Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This blog would not be "mine" without a DIY how-to article once in a while. This one
seems to be one of the more popular so I thought I'd share it here. Equipped with only
the most rudimentary welding skill, I wanted to construct a locking mechanism that
would turn an old Pelican case into a useful piece of motorcycle luggage. Enter the
u-bar bicycle lock.

It's important to find a u-bar with a locking "notch" on both ends so the lock can be pulled
straight off. Some U-Bars have a "crook" on one end which wouldn't work here.

I welded the u-bar to a bracket that would take the place of the Bandit's grab bar and
painted it with spray truck bed liner.

I fastened the business end of the lock to the underside of the case with 1" conduit
clamps and cut a piece of an old poly cutting board and mounted it with spacers to fit
under the front of the "u".

This rig has been in place almost a year and has proven to be very convenient.
Removing and replacing the case is a snap and the water tight nature of the
Pelican case keeps articles inside dry. You'll find more photos and step-by-step
how-to information here. LINK

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Socialized Healthcare? No Thanks

Is anybody "ok" with the socialized healthcare plan now in congress? Well I spent 20 years in the health insurance business and I'd like to give you a few things to think about.

Most other risks we insure are somewhat finite. Collision coverage on a motor vehicle becomes less expensive as the amount at risk or the value depreciates. Liability risk remains relatively constant unless a change in "behavior" such as repeated accidents, speeding tickets or DWI increases that risk. Hopefully the amount at risk stated in our homeowners policy increases gradually as again hopefully the property appreciates in value. Due to tremendous advances in medical care over the last 2 or 3 decades which has dramatically increased life expectancy, life insurance rates have never been lower than they are today.

Conversely, medical risk is constantly increasing. As we get older and live longer we require more medical care. Private medical plans are issued by policy forms approved for sale in a given state. Inevitably, the claims loss ratio surpasses 100% in only a few years requiring an increase in premium volume. The rates go up. The younger, healthier insureds can re-qualify for a new policy form with lower rates while those being treated for illnesses endure exponential increases as that risk pool gets smaller.

The same is true for government plans with the exception the government can just print more money. Medicare was never intended to be solvent but rather an entitlement that will always require increased revenue (taxpayer dollars) to fund. State Medicaid programs are no better. Requiring millions more Americans to enroll in programs like these is NOT the answer. Any government run healthcare plan would have to include: (1) ever increasing taxes (2) some form of rationing such as waiting lists for or outright denial of certain procedures for individuals deemed at high risk of mortality (3) controlling certain "behaviors" such as smoking, motorcycle riding, eating fast food, etc. Legislation banning smoking, trans-fat and even fast food restaurants already exists in states and municipalities. Texas currently has a law requiring you to have your own health insurance to ride legally without a helmet. It will be too easy for the officials to say the increased risk posed by your diet, habit or avocation is not "fair" to the other taxpayers who are footing the bill.

By the way, the bill crafted by the house also contains verbiage that compels ALL Americans to join the "qualified" plan within a maximum of 5 years. Employer plans will be required to roll into the single payer socialized plan at renewal or at any scheduled change in benefits. Uninsured taxpayers (like me) must prove participation in the "qualified" plan on their tax return or face a tax penalty equal the cost of said "qualified" plan and be automatically enrolled. The statement that you can keep your private insurer if you wish is a lie. Small business owners (like me) will be required to furnish the "quakified" plan to employees or face a fine of 8% of gross sales. I barely bring home 8% of my gross sales. I and thousands of small employers will have to raise prices, lay off employees or close up altogether.

We must understand this problem IS short on answers but what this congress and this administration proposes is wrong and dangerous and irreversible. If they are allowed to enroll millions in a social plan no matter how unsustainable it is, no group of lawmakers will dare try to take it away.

A major expense to care providers is mal-practice insurance. Hey, why don't we let the government take over mal-practice coverage! Socialized mal-practice insurance! They do alright with flood insurance, right? Then the government can award victims what it deems appropriate damages and make the trial lawyers work for what they're expecting the doctors to work for! Yeah, that's it! Sorry guys, everyone has an opportunity to make a living but 40% of millions of dollars in insurance settlements is a bit rich. Frivolous mal-practice litigation drives up health insurance costs and tort reform is never going to be addressed by a democrat congress. If they really wanted to fix healthcare and not just control it, the bill would include a measure to limit doctor's and hospital's professional liability exposure.

