Seniors Bingo.

A friend told me about the seniors’ center in my adopted hometown of Ferris, Texas, and, having had a lifelong fondness for old people and now a proud member of the club, I thought I’d check it out. Three days a week they serve lunch for $1. I go occasionally and as I’ve gotten to know them, one asked me to come and play bingo some Friday morning so, figuring I might pick up a little liquor money, I did.

First off, the city attorney won’t let them play for money, I guess lest it turn into a den of inequity. So they play for cans of food and tchochkes. I got my cards and took a seat. My fear that hearing would be a problem for some was confirmed immediately. There was a bit of confusion as a couple of ladies had to be helped keeping track of the proceedings and what game we were actually playing, with a number of false “Bingos!” and “No, Margaret, it’s this one over here” or “It’s B13 Emma, there ain’t no G 13” moments. Like an SNL routine but, that was just a warmup, the best was yet to come. One of the little numbered balls leaped out of the cage and hit the floor. Canes came out flying everywhere. It was a geriatric hockey face-off. That ball went all over the damned floor until it rolled by me and I stepped on it and retrieved it. If you were to piss some of these folks off, you could earn yourself a good caning. Then again, she may have dropped it on purpose to raise the excitement level. Later on, the phone rang and the lady in charge got up and answered it. “You need to talk louder”, she said so the lady calling the numbers obliged by yelling, G FORTY-ONE at about 110 decibels. Someone then mentioned to her that she was talking to the person on the phone.
What stayed with me was seeing firsthand the bond that age and their common infirmities have bestowed upon them.  Bingo.
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Kentucky Deluxe?

The first time I can recall seeing a drunk was when I was about 6, I’m guessing. I hit a trifecta plus one. I saw four.

My family had a grocery store in my hometown of Jonesboro, Indiana that was bookended by beer joints on both sides. One Saturday morning I was taking the trash out back to the burn barrel when a black 1948 Chevy four-door sedan pulled in behind Mick’s Tavern. After a minute or two, the doors flew open and four recently relocated ex-Kentuckians wobbled out onto the cinders. Three had knives and one had a hatchet. They stumbled and fell and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. Couldn’t understand much of what they said either which only added to my confusion. Scared the shit out of me, all of these semi-armed men, speaking in a foreign tongue, staggering and flailing all over the place. Would they come after me? Ah, the best was yet to come.

After some unintelligible discussion, one made his way around to the trunk, grabbed the t-handle and yanked it open. When he did, turtles went everywhere. Snapping turtles, mostly, with a couple of softshells. He just stood there, dazed and expressionless as all sizes of turtles poured over his legs and feet. Two very large ones among them, making a nasty hissing sound and generally scrambling in all directions, including mine. Either too scared or fascinated by the surreality of all this, I watched their drunken pursuit of their quarry all over the parking lot and down the alley. They would cuss and fall down, all the while attempting to behead their recalcitrant charges. Hatchet guy was too.

All this was all too much for my young ass so I headed inside and asked my granddad what was happening out there. He knew them so he went out the back door and stood there in his classic stance, hands folded behind his back, as he monitored their progress. A couple of minutes later he came back in without comment. Late that afternoon, the tavern sent over a bowl of turtle soup for him.

Years later, I found out from one of the participants, one Bill Turner, possibly one of the inadvertently funniest men I ever met, what had transpired. Seems they would fuel up on Kessler’s Reserve (whiskey) and go down to the river at night and “feel for turtles”. According to him, snapping turtles can’t snap downward so you run your hand along the bottom until you find one then you find a notch on the shell that tells you which end of the turtle you have. Most of the time they are facing away trying to hold themselves in their holes with their front legs and you just grab the tail and pull. Damn.

One question looms to this day. How did they get all of those pissed off turtles into the trunk?

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The NRA, not so much.

I’m a firm believer in the second amendment, especially these days. I’m also a firm believer that the NRA is the biggest threat to the second amendment. No one needs to buy an assault weapon every month or needs bullets that will penetrate a policeman’s vest. Unburdened by common sense, they need to pick their battles or lose the war. For all of us.

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Rescue groups? Really?

As much as I hate to rag on these people I’m having a lot of serious doubts about the motivation of many of the people that I have encountered in animal rescue groups and recently I was made aware of something that reinforces my view that most often, it’s about the people, not the animals.

It seems that many of these “rescue” groups cherry pick city shelters to get “adoptable” animals (mostly dogs) and try to find homes for them. While this sounds noble on its face, it does little to solve the problem at hand and that’s pet overpopulation and, therein lies the rub. I have yet to talk to anyone of these folks who show any interest in taking action to get spay and neuter laws enforced and these rescue groups, more than any other group, have the power and resources to get cities to move off their asses and deal with it. They have the animals and the volunteers to make something happen but they (in my experience) have shown no interest. Usually their my response to my query is, “You should contact XYZ Network, we don’t do that”.

