Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things that make you go ... huh?

Just got a notice from the printer of my Motorcycling in Northeast Florida book that they are sending me some money. It's not a lot, but what amazes me is that they are finally getting around to paying me for some copies that they sold in September of 2005.

Old joke that we used to tell about the truckin' bizness, but it's equally applicable to publishing: How do you make a small fortune out of the book business? Start with a large fortune.

Publishing is a tough business these days.

Incidentally, I have the Latin motto "Melius tarde, quam nunquam" on the line above the signature on my publishing company checks. That means, roughly, "better late than never." True story.


Have you seen that horrible photo of the car colliding head-on into a group of bicycle racers in Mexico? One rider was killed and something like a dozen cyclists were injured.

Being an old bicycle racer (had a Cat. 2 license once, and was able to ride a 25 mile TT in under an hour when I was 17 for those of you who ride push bikes and can relate) before I decided to grow old and fat, several things occur to me about this episode:

- Auto/bicycle collisions happen more often than we like to think, and the bicyclist never wins. Even during races with police escorts (there was a Mexican Federale's car on the right, just out of the photo) this stuff happens. Back in my day the 1971 World Champion, a Belgian rider named Jean-Pierre Monsere, was killed by an errant driver who got onto the race course. BE CAREFUL WHEN DRIVING NEAR BICYCLISTS!

- Many of us in the USA dismissed this episode as just more Mexican lousy driving. Alas, the driver of the car, who was drunk or on crack depending on who tells the story, is a gringo. So was the rider who was killed. We have got to get our drug problems in the States under control before we can criticize others.

- The race was from the Playa Bagdad to the city of Matamoros, across the river from Brownsville, Texas. The port at Bagdad was the last Southern port to fall during the War of Northern Aggression, a/k/a the Civil War. Tremendous history there, now sadly largely lost in time as the border has shifted a bit along with the Rio Grande.

- This road looks like the main road between Matamoros and Cuidad Victoria, Rt. 180. That's one hairy piece of real estate under the best of circumstances. It's not quite four lanes wide, it's more like a lane and a very wide shoulder going each way. You are expected to drive or ride on that "shoulder" as much as possible, bearing in mind that every so often something will be parked there. Traffic routinely pulls out across the center line to pass and it's pretty wild seeing a tractor trailer move over onto "your" side of the road and coming head on at you. And although this section looks like it was recently paved, that road is one of the roughest paved roads that I have ever been on.

Be careful out there, y'all. If you think that being on a motorcycle makes you vulnerable, then you oughta sympathize with bicyclists.


I just got an email claiming that CNN has announced that several of the oil companies are going to start showing porn movies at the gas pumps. That way you can watch someone else getting screwed as you pump your gas ...

Seriously, diesel here in Northeast Florida is running $4.66/gallon at the Flying J near St. Augustine, which is usually one of the more reasonable places to buy diesel.

In contrast, diesel has been hovering at about $2.27/gallon in most of Mexico for over a year.

Personally, I think that the American public has been thrown underneath the bus, but that's just me.

And no, I'm not bitter. Dammit.


'tis the season. For folks who are riding their motorcycles coast-to-coast, that is.

As many of y'all know I have been active for years with a crazy group called the Iron Butt Association that encourages long distance motorcycling. Minimum entrance requirements to get into the IBA involve documenting that you can ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours. The group issues certificates for other fiendish rides, such as the 50cc, which is meant to be coast-to-coast in 50 hours or less. On a motorcycle, of course.

Anyhow, by virtue of the fact that Yours Truly actually did a 50cc ride back in 2002 or so ( ) and happens to live in Jacksonville (JAX, FL to San Diego being the two closest coastal points in the USA) I wind up signing the paperwork for a bunch of folks who are doing the 50cc ride or similar "extreme rides."

Yesterday we had a rather normal looking gent on a black Harley drop by. None of those fancy electronic things that the Euro-bikers have like GPS units or anything like that, nor was he wearing a day-glo protective suit. Rather he was wearing a jeans jacket and looked just like he was getting ready to ride to the Beaches rather than across the country.

The same day we had a couple, riding two-up on a new BMW bike drop by. They left this morning for the west coast after using my garage and air compressor last night for some emergency repairs.

Incidentally, this gentleman lived aboard a sailboat for 16 years and spent plenty of time in the Florida Keys, so we had plenty to talk about vis a vie sailing vs. motorhomes, a nomadic and Bohemian lifestyle, and so forth.

A few days ago two guys dropped by at 4 in-the-frickin' morning to get their paperwork signed. 4AM. Yawn ...

And the list goes on. The last time I checked the IBA had 30,000 members and about 1% will accomplish a 50cc, so that promises a steady stream of visitors for the summer.

There is also a small group of French motorcycling tourists that contacted me about camping out here at our workshop. When we had our house we would let folks camp out in the back yard, which inevitably meant that they either got to sleep in the living room or we'd give them the bedroom as we went outside and slept in the motorhome.

That, and we'd crank up the bar-b-que.

Anyhow, we don't have the space in the Bluebird these days for folks to crash on the couch by the dozen so this could be entertaining as the French meet up with the heat and humidity of Florida in June.


Y'all have fun. It's getting to be H-O-T here in Florida so we've been out walking early in the AM and calling it quits by dinner time. Thank God for restaurants and pubs with air conditioning!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the blog. My friend just bought a Can-Am Spyder which is a reverse trike. I'm trying to get her to come on Patriot Guard Rider missions with me since I'm a cager.
MalibuRumGirl aka Alice

PyrateJohn said...

Thanks for the compliments!

The Spyders look like excellent bikes ... or trikes. Whatever they are they are quite revolutionary because they rely on electronics to give them much better stability than you would normal expect with a three-wheeled bike.

Y'all enjoy yourself and keep up the good works with the Patriot Guard.

Andy D said...

Hey PJ.......... great to hear from ya!!
HOT spells 60 (high) here in WA state today.
Oh, and BTW, reg unleaded is now 4.08 (cheapest here for 30 miles).
Just my opinion; the run-up in gas prices via sweet crude is because of the same people betting day-after-day (same as on the COME line in Vegas), also known as FUTURES traders (you know, the same people who are looking out for your and my 401K plans, big-bucks investors).....
that the price of crude is going to keep on the rise.
Also, this run-up has absolutely nothing to do with the ancient law if S&D. Strictly a crap shoot by baby boomers throughout the world, not just the good ole USA!!
And until we, the good ole USA, shut OFF the tap to ALL foreign oil, open up ANWR, and put a whole boatload of ELECTRIC vehicles on the road, we're in for some very tough sledding. However, just like the housing boom, this bubble IS going to burst somewhere's down the road; hopefully before oil hits $1000/bbl.
Take care..... Ole Man Andy

PyrateJohn said...

Good to hear from ya Andy!

I'm not holding my breathe, but I have heard a few folks say that the high prices are a bubble. I hope that's true.

Supposedly Floridah has oil reserves off the Panhandle, but Jeb Bush (yup, Dubya's brother) lead the charge not to develop them. At the time I was more or less favorable because I didn't want the envoronmental problems that Louisiana (for examble) has suffered.

Now, with oil as expensive as it is, I am having second thoughts.

Enjoy your 60 degree highs. We had a mild winter, but now it's hot enough that an air conditioned pub at 5PM is looking attractive ;)