite a while. Their fraud line was super busy for some reason. Eventually a human came on the line. The Cannonball had been flagged as a possible fraudulent purchase. After being put on hold three times the card was finally released. 

With the bank guy still on the phone I attempted the registration process again. No joy. However, the bank guy was able to determine that it was the Cannonball web site shutting me out this time -probably due to my multiple attempts. 

So I called up Dave at the Cannonball. He was able to manually enter in all my information and the purchase finally went through.

Now I’m registered as Sixbears and my number is 58. The event is a year away -which is good as I’ve got to work hard to get into condition. 

Should be fun.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Housing Woes

A good friend’s sister is visiting from Florida. She was saying how insurance and HOA fees are eating her alive. She’s only owned her place for a few years and these higher expenses are a real hardship. Let’s see what happens after this coming hurricane season. 

My wife’s church here is New Hampshire is facing much higher insurance costs. Apparently her church’s insurance is combined with all the other churches in the country. A big increase in one area, such as Florida, raises the rates across the board. The people in Northern New Hampshire aren’t too keen on paying for hurricane risks they’ve never experienced. 

A newly married couple I’m friends with has been looking for a decent house for the last year and a half. Our real estate has taken a jump. It’s not as crazy as in other parts of the country but our wages tend to be lower too. What we have is a lot of people who are moving north from high cost areas. Our higher costs don’t see high to them. 

Usually by this part of the economic cycle we start to see lower housing prices. That has started to happen in a few areas but just a few. Of course rents have also risen. Personally, I’m lucky I’ve been in my home for a long time. A decent apartment in town would cost twice what I’m paying each month to live here on the lake. That’s just crazy. 

One thing about the housing market -things can turn on a dime so be aware.


Friday, June 21, 2024

Beating the heat

The heatwave appears to be over for now. It’s late Thursday evening as I write this. Rain moved in and dropped the temperature down to around 70. Fans are drawing the cooler air into the house. 

I was thinking back to the last time is was this hot in June. About 30 years ago I went to the Laconia Bike Week event. Temperatures got over 100 degrees. Back then I was riding a KZ-900 motorcycle. The big four cylinder air cooled engine threw off a lot of heat while sitting in traffic. A couple times I pulled over to shut the bike down to let it cool. More than a few engines fried that week. 

Today I took the scooter out for a ride. The little engine is water cooled so does much better in the heat. While the temperature didn’t get over 100 the humidity was something else. Riding tree lined back roads was a lot more comfortable than sitting in traffic. 

My home office has a really nice ceiling fan -currently set on “almost helicopter” high. The grid browned out for a minute but my fans run off my own solar electric power. The batteries are holding up nicely. 

It looks like we got through this heatwave in good shape. Of course, it’s not even officially summer yet. Things could get interesting.


Thursday, June 20, 2024

Hydration Test

Have you ever been too thirsty to drink? I didn’t think that was a thing. We haven’t escaped the heatwave that’s covering the eastern half of the country. The humidity has also been quite something. 

So about my hydration issues. The Scooter Cannonball trip for next year is still on. Open registration will start soon. It appears that a fair bit of the course will be through desert. Staying hydrated will be essential. With that in mind I’ve been doing longer and longer trips on the scooter in hot weather. On one of those trips I was actually too thirsty to drink. How weird is that?

The heat had soured my stomach so just pounding down water wasn’t an option. In the end I went into an air conditioned McDonalds and slowly sipped an ice cold Coke. That settled my stomach enough that I was able to drink water again. 

One of the annoying things about stopping to drink is that I have to take my helmet completely off. My full face helmet gives excellent protection but it’s crowded in there. Rather than take the time to remove the helmet it’s easier to keep on riding. 

Perhaps the thing to do is to drink water every gas stop. To facilitate that some sort of water bottle mount might make it easier and quicker. Right now I have to dig a water bottle out of my seat compartment or from the saddle bags. It’s just enough of a pain that it’s easy to skip drinking. 