Here’s what I’ve proposed to three rescue groups which relates directly to the power and resources that I mentioned. If they would band together with as many groups and volunteers (the numbers would be substantial) as they could muster, each with as many animals as they could safely manage (I can bring four, all former dumpees) and show up in front of say, Dallas City Hall ahead of a council meeting with the media in attendance. By showing the politicians and the citizenry what an even bigger problem they would have if these rescue groups weren’t taking some of the pressure off city shelters, they would make something happen. The response I got from them was pretty much, deer in the headlights.

So, even though what they do is worthy, it’s simply not enough. Seems to me that if the animals truly mattered to them, they’d want to put themselves out of a job. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of that.

I live in the country where dogs are dumped all of the time, including two which are now mine, and I want this to stop. Indeed, what prompted me to write this was finding a mother and her pup dumped at an abandoned gravel pit down the road. A friend and I tried to take them to the local SPCA and were told they were full. All area shelters are full. My friend offered to pay their fee and was told she could but they would have to euthanize two other dogs to make room for them. She adopted the mother and the pup is here with me and on Facebook while I try to find him a home. The one time I found a dog and worked through a rescue group, they threatened to take me to court because I found him a home, even though his new owner contacted them immediately (which is what prompted their ire) to see what her obligations were.

I really want to be wrong here.

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I am not Trayvon Martin.

First, if anyone jumped me from behind, slammed my face into the ground hard enough to break my nose and bust my head open, their race, age nor gender wouldn’t matter. If I had the means to, I would shoot them dead. But then I’m not a racist, just a stickler for good manners.

The media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case is race baiting if not racist. This little piece from a few days earlier somehow didn’t make the national news.

Tyrone Woodfork, a black male who — much like Trayvon Martin — looks like Obama’s son, allegedly killed Nancy Strait and broke her 90-year-old husband Bob’s jaw, several ribs and shot him in the face with a BB gun last month in Tulsa. 20-year-old Tyrone also raped the nearly blind 97-pound Mrs. Strait, a great-great-grandmother, before he murdered her.

I find it ironic in the extreme that so many blacks and whites claiming to be liberals, are calling for the lynching of George Zimmerman. In a high profile case like this, if there was any shred of evidence of his guilt, to he’d already be in jail. Political correctness is the real crime here. Or, at least the most obvious one. The New Black Panthers getting a free pass after putting a bounty on an American citizen speaks volumes about the racial bias of the present administration. One whom I voted for with high hopes.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman was playing cowboy as a Crimewatch volunteer. He’s still innocent until proven guilty. The biggest casualty in this case is justice, unfortunately. Common sense is long dead.

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No vote redux.

I proposed not long ago on Facebook that the American people not vote for anyone for congress, senate or president this election in order to send an unmistakeable message to these people that we want them gone. All of them. If you think you can vote them out, you’re a fool. It cannot be done. One lament I have heard ever since I was old enough to vote, I am 64, was that you picked the lesser of two evils. So, how many more generations do you want to do that? Politics should not be a career path. That was not how America was designed. We were supposed to be a representative form of government but that bird has long since flown unless you’re a corporation that can pay lobbyists. Bribery is illegal so the government conveniently institutionalized it and calls it lobbying. Nice. The only way to get our government back, if we can, is to end politics as a career so, as I see it, if you vote for these people, of any political persuasion, you’re betraying your ancestors and dooming your children. The lack of votes will speak much louder than complacency. You have nothing to lose.

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Justifiable logocide. I tweaked the Harley mark for the sake of accuracy.

Having been a big fan of the brand for oh, about 15 minutes a long time ago, I thought it was high time that I defended my position even though no one asked. As I have suffered on numerous occasions on their account, it’s payback time.

When I moved to Texas in 1979, I became re-acquainted with Tom Maples, whom I grew up with in Indiana. He had ridden motorcycles all of his life, mostly Harleys. At that time, I had a 550 cc Suzuki which I eventually brought down and we began riding on weekends. It wasn’t too long before I noticed we spent more and more time checking his bike over, mostly at my insistence. My bike had sealed chain, his had a chain oiler. I had a halogen headlight, he a sealed beam. I never ceased to be amazed at how crude the Harley was in comparison. Nor did I forgive H-D for their poor QC as Tom usually got a new bike every other year, they always had problems and they always looked the same to me. So, how can you build the same shit year after year and still not get it right? It’s not like there was any evolution (other than in name) involved in the design/engineering (If there was any engineering done. They were probably the last to retire their slide rules, if they have).

We rode mostly within 100 miles or so with an occasional nearby rally thrown in until another friend who rode told us about a big rally in Ruidoso, NM. the Aspencade. It just so happened that that year, Honda was renaming their big touring bike after the rally and the rollout was going to happen there. The only time I was in New Mexico before, my wife and I were driving back from LA and we stayed with a college friend of mine at a tuberculosis sanitarium turned commune up in the Black Range. I went to college in the 70s, you see.

The whole time we were driving there I was thinking what a blast it would be to be on a bike. We were in.

