Friday, November 30, 2007

Remebering Evel Knievel

Robert Craig Knievel was born in Butte, Montana on Oct. 17, 1938. At the age of eight, he was the Joey Chitwood daredevel show, and he decided what he wanted to do with his life.

Thru his teenage years and into adulthood, Knievel was into everything. He earned awards in ski jumping and ice hockey during high school. He admitted to having been a swindler, a car thief, a safe cracker, a holdup man. He served in the Army. He formed a semi-pro hockey team and was the owner, the coach, and a player. He worked in the copper mines, sold insurance, operated a hunting guide business, and opened a Honda Motorcycle Dealership.

But, Robert Craig Knievel was a stuntman and entertainer. Billing himself as Evel Knievel, he drew crowds. He began a solo touring trip in 1966 charging promoters $500 to jump two cars. By 1968, he had gained national recognition by steadily increasing the distance of the jumps. For New Years 1968, he announced he would jump the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He successfully completed the 151 foot jump but the landing went bad. He was in a coma in a hospital for a month after the crash.

At Wembley Stadium in London, he crashed while attempting to jump 13 double decker buses suffering a broken pelvis. When he couldn't secure the permits to jump the Grand Canyon, he moved his plans to the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. He attempted the jump on Sept. 8, 1974 in his rocket powered "skycycle". A parachute malfunction at take-off doomed the attempt, and he landed in the canyon.

On Oct. 25, 1975, Knievel jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in Ohio. In 1976, he attempted to jump a tank of sharks in the Chicago Amphitheatre. He crashed breaking both arms and suffering a concussion. While recuppurating from his injuries, he elected to retire although he toured for a while performing with his stunt performing son, Robbie.

On Friday, after a long struggle with Hepatitis C, a liver transplant in 1999, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and two strokes, Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel died at his condominium in Clearwater, Florida after having breathing difficulty. He was 69 years old.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blue Like Jazz

"My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don't really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don't believe in God and they can prove He doesn't exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it's about who is smarter, and honestly I don't care." - Donald Miller

I found Blue Like Jazz to be a very refreshing read. Miller's writing style is personable and authentic. He isn't on a high rock preaching his belief's to those of us struggling through life. He writes from a vantage point of being open, genuine, and vunerable.

The majority of the book details his experiences at Reed College (a liberal arts school) in Portland, Oregon where Miller discovered how to interact and exhibit love to those around him who had curiousities about the Christian faith.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Riding a motorcycle on today’s highways, you have to ride in a very defensive manner. You have to be a good rider and you have to have both hands and both feet on the controls at all times.- Evel Knievel

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Southern Dining

I've always heard about Mary Mac's Tea Room but somehow have until today missed the opportunity to give it a try. Today was the day. We exited off I-75 South at exit 249D - Pine ST, hung a left on North Ave, a left on Peidmont and a Right on Ponce de Leon. Mary Mac's Team Room sits at the corner of Ponce and Myrtle. Parking is in the rear. It is quite unassuming from the outside although I loved the recently repainted Coca-Cola advertisement on the side of the building. It has a few trees between it and the sidewalk, maybe a professional photographer could get a good shot of it (Steven - HINT). (note: I didn't take the pictures in this posting)

We were warmly greeted and quickly seated. The first thing that caught my attention was that the waitress gave us both a menu and an order ticket and pointed at the glass on the table containing two pencils. You actually fill out your own order. When our waitress realized we were visiting for the first time, she brought us a small "pot licker" serving of turnip greens and cracklin cornbread. Honestly I have never tried greens, but something stirred me to try the free sample and I was pleasantly suprised. If you happen to see my mama, tell her I ate my greens. Our gracious server also provided us with yeast rolls, cinammon rolls, and extra cracklin bread. And, I have to give it to them, they know how to make traditional southern sweet tea!

Mary Mac's has been doing things the same way since 1945 and I say, don't change a thing. The menu options are the same everyday and it contains the most extensive list of side items a southerner could ever ask. Take a peek: Lunch Menu

I had the Turkey and dressing accompanied by green beans and creamed corn. The green beans were good. The creamed corn was to DIE FOR. I gave my wife a taste and she quickly coveted by corn. Our gracious server offered to bring her out a sample. She actually brought her a full serving.

Conclusion: It might be a bit of a drive from above the Perimeter to Ponce de Leon for a good meal, but it is well worth the drive. I've eaten at a lot of southern diners in small towns across south Georgia, and in my opinion, they all aspire to be what Mary Mac's is. Make a point to give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Nothing is ever what you expect. Maybe that's why we travel." - Peter Egan

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Charging an IPOD

So you're IPOD has a low charge and you're jonesing for some tunage, but you aren't near a computer to charge it. You take an inventory of what is available to you. You discover you have a screwdriver, a bottle of Gatoraide, a glass, and an onion. You're in luck, McGyvor time to recharge the IPOD....

Now quit worrying about your IPOD and go ride your motorcycle!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans...Welcome Home

We pause to express our heart filled gratitude to those who are serving, those who have served and to those who have lost a loved one serving in the United States Armed Forces. You did not get to have a choice in the politics behind the fight. You simply answered the call to defend the country you loved. Thank you for standing in harms way when your country called upon you in a time of conflict. Thank you for your sense of honor above all. Thank you for your dedication.

We enjoy the civil liberties and freedom of this country and we owe a debt of thanks to you that we can.

Welcome Home, Soldier!

Ride for Will

William Clay Davison was born March 1, 2007. Tragically he died from SIDS on July 25, 2007. In his memory, his parents established the Will Davison Memorial Scholarship Fund.

On Saturday, Nov 10th, the First Annual Ride for Will was held to raise funds for the scholarship. Bikes began assembling at 9am and by 11am there was a good crowd of men and women and their machinery. I was extremely impressed with the hospitality offered to the riders - coffee, cappachino, cokes, water, biscuits, you name it. These folks went over the top to make this an enjoyable event.

The ride left South Forsyth High School preceeded up Georgia 400, off towards Cleveland, Georgia and the arriving at Helen. Forsyth County provided some of the best traffic control I've seen for a ride literally giving us the exclusive use of GA 400 North on a Saturday afternoon. When we left Forsyth County, I expected the traffic control to end, but that was not the case. Each county we entered had their respective Sheriff's deputies blocking intersections and even the Georgia State Patrol had Troopers assisting.

Once arriving safely at Paul's Margarita Deck in Helen, we were greeted with a live band, numerous door prizes, 50/50 raffles, and a really good time. My helmet is off to these folks. It was quite enjoyable to participate in this ride.

After eating a nice lunch and visiting with some fellow riders, I snuck out after the door prize raffle completed. The weather was around 59F and it was too beautiful a fall day to be in the mountains and not on the bike. I made my way out on 17/75 to Georgia Sate Route 348 - the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.

Yes, I've written about it before, but I'll never get tired of it. GA 348 is 14.1 miles twisting thru the Chattahoochee National Forest. And with fall foilage is beautiful. GA 348 dead ends into GA 180. Hang a left and follow it until it makes a right. Now you are on Wolf Pen Gap, Georgia's curviest road (including a sharp 180). Treat Wolf Pen Gap with respect. The shoulders are narrow and the edges have broken asphalt, but it is an enjoyable ride on a motorcycle despite the rider's skill level. You don't need to try to race it. Road Atlanta is down the road a piece.

180 leaves Wolf Pen Gap and the turns are a bit more sweeping and not as challenging, take a deep breath, smile and enjoy the ride. It deadends at Suches, make a left and GA 60 takes you to Dahlonega.

I gassed at Dahlonega and made the ride on to the house. The temperature was beginning to drop and the sun was beginning to set as I arrived home. A gorgeous day for a ride on a motorcycle and a good bit of money raised for a very worthy cause.

First Motorcyclist??

A common theory is that the first motorcyclist in history took his maiden voyage November 10, 1885 (I know I missed posting it yesterday, I was on a charity ride).

Who was the first motorcyclist?

(insert brief history is claimed I never have a short answer)

Gottlieb Daimler(born March 17, 1834) Daimler worked in a steam engine plant for several years before going to work with N. A. Otto to perfect the Otto oil engine at Gasmotoren-Fabrik in Deutz.

Daimler and Otto began to have their differences and in 1882, he left the company and teamed up with a friend, Wilhelm Mayback. They opened their own factory to develop a lightweight gasoline powered engine. By 1885 they had created the carburetor, a "dependable" ignition system, and a gasoline engine that was considerably faster than Otto's creation. There is a bit of controversy in who created the first motorcycle - Otto or Daimler. If you believe the claim that Daimler did, it is reported that this took place in November 1885 when he mounted the lightweight "banjo" shaped engine to a bicycle they name the "Reitwagen". The engine was 264cc, produced 0.5 horsepower at 700 rpms and produced a speed of 7.4 mph.

Some report this was on November 10th but no one can produce any real proof of the date. Some even claim November 1st. In any event, Daimler is reported to have commissioned his oldest son, Paul to try the pairing out. (Either he thought his son was a skilled bicyclist or he thought he could spare him as he had several other sons??) Paul Daimler was reported to have made several trips (some say that several equated to five trips) on the Reitwagen. It had been built soley for purpose of proving the reliability of Daimler's gasoline engine.

In 1890 Gottlieb Daimler founded Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, which produced the 1889 Mercedes and later merged to form The Daimler-Benz & Co. in 1926. Then after a few more spins of the earth became Daimler-Chrysler.

and now you know, the rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Cotton Fields of Home...

As I rolled the garage door up at 5am, I was pleasantly suprised to find it was 59 degrees F. It had been 39 on Monday, so I was expecting more of the same. As I began my journey through downtown Atlanta and then down through the southside, it was apparent my plan of leaving early and missing the morning commute traffic had worked well. Then I read the message on the matrix board over the interstate that read "wreck 3 miles ahead, 2 right lanes blocked". Considering there are only 3 lanes going south, that has to be a bad omen. 2 miles later, I shut off the bike and put down the kickstand. After 10-15 minutes, I see cars starting, and we crawl past the wreck cleanup and resume speed.

A fuel-up near Macon makes for a good excuse for coffee and a bit of breakfast thanks to the folks at the golden arches. Back in the saddle and resume my journey south. As I approach Cordele, things all to familiar. I pass the Farmers Market Road exit where the race track is located that I spent 12 years competing. Just below Cordele I exit the interstate and the old familiar scenery comes into view. As much as this area may change, it will always look the same to me. As the road ends and I make my turn and continue south, I can see the cotton fields that symbolize home to me.

Another hour of riding and I cross the county line and see the country road where I lived for over a decade. It was dirt when we lived there, the county saw fit to pave it after we left. I pay a quick visit to an old neighbor and friend, but can't stay long. I've made this trip back to rural south Georgia where I grew up to attend the funeral of a close friend's mother. The 4+ hours of riding have given me plenty of time to think about what I have known of her life and what an example she has been to me and all those who have known her. Unfortunately she developed cancer and spent the last few years fighting a courageous battle. Until her last breath, she told anyone that would listen that God is still God and God is good.

On the ride back I marveled at how everytime I return to south Georgia it always seems like I've stepped back in time. Things operate at a slower pace and 30 years of memories play back thru my mind as if they were yesterday.

As I enter the interstate and head north, I begin wrestling with a brutal headwind. The wind is strong enough that the little 883cc engine loses 10 mph ascending the hills on the interstate, and I have to pay close attention to maintain by lane and heading. Riding a bike without a fuel gauge, one learns to use the trip odometer knowing the approximate range for a tank of fuel. The trip down confirmed my range and I had planned my fuel stop in my head for the return trip. It would be 15-20 miles less than the range of a tank of fuel normally. But, the headwind has severely compromised my fuel mileage and a couple of miles short of the planned fuel stop, I feel the bike surge. I deduct it is running out of fuel. I allow it to surge two more times to get all the goody out of the main tank and flip to reserve. The engine smooths out, and I navigate safely to the fuel stop.

After refueling, and resuming my northbound travel, I can see the commuters leaving the metro headed south have gotten down to a crawl. The closer I reach the lower side of the perimeter, the slower the southbound travelers seem to be going. Fortunately for me, northbound seems to be moving well. Soon the familiar sites of Braves stadium, then the Varsity, and all that is downtown Atlanta come into view. After a few brief pauses in traffic, the upper perimeter comes to view. The sun is setting and the temperature is dropping. I certainly would have to stop and add another layer if I was going to be riding much later, but thankfully I am nearing my day's journey's end.

When I arrive in our neighborhood and round the corner, I see our garage door open and the light in the garage is on - silently welcoming me back home. I'm tired, a bit chilled, and glad to be home. Trips like this are bitter sweet. I'm saddened for the loss my friend and his family feel. At the same time, I rejoice with them that their family member is no longer suffering through the agonizing pain of cancer.

The trip also stirs a lot of memories for me, good times, sad times, dreams, hopes, dreams dashed, but all told the events that have formed who I am - my life story of the last 44 years.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fall Back

Daylight Savings Time ends at 2am (the wee hours of Sunday morning), set your clocks back 1 hour when you go to bed.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fall is in the Air

I had just about all but given up on the leaves turning, but they are and they're once again beautiful. Still doing the job search thing, I've been fortunate to pick up some consulting work here and there to get us by until I land another fulltime job. I was up this morning to get ready for a Sharepoint presentation that I was assisting with at Microsoft's facility in Alpharetta. Just before I was ready to don my leathers and fire off the bike, I got a last minute request to cover a client call for the firm that was putting on the Sharepoint gig. So I had a ride down a route that seemed terribly familiar as it was my original commute 6 years ago. Traffic was light as I missed the onslaught of commuters that had taken place 4 hours prior. The fall weather was cool but enjoyable and I got to enjoy the colors of the leaves surrounding the roads on my way to the client call.

After some running some diagnostics and an enjoyable telephone conversation with Dell's award winning support and service, I was on my way to Microsoft's offices. The ride was really familiar as they are located about 5 blocks from my most recent employer. There offices are located in a very picturesque park with waterfalls and a lot of beautiful natural landscape.

The ride home was in the thick of Friday Atlanta commuting traffic but no bother, the fall weather, the rumble of a V-twin, and the gorgeous view of tree leaves turning was relaxing and enjoyable.

Do yourself a favor, make some time to get out and ride. There are a slew of charity rides over the next 4 or 5 weeks, pick one and go. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

We've Always Done it That Way...

"A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood in it is better than all the riding animals on earth, because of its logical extension of our faculties, and the hint, the provocation, to excess conferred by its honeyed untired smoothness."
- Lawrence of Arabia