The United States has the best most advanced medical care on the planet bar none. People come from around the world to be treated here, not the other way around. Sure it would be nice if we could get it for free but we can't. Tell your senator to leave well enough alone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Touring Colorado on a Motorcycle

Well I have to start somewhere so I'll begin by reporting a series of kidnappings. From 1969 to 1973 my father drug me (and mom) kicking and screaming on two-week camping trips to Colorado and points west and north. Of course I didn't appreciate it then, I was just a kid but I must have retained something of the indescribable splendor of the Rockies. In recent years and especially after discovering the joys of motorcycle travel, Colorado has been calling, beckoning, louder and louder and those majestic online images have been taunting me until I could resist no longer. When asked what I wanted for Father's day, road trip was my reply and the first week of July was the time. The excitement ensued. I was actually planning a ride to Colorado. I asked for advice from fellow yearroundrider Domingo Chang, the most knowledgeable, as far as I'm concerned, authority on riding in the Rockies. Not only was he more than willing to help, he had a couple of days free to run the roads with me!

After filling in a few logistical potholes and putting out a few fires at home and at the shop, I could see this trip becoming a reality. My gear is ready, the old Bandit is ready, ready enough and June 30th is the day. I'll try to avoid the play-by-play of a ride report here to concentrate on how these events moved me instead. It was good to be in the company of friends Taz and Jim the first two days. They made the otherwise long boring "getting there" leg of the trip much more pleasant. When they cut me loose in Colorado Springs I had to remind myself that I had intended to ride solo, at least some of the time and then welcomed the solitude.

I peeled off a layer of wet gear and let it fall to the floor in the Cascade, CO post office. The woman at the counter did not seem phased by this and gave me directions to the campground.

It felt good to camp again, somehow I slept more comfortably than one might expect. It was not exactly what I'd call roughing it, though. The next morning I treated myself to coffee, pancakes and sausage and Weather Channel updates in the lodge.

Pike's Peak was spectacular, of course. I did get a bit lightheaded in the thin air the first time.

Almost as an afterthought I diverted onto Boreas Pass Road and found it immensely enjoyable. From my mental list I checked off Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel as I encountered them. More rain the next morning. I reached my goal, Rocky Mountain National Park but it was not as I envisioned it. At the southwest entrance, Trail Ridge Road was undergoing a resurface and was quite rough. The first potential campground had been clear cut and still had piles of timber and debris all around. Stark and disappointing but fully occupied nonetheless. As I wound my way toward the pass the beauty of the place reemerged. What a relief but I still had to find a campsite. I claimed what may have been the only vacancy in the park in yet another cloudburst just as its previous occupants pulled away. I hastily assembled the tent and tossed my gear in. I knew where I would go next.

Of all our family travels in my youth there was one place dad talked about more than any other and even I had fond memories of tent camping a few feet from the clear cold babbling Fall River in Endovalley. The time had come to see Endovelley again. I am told the area had been closed for some time and recently reopened as a picnic area. Dad was foremost in my thoughts as I came upon the places we camped. How vividly I remembered the crisp mountain air and how we arranged rocks in a crescent shape on the bank to keep our groceries cold in the river. I retrieved a cupped handful and brought it to my lips, as cold and clear and delicious as I remembered. This was a touching moment, in some ways the high point of the trip.

The Old Fall River Road brought back memories too. Scenic and rugged and eventually slick as the rain returned. Once again I slept like a baby under the light of a near full moon in the mountains. I awoke to a crisp clear morning. My Seaport Coffee never tasted so good.

I met my new riding buddy Dom and his legendary '87 R80, Brigitta in Idaho Springs and we set out to conquer Mt Evans. This has to be the most singularly awe inspiring piece of real estate I encountered. I simply could not stop taking pictures.

Later as we traveled east on CO103 I watched as the wind drove the clouds up the side of the mountain toward us. I saw the clouds revolve in a vertical circular motion like perfect surfer's waves as they reached the carved out area which was the road we were on. I wish I could have captured an image of Dom shooting the curl ahead of me. I had never seen anything like that before.

My nebulous bliss was interrupted when poor Brigitta suffered catastrophic input shaft failure and had to be carried to the shop. Too bad but not to worry, Maria will come out to play tomorrow.

Sure enough, Maria, Dom's '04 R1150RT led me through even more of what Colorado has to offer. It was a splendid 340 mile day.

Monday morning. The long grasp of the real world took hold and pulled me southward granting me respite briefly to camp once more in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Thirteen more hours of uninterrupted riding would put me home again. As therapeutic and revitalizing as it was, this long overdue trip has done nothing to satiate my longing to see and ride Colorado. It will certainly not be another 35 years until I see her again.

About Me

My photo
Salesman/insurance agent more than 20 years turned baker. Go figure. My wife Julana and I bought a little bakery ten years ago and now she is the premier cake designer in this part of the state. In the past few years I have developed a love for motorcycling. Can you tell?