Sunday, August 29, 2010


(click pic for full size)

I'm real sure you can't tell the difference but Montana is behind me. I made it to Rugby ND and it was too cold for as tired as I was to go farther in the dark. This puts me about 200 miles from MN. 1541 miles traveled since Thur morning so I'm holding to my 500/day. I lost track of the mile markers the last few miles but I believe it is 650 road miles across Montana on US 2, a long ways and not real interesting riding. I've sure met a lot of real nice people on food and gas and rest up stops. That is one of the things about lightly traveled routes, the locals still like new folks that are friendly and interested in them and their locale.

I've had fun and the bike is a hit with those interested in such a thing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crossing The Rockies

At the top of the pass there is a monument to Pres TR.

Then there is the rest of Montana, most of it - a long damn ways. I'm posting from Havre, MO and worn out. Quite cold tonight for August.

Outside Bonners Ferry

Read the sign for yourself
(click pic for full size)

I didn't realize until I posted this that I'd gotten the Walmart truck I played tag with for 300 miles.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting On The Road

If you start with a bike like this there are some things you need to do to use it for a trip.
(Click pics for full size)

Harley makes a quick detach seat back and package tray. Oddly enough, the dealer had this in stock - nothing else, ever, you order before you need.

You can then create a mess like this.

Now the truly odd thing about the last picture taken outside High Desert Harley Davidson is the other bike owned by the pretty lady - it is the black and lime version of mine which pulled in as I was finishing loading after the 20K mile service. You will probably never see one of these except at a bike show and rarely then - there were 2500 made in one year only. A fair number will have been bagged and garaged as investments but even without that this is a tiny number and just being in the same place at the same time as one is really unlikely. We were both stunned and spent a few minutes "competing" with how much we love our bikes.

I got away from High Desert HD at about 1:30PM and headed north on ID 55 to US96. Temps were climbing toward an expected 103F which wasn't too bad as long as I was moving at around 60 mph. It was a nice ride until I ran into a storm front that was packing 40-50 mph winds filled with smoke and dust.
This crap took most of the fun right out of this ride. You will note the entire lack of a thing like a windshield. The winds were coming from the range of the right side, head on, and left. The cross winds were enough to get most bikes parked and as stable as this one is it required attention. At one point a head wind was sufficient to make the front end very light on the road, like losing traction... Yes, I slowed down.

I am in Sandpoint,ID about 40 miles from my junction with US 2 which I'll take east. I checked in about midnight (too late and too tired to think about camping) and the miles logged from Baker City show as 559 miles. I fell asleep within minutes of getting into the room. I woke back up awhile ago and showered and posted this, now I'm going back to sleep...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Major Harley Run

Assuming I can find connections I'll try to blog about this trip, which is from NE OR to Northern Michigan. My parents live in N MI and are 83 years old and also are in good health, physically and mentally - so far. I'm taking the Harley for the sake of the ride and to have something I like to get around on once there.

It's been hectic getting ready for this trip, especially since I made the decision early last week and departure is nailed down as Thursday the 26th for a couple reasons. One is that I need to go early enough to not have my construction season killed and another is that the bike is due for its 20K mile service which involves a 135 mile south and east ride to the nearest dealer and aims me mostly in the right direction and that appointment is for Thursday - today, and I'm there waiting.

It's been crazy getting ready since I had a roofing job scheduled and took Monday and Tuesday at 11 hours each and 1 1/2 hours Wednesday. Nothing in the line of business could get done the first two days so Wed was the day for that as well as trying to get squared around packing and loading. I live in PST and the dealer is in MST which means an additional clock hour to travel time. My appointment was for 8:30AM MST which meant leaving at 5AM PST to have time for delays and to unload the bike. I got the bike loaded and home from dinner and into bed at 11PM.

With the bike loaded the garage looked to be a difficult operation so I parked it on my front walk just outside the porch door with the light on and the inside door open - so my dog could lay up on the enclosed porch. He's a 150# Great White Pyrenees and an excellent alarm and guardian. Well, pretty much so. At 2AM I was awakened by very large barks so I put on some pants and went to take a look. Nothing in sight anywhere, just a diesel truck blocks away; and me wide awake. Very wide awake. I gave up at 3:30 and got up and drank some coffee and rode figuring to kill some time with breakfast. So here I am at High Desert Harley Davidson with a grand total of maybe 3 hours sleep after a very hectic day at the start of a 2500 road mile each way trip. I thought about beating the dog with something large and heavy but he was doing what he sees as his job.

I'll put up pictures as I move along and post whatever seems to interest me and hopefully, you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Responsible Politics - Oh Sure... Scare 'Em Works

You'd think a nation with a basic document nearly universally nationally revered could manage to act in something like a reasonable manner regarding it. The basic law of this nation is the Constitution and its Amendments, the Declaration of Independence may pertain to its foundation but no other document pertains. First in order of the Amendments is the one that says that there will be freedom of religion in this nation. First.

There are a lot of quibbles about how much influence religion should have in governing, but there is not a bit of wiggle room regarding people's freedom to practice religion. Zoning laws cover matters like parking and traffic for any and all religions - there are not exceptions for a brand name.

I understand that the GOP loves it some wedge issues and frequently Democrats manage to not deal that. This one that the GOP has latched onto is irresponsible at the very least, and potentially quite dangerous. The fact that the dumbasses involved cannot separate religion from actions is quite telling and that they want to do something about a religion rather than actions is even more telling. Political advantage is small reason to muck around in the basic law of the nation and that they will play at it means that something is fundamentally wrong with such a group.

