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My Honda Rebel Blog
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

* August, 2006 blog * * July, 2006 blog * * June, 2006 blog * * May, 2006 blog * * April, 2006 blog * * March, 2006 blog * * February, 2006 blog * * January, 2006 blog * * December, 2005 blog * * November, 2005 blog * * October, 2005 blog * * September, 2005 blog * * August, 2005 blog * * July, 2005 blog * * June, 2005 blog * * May, 2005 blog *

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September 30,2006:

Remembering how dark it was at 6:00 a.m. yesterday, I waited until 6:30 to head out this morning. First, Sarah and I got the paper, then I got her breakfast. After she ate, I let her out the back, and checked the air in the tires. All was well. I then checked the Chronicle to see which roads were closed for construction. I-10 and 610 were scheduled for closures. Highway 290 inbound was scheduled to be closed on Saturday night till Monday morning. I-45 and Highway 59 were both up and running. I suited up and headed out.

After warming up, I entered I-10, heading east. I rode all the way to the East Loop, then headed north. I got on the North Loop and took it to Highway 290. I had twin goals. First, I wanted to get in at least 50 miles. Second, I was on a mission to stop at Panera's to get a couple of cinnamon crunches for breakfast.

Traffic was pretty light. As I passed the exit for 43rd street, I noted fog in the field off my left (south). I also noted that a highway billboard was advising that Highway 290 at Gessner was closed until 8:00 a.m. Since it was barely seven, I decided that I was not going to continue on out Highway 290. I exited and headed for Panera's. Fortunately, they had plenty of the cinnamon crunches. I got two. I asked them to double-bag my purchase, because I had to stuff the sack inside my Vanson jacket. Thus attired, I headed back home.

On the way home, I watched the odometer. At I-10, I decided I needed one more loop to make my fifty mile goal. As I passed the Polo Grounds on I-10 near the Loop, I noted that there was fog on the freeway, and lots more on the playing field.

\ To make the mileage goal, I took I-45 north, then got on the Loop. I was going the opposite direction from my normal workday circuit. Speeds were fast. Thinking time was abundant. I was deep into the curve going from the West Loop onto I-10 when I watched the odometer roll over to mile 18,400. Within two tenths of a mile, I was back in the fog. It had gotten heavier since my last time through. I must say that it is unusual to find fog inside the Loop, but there it was.

In short order, I was through the fog, and heading home. When I rolled up to the driveway, I had 18,405 miles on the bike, and breakfast (or at least a part of it) in hand. Check back to see what kind of ride I get in tomorrow. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

September 29,2006:

Last night we got in late. Don and Maggie, our neighbors, treated us to dinner and a night at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. At dinner I discovered a great pinot noir by La Crema. Wonderful color, smooth taste, great legs and a bouquet that wouldn't quit. What a find.

The play at the Hobby Center was also a find. It was a comedy/musical, and one of the most polished performances I have ever seen. The play was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and it was directed by Jack O'Brien, with choreographery by Jerry Mitchell. Tom Hewitt played the older con artist, Lawrence Jameson. Drew McVety played Andre Thibault, his associate. Norbert Leo Butz played the new kid in town, Freddy Benson. All their performances were right on. Comedy depends on a superb sense of timing. All three actors had it. The songs were well written and clearly sung. The stage direction was exceptionally well thought out. If you haven't seen this play, get yourself to the Hobby Center immediately!

Anyway, it was approaching midnight by the time I took Sarah for her evening walk, and got ready for bed. And, because I had to be downtown by eight o'clock for jury duty, I had to get moving by five in order to get in a ride. And Sarah had to be satisfied with evening walk, because there was no room in the schedule for a ride and a walk this morning.

Fortunately, the air in the tires was fine. Even after showering, getting the paper, feeding Sarah and checking the air, I was on the road before six. Because of the early start, I decided to go two complete circuits. The temperature was 64, but I could feel the coolness in my fingers. Time to buy those gauntlet gloves Lee Parks sells.

Light conditions were less than perfect. Fortunately, traffic was very light. I never felt threatened, but I couldn't shake the unease about being out in such dark conditions. Everything went fine, but I kept remembering John's night riding experiences, and how hard it is to estimate speeds and how easy it is to miss something in the dark. Little thinking off the subject of riding got done.

Still, I had a great ride, and was glad I forced myself to get up early. When I exited Studemont, I noted that there were 160 miles on the odometer since I last gassed up. I headed for the gas station and filled up the tank. Even with this extra stop, I was back home by 6:50 a.m., ready to fix breakfast and head for the courthouse. I now have 18,349 miles on the bike. Sadly, Maria has big plans for me this weekend, but they all involve pulling weeds and sprucing up the garden. Well, most of them, anyway. Stay tuned to see if I manage to sneak in any decent rides. No promises.

* * * * *

September 28,2006:

Today was ten degrees warmer than yesterday. But cloudy. Neither condition stopped Sarah from enjoying her early morning walk. When we got back, I fed her, and suited up while she ate.

Fortunately, both tires had good air pressure. I warmed up, then entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was pretty light this morning. There was great thinking time during the ride. And I took advantage of it.

On the second circuit, just as I got to the West Loop, I saw a clear drop land on my visor. A bug, I guessed. But this drop was quickly followed by another. And another. And another. My visor was covered in drops before I smelled that distinctive smell one detects when rain has fallen on hot and dry concrete. A wonderful smell, but one I was glad to ride out of in short order. The rest of the ride was dry.

I watched the odometer roll over to mile 18,300 as I headed for the Highway 59 extension. It was good to see some miles racked up. It has been far too long.

Nothing much to report on this ride. Just the fun of being on two wheels. When I rolled up to the driveway the odometer read 18,309. Tomorrow's run will be short, as I have jury duty at 8:00 a.m. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

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September 27,2006:

Today it was 61 degrees when we got up. It felt more than three degrees warmer than yesterday. No wind, I guess. Anyway, Sarah was pleased to be out for her walk, and I was pleased to be back on the Rebel again.