By this time, I had a bigger bike, a Suzuki GS750 which handled like it was on rails and Tom had a new Harley Low Rider which handled like a ’63 Cadillac carrying six passengers and their luggage. We camped out and our friends were in a motel. It rained the whole time and seldom got above 45. Our friends actually found our tent while we were gone. They pinned a note on it, assuming it was us by the large stack of whiskey bottles and beer cans we had piled up. In a futile attempt to stay warm, we tried alcohol which backfired miserably. Once it got nice and toasty in your sleeping bag, you had to get up and pee. All night long. They invited us to sleep on the floor of their motel room. We did.

The weather turned nice as we left for home and all was good until we stopped at a rest area and Tom’s key broke off in his ignition as we left. He had to leave the bike running until we could get to a dealer, the nearest of which was in Roswell, about two hours ahead. We found the dealer and finally shut that poor, hot engine off by pulling off the spark plug wires and told the guy about our dilemma. He told us there was nothing he could do as it was part of HD’s anti-theft policy not to make keys. That pissed me off so I went around to find a locksmith. I found two and they both confirmed what the dealer had said. Now, I’m really hot. As we’re sitting out in front of the dealership, a gorgeous customized yellow ’56 Chevy pickup pulled up next to us. The guy went inside and when he came back out, I asked him if he had a tire iron I could borrow as we were stuck. He let me use it and with Tom aghast, I snapped off the bolt holding his seat on so I could get at the wiring. Took about a minute. So much for HD’s anti-theft program. I had the otherwise useless parts guy make me a small piece of wire with alligator clips on each end. We hotwired the ignition, shorted across the solenoid with a screwdriver to start it and were on our way. Unfortunately, not for long.

Sometime in the wee hours of the night, Tom flashed his lights at me. He rode behind me as his night vision wasn’t the greatest. As I slowed down, I could hear the problem before he signalled to me that there was one. Something was dramatically unhinged or was about to be. We were just West of the town of Post, TX (Grape Nuts, that Post) so we decided to go where there was some decent light and see what was wrong. We headed into town to find the city park figuring, if we couldn’t fix it at least we could sleep there. Now, Post is a pretty town with lots of nice buildings with lots of nice brickwork. As we were going through downtown, Tom, a bricklayer, was admiring all of that long gone craftsmanship when he sideswiped a curb, smashing his pipes and breaking a bracket. Turns out, what started all of this was one of the nuts had fallen off his front exhaust pipe and the other one was on its way. Not having any spares (Who would? You can’t carry enough spare parts to anticipate what will fall off of a Harley and, something will usually fall off. Tom’s tool bag fell off somewhere on the way out.) and not having any wire, dumpster diving was our only option. Tom fished out a coathanger about the time the cops pulled up to see what the hell we were doing. While he crawled out of the dumpster, I explained what had happened and as it was about 3 am, they were cool, they wished us luck and left. We wired the pipe back on, tied his exhaust system together and he made it all the way home.

But wait, there’s more. This was one trip. There were others.

Once we had the taste for riding in the mountains, a stroke of good fortune reared its head. An ex-girlfriend of mine, Susie Rhodes, became postmistress of the little village of Moose, WY, in Grand Teton National Park. I invited us up there and she was cool with it. We trucked the bikes to her house and rode across Wyoming to the rally at Sturgis, SD. We made this trip almost without incident as Tom had beforehand, purchased the shop manual for the bike, borrowed a torque wrench from a neighbor and we proceeded to dismantle the bike and Loctite every nut and bolt, torquing them to factory specs. Sweet. The tail light came loose but didn’t fall off.

On our way back to WY, we stopped at a c-store in front of a KOA campground to stretch our legs a bit when we heard this horrible Harleyesque clatter coming up the road. It was a guy from CA on his way home when his back cylinder started coming loose. It was jumping up and down as we could plainly see as he got closer. The only available tools were the metric ones that came with my bike when divine providence, in more ways than one, came to save his ass. We talked with him for a while when this young guy rode up on a bicycle that had a fairing and small saddlebags on it. He was carrying a small zip-up bag with him. He was from Providence, RI. He had ridden to San Francisco and was on his way back. He asked us what was going on around here as for the last few miles, the sides of the road where he was riding were littered with tools and he had picked up as many as he could carry. American size tools, we found out as he emptied his bag out on the ground. He told us to take them as he only used metric sizes on his bicycle. Tom and the guy on the Harley thanked him for the tools and went to work tightening up his cylinder while I explained to the kid that the reason why he had found all of the US spec tools was because there had been a big rally with lots and lots of HDs, they most likely vibrated their tools off and there was an example of that right in front of him. We wished the kid well as he left then we had a beer with the guy after he got his bike back together to celebrate his good fortune.

We had more adventures like this but, I know that anyone who’s read this far is anxious to see the logo design so, here it is.

Posted in adventure, harley, motorcycles, travel by motorcycle | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment