Saturday, August 29, 2009

The AMA's Healthcare Debate Thread on Facebook

As you can see, the AMA has yet to take a position on Obamacare which I find a little strange. AMA ardently apposed verbiage in HIPAA which allows insurers to limit benefits for injuries sustained while engaging in certain activities such as motorcycling, even to the point of encouraging Congressman Burgess (R) (TX) to sponsor a bill (HR 1253) to require disclosure of such limitations. Here is the AMA's opening statement:

American Motorcyclist Association
Our recent alert concerning the national health care debate was intended to provide AMA members an opportunity to voice their concerns to elected officials about keeping the active lifestyle of the riding community in mind. The AMA is a nonpartisan o...rganization founded to promote and protect the rights of motorcyclists, and has not taken a position on the various health care bills under consideration. Thank you.

When I voiced my concerns about HR 3200, I was told I was being silly and was referred to a style "myth site". Here is my response:

Forget the “myth site” and just READ THE BILL. For example, beginning on page 24:

(a) IN GENERAL.—A qualified health benefits plan shall meet a medical loss ratio as defined by the Commissioner. For any plan year in which the qualified health benefits plan does not meet such medical loss ratio, QHBP offering entity shall provide in a manner specified by the Commissioner for rebates to enrollees of payment sufficient to meet such loss ratio.

If a group’s loss ratio is above the line the insurance company must eat the loss. If a group’s loss ratio is below the line the insurance company must refund the surplus to the group. Insurance companies stay in business by making money on some risks to cover losses on others. It is easy to see that private insurers will not be allowed to compete with the “public option”. I could go on and on. Once we are forced onto the "public option", it can be determined that it is not "fair" to the taxpayers to have to pay for the increased risk posed by certain "behaviors" like smoking or motorcycle riding. It is a slippery slope. I love riding and I do not want to be penalized for engaging in it.

Nobody wants the status quo to continue. There are far better ways than a government takeover. HR3200 limits care providers' incomes and even the ability to build facilities, yet their exposure to liability goes unchecked. When Howard Dean was asked why no tort reform is proposed, he replied that they are afraid to take on the trial lawyers. In fact Trial Lawyers and bar associations are major contributors to the DNC and have a strong lobby against tort reform which might limit their fees. Professional liability "malpractice" insurance is a major expense to care providers that gets passed along to insurers and patients.

I googled the words "HIPAA loophole" and stopped scrolling at 50 pages of reported problems with that piece of legislation. What makes you think HR3200 will be any better?

It has been several hours and I think I may have killed the thread.

While I'm at it, just in case this isn't clear enough, let me explain section 116 another way:
Let's say you're in the widget business and I am the government. I'm going to sell widgets too but I don't have to turn a profit and my widgets don't even have to be as good as yours. I will decide how much if any profit you can make on your widgets and when my widget business loses money I can make all widget customers yours and mine send me more than they already are. How long do you think you'll be able to compete with me?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are You a Real Biker?

I posted this answer to the question "are you a real biker" on one of the rider forms a while back and thought I'd share it here.

I believe the question is deeper than what the question, "Are you a real biker" connotes. It is true the term "biker" carries a cultural implication, you know, tattoos and studded leather, etc. and if that's your thing that's fine with me.

It is my hope that motorcycling is for each rider exactly what he or she wants it to be regardless of the label anybody hangs on it. Whether it is measured by the hours of polishing chrome and waiting for mild sunny days to ride to
the ice house, or redline revs and track day knee dragging, or odometer clicks and calendar years, or campfires and mountain views, adrenaline or solace, camaraderie or solitude, it's whatever we do on two wheels to capture the euphoria we crave. Our passion for riding is what's "real".

It's never having to look back and say: I wish I had ridden today, I should have taken that trip, the weather wasn't all that bad, or I wish I could ride like that, or someday I'll . . . . . .

You shudder to think of or simply cannot imagine being without a motorcycle. You know you're "one", whatever one is, when your visor is clean and you twist the right grip and you look out at the sky and the sun or the moon and the stars or you see your headlight illuminating the fog or the mist and you love the smells and the thermal air currents and it revitalizes you and gives you that something beyond description. But if you know, if you understand this, then you're one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We didn't know if you were crazy or not but we didn't want to miss you if you were

I started this blog entry several days ago as I was reading parts of the house version of the health care bill with intent to expose chapter and verse just how blatantly it encroaches on our freedom and impinges on our privacy. So much is happening so fast, I've had to revise it a number of times. Public awareness and outcry is such that now I believe I can take a slightly different tack.

Thanks to the efforts and voices of millions of concerned Americans, ‘‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’’ as submitted by the house is being dismantled piece by piece. The infamous Section 1233 regarding end of life counseling among others has been exposed. This is excellent news but do not let your guard down just yet. Even if a watered down version makes it to Obama's desk, they can easily revise and add to it later. This freedom robbing control mongering tactic disguised as a health care bill has to be stopped cold.

This bill is incontrovertible proof of the intentions of this administration and this Democrat controlled house and senate when allowed to operate unfettered. Without this huge grassroots groundswell of opposition, this legislation would have been inflicted upon us before anyone had time to read it.

The good news is we have it in print now and each and every Republican and Independent candidate running for the house and senate in 2010 will quote form this bill to demonstrate his or her opponent's true nature. Of course we cannot assume the playing field is going to be level. Acorn and similar liberal activist organizations are still active digging up dead democrat voters and operating with billions or our tax dollars from the stimulus bill. And don't be surprised when the democrats try to push through an amnesty bill and give millions of illegal aliens a check and a voter registration card prior to the next election.

Keep up the good work America, there is still plenty to be done.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Several riders who have seen my trip photos have asked my advice on motorcycle touring and camping. I'm not "experienced" by any stretch of the imagination; on a scale of one to ten I would give myself a three. I have gathered some information that may be useful, though, and well, I have a blog - I must be long on opinion too.

I am a motorcycling pragmatist. Even the bike I ride was used and very inexpensive. Everything I buy, use or wear serves a utile purpose. I am not encumbered by any social, peer or cultural constraints with regard to the gear I wear and live in on a trip. Here are a few tips that I hope you'll find helpful:

I'll not spend much time on motorcycle ergo's because if you're reading this, you most likely already have the bike. To each his own but generally speaking, some bikes are better suited for touring than others. If the seat, bar or peg position becomes the least bit uncomfortable on day rides, it should be addressed - seat cover/cushion, bar risers, etc. An upright, slightly forward rider position is preferable. Of course, do routine service beforehand and know how many miles to expect from your tires and chain. Begin your trip with new rubber if possible. You can always throw that old tire back on later and wear it out close to home. Pack tools, headlight bulb, fuses, spark plugs, tire plug kit and an air compressor. I also carry tie down straps for that fateful truck or trailer ride to town if I break down.

Plan a destination, or don't. Make a list from the numerous online sources of possible places to camp. Just be flexible and don't push it. Don't try to go farther than you're comfortable riding in a day. Adhering to a strict schedule can take the fun out of it. Navigation with a GPS unit is ideal but I do just fine with a detailed road atlas and an old hand held Garmin that I use for little more than a clock, altimeter and compass. Let someone know your general route and schedule and check in at regular intervals. Remember, cell phone reception is not 100%. A GPS locator beacon like the "Spot" is advisable.

I'll spare the ATGATT zealot sermon here except to speak from a practical standpoint. A full face helmet will block the wind and ear plugs or earphones will reduce wind noise. Wind and noise equal fatigue. Those long days in the saddle will be much more pleasant and you won't be as tired at the end of the day. Consider wearing full armor, ankles, knees, hips, back, elbows, shoulders, knuckles for the simple reason that you'll be riding in remote areas alone. No delusion, in a collision, injury is a given, gear or no gear but at least in case of a minor "get-off" your chances of being able to get up and ride are greatly improved with safety gear. Yes, this happened to me several hundred miles from home. I went down hard on my hip, elbow and shoulder and thanks to my gear I was able to continue. Your gear should also be waterproof. If you're out there, you will get rained on. If it's hot, bring a hydration bladder and "cool" vest. If planning a cold weather ride, use thermals and electrics, at least grips or gloves but remember a heated jacket liner will keep your core warm without having to bulk up with layers and the warmth can be adjusted as temperatures change through the day. It's a small investment considering electrics can eliminate the end of riding season PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) for good. Winter happens to be my absolute favorite time to tour. I just turn up the heat and I'm good down to 20 degrees! I love the looks I get too!

Camping, for me anyway, is simply a means to stretch the moto-touring budget. I carry what I need to sleep comfortably and be protected from the weather. Although size and weight may not be as crucial, backpacking gear lends itself well to moto-camping. Selecting the right tent is paramount so don't scrimp here.

Here is my tent criteria:
  • free standing two person (one + gear) and tall enough to sit up in to change clothes
  • wind and water resistant - aluminum poles and full coverage rainfly with at least one vestibule (3.5 season rated)
REI sells a good reflective space blanket that makes a good ground cloth or "footprint" under the tent and helps retain body heat. Look for a good quality closed cell or insulated self inflating mat such as Thermarest. The sleeping bag should be rated for the low temperature you expect to encounter. Down bags provide more warmth per pound, pack smaller and lighter but are useless if allowed to get wet. Poly fill bags are bulkier but still provide warmth when wet. I use a zero degree rated down mummy bag in winter and stow it in a heavy pvc dry bag. I have also learned to keep the tent well vented to prevent condensation from forming and dripping onto the bag.

On the road, I carry high protein snacks and energy bars and plenty of liquid and have one "sit down" meal each day. I do not cook much but I may in the future. Camp cooking can be very satisfying. I know a rider who buys a good cut of steak and a potato just prior to reaching the day's destination and prepares them on the fire. I've gone as far as coffee, oatmeal and various things on skewers. The MSR Pocket Rocket is a great camp stove and is so compact. Obviously the more cooking you plan to do the more gear you have to pack and wash. Sometimes however, eating out is just more practical. I also enjoy sampling local cuisine.

Well this is a start, although I feel I've barely scratched the surface. There is a wealth of information online. Surf the rider forums to see what works for others too. I'll add to this segment if there are questions or comments. The most important thing is to stop saying "someday I'll" and just get out there and do it!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Hopefully this is a dead issue so I'll not go into a lot of detail here. In a nutshell, the stimulus package included a measure enabling the government to dole out 2.2 billion dollars as enticement to trade in less fuel efficient vehicles. They passed it all out like candy in $3,500 or $4,500 increments. That's right, past tense, $2.2 BILLION of our tax dollars we haven't even printed or borrowed from China yet gone in one week! Now congress declares the program an overwhelming success and wants to throw another 2 billion at it. I'll skip the larger question, is another $4,500 added to the deficit financed over a generation in order to pick up 5 or 10mpg going to be worth it to our grandchildren? Instead I'll simply pose another question pertaining to a more immediate effect of this absurd piece of legislation.

I wonder how I would feel if only a few weeks ago I was a small town GM or Chrysler dealer forced by the Obama take-over of the US auto industry to close my doors and most likely file bankruptcy and send members my community home unemployed. How would it feel to see my former associates and competitors selling cars as part of this massive government spending scheme and why was I not allowed to participate? And now that I have been relegated to have to try to make a living by converting my once new car dealership into a second-chance-finance used car lot, how do I feel about the cars and trucks that might otherwise be my enventory being destroyed under this plan? I think I'd be pissed!

Who is running the show here and when are we going to stop the bleeding?

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?