la escuela es finis
Not entirely yet, but close enough. I just received a grade for one of my
last two classes, and have one final to complete. I only need 15% on that
final to graduate with honors; basically I can show up and select "A" as my
final answer and I'm done.
It's hard to explain the feeling. Euphoria is definately one of the many
things I'm feeling. Relief is another. A bit of sadness, but honestly the
past few years of school have sucked because with work I have not been able
to really apply myself academically.
There are books I want to re-read. I'll probably start with Thomas Kuhn.
Posted at: 01:06 on 03/08/2005
[ /diary ]
Tue, 05 Jul 2005
What's wrong with our media?
Last week Newsweek broke the story about who 'outed' Valerie Plame..
For those of you who don't know, Val Plame was a CIA operative whose identity
was compromised strictly for political payback against her husband, Joe Wilson.
Knowingly revealing the identity of an undercover operative is considered
a treasonous act under federal law, and George H.W. Bush (41) has previous
decried it as one of the most heinous acts a person could do.
So it looks like Dubya's bestest buddy, the one who was personally responsible
for orchestrating the big win last year, is the loud mouth who committed an
act of treason.
And where has our media been on reporting this?
A top aide to the president of the United States committed an act of
treason, jeopardized an intelligence asset and compromised her network
at a time when we need the best possible foreign intelligence, and no
one is reporting it.
If this had happened in the Clinton Whitehouse there'd be a GOP
lynch-mob standing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue calling for Rove's head
The silence is deafening. Overwhelming really.
Posted at: 14:10 on 05/07/2005
[ /essays ]
Mon, 27 Jun 2005
My trip to the 2005 Sport-Touring.Net National
Since its inception, I have attended every sport-touring.net national rally
that has been held.
On top of being the computer operations manager for my department, I
am also a student finishing up a B.A. at the University of Florida. I
am supposed to graduate this summer, but in order to do that I need to
take courses in both summer A and B. This years rally was held in
Montrose, Colorado on June 22nd and 23rd, which fell smack dab in the
middle of the break between the summer A and B terms, and I was not
going to make this year the first year I missed the meet.
My last final for the summer A term was held on Friday the 17th at
high noon, so my departure would be delayed until after the exam was
completed. Because I knew there would be some high mileage days
needed to make the round-trip within my alloted time frame, I decided
I needed to break up the monotony of the road with a diversion. The
Strange 21st Anniversary World Tour provided a perfect diversion.
The basic rules for the Grand Tour are that I must stop at various
different cities, one per state, and the first letter of the city
should help spell the phrase TEAM-STRANGE AIRHEADS, and then find a
Highway 21 in an unused state.
Highway 21 in Florida is about 15 miles from my house, so that was one
of the first ones I knocked off the list. I've also gotten letters in
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia from a previous weekend excursion.
That left me with 16 or so letters, and until October to complete the
phrase, and the route I planned would allow me to pick up thirteen
cities towards the Dave McQueeney award. Besides, I figured as hectic
as my work and school schedule have been, I'll need someone to come to
my house and mow the yard.
June 17, 2005
I left Gainesville after completing my final around 12:30. My route
took me along I-75 up to the I-10 junction just north of Lake City,
then I-10 to exit 130, U.S. 231. Once on 231 I took it up to
Montgomery, where I promptly discovered why I really didn't want to
get