Before I left for my ride, I told Maria I might be a tad longer than normal, just getting back in the groove. In fact, I had to add air to both the front and back tires, and more than a little air at that. It took me several tries to get it right. After I did, I headed out for the warm up portion of my ride.

I was at the second stop sign before I realized that shifting was going smoothly. No more problems with slipping into neutral. I guess the muscle memory has returned.

After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Boy does it feel good to say that again!

I noted that a smile fixed itself on my face the instance I accelerated into morning traffic. The boy is back in town. Traffic was medium. I didn't get much thinking in because I was concentrating on getting my freeway sea legs back. Someone I read said that the key to learning how to ride a bike safely is to ride every day. Yesterday, I could tell the effect of ten days without riding. Fortunately, today felt very natural. No mistakes while riding, and few rough spots.

On the first loop, while heading west on I-10, I was followig a pick up truck. I guess I was a little too close. The pickup ran over something. I saw the "thing" rise up as the rear wheels of the pickup passed over it. I did not react in time. I had to run over the "thing" also. Fortunately, it was simply a fiberglass strap. No tire damage. By the second loop, I had forgotten all about it. But this time, when the vehicle ahead of me ran over the strap, I reacted better. I was able to swerve around the strap. Now, I knew it was a harmless strap. But I also had time to react, and I did so, more out of practice than anything else. I was glad I was able to successfully make the maneuver. That sealed the deal that I had my reaction time back.

I am pleased to report that I made the entire forty miles without missing a shift. No problems with neutral. No problems period. Just a nice, if somewhat cool, ride. It really felt good to be back in the saddle again. I now have 18,269 miles on the bike. Stay tuned for more adventures.

* * * * *

September 26,2006:

This morning the temperature was 58 degrees. Wow. Sarah was not complaining. I, on the other hand, had to wait till this afternoon for my ride.

I called Stubbs about 11:30 a.m. The Rebel was still not ready. The Honda truck had not yet arrived. They said they would call me when it was ready. At 4:45 p.m. I called. The part had arrived, and the bike was ready. Damage: $301.69. That included an oil change, new chain, new spricket, adjustment of the headlight and a brake adjuster part (?). I headed home from the office. Maria met me there. I grabbed my riding gear, and Maria and I took the Jeep to the dealership.

After paying, I suited up and headed out. I immediately noticed that the shifting was stiffer. Not sure that is related to the new chain or not. I also noticed a tendency for the bike to drop into neutral more easily. And more unintentionally. I had to concentrate on shifting. I know it's been ten days without riding, but I was surprised at how rusty I felt. I decided to stay off the freeways on the way home. Time to get my sea legs back.

By the time we were back in the Heights, things seemed more natural. I now have 18,229 miles on the bike. I plan to take my normal ride in the morning. It's about time! Stay tuned to see how it goes.

* * * * *

September 25,2006:

Boy did I miss the Rebel this morning. It was 64 degrees on our walk. Low humidity. Low temperatures. What great riding weather. Unfortunately, even if the Rebel had been out of the shop (as I hope it is tomorrow afternoon), I would not have been able to ride too much due to a court hearing today. Oh well, better times are on the way. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

September 24,2006:

We are back from a trip to Laredo. We left Friday afternoon. The Rebel is still in the shop. So no riding this weekend. To (partially) make up for it, I made sure we stopped by the Laredo Harely Davidson dealership. As luck would have it, they were having a celebration of the new 2007 Harleys.

Because of other errands, we didn't get there till a little after five in the afternoon. Still, the parking lot was packed with Harleys, bikers and a wonderful crowd of a distaff nature.

Inside, Maria was insistent that I talk to the salesmen about the new Harleys. I was reluctant. I had already made my decision to get a Dyna Low Rider, and I was not ready to buy one anyway, so I didn't want to waste the salesmen's time. Maria had no similar concerns.

She started chatting right away. Telling Emilio the type of bike I ride, the miles under my belt, and what I was looking for in a Harley. We got tag-teamed by the salesmen. Both were great, and a credit to their calling. They answered Maria's questions with patience, let me sit on the Harleys, and even drews me into the conversation.

They did not seem impressed with my selection of a Low Rider. One of them tried to steer me toward a Softail Deluxe. I was impressed with the ease at which I was able to lift the bike from its kickstand position to an upright "ride" one. It was a lot easier than the Low Rider. I know, because I immediately went back and forth between the two bikes to note the difference.

I did not like the tractor seat on the Deluxe. Emilio took me over to a Softail Heritage Classic. Before TTL, it was going for just under $20,000. But it came with great saddlebags, a windscreen, a nice passenger seat, a sissy bar and a wonderful front light kit. Still, I wasn't sold. The seat height was great, and the bike was easy to "lift" into running position. But Emilio had a coup de grace coming. Emilio started the bike. Its smooth idle sounded great. But that was not the purpose of his action. He shut off the Heritage Classic, and then went over to the Low Rider.

I had read a review of the 2006 Low Rider in the September 2006, issue of Cruising Rider. They liked the bike. But a sentence in the review stuck in my memory. When Emilo hit the starter, it flashed into vivid recollection. As the Low Rider came to like, the vibration was unbelievable. In fact, the bike vibrated so much, it shook one of the placards right off the bike! The mirrors were jumping all over the place. It would have been impossible to use them at idle. It was awful. And the sentence in the review? It said, "Rubber-mounted Harleys have always provided a good bit of vibration in the seat at idle, and the '06 Low Rider is no exception." Nor is the '07!

Long and short: the Low Rider is no longer in first place as my bike of choice. Thanks to Emilio for that. And the new leading contender: The FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic. The fact that Maria actually asked Emilio if it was okay if she got on the passenger seat while I was sitting on the bike that sealed the deal. She has expressed exactly zero interest in riding two up on the Rebel. But the Softail was no problem. Probably has something to do with the fact that she spent eight hours in Australia on the back of a Softail. And she has been suitably vague about the physical description of the guy whose middle she clutched for those eight hours. Hmmm.

Anyway, I escaped without signing any papers. And although I really like Stubbs, I must say that, all-in-all, the salesmen at Laredo Harly Davidson/Buell are a whole lot friendlier than the two or three Harley salesmen I have talked to at Stubbs. And helpful. Kudos to Emilio for showing me the virtues of the Heritage Classic. And to Maria for making me spend time listening to them. It just goes to show you, don't stop thinking.

* * * * *

September 22,2006:

Summer is gone. Channel 11 reported a snowstorm in the Denver area of the Rockies. However, when we took Sarah for her walk, all we got was a muggy morning. Humidity was really high. And it was accompanied by equally high temperatures. It was almost twenty degrees warmer than on Tuesday morning. Ugh.

No bike today. Yesterday, I called Stubbs. The sprocket was in. They expected to have the bike ready by five. At 3:30 p.m., I called back to check on the status. Unfortunately, when putting the bike back together, they discovered that the brake adjuster was not working. And they did not have that part in stock. They ordered one on a two-day delivery. So it will be Tuesday before I can get the bike. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

* * * * *

September 21,2006:

Sarah enjoyed her morning walk, even thought the temperatures are starting to climb back up to seasonal ones. No ride this morning. I tried to call Stubbs yesterday during a seminar, but I couldn't get a cell from inside the building. And then I got busy. I will call today to see if the sprocket came in, although I don't know how I will be able to pick up the bike if it did. I have day two of the seminar this morning and depositions this afternoon. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

September 20,2006:

Today was even cooler than yesterday. But still no bike. Yes, Sarah got her walk.

I will check with Stubbs today to see if they located a sprocket. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

September 19,2006:

Today dawned clear and cool. Sarah enjoyed her walk. With the bike being in the shop, I did not enjoy a ride. Last night I wore my favorite black motorcycle t-shirt all night. It was not enough. I need the Rebel back.

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September 18,2006:

The rain hit this morning about 4:00 a.m. That meant no walk for Sarah, and no ride for me. Of course, the fact that the Rebel is in the shop didn't help! Tommy at Stubbs told me they would order the sprocket on Monday (today), but they are normally closed on Monday's (at least the dealership is), so I bet it will be Tuesday. Ugh. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

September 17,2006:

No riding today. The Rebel is still in the shop. We had a great evening with frineds last night, but the fun is over. Maria has a "to do" list for me that seems without end. Where are those two wheels when I need them? As I spend the day with a shovel, I'll try to get in some thinking time. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

September 16,2006:

I took the Rebel in to Stubbs on Friday, so they could get it back to me on Saturday. I figured the valves needed adjustment, and I knew the engine had to be cold to do that. So, the plan was, they could test ride it on Friday, figure out the clicking, and still have it back to me Saturday afternoon. Friends are coming over Friday night at 5:30, so time was tight.

I called Stubbs at 3:30 to see if the bike was ready. Everything on my list was completed. The valves were adjusted, the oil changed, and the headlight adjusted. However . . .

During the final inspection, they tried to adjust the chain, and there was too much slack. Also, the sprocket teeth were worn. (The Rebel manual warns that "Under severe usuage, or when the motorcycle is ridden in unusually dusty or muddy areas, more frequent maintenance will be necessary.") Stubbs recommended both a new chain and a new sprocket. They had the chain in stock, but not the sprocket. They could put just the chain on, but they didn't recommend it. In fact, the Rebel manual warns, in italics, "Use of a new chain with worn sprockets will cause rapid chain wear."

I told them to order the sprocket. It probably won't be in until Wednesday or Thursday. Ugh. I am looking at a week without riding. Not fun. And the chain will cost around $60, the sprocket around $80, and labor will be one hour.

Now I have worn out a headlight bulb, tires, chain, sprocket and most of a battery. All in 18,000 miles. But, don't forget, 18,000 fun miles. Oh well, I guess I won't see you on the road for a week or so. Meanwhile, even though I am grounded, don't forget to think.

* * * * *

September 15,2006:

We had a normal morning until we returned home from Sarah's walk. When we got back, I fed Sarah and did not suit up. I did check the air in the tires, but I did not head out. Instead, I fixed breakfast, read my email, and puttered around at a leisurely pace.

You see, Maria agreed to follow me to Stubbs, and bring me back home after I dropped off the bike. And Stubbs does not open up until nine. That meant we had no reason to leave the house until 8:30 a.m.

Of course, I got antsy, and so we left at 8:20. I told Maria I was going to do my normal route, which involved a warm up segment, so not to worry if it seemed I was heading the wrong direction. Then I told her my plan was to take I-10 west to Loop 610, and head north, then east, then south, all the way to Telephone Road. I missed watching the odometer roll over to mile 18,200. That happened on the stretch of 610 just past the exit for Highway 59 south.

She seemed surprised that I was taking such a long path. But, to me, the normal ten mile route just had no appeal. I wanted a real ride. So, off we went, heading west on I-10.

Traffic was astonishingly light for a Friday. Still, there were lane changers and freeway debris amany. I got to demonstrate my prowess in avoiding road hazards of all kinds. I even got into some light rain around the Ship Channel.

But, before I knew it, I was taking the Telephone Road exit to Stubbs. As I rolled up, Dustin was just opening shop. He came over to talk to me. Clay also wandered over. He immediately recognized the bike ("That's the Rebel with all the miles on it."), and guessed that my clicking problem was because of a need to have the valves adjusted. I dropped off the Rebel and they promised to take it for a test run. You have to let the valves cool off before you can do a valve adjustment, so it is going to be Saturday before they have the bike finished. I told them to adjust the headlight and change the oil. Maria and I then headed back to the house so I could shower and head to my office. I glanced at the odometer and noted that the bike had 18,214 miles on it. I sure hope to see you on the road, tomorrow. And I sure hope you don't forget to think, today.

* * * * *

September 14,2006:

Today, we got started a few minutes later than normal. And it was a lot cooler than yesterday. In fact, the front has moved through, lowering the temperatures and the humidity. Usually, when we get back from Sarah's walk, the air conditioning feels really cool when we get back inside the house. Today, it felt warmer to step inside.

But neither hot nor cold can keep Sarah from her appointed meals. So, while she ate, I suited up and headed out. I added air to the front tire, and went for the warm up portion of my ride. I then entered I-10, heading west. I did two very pleasant circuits, adding the Highway 59 extension to both of them. Traffic was light, and thinking was heavy.

I had no problems--except for that the clicking sound that had plagued me about twenty-five hundred miles ago was back. In spades. I had been noticing the sound for about seven hundred miles. This week it has gotten much worse. It is more present when I let off the gas, and completely goes away if I pull in the clutch. Today, it was even present at the low speeds I travel during the cool down phase of my ride. I noticed this after gasing up at the end of my ride. The bike was thoroughly warmed up, but the clicking sound was still present. I decided to take the bike in to Stubbs on Friday morning. For now, I have 18,187 miles on the bike. Stay tuned.

* * * * *

September 13,2006:

Not much to report in this entry. The lower humidity they are promising is not scheduled to arrive until around noon. Still, this morning's walk was cool, if not dry. Sarah had no complaints. Nor did we, except for the early hour.

When we got back, I fed her, and suited up while she ate. For a change, neither tire required air. So, I headed out for the warmup portion of my ride. When I reached the feeder, I entered I-10, heading west.

Traffic was on the light side. Speeds were moderate. The ride was uneventful, except for the fact that the easy riding conditions gave me plenty of thinking time. And some great riding time. After forty miles, I was back at the driveway, with 18,147 miles on the bike. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

* * * * *

September 12,2006:

The first thing I did this morning was check for rain. The streets were dry. Sarah was happy. I was happy. Dry streets meant she got her morning walk, and I would get my morning ride. After. As in after her walk and after her breakfast. So, off we went, and when we got back, I suited up while she wolfed down her food.

I had to add a pound of air to the rear tire. I then saddled up and headed out. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was light, but slow. By that I mean we mostly proceeded at 55 mph, well below the speed limit. I rather enjoyed the change of pace. It was extra easy to spend some quality thinking time at that speed. Everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion, compared to normal mornings.

I did both circuits, and racked up mile 18,100 on the Highway 59 South extension of the second tour. Then, when I got on I-10, I watched the car to my immediate left hit a piece of metal, which bounced into the path of the car to the first car's left. It made a terrible racket as it bounced around. I was glad it was bouncing away from my bike. Ah, the joys of freeway driving in the morning.

After escaping from the errant piece of debris, I took the Heights exit and headed home. When I pulled up to the driveway I had logged 18,107 miles. It had been a most enjoyable morning jaunt. Now, to work.

* * * * *

September 11,2006:

I awoke very early this morning. I did some work on the computer till six, then Sarah let me know that we needed to get on our way for her walk. Which we did. When we got back, I fed the girl, and suited up.

I added air to the front tire, messed around with the aim of the front light, and headed out. It was first light by then, so the headlight was needed to be seen, and not to see.

I warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was medium, and fast moving. There was just a touch of coolness in the air, probably a result of yesterday's rain. The streets were completely dry, however.

I did two circuits, with a Highway 59 extension on each. It was a good morning for riding. It was a good morning for thinking. It was a good morning.

On my way home, I revisited the site of yesterday's stop sign running incident. This morning, I got on 8th Street, traveling east, so I could see the approach as the lady driver had seen it. I was trying to figure out why she pulled out in front of me. Visibility is good. The only thing I noticed was that there are two signs, right where you would expect stop signs for Oxford to be. Expect these are signs warning that children cross at the intersection. I'm sure we have all looked for stop signs for the other lanes of traffic. All you normally see is the plain metal back of the signs. No color. No words. Just a shape. And, at a quick glance, one might mistake these children crossing signs for stop signs. But only if you weren't looking hard. Still, it is the only explanation I can come up with for why the lady was upset that I did not stop for her. Either that, or she was just having a bad day.

Anyway, when I rolled up to the driveway, I had 18,067 miles on the bike, and a good ride under my belt. And the week has only just begun. Keep on riding. And keep on thinking.

* * * * *

September 10,2006:

I got up early again this morning, but I could not set out on my ride until first light. Yesterday, Maria and I changed the front light on the Rebel. And I was pretty sure it would not be properly aligned this morning. But that thought hadn't hit me until I awoke today, and realized that if I left at 5:30 a.m., I would really need that headlight for my 18,000 mile run.

So, I showered, got the paper, fed Sarah, checked the weather, and surfed the net while I waited for first light. said that dawn would be here at just after seven. While waiting, I also checked the tire pressure. And suited up.

At 6:45 a.m., I decided that it was light enough that I didn't need the headlight to "see." So I headed out. Indeed, the front light was aimed a little closer to the front of the bike than it should be. At least it wasn't pointed wildly to the right or left.

I warmed up, then entered I-10, heading east. I wanted to get in a relatively short ride, but with some mileage. I needed about forty-three miles to make my goal. That wasn't the issue. The problem was that I wanted to be someplace memorable when the event rolled around.

I had decided that a ride down Memorial Drive would be appropriate. I have long enjoyed that winding road, and I could get in some high speed miles on the way if I took Highway 290. I also figured that heading east before I headed west would add just enough miles to my route to make sure that I was on Memorial when the 18,000 mile mark appeared.

I didn't have to gas up, because I had plenty of gas from yesterday's fillup. So I made my way down I-10. Traffic was very light. And temperatures were nice. Low clouds were on all the horizons, but it did not look like rain.

The lack of four wheelers made thinking easier to accomplish. Sadly, the troubles of the world evaded my logic. Oh well, at least I was moving.

The bike and I were as one. Curves were smooth and it was easy to stay in that zone of safety I like on the freeway. Before I knew it, I was on Loop 610, heading west. Next came Highway 290, and then an exit for Highway 6. I tooted my horn as I passed Cynthia's apartment, but I wasn't sure she was up. It was barely 7:30.

Usually, I don't enjoy going south on Highway 6. But today, I caught every light on green, and traffic was minimal. When I turned onto Highway 6 from 290, I was ten miles short of my goal. I knew it was about five miles to I-10, but I couldn't remember how much further south it was to Memorial. I sure didn't want to turn the big eighteen on Highway 6.

A couple of blocks before the feeder to I-10, I caught a yellow and had to brake quickly. It was good practice. Everything flowed like it should. I squeezed the front brake lever, eased my right foot down for a little rear brake, and downshifted, all in one automatic reaction. And got stopped right where I wanted. I had used up five of my ten miles.

I headed under I-10, and quickly came to Memorial Drive. I was surprised that it was only a mile or so from the Interstate. I turned east, assured that I would be on one of my favorite roads when the mileage turned over.

As I got within a tenth of a mile, I approached an "s" curve on Memorial. It was going to be hard to do the bird in the middle of a curve. But the "S" was a lazy one, with a short straight stretch between the beginning and ending curves. Which is where I was, hands free, as I watched the odometer roll over from 17,999.9 to 18,000.0.

It's been a great 18,000 miles. I am still having fun, and I can even enjoy a ride at 35 to 40 mph* if there are curves involved. Anyway, I kept the bike in fourth gear, which enhanced the turns at the relatively low speeds at which I was stuck. For the first quarter of the road, things were just great. Cars were absent, as was the sun. That made glare non-existent, and temperatures cool.

Soon, however, the sun got above the low-lying clouds and began to burn into my eyes. For about ten minutes, it was hard to read street signs or see what colors the traffic lights were.

When I got to Woodway and the West Loop, the intersection was closed for construction. I headed south on the feeder, and got back on Memorial, heading east, after a couple of blocks. I enjoyed the sight of the Sunday morning runners, and stayed on Memorial until I came to Shepherd Drive. I took that street south to Allen Parkway, where I turned east again.

Allen Parkway is even more fun than Memorial. The curves are plentiful, and, at least on weekend mornings, it is usually deserted. As was the case today. I weaved my way downtown, u-turned, and headed west on the Parkway all the way back to Shepherd. I'm sure I was grinning all the way.

At Shepherd, I headed north to Memorial, then back east. As I got into the downtown streets, I felt an itch on my right wrist. I scratched it through the Vanson jacket. The "itch" got more intense. At a stoplight I unzipped the wrist zipper and discovered that a honey bee had been scooped up while I was moving. I then realized that the intense itch was from a bee sting. A glance at the inside of my wrist revealed that the stinger was still imbedded in my skin. As an apiarist, I have been stung before (although never while riding), and I could tell this sting was not a big deal. I decided not to stop and try to get the stinger out. I would have had to take off my gloves and fish out my pocket knife to do that. The bee was gone and the stinger could wait. At Louisiana, I headed north, to get back on I-10, and head for home.

I could feel the poison in my wrist. It was a dull throb. I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and went ahead and exited I-10 at the Heights exit. I took the time to gas up the Rebel, then headed for home.

I was in the cool down phase of my ride as I approached the intersection of Oxford and 8th street. I was going north on Oxford, and the traffic for 8th has a stop sign. I watched a lady in a van pull up to the stop sign on my left, and come to a stop. Just before I entered the intersection, she started forward. There was not room to stop, so I twisted the throttle and zipped across the intersection. I could see the look of astonishment in her face, as she threw up her hands (and, fortunately, hit her brakes). Weirdly, she honked at me. I think she thought the intersection was a four-way stop, which it wasn't. I think she felt that once she stopped, she could proceed through, and that I should have yielded.

My attitude of these situations is that it doesn't mend any of your broken bones to insist that you, the biker, have the right-of-way. Most always, I yield to idiots and preserve my unscarred skin. No need to see if all that protective equipment works.

Still, in any given situation, one has to decide between swerving (not an option here), hard braking or acceleration. It was my instant judgment that, given how close I was to entering the intersection when she came off her stop, the best option was to use the quick acceleration a bike has, and zip through the intersection. That option might not have been possible if she was not starting from a dead stop, but that's what she was doing. And, I had seen her as she approached the stop sign. If she had not stopped, I would have had time to execute a quick stop.

So, there you have it. Even though I now have a lot of miles under my belt, things can develop in the blink of an eye. Be ever watchful. But enjoy the ride.

As I had all morning. This was a great ride, one of my favorite thousand mile events. And any ride that results in something interesting to write about, is always appreciated. So long as I keep the shiny side up.

When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 18,027 miles on the bike. I lubricated the chain, and was still inside the house before nine. A great start to the day. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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September 9,2006:

Today started out great. I awoke just before five, and headed for the bathtub with an interesting book. And hour later, I got out, dried off, and went downstairs to get the paper. Sarah was with me on all these outings.

When I went outside, I was surprised at the cloud cover. The skies looked like they could open up at any time. I didn't know they were the first stage in the perfect storm that was about to hit. I quickly fed the dog and went upstairs to change into my riding clothes. Maria and I were facing a full day, and she asked me to stop by the Krogers on the way home from my ride to pick up some things she needed for the dish she intented to take to the Houston Pond Society meeting. I was happy to agree. I told her that because I wanted to get to Stubbs early to see the 2007 models, my ride would be on the short side (for a Saturday).

Just before 6:30 a.m., I went to the garage and added air to the front tire. I then headed out. But I didn't get far.

My habit is to roll the bike to the center of the cul de sac so as to distribute the noise of the mufflers in an equal manner toward all the neighbors. I am especially careful to do this on weekends, when folk may be sleeping late. Today, I followed that habit. I slid on a little choke, thumbed the kill-switch on, and duck walked the bike into the street. I then turned on the ignition switch. The bike started right up. I began to head for 7-1/2 Street. I was running on fumes in the main tank, and needed to head for the gas station. But something was missing. It took me a second to figure out what.

I had no front light. I thumbed on the "bright" switch. Still nothing. I turned around and came back. I killed the engine and wheeled the bike back into the garage. The first storm had hit.

Before I dismounted, I decided to survey the extent of the problem. I wanted to see if the blinkers and brake lights were working. I tuned the ignition on and tried to start the bike again. That's when the second storm hit. The bike would not start.

The engine would turn over, but it would not catch. I played with the coke setting for a few tries, then it hit me. I might be out of gas. I had been surprised on Friday that I had made it back to the house on the main tank. I had intended to ride straight to the gas station to fill the tank. Maybe I had run out of gas just as I had returned to the garage. I turned the switch to the "reserve" setting. And tried again to start the engine. It would not catch. I could hear the battery getting weaker. I stopped before it went completely dead. I headed back inside.

I dropped off my helmet and jacket, and told Maria what was going on, and that I was going to recharge the battery. I took the battery off the bike and hooked it up to the Battery Tender. The light on the Tender glowed red, indicating that charging was in progress.

I went back inside, looking for the manual for the trickle charger to make sure I had set it up right. I did not find the book. I told Maria that we should head for the Krogers in the Jeep, to give the battery time to charge. She agreed, so long as Sarah could go. Sarah seemed pleased.

We all three headed for the garage. The trickle charger was already green, telling me that that battery had a pretty good charge before I drained it. I unhooked the tender, and we headed for the store.

As we were coming back, the third storm of my perfect storm hit, and hit hard. And this time it was a literal storm. The skies opened up and it began to pour rain. Hard rain. Riding the bike to Stubbs did not seem to be too likely. At least not without getting totally soaked.

I went ahead and put the battery back on the bike. And got the key to try to start the Rebel again. This time, all went fine. The bike started right up. I had blinkers. But I still did not have a headlight. Oh well.

It continued to rain hard. The Pond Society meeting started at noon. Time was too short to get to Stubbs before the meeting, especially since I still had to eat breakfast and shower. Plan B was in order.

We ate, showered and headed for the meeting in the Jeep. The meeting was off Clear Lake Boulevard. Which is very close to Half Price Books. So a short visit to that establishment was required. Stubbs would come after the pond meeting.

It was still raining. We had some luck at the Half Price, made the meeting and headed to Stubbs about 2:30 p.m. By then, the rain had stopped. Stubbs was crowded with people and bikes. I lucked out and found a parking place near the service center. We went inside and I explained the problem with the headlight. The parts guy thought it might just be a burned out bulb. A new one was $7.50. I bought it, and he should us on the computer how the housing worked, so we could (in theory) get the new bulb in.

We then walked over to the Harley division. The 2007 models were indeed in. I sat on several different ones, with special emphasis on the Dyna Glide Low Riders. I quickly got in a buying mood. Before I knew it, I was paying for a Harley





leather jacket for Maria. It was on sale for about 60% off. And she looked great in it. I couldn't pass it by. Now, perfect storm or not, if they had offered me a Dyna Low Rider at 60% off, I would be riding it home, rain or shine. But at a walkout price of $19,200, I will have to do some more research.

After doing some serious people watching, we headed home. When we arrived, I changed into some old clothes, and tackled the headlight problem. I had earlier checked for broken wires, and had seen nothing. Now it was time to take the light housing apart to get to the old bulb. Easier said than done.

Maria was a big help. She would lay out the screws when I removed them, so she would know where they were back. It was also good to have someone around so I could cuss and discuss how to proceed. Eventually, we got the housing apart, peeled back a rubber hood over the old bulb, and got it out. Wearing a latex glove, I put in the new halogen bulb. The parts guy had warned against getting finger oil on the new bulb, because that might cause it to burn out.

It was a trial getting everything back together. I think the headlight points straight ahead, but I am not sure. Two of the screws we messed with double as beam adjuster screws. I am not sure we put them back exactly like they were. In fact, I would be surprised if the headlight points exactly where it is supposed to.

Anyway, after half an hour, we got everything back together. I turned on the switch, started the engine, and the headlight worked. So did the blinkers and taillights.

I killed the engine, when back inside to suit up, and headed out. A check on the rain gauge revealed that we had gotten half an inch of rain so far today. And the skies were still cloudy all day.

I headed for the gas station. After filling up, I entered I-10, heading east. I quickly got on I-45, heading north. When I reached Beltway 8, I took it east, and to the top of the world. That's the exit from Belftway 8 to Highway 59 South. I love that elevated turn. You can literally see downtown, even on a cloudy day.

When I reached the Loop, I took 610 east all the way to I-10, which I took back to downtown. I did one normal workday week and headed home. I now have 17,957 miles on the bike. But rain is expected all day tomorrow. We will see what the weather holds. I sure don't need any more perfect storms. But I do need more time for rolling thinking. See you on the highways, I hope.

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September 8,2006:

The humidity is back. There was still a little coolness on this morning's walk, but there was also moisture in the air. Rain chances are increasing, but the streets were still dry this morning. And so was Sarah.

When we got back from our walk, Sarah ate while I suited up. I added a touch of air to the front tire, and headed out. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was light for a Friday. And well behaved.

I really don't have anything special to report. I got in two nice circuits, and the four-wheeled activity made it easy to get in lots of thinking time. I took advantage of that fact.

I-45 was backed up, as is usual of late, but there were no other problems. The gas tank is almost empty (as per the odometer), so I will have to gas up tomorrow morning. Stubbs is having a preview of the 2007 models, and I hope to be there as close to nine as possible. That means an early ride, because Maria and I are taking the Jeep to Stubbs. I will probably leave my helmet at home, just to make sure I don't give in to temptation.

I now have 17,896 miles on the bike. I won't hit 18,000 tomorrow, but--rain permitting--I may make it on Sunday. Stay tuned. And don't forget to think.

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September 7,2006:

We all got moving at the regular time, and found another cool morning. The weather people say all this low humidity will be gone by Saturday, but we enjoyed it this morning. As Sarah did her walk.

When we got back, I fed Sarah and suited up while she ate. I added air to the front tire. I then headed out. After warming up, I entered I-10, heading west.

Today, the freeways were full of lane changers. And hardly anyone was using his blinkers. To me, it is a simple courtesy to the other folk on the road, to indicate that you are going to change a lane. But most of the drivers this morning could not seem to bother. Oh well.

After taking the Highway 59 extension south, I got back on I-10, heading west. I ended up behind a Chevy Trailblazer with tinted windows. And these windows seems extra dark. Combined with the box-like shape of the Trailblazer, I could not see what was ahead of the Chevy. In fact, as we rounded a curve, I was surprised to notice that there was a small sports car directly ahead of the Trailblazer. The Chevy completely obscured the presence of this small car. I just note this because it is always important to know what is going on ahead of you, and tinted windows and big vehicles may give you less than complete information on what is coming up.

On the second circuit, traffic was pretty light until the Airline exit. The traffic taking the I-45 south exit was really backed up, extending all the way to the North Main exit. I don't understand what is happening to I-45. Backup has been pretty constant for the last couple of weeks. It has made the decision to add the extra five miles for the Highway 59 extension a real easy one to make.

Nothing else to report. When I rode up to the driveway, I had 17,856 miles on the bike. I have a pretty full weekend. We will see what riding I am able to slip in. Stay tuned.

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September 6,2006:

Astonishingly, there was another cool morning today. Temperature was 73. Humidity was low. Walking was great. And riding was greater. After we walked Sarah, I fed her her breakfast, and suited up. I had to add air to the front tire. I then warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was pretty thick this ride, but well behaved. I was extra aware of all those traveling hunks of metal, but I never felt threatened. That means I got in some needed thinking time.

I decided to add the Highway 59 extension to each loop. The flow of traffic was so fast that I did not think the extensions would lengthen my ride time all that much. And I was right. I was back at the house in short order. No incidents to report. Just a nice forty miles of cool riding. In fact, it was so cool that I gave serious consideration to buying those Lee Park gauntlet gloves I lusted after all last winter. Still, I'm sure I have a couple of more months to decide.

When I returned to the driveway, I had 17,817 miles on the bike, and a smile in my heart. The ride was a great way to start the day, and the low humidity was simply icing on the cake. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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September 5,2006:

We have a cold front in Houston. That doesn't mean the temperatures are cold. But it does mean that the humidity is lower than normal. Which made for a pleasant morning walk for Maria and me. As for Sarah, she is always ready to go, regardless of the humidity.

And go we did. When we returned, I fed the girl and, while she ate, I suited up. I had to add air to the back tire. After that, I headed out. I warmed up, then rode to the gas station to top off the tank. Next, I did a u-turn and entered I-10, heading west.

On the first circuit, I added the Highway 59 extention because the traffic for I-45 exit was backed up all the way onto the Loop. On the second loop I took the I-45 exit even though it was still backed up. Why, you may ask.

I'll tell you why: I noticed that with a little luck I could be back home in time to get the camera to photograph the odometer as it hit 17,777.7 miles. So I went for that event. When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 17,776 miles on the bike. I grabbed the camera and headed out again. I rode around the neighborhood on my normal "cool-down" route. Two blocks from the house, the momentous event rolled up on the odometer. I stopped, pulled out the camera, and took a few pictures. I hope to post them here a little later.

For now, I was pleased to have the 17,777.7 (plus .1) miles on the bike, and a very pleasant ride under my belt. Stay tuned for more. And don't forget to think.

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September 4,2006:

Sarah and I got up at the usual time this morning. But not in the usual place. We were still in Midland, Texas, visiting my parents. Maria opted to sleep till six. Sarah opted for her breakfast. She got no walk this morning because--rarity of rarities--it was raining in Midland.

Actually, the rain had started on Sunday. Most of the day, it was a drizzle. Seldom had it been enough to require windshield wipers. But it had been enough to cause my Dad, my brother and me to cut short our second day of dove hunting. But I am getting ahead of myself.

My last blog entry was on Friday, September 1st. When I got back from my morning ride, we loaded the Jeep and headed for Midland to spend Labor Day with my Mom and Dad, and my brother and sister-in-law. We had arrived in Midland about 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Saturday, I got in no riding. Others were setting the schedule, and I didn't even have the time to visit the Legend's Harley-Davidson dealership on Highway 80 between Midland and Odessa. That pilgrimage will have to wait till Thanksgiving. I contended myself with reading a motorcycle magazine I had brought from Houston until I made it to the Barnes & Noble bookstore. Their motorcycle magazine selection was not outstanding, but they made up for it in the Philosophy section of the store. Yes, you read that correctly. I was browsing the three full shelves they had devoted to Philosophy when I spied an interesting title: Harley-Davidson and Philosophy: Full-Throttle Aristotle. On the back cover the book was labeled as one on "Philosophy/Motorcycles." And I hadn't even realized there was such a category. Or that there would be anything in it besides Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Of course, I picked up the book and gave it a fair sampling. Twelve bikers (seven of whom are also philosophy professors) wrote essays on the relationship between Harley-Davidson bikes and philosophy--in its most philosophical sense. This is a worthwhile read for any thinking biker, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly since purchasing it the very next day.

Well, "thoroughly" is somewhat of an aspirational exaggeration. You see, my Dad and brother are avid hunters, and dragged me away from my motorcycle dreams and out to hunt doves at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Because Friday had been the first day of the season, the doves were not totally gun-savvy yet. But they still moved with the speed of light.

After gathering guns and ammo, and suiting up in hunting gear, we took my Dad's pickup on a forty-five minute ride to the ranch where we were to shoot. We positioned ourselves around a cattle pond, awaiting dusk. For those of you who don't hunt doves on a regular basis, it seems that the only realistic chance to bag one is as it comes in for a last drink before roosting for the night.

It had been a couple or more years since I had hunted doves. What I most remembered from my first hunt was that the birds moved like jets, and you had to lead them a lot more than you did with quail. I own several shotguns, and I had selected a twelve gauge Browning for my weapon, mainly bsed on the length of the barrel. I like a short, fast barrel for quail, but I wanted all the help I could get on these high fliers.

I won't get into all the details of the hunt. My dad said the limit was twelve birds. He got his limit first, followed quickly by my brother. When they were through, I only had six or seven birds in my pile. They both came over to my spot, to offer good-natured advice. And encouragement.

Despite many misses, I had been doing pretty well. I had not had buck fever, and I was actually experimenting with different leads as I took in the whole gestalt of bird, sky, barrel and swing.

And then, dusk arrived. Dad and Doug had managed to get their birds on the scattered groupings that had come in before six. For the next fifteen minutes, I felt like a gunner on a battleship--attached from all angles by single plans and by entire squads. Birds flew in from the west, from the east, and from the south. Handling three points on the compass was hard enough, so the birds coming from the north usually flew up my back and out of sight before I could react. But there was plenty of reaction for the other three directions, and I was dropping birds left and right. I was in a groove. It seemed that I couldn't miss. Of course, I was missing every other shot or so, but it felt like I was invincible. It was a blast.

I asked for a bird count, and was told I was one short of my limit. Just then, I saw a solo bird come buzz-bombing in at tree top level, from the west. I swung completely around, tracking him as he flew directly over me, and nailed him as he headed east. It was a graceful shot, made all the nicer because Doug kept praising it as unbelievable. A fitting last shot of the day, and one for the memory books.

By Sunday, I had finished off the Harley magazine, and I got on the web to see about the "Philosophy/Motorcyling" book. Astonishingly, I could not find it at I decided to return to Barnes & Noble to pick it up. Which I did--in the rain.

Plans were to return to the ranch for another go at the doves. Today, however, we would leave a little before five. I started in on the book. I was tempted to take it (and a yellow marker) along on the hunt. I mean, it was a forty-five minute drive and I could easily get a couple of the essays read. But, in the end, I opted to get in my hunter mode. So I left the book behind, and grabbed the Browning.

As we drove up to the ranch, doves were everywhere. Sundown was at 8:05 p.m.--but it seemed unlikely that we would need that much time to bag our limits.

We each quickly got a bird. Then, the skies cleared. Of birds, that is. Rain clouds moved in. Only scattered doves visited ofr the next hour and a half or so. Doug tried several different spots, and managed to hit something whereever he was. I had five birds in my pile, and Dad had a couple more than me, when Doug walked back, declaring that he has his limit. Ugh.

Then, the skies opened up. With rain, that is. I was wearing an outback felt hat, so my head and neck stayed dry. But my pants and shirt were getting wet, as was my shotgun.

The clock ticked on. The birds mostly stayed away. Dad bagged a couple more, and I made a shot that was almost straight up at a high-flying single. The rain continued its steady falling. By 7:30 p.m. we decided that no more dove were coming, which turned out to be true. By the time we had picked up our empties, gathered the birds, and hiked back to the truck and loaded up, the only things still in the sky were the rain clouds.

Even though I had only bagged six doves, the second day was almost as much fun as the first. My shooting was much improved, and both hunts were ones I will never forget.

So, we are back to today. After feeding Sarah, and letting here out the back door, I found a towell to dry her feet before she tracked up my Mom's fully carpeted living room. Then, I returned to reading Harley Davidson and Philosophy for an hour. By 9:30 we had showered, eaten and packed. We were on the road for Houston. It was still raining.

Fortunately, when we arrived in Houston some nine and a half hours later, the skies were clear and the streets were dry. I quickly unloaded the Jeep, fed Sarah her supper, and suited up for a ride before dinner.

Astonishingly, the air was fine in both tires. So, I warmed up and entered I-10, heading east. I decided to do the normal workday circuit (it was a Monday, after all), but in the opposite direction that usual. This was possible because there was no rush-hour traffic to clog up the Highway 290 and I-10 intersection.

Anyway, I got in two nice circuits before the sun went down. No close calls, and some nice two-wheeled thinking time. By eight, I was back home, enjoying the barbeque we had picked up when we passed Hinze's Barbeque in Sealy. And I had 17,742 miles on the bike. See you on the road. And don't forget the philosophy.

* * * * *

September 1,2006:

The cold front is still in town. And Sarah is still enjoying her morning walks. Of course, I haven't noticed any problems with her when the temperatures are in the nineties and so is the humidity. But, it sure is nicer for Maria and me!

Anyway, while Sarah ate, I suited up for a quick ride. I needed thirty miles to make my pre-Labor Day goal of 17,700. We are seeing my parents this weekend, and I know my mom will love hearing how many miles I have racked up. She so supports my riding efforts. Right.

Anyway, after checking the air in the tires, I warmed up, and entered I-10, heading west. Traffic was a little lighter than normal. When I rounded the corner for 610, I spied a bright orange sun just peeking over the horizon. Funny how large it looks when it is rising or setting, as compared to when it is fully in the sky.

Anyway, it was low enough so that it was not blinding, and that made the ride even more enjoyable. And the light traffic made the thinking more prominent.

I turned mile 17,700 right at the exit for I-45 south on the second circuit. Traffic was so backed up that I added the Highway 59 extension for the second time today. I don't know why I-45 has been backed up so much lately, but I did not begrudge the extra travel time.

When I pulled up to the driveway, I had 17,710 miles on the bike. We are headed for a rendezvous with with some doves. Today is opening day of the season. Yesterday, I stood in line at Academy to get my hunting license. Anyway, I will be away from the computer--and away from the bike--for a couple of days. Enjoy your holiday. And don't forget to think.

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For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the April, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the March, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the February, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the January, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the December, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the November, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the October, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the September, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the August, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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*Note to Law Enforcement:

All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.

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