Then there’s the option of a water bladder with a hose. Maybe the drinking hose can be snaked into the helmet? Worse come to worse I could get a new helmet but I’m trying to keep the costs from running away from me. 

Right now I have just about enough money set aside to do the Cannonball on a shoestring budget. It should be possible to save up a bit more and have a more comfortable experience. Finding low budget hydration solutions will help. 

I didn’t even know hydration was going to be an issue until I started pounding down some hot weather miles.


Monday, June 17, 2024

Heatwave coming

. . . but it ain’t here yet. Sunday morning it was 34 degrees. Eventually it got up around 70 but then started to cool off again. 

However, we are supposed to get hit with that massive heatwave. Here it’s supposed to get into the 90s.  In the past we sometimes never got temperatures that high all summer. Remember it’s still technically spring. 

Here in the Great North Woods I’m much more concerned about keeping warm than keeping cool. However, with high heat this early I’m seriously wondering if I may need air conditioning someday. So far we’ve done just fine with fans. My solar electric system can handle the load of fans. It’s too small to power AC. For that I’d have to rely on the grid. That’s exactly the conditions that stress the grid and cause it to go down. 

There’s a lot to be said for natural cooling. I’ve some very large hemlock trees that shade the house nicely. Worse come to worse I could always crack open a cold beer and wade into the lake. It’s good to have a plan.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Dangerous Bear

I stepped outside onto my porch and startled a bear cub that was about 10 feet away from me. It was eating the wild strawberries that grow in my yard. The cub ambled off about 30 feet, stopped and just stared at me. It was a good sized cub for this time of year. It must be eating well. The wee beasty was pretty cute.

It’s also the kind of bear that worries me. That cub wasn’t going to me any harm. The issue was that I didn’t know where mom bear was. The absolute last thing anyone wants to do is to come between a bear cub and its mom. 

The only thing to do was to go back inside, close the door and wait for it to leave. That’s what I did and it was all good.


Saturday, June 15, 2024


My lovely wife flew in from Texas to Boston's Logan airport. I hate that airport. Actually, I don’t like many of them. This time I actually got to the airport in good order -then go lost walking around the place. Their “maps” in the airport are worse than useless. Just saying. 

It was great to see my lovely wife. I missed her. Her trip was about as good as could be expected. There’s a lot of family stuff she had to deal with. That’s always hard but necessary. 

Speaking of family, we visited with our oldest daughter and her family. That was really nice. The grand kids are growing like weeds. 

When we made it back to New Hampshire we got to visit with my friend who just had prostrate cancer surgery. He’s doing really well and that’s a relief. Last year we lost a mutual friend to the disease. Guys, get checked. Cancer sucks. 

At the 11th hour I settled a bothersome legal issue that I’ve been dealing with for two years. We were going to go to court on the 14th but came to a settlement just a few days before. I think I made out fairly well and it was worth the fight. I didn’t think the courts would have done me much damage but you never know. 

Anyway, it’s good to finally be home again. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Two Weeks Later

After two weeks with her folks in Texas my lovely wife is coming home. Her dad’s been dealing with cancer and her mom suffers from dementia. A sudden trip to Texas wasn’t in the plans but sometimes you have to get together with family while it’s still possible. At least my mother-in-law recognized her daughter so that was good. 

As for myself I had a lot of stuff of planned. I probably got half of it done. Between waiting for scooter parts and bad weather some things just didn’t happen. On the other hand, I accomplished a few big things that weren’t in the original plans. That was nice. One item was a nagging concern for the last two years and the opportunity to sort it out fell in my lap. It was worth not going to Texas just to get those things done and over with. 

On a lighter note I was able to play chess with someone I never played against before. I’m definitely not a pro -just an enthusiastic amateur. I got interested in chess way back in the Bobby Fisher days. Back then chess was pretty big and there were a lot of clubs. While my game was rusty, it was good enough to win six games in a row over two days of playing. Maybe my friend won’t want to play chess with me anymore? Oh well. 

One thing about me and games. If you do beat me you know I didn’t let you win. I’ve too much respect for my opponents to make it easy for them.


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Healing up

I’m finally mostly healed up from the damage caused to my legs by a massive infection. Now all I have to do is build up endurance again. There’s an old saying that every man has two doctors: his right leg and his left leg. Walking is a good way to stay healthy. 

When I was 35 years old I suffered serious lung damage while firefighting. At the time a doctor told me that I wasn’t going to live to age 45. Let me tell you, I appreciate being in my 60s. However, if that same doctor had kept up his treatments I probably wouldn’t have made it to 45. I only started getting better when the doctors cut me loose and I took control of my own health.

There were a lot of treatments doctors wanted to do to me over the years. Some of those medicines have since been pulled off the market due to deadly side effects. I’m glad I avoided going down that path. 

That’s not to say that all conventional treatments are bad. They aren’t. Doctors are usually pretty good at a huge number of things. If I have a bone sticking out I definitely want a real doctor and a modern hospital. A good medical lab takes most of the guess work out of medicine.  

Now that I’m mostly healed up I can concentrate on doing the things that keep me well. 

Some of my friends have recently died and others are suffering serious health issues. Heck, most of the people I used to work with are dead. Heart disease and cancer take a heavy toll on firefighters. Funerals suck. As a kindness to my friends and a few surviving co-workers I’m going to outlive them all. That way they won’t have to come to my funeral. 


Monday, June 10, 2024

Restrictions on Travel

You might have a great bug out location but actually getting to it in an emergency could be an issue. Some off us are old enough to remember all air traffic being shut down after the 911 attacks. It was only for a few days but people didn’t know how long it would be at the time. With air traffic shut down the country became much harder to cross. There were multiple incidents of strangers pooling resources to rent and drive vehicles long distances. 

In more recent years we have the pandemic shut downs. I was very lucky to make the drive north from Florida to New Hampshire before things got too crazy. At one point Interstate 95 was nothing but a very long parking lot. We’d been home about two days when that happened. 

We’ve gotten very used to being able to travel long distances quickly. We also expect roads to be open and state borders to be of little import. All that can change in an instant.

Of course, one solution is to live in the location you want to bug out to. That’s great most of the time. One issue with living in a remote place is that it’s often necessary to travel for goods and services. Where I live most people think nothing about a 100 mile drive for shopping or longer drives to go to a good hospital. 

The “bad thing” could happen while you are away from your lovely location doing other errands. That’s something I think about from time to time. Then I try and figure out how I would actually make it back -or if it’s too dangerous to even attempt the journey. 

Just some though experiments here.


Saturday, June 8, 2024

Repairs and black flies

The black flies know when your hands are busy and unavailable to swat bugs. The parts for the scooter finally came in. The rain hadn’t started yet so fixing the scooter seemed like a good idea. The black flies also thought it was a good idea. By the time everything was torqued down into place the bugs had turned me into a bloody mess. 

After cleaning up I geared up and went for a short ride. Everything functioned the way it was supposed to. 

Some friends were gathering for a potluck and campfire about five miles away. It was really tempting to take the scooter but I decided to take the car. Good idea as a thunderstorm moved in and it rained like Noah was lied to. Not only was the rain extremely heavy fog rolled in. I drove 30 mph or less the whole way home. 

We did luck out as the thunderstorm only moved in about the time we were wrapping it up for the night. 

When I got home there were more scooter parts in the mailbox. I’m going to try some Dr. Pulley sliders for the scooter transmission. While it’s tempting to install them right away the wise move might be to let the black flies die down a bit first. 


Friday, June 7, 2024

Back to town

Going back into town was not in Thursday’s plans. Then I got a call from the motorcycle parts department that my scooter parts were in. It’s rare that I’d go into town for just one thing so I got some grocery shopping out of the way while there. 

By the time I got home storm clouds were moving in and the bugs were out in force. That was enough to discourage me from pulling the scooter apart. 

