Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Few Days Without the Bike....

Well, my bike went in the shop this week....

It wouldn't start, and after I thought it was the starter or the starter switch, it turned out to be "just" the negative battery cable. It was cut in half, though I don't know how, and this cut off all the electricity to the battery.

A $13 part, and it takes about a week to get it ordered from Harley to replace....

As I know too well, if I had known that was all it was, I could have put a wire there and it would have started just fine.

As it is, I've been without the bike for the week. I feel like I've lost my right hand....

I am sure I am the only person on the Humid list who writes about bikes. But for those of us who ride every day, losing your bike to any event can be pretty detrimental to one's mentality.

Over time, I have come to take for granted what its like to ride the bike on a daily basis. Through the coldest of weather, and through some rainy days and times when I know I shouldn't ride, I get on the bike nearly every day to ride somewhere. And right now, I feel pretty empty.

There is something to be said about feeling the "freedom" that comes with riding a bike. Especially during this wonderful Autumn days. The briskness of the cool mornings. The beautiful afternoons just to ride around for an hour during lunch. The wonderful ride home when it isn't scorching hot. And right now I have to drive a "cage" all day long. This is not a good feeling at all.

I am hoping to get the bike back before the weekend. I've got plans to ride all day Saturday to various events sponsored by various groups. There's Boozefighter's to see, BACA fundraiser's to go to, and hills to climb.

I can only hope that the bike is ready by Friday so that I can catch up on some miles on the road. Otherwise, I might just go crazy.

Such is the life. It's all good :)

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Motorcycle Accident

OK, so here's what happened....

It was a bit after 9am and I begin my journey to work. I ride my Harley to work every day, as long as it isn't raining or isn't below 36-degrees outside. These recent years in Central Texas, that pretty much means every day!

Now, I've been riding for over two years. My bike of preference is a Harley Davidson. I own two—the 2004 Sportster that I literally ride every day to work, and the 2007 Fatboy which takes me on my long journeys on the weekends. Two years ago was not my first time on a bike. I began riding shortly after I turned 21. My first bike was a Suzuki GN400—a pretty big one-cylinder engine that had lots of front end pep but petered out at speeds above 70 mph. I used to ride that bike more recreationally than anything else, but I did have some adventures with it riding from Davis to San Francisco.

During one of my rides to San Francisco, I was coming up Van Ness just leaving the Ghiradelli Square area and turned right on to Bay Street. Between Bay and Franklin, some asshole in a VW pulled right out in front of me. He did not hit me, but I had no choice but to swerve hard to the left and I laid it down. Luckily, there were no cars in the left lane as I made the swerve. All the cars stopped around me, but the VW kept going. When I picked up the bike, I noticed a few damaged parts. My left leg was scratched up, my jeans torn, my helmet scraped. But I also knew I had to get home that night. So, I picked everything up, dusted myself off, and headed home via the Golden Gate Bridge. Needless to say, riding a scraped up bike with shaky knees and still in a bit of shock was something else. But I got back on the bike—and I would learn that this is the key to getting over a bike wreck if you're ever going to ride again.

So, move 30 years forward to yesterday....

About one block away from my house, I see a garbage truck parked on the left side of the road. This is normal on garbage day—it's parked somewhere as the garbage men are throwing the garbage in the back of the truck. Knowing there are garbagemen in the area, I slow down as I head near the truck. This singular fact is one reason that I'm not so hurt today.

Things now go very fast....

As I begin to pass the garbage truck—basically parallel with the driver's door—I see a garbage can fly out from the left to the right (right into my driving path). It's right there in front of me. With miliseconds to react, I ride through the garbage can. I feel my bike wobble about three times as I try to get it back stable—left, right, then left. On the right wobble, I go down.

I can see the whole event right now in my mind in technacolor. Except in my mind it seems like it was at night, though in reality it was during the early morning and the sun is up.

I feel myself and the bike go down, and as everything stops, I hear voices around me. I know I'm in a bit of shock because I know I'm down but everything seems a bit surreal. I'm thinking “wow, I've just had a bike accident.” The bike has pinned my right leg as it lies flat against it. I look up, I see the bike, and I begin to see three people coming to my aid. One of them is the garbage man who threw the garbage can. The other two are the driver of the garbage truck and a resident in the neighborhood who saw the whole thing because he was standing outside his house.

It's funny how people come to your aid in a bike accident. They first come to see if you're ok. Now this is “ok,” but my leg is pinned on top of my leg. I yell out “Can you take the bike off my leg?” With this, the three men lift the bike off of my leg. It's at this time that I begin rolling around the blacktop and start laughing....

For being such a careful motorcyclist, I never imagined or would have anticipated a garbage can flying across the street from behind a garbage truck....

I finally settle down and begin to view the damage. I notice my left jean leg is opened wide up. My knee is cut, and there are lacerations on my left calf. Not bad, I think to myself. I am surprised, but I wasn't going that fast. I notice blood coming from my elbow, though. I can't really see how bad that is. The neighbor who witnessed the accident tells me that it looks pretty deep. I take his word for it. The garbage man who threw the can is all shook up (more than me) and saying “Oh God, I know I'm gonna lose my job.”

I look at my bike, now parked on its kickstand. The right side isn't too messed up, but I love this bike. The damage to the bike really hurts me more than my own body damage. Brake cable is broken, the brake pedal has been driven into my engine casing, my pipes are pretty scratched up, and my windshield is damaged and scraped. The brake pedal and my right leg pretty much saved the bike. As I looked at the “scene” this morning on my walk, I noticed the deep gashes the bike made in the asphalt as it went down. I will say one thing—Harley makes a pretty strong bike. Nothing broke off, and though much is damaged and will need replacing, the bike saved further damage to my leg and arm.

The rest of the morning is filled with police and EMT sirens, police interviews among all the witnesses, EMT care in the ambulance (they did not take me to the emergency room by my choice), and a few calls to the insurance companies. Once I get the police report number, and after I get my claim number from my insurance company, I am pretty much ready to head back home. I've called Susan and told her that I was in an accident, but that was so long ago that she thinks I must be ok, the incident was minor, and I've gone to work.

The neighbor who witnessed the accident is going to follow me home to make sure I make it. I successfully start the Harley up, turn it around, and head back home. I have no rear brake, it feels weird to ride without the right front peg (it has been significantly bent up), but it rides fine and I get it home and in to the garage. I walk into the house and once Susan sees me she gets this scared look on her face. “Oh My God! I didn't think you were hurt!” She sees my leg and elbow, and we head into the bathroom for care beyond what the EMT's were able to provide. Once patched up by Nurse Susan, I begin what seems like already a way-too-long process of communication with Waste Management's insurance company.

I have since secured the service of an attorney, and I visited my doctor (not the ER) to get a better idea of how hurt I am. Again, nothing major, and the soreness in my shoulder, neck and knee will be with me for a few more days. I can handle that. My elbow still doesn't look “right” so I probably will go back to the doctor on Monday to see what else needs to be done with it.

I survived this accident. But certain things were reinforced by this event. First, never ride without a helmet. Yes, I've done it before, and yes I rationalize that I'll be OK because I'm a safe rider. But you can't anticipate some of the stupid things that happen around you, and if I wasn't wearing a helmet I would have taken a gash to the forehead above the right eye (as evidenced by the damage to my helmet in that area). Second, never ride without good pants. If I had leathers on, I probably wouldn't have had any damage to my leg. Third, ride with gloves. My right glove took some damage, and I can only imagine what my hand would look like if they weren't on. Hamburger palms comes to mind.... Finally, long sleeves would have helped protect the arms. My arms were uncovered since I had my long-sleeve denim shirt rolled up, and my elbow was unprotected from the fall.

All in all, I was lucky. I wasn't going too fast and still got hurt. Going faster, reacting in a different way, falling closer to the concrete sidewalk—all of this could have made the situation worse. I did the only thing I felt “comfortable doing”--ride through the garbage can. I guess I would do the same next time if it was an animal, human, or something else smaller than my bike. Otherwise, I'll swerve if I have time enough to think.

It's all good :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The New Google+

I have successfully secured a Google+ account and am currently playing around in their environment. Supposedly, it is supposed to challenge Facebook's social networking medium, though I am sure it will only rival it at best, especially in the early stages. What I'm trying to do, though, is see how much I can do within the Google environment, including social networking, without really shifting to other web-pages or browsers.

Now, I haven't had much to squabble with when it comes to Facebook. I have many "friends" there, though I like the idea of Google+ setting up different communities of friends so they're not bumping into each other. Still, I enjoy the fact that my biker friends get a "chance" to actually read some fairly liberal or leftist news at times, though I know they don't click on it (as I don't click on their conservative news either).

What I do use Google for is academic research. It is this platform, as well as Google docs, that I could see some real relevancy for. That and the live video-chats (which I am going to see if I can use today) may make this a pretty good platform for my work. Do some research, look up some articles, post my thoughts on Google docs, request a chat with a co-author, have them look over the material in live time, and discuss. Knowing that I could do this from the comforts of a bar in New Orleans makes this REALLY attractive ;)

So, here I go, diving into Google+ with some gusto.

Wish me luck ;)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

ROT—Day 1

I successfully packed my bike with everything I needed for the ROT Rally. Needless to say, I know there are some things I didn’t need to pack and they will be coming home with me later today so I have less to carry back home on Sunday. But the bike made the trip to Austin just fine—and I did everything I could to miss all the bumps in the road for fear that the weight of the pack would break the sissy bar (I’ve heard stories about things like this happening).

I took the 6-person tent with me on this trip to test it out. Once I set it up, I was glad that I did. It has more room inside than imaginable, and with Susan coming down on Friday we will have lots of room to spread out. I feel like I’m in a cabin, and if I had a portable table it would very much feel like home. I can store everything inside and still have room to stand in and sleep in. It’s very nice—I’m glad we bought this last year.

Once set up and with all the initial “hellos” to fellow SOBer’s (that’s what this group I’m with is called), I set out for Austin. It’s a real easy ride from the Event Center to East Austin—about 8 miles. East Austin is changing almost everytime I travel through there. It reminds me the most of New Orleans, and it is getting a real “Marigny/Bywater” funkyness about it. Probably my favorite place in Austin now, and if we were to move to Austin it definitely would be in the East. Lots of small local restaurants and shops, I also passed a place advertising “free” comedy during the week. I’m going to eat at a few of the local joints in East Austin during the Rally—I’d rather do that than pay high prices to corporate chains at the Rally.

There is a certain “block” in East Austin that catches my fancy—East 6th between Onion and Comal. That’s where the Volstead and the Gypsy bars are located. I didn’t go to the Gypsy last night because I was trying to get back to the campground in time to hand with the other SOBer’s. But I did get a chance to hang at the Volstead, and honestly this is my favorite bar in Austin.

Not many folks in the Volstead when I got there, but the jukebox was playing some great music and they’ve got Abita Amber in bottles! The bartender (Mark?) even conjured up an excellent Sazerac for me, and you know I’ll be back there every night this weekend ;) I put on a few tunes from the Treme soundtrack on the jukebox (now how many jukeboxes in Austin has the Treme soundtrack?) and got a chance to spend some time with the owner Sarah. I felt like I was truly home, and it’s good to hang with folks who actually speak and understand YAT! For those in Austin who are New Orleans exiles, THIS is the place to be every night!

As I hit my two drink limit, I headed back to the ROT Rally. For all the moaning and groaning we all have about prices going up this year for ROT, once I got there and began mingling with friends, I knew it was worth every penny. I met the folks I camp with for the first time last year. New stories, new adventures, broken relationships—all the things that go on over a year were talked about at the campsite. The social area is just outside my tent’s front opening, so I’m right in the middle of the action. Around 10:30 we all headed over to Bebop’s Bus to get ready for the nightly “midnight toast”.

Bebop’s Bus makes ROT for me. Good people, drinks galore, jokes and loud talking, and some stuff that only happens behind closed bus doors! On this Wednesday night, the bus was moderately packed, making us all wonder what it will look like by Saturday (last year, there was a line going out the door). Bebop is a great host, and his brothers and dad are a hoot. My signature was still on the roof, as were many of our signatures and various paintings of female body parts. Hey, it’s a biker rally—what were you expecting? We stayed into the early morning hours, and then it was time for me to catch some sleep prior to coming to work.

I will head back down to the Rally later today. Until then, I’ve got good memories of the first day at ROT. It’s all good :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Motorcycle Diaries—Prelude II

Susan just made the commitment to go to ROT again this year. This time she'll be spending two nights with me (not just one night like last year). It will be nice to have my best friend with me down there—we always have lots of fun together, and there are a few things in Austin that I want to introduce to her. We couldn't do this without the great support of our friends Kat and Cheryl. They know Susan and I need a weekend out alone every once in a blue-moon. This will be a special weekend now.

Getting ready for the Rally is like getting ready for Jazzfest. In many ways, you're scoping out the food, music and entertainment taking place within the Event Center, but you're also looking at what is taking place around the city as well. Ironically, this year seems to be full of “New Orleans” food vendors. Not that they will be any good, but I find it interesting. Also, there will be a “street-car” roaming the Event grounds from Community Coffee. They'll be handing out free coffee (so they say) and THAT will make my mornings even better. Of course, you can always find free coffee at the Motorcycle Church area....

The checklist includes things to make the camping experience a bit more enjoyable. Ear-plugs are necessary, since I'll be drinking and thus that means I'll be snoring loudly. They will also help for the noise generated near the campground by the bikers riding the parade route into the wee-hours of the morning. We also have our gel-filled neck wraps. They are essential for this hot weather. Basically, you let them sit in water overnight and they fill up into an all-day cool neck wrap. I've survived many a Jazzfest with these things. I had to get Susan an inflatable mattress, though I can sleep on the ground just fine (even with my bad back). Tent, tarp, chairs, and ice chest, and we're ready to go. Imagine all of this, and our clothes for three days, on one Harley. I'll take pictures of the packed bike once I hit the road :)

Friday is the only evening we'll be heading out of the Event area to Austin. Not only will we see the largest bike parade in the world—but I'll be taking Susan to her first East Austin experience. Two bars are my favorites—and they are right next door to each other. The Volstead, and the Gypsy are on East 6th Street between Onion and Comal. I hear the Volstead is hosting music these days, as is the Gypsy. I'm looking forward to spending a few hours and having a few Abitas here with Susan on Friday.

On Saturday, there are a few things that caught my eye: The Working Man's Motorcycle and Art Show is taking place at the Mexitas Event Center. This looks very interesting. And later in the evening, there are two events that might be worth going to. The first is something at the Gypsy called "Arabian Nights" that looks pretty cool. The other is a CD release party at ND 501 Studios that begins at 8. All in all, lots to do on Saturday, and we still need to be back at the ROT rally before midnight for the final midnight toast.

It will be nice to rumble into Austin this weekend with thousands of other bikers. It's all looking good :)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Motorcycle Diaries, The Prelude

This marks the second year that I will ride down to Austin and spend three days at the Republic of Texas bike rally. Last year was an enjoyable experience (at least what I remember from it), and I met many wonderful people. This year, I'm staying with the group I met last year, and I am sure there will be much drinking and chatting into the early morning hours. I wanted to chronicle this year's event as a way of “kickstarting” (pardon the pun) this blog back up again

I learned a few things last year that help with my preparation for this year's event:
1). Don't drink liquor
It's too damn hot, and it's too damn easy to get drunk really quick. Now, I'm not one to “not” like a few cocktails that put me over the top, but I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy as much of the music and the rally last year because I had either passed out or was hung-over. This year, I'm sticking with beer and water, and though I might imbibe on a toddy every now and then, it won't be my primary choice of adult beverage.

2). Get OUT of the Expo Area
OK, so the Rally is supposed to be all inclusive. You've got friends, music, bikes, vendors, free coffee, food, and all the comforts of a campground. But, seriously, Austin is just 8 miles down the road. I will take an excursion or two down to some of my favorite music and drinking spots in East Austin and enjoy some Live Local Music.

3). Walk around the Parade Route
I learned last year that riding the bike around the Parade Route can be a bit “hazardous.” It really depends on the time, and the amount the other riders have been drinking. No doubt, it will be very hot during the day, but walking around the area gives you a chance to catch up with friends who are not staying in your camp area. This year, I plan on visiting the folks who are setting up their RV sites or tent sites along the parade route—Joker's Icehouse, the local American Legion Post, and anyone else who I see that I know. I also need to find the OK Boys Bus so that we can all enjoy the midnight toast every night.

4). Enjoy the local musicians who are playing at the Expo
The “Headliners” for bike rallies tend to be the artists one might hear on a “classic vinyl” show. This year is no different—Eddie Money on Friday night, and the Doobie Brothers on Saturday. There's nothing wrong with this, and the Rally managers know their market pretty well, but what I really enjoyed last year was hearing some of the local and regional bands playing in the smaller venues within the rally grounds. There are fewer people at these venues (which I am sure the bands do not enjoy), but the music is good and at times played with incredible passion. Seeing these local artists perform will satisfy my continuing need to hear good local music in the area. It's not jazz, but it isn't country either, and I'll take most of what I can get given that we live here now.

I've started to pack for the ride down on Wednesday and I'll be logging in daily once I settle in there to update my thoughts on the event. I'll try to post some “PG” pics from the Rally too. It should be a good time! Yeah you right!

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Year Ago this week....

1. The Saints won the NFC Championship
It was an incredible time to be a Saints fan. The noise in the Superdome was off the charts. The game was tight throughout, and without all the Vikings mistakes we were sunk. The interception by Tracy Porter, the first of two incredibly important picks in his career, put us in a position to win. The field goal by Garrett Hartley sealed our ticket to Miami. Our household was screaming—a neighbor told me you could hear it down the street. Hell had indeed froze over. My son David and I began thinking about the kind of dress we were going to buy in honor of Buddy D, and we all wished we were in the Quarter to celebrate.

After watching both games this last weekend, they just didn't feel as “electric” as last year's NFC Championship game. No doubt, the Packers haven't won in a long time and their fans deserve to see another Lombardi. I am happy for both the Steelers and Packers' fans—I know how they feel right now. I hope that New Orleans is in the Super Bowl next year—if there is a season next year.

2. I was on my way to Arizona....
I had learned the day before the NFC Championship game that my mother had taken a turn for the worse in her health and was indeed on her death-bed. My sister told me that if I wanted to see her one last time that now was the time to come. I had time to “relax” during the NFC Championship game, but soon afterwards I was packing for the trip noone is prepared for.

I was able to spend one wonderful week with my mother—actually it was only three days before she basically went into a semi-conscious state. I chronicled all my thoughts here:

That week taught me quite a bit. Indeed, it was the final few lessons in life my mother taught me. First, I never want to die like that—I'm too much of a real wimp when it comes to prolonged pain. And I know she was on morphine, but once she fell into that semi-conscious state, who knew whether she really was in pain or not. Second, you only have so many years on this earth—make the best of those years. My mom had her ups and downs, but I truly believe she had done most of the things she wanted to do in life, with the final thing being to see my son David graduate from High School. I appreciate her spirit in life, and I still hope she is happy with how she raised me, even though I know I disappointed her more than I should have. Welcome to Japanese guilt.

One year ago this week.... And so much has happened since that time. The Saints won the Super Bowl, the Giants won the World Series, and I am so in love with my family that I sometimes wonder how one person could be so lucky in life. Life is good—it is truly good. And I have much to be thankful for right now.

Most of all, I am thankful for all that both my mother and father taught me. And I see some of those lessons passing on to Devin. And I really do see some of the spirit of my mother in my daughter Cece, and I see the my mother's empathy for mankind in my son David.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The New Harley



I picked up a new motorcycle on Tuesday. No, I didn't trade in my Fatboy—she's still in the garage ready to go. But the sad part is that I sold my Caddy to get it. I don't want to dwell on selling the Caddy—she had been part of my life for the past 11 years. And all of us had spent wonderful times in that Caddy. But she was really just parked in the garage for the past five years, rarely getting out due to one problem or another, and it was time to pass her on to someone else who I hope will get as much joy out of her as I did.

In my strange “practical” side of thinking, I bought a new Harley Sportster today. “Practical” in that my reason for getting a Sporty was to use it as my everyday rider—one that will get over 50 miles-per-gallon. And with gas prices over the $3.00 mark locally, it was probably a good time to pick one up. Weather-permitting, I will ride the Sporty daily to work, leaving the Fatboy for weekend ventures.

Riding it home this week has been a bit strange. First, I had really forgotten how “small” the Sportser is—or at least how “small” it feels. The novice wouldn't notice this if they just saw me riding it on the street. But the rider knows the difference. It has a much lower profile than my Fatboy, it is thinner, it feels “lighter”, and it just feels “small.” To be sure, it gets up to freeway speeds pretty quickly. It is quite the perky bike. It has more than enough power too to fully compete with freeway traffic. But because of the frame-mounted engine, it shakes like crazy and is clearly not as “smooth” of a ride as I get on my Fatboy.

Because it's a 2004 model, it also has a “choke” that I need to use when starting it up. Interesting process. I haven't used a choke since I drove my dad's 1936 Ford pickup (there's a story behind that truck). I'm sure I'll get the hang of that, but I know I'll be off the mark more than once over the next few weeks. I'm just glad that the bike is garage-kept—that will keep it from getting too cold to start properly.

At this time, I don't have many plans to “modify” the bike in any way. I am sure I'll add a small detachable windshield, and I may end up putting a pair of bags on it. My hope is that eventually Susan will get her license and ride the Sporty with me on trips—with Devin on my bike riding with me. She seems ready for this, though I know she still loves riding on the back of the Fatboy with me. I also plan to give this bike to Devin when he turns 15. I really want Devin to be my riding partner in the future. I think we could have some real fun with it.

It's a good way to start off the New Year—with a new motorcycle. I'm really looking forward to riding it a bit more over the next few weeks. I just hope the weather holds out—it's been beautiful, but cold.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The “Final” Katrina Anniversary

Five years ago, Susan and I began our journey to Central Texas. On January 6, 2006, we moved into a rental house in Harker Heights with literally nothing. We had our “final” insurance adjustment check, and this would provide for our furniture, television, and other necessary items for a normal household. But during the first few weeks in the new home, we were living on air mattresses and stadium chairs. It was an interesting reminder of all we had lost with Katrina.

It has taken me literally five years to recover from that storm....

This holiday season, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on these last five years. The two things that remains ever important to me are family and friends. Without both, our recovery would have been impossible. We spent the months after the storm living with Susan's parents in Tennessee. This last December, we again journeyed up to Tennessee to engage in much socializing and fellowship with her family. They probably don't know how deeply I feel indebted to their hospitality after the storm. Over the years, we have all become closer. This last visit up there was our second consecutive Holiday Season visit, and we intend on making this our annual tradition.

The friends we have made here in Central Texas have truly been wonderful. Many would get a glimpse of our interpretation of New Orleans when we threw our first Mardi Gras party in 2006. Dinner parties, movie nights, and spontaneous drinking and celebration have become our trade-mark. I have come to appreciate how our real close friends know that they can come right on in to our house without knocking—something that I really like. Our dog Stella doesn't even bark when they come into the house. Now that's true friendship.

I have struggled over the past five years with meeting people or getting too involved with any activities here in Central Texas. Once we settled in here five years ago, we started our frequent trips back to New Orleans. On average, we return home every three months. It was through the kindness of two special friends in New Orleans that helped make possible these frequent trips. They don't know how important their help was in recentering me on what is important in life. But New Orleans really kept us from totally connecting to this area. Frankly, I know that my family will never be fully invested in this region. But year-by-year, we do and will become more personally grounded here. It is our new home, and we truly realize we are not going back to New Orleans for many, many years.