It seems that the Christians involved can't manage to wrap their heads around the idea that a religion that preaches peace can have followers who preach and practice violence. That's just a bit of a queer view point for them to hold. Distant and recent history are littered with examples of Christians (of some sort) doing serious violence. Not doing that in some minor manner, nasty murderous stuff done under the banner of their supposedly peaceful religion to those perceived to deserve it. Reason would get someone to a different result, but then reason isn't supposed to have anything to do with pumping such an issue. Fear is what is appealed to and that worked just fine for GWB; didn't it?

Basing a political party's future on fear rather than policies makes for real nasty politics. If you're willing to wear the brand of such people there isn't much I can say to you in a polite manner. This crap is the behavior of assholes and if you support such people that really does make you an asshole. If you don't like being insulted in such a manner then separate yourself from that kind of activity - don't bother complaining to me because I don't give a damn about your feelings in this. Confederate Party of Republicanism; well I guess so...*

* Their enablers in the other Party don't get any respect from me, either.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tina Fey And Sitting VP Palin - WTF?

Dylan Ratigan just got done making the assertion that if not for Tina Fey we might be talking about sitting VP Palin. Yes, Tina Fey was funny as hell as candidate Palin and to be sure some of her routines bled over onto Palin. This idea of Ratigan's seems to be that a large voting demographic took Fey seriously and that the clips of her counter posed with clips of Palin didn't show Palin to be ignorant and extreme - in fact not in comedy.

Sure, the Right would like to scapegoat anyone other than their favorite for her failure and they'd certainly like to ignore the failure of McPOW to connect with much of anyone. I don't mean to minimize the number who voted McCain/Palin, I'm talking about enthusiasm for McCain in general and the narrow appeal of the Palinesque approach. I'm curious as to whether this is a view held by that 27% that seems to always be around and around the damned bend or if Ratigan is repeating something more generally held. I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that he just repeated RW talking points, but these folks aren't my speciality.

Islamic Center In NY

I ought to be surprised by the inflamed rhetoric surrounding the establishment of an Islamic Community Center four blocks from the World Trade Center site - ought to be. While I am ashamed of it, I am not the least surprised. I understand that some the families of those killed might get into an uproar, even that is an emotional response rather than a reasoned one. What I do not understand, in terms of patriotism, is the GOP response.

There certainly is a political strategic point in targeting Muslims, they represent about 0.8% of the population of the US, a vanishingly small voter block to offend with a much larger payoff with the block offended by ... well, I'd say a Muslim center close to '9/11' but more realistically offended by Islam, period. There is also something to be said about people who would beat the race and religion division drum in the name of electoral numbers.

Despite the illusions presented by casual views of history, this nation has never been monolithic in its view of race and religion and national origin. There is virtually no group that has not been victim to prejudices generated in the name of those categories. It is one of the easiest buttons to push, it is called most properly xenophobia - fear of the other. Some of the very groups shouting the loudest about this Center were at one time generally despised and feared on the same basis. I won't go through a list of the calumnies propagated against various groups, that would be simply offensive, if you're unaware Google is your friend.

The First Amendment is in place for a reason and playing politics around that is damned dangerous to what is supposed to be a major tenet of the basic law of the USA. I don't care what a person's view of a religion or race or national group is, our basic law says they are allowed to exist unmolested in this nation. What any other nation does about this kind of thing has not spit to do with us. There is the danger of physical violence and more broadly there is damage done to our social structure and possibly our legal structure - not to mention international relations. If the GOP thinks this will stay narrowly focused, I believe they are seriously mistaken.

To be sure, I have a low opinion of the GOP to start with, but this simply convinces me that they are pretty much cretins.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Border Security Whack-a-mole Continues

So a $600M bi-partisan bill passes to increase law enforcement on the Mexican border and... I suppose that there is a criminal element that is violent and uses that border to create wealth for themselves who really ought to be discouraged. Primarily that involves drugs and that isn't really what drives the illegal immigration furor.

People crossing the border in search of jobs is what it is really about. People are pretty smart about things like fences, they figure out ways to get around that. If the number of illegal aliens in this country is something like 20M, you can be real sure that drugs and other criminal activities isn't what needs addressed. The job picture is what needs addressed. Enforcement of the pissant employment laws is virtually non-existent, employers know that the chance of getting caught out is tiny and the fines small enough to cover with their illegal hire profits.

SS numbers really should be fairly easy to track, verify, and catch contradictions. Dead people and 80 year olds don't work construction. People seldom live in two places simultaneously, that might not be a disqualifier but it should hang a flag. Employment is the magnet and employers are the problem. Lacking real dis-incentives to do so, many will put profits ahead of the law and the well-being of the nation. This country cannot afford to have an illegal serf class socially and workers cannot afford to have labor devalued by cheating.

If I were to try to discourage employers I'd hang a first violation fine of Davis-Bacon wage for a year for each illegal employee, second time fine and jail, third time fine, jail, confiscation of the offending business. That would include an out for having verified the number/employee and notification of denied prospective employees and a corrective method for false negatives. I won't address the idea of guest worker programs, the impacts and methodology are beyond my knowledge level and time at this point.

Now you can judge for yourselves whether the GOP has any real interest in something that would address the problem or they're simply interested in pumping race and the interests of wealth. The one variable all businesses can most easily address in profit pursuit is labor, most other costs are very nearly equal for all. Labor is the smallest single cost in most enterprises that involve a product, but it is the most easily modified in this environment.

There are all kinds of other issues involved in some kind of comprehensive immigration reform that I have neither the time nor interest in dealing with. Issues like amnesty begin to vanish if the magnet itself is addressed and what to do with long term illegal residents really ought to be reasonably dealt with in a humane manner. St Ronnie's amnesty failed badly because no other issues were dealt with - a mistake we ought not repeat.