Friday night is another campfire night with friends. My cousin is having a bunch of folks over. If the weather is bad we’ll just move the grill to the porch and call it good. The fellowship of campfire night doesn’t actually require a campfire.

My lovely wife is in Texas for another week, dealing with family business. I miss her. Maybe one of these days I’ll tell the story about how we met. We really clicked and got married four months later. Both of us were just 20 years old but that was old enough to know what we wanted in a relationship. 


Thursday, June 6, 2024

Parts and Thunderstorms

Projects have been put on hold. Looks like it will take until the end of the week for my scooter parts to come in. I had a bunch of outdoor projects planned but nearby thunderstorms put outside projects on the back burner. I may actually have to catch up on things like paperwork and household chores. Bummer. 

If the storms hold off I could rebuild my mailbox. At one time is was a nice mailbox -one that a homeowner could take pride in. Then a plow truck whacked it three times in a row. Now I don’t much care that it’s dented and the mounting post tilted. On the other hand it’s not the fault of the mail carrier and they have to deal with my shabby mailbox. 

A friend of mine once got very tired and angry at the town plow for always destroying their mailbox. He got hold of a good length of railroad track and sank about six feet of it in cement. When the plow hit the mailbox mounted on that steel post the plow broke -not the mailbox. 

So that’s in the back of my mind. That does seem a bit munch so I’ll probably do a more normal mounting post. As long as the plow guy doesn’t hit it again I won’t resort to nasty tricks. 

What I would really like to do is to take the chainsaw and clean up some damaged trees. However, that’s not something I’m going to mess with during thunderstorms. There’s too many ways for that to go wrong. 

So it looks like I’ll be doing the boring but necessary stuff -like some kind of adult. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Bad Coffee

My lovely wife is visiting in TX. Sadly, she’s staying with people who don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. 

She ordered a five pound bag of organic fair trade coffee from Dean’s Beans. Then she ordered a coffee roaster and grinder off of Amazon. Does this sound like an over reaction? Maybe it does to you but to me it makes perfect sense. 

My lovely wife is dealing with some difficult family issues. At least now she can have the comfort a good cup of coffee. 

It won’t be quite as good as coffee at home. We’ve got better water here and that makes a difference. However, it will be a big improvement over the cheap crap she’s been forced to drink. 


Sunday, June 2, 2024

Scooter Shake Down

Well that was informative. I spent three days traveling on the scooter. Day one went pretty much as planned. The weather was nice and I saw a lot of scenic New Hampshire. Traffic wasn’t bad and the scooter ran well. 

I’d made a GPX file on the laptop and loaded it into the Garmin Zumo. Following the track went well most of the way. About twenty miles from my destination construction caused a major detour. Automatic rerouting was disabled on the Zumo, but it was set to ask if I wanted to recalculate. At that point I figured it wasn’t going to send to someplace I didn’t want to go so I agreed. No problem getting to my destination. 

Day two reaffirmed my thought that better rain gear was needed. There was a very localized rainstorm that soaked me fairly well. Fortunately it was a short day on the road and I was able to dry out. 

Day three was . . . interesting. For some reason the GPS wasn’t routing me properly. Time estimates of arrival times were off by as much as two hours. Finally I went through all the settings and got back on a suitable track home. It’s going to take some investigation to find out exactly what went wrong. Heck, for all it know it could be caused by solar flares. 

Further up the road the scooter started to handle just a tiny bit odd so I pulled over. Somewhere along the way I lost the rear axle nut. I caught it before the seals and bearings fell out so that’s good. A nearby Tractor Supply had a nut that kept it all together. That was fine for a road fix and got me home but it’s not a long term solution. 

The next day I went down to Honda dealer and order two axle nuts. While there I thought I might as well order all the washers, seals, and bearings just in case. If the scooter has to be torn apart anyway might as well change anything that might have gotten damaged. While the bike is laid up I might as well change the drive belt, spark plug and check the valve settings. 

All in all it was good trip. I connected with friends and had a mostly enjoyable ride.