These last few months, probably since August, Susan and I have begun to get more active in the Central Texas community. No doubt, most of that activity has centered in Austin—the one city that comes closest to replicating our New Orleans experience. The music and culture are completely different, but at least there is music and culture :)

And I keep meeting more people. The one thing that helped with this over the last year was the motorcycle. This has opened all kinds of new doors to Susan and I. The people I've met through this network have been wonderful. Very down to earth. They like to drink and have fun—two things that bring us back to New Orleans :) As I've written previously, this will be a network we will further tap in to this year.

As I reflect on this last bit of Katrina memory, I guess I am thankful that we have landed on our feet here in Central Texas. Who would have thought we would ever land here. I was born in Texas as an Air Force brat. My family moved away from Texas when I was one year old when my father became stationed in Sacramento. It took over 40 years, but I eventually landed only 2-and-a-half hours away from my birthplace.

In the final assessment, this really isn't a bad place. The politics suck, but that is becoming true for the rest of the country as well. The schools are ok, but when they start teaching Devin about alternative biology or cooked up history, we will pull him out and home-school him. The job is challenging and at times exciting. The friends are great. The music is close. And I can get most ingredients for all my cooking needs.

It has taken me five years to kill that bitch Katrina. Though she will continue to haunt me at times, I believe I have laid that bitch to rest.

It's all good :)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The New Year's Blog

I do not “do” New Year's Resolutions. What I have done in the past, though, is look back at my year and determine which of my goals I achieved and which, if not attained, need to be moved to the top of my “to do” list or totally discarded for lack of either effort or interest.

Work
I have worked hard this year to further develop the curriculum within my college. I have many hard working colleagues who have helped the college achieve this goal. It has come with some significant headaches and perhaps the fracturing of what once was a very good personal friendship. In the end, though, my effort will help build a solid foundation for the College of Arts and Sciences.

My goal this year is to branch out to local community colleges and develop partnerships with them.

Academia
I wanted to have a book under contract at this time. The excuse I have for not achieving this goal is the heavy load I carried as an administrator. I also taught too many classes to do anything with my research.

My goal this year is to probably drop the book idea and submit three papers for publication. I think this is more of an achievable goal as long as I don't teach more than my normal load.

Family
This has been a very good year with my current nuclear family. Devin, Susan and I have continued to build a healthy and fun household. David and Cece seem more distant now, given that David no longer lives with us and will soon be joining the Navy. Cece and I had a wonderful two weeks in New Orleans, but she is so similar to me in that she can narrowly focus on those in her current close networks and neglect those who are outside or at a distance. I fully understand these new relationships with my older children, but it still doesn't feel good to me. Susan and I continue to live like best-friends “with benefits” and I am so happy she is in my life.

My goal this year is to play with Devin more outside. I want to teach him baseball, and also work on his soccer. I also want to work with his schoolwork more. If this is a priority, then I've got to rearrange some of my other current priorities that take time away from him and my family.

“The Bike”
My one outlet right now is riding my motorcycle. For those who don't ride, I don't think you will understand this feeling. For those who do ride, you know exactly what I mean. Over the past year, I've participated in rallies and events, gone on more organized rides, and have “hung out” in biker related places and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When Susan is with me, it is all the better. Riding the bike has become my “substitute” for my strolls in the French Quarter. It centers me to a certain extent.

My goal this year is to continue to dive into the motorcycle culture. I plan to use my field experiences to write an article on motorcycle culture in this area. I plan on joining some motorcycle club—most probably the local Harley Owner's Group, but I may start a biker club for academics. That latter idea is probably something to do next year.

Social Life
We seem to throw a party every week, in one form or another. Susan and I have successfully brought this part of New Orleans to Central Texas.

My goal here is not to increase the number of parties but to increase the number of people who participate. I've written off my suburban neighbors, but perhaps more of my biker friends will come over and have a drink and enjoy some good food and company.

There are other things that are part of my life that I should evaluate, but these topics will do for now. I feel pretty good about what we achieved and where we went as a family in 2010. We have our health, our love, and good friends. I don't think we should or can ask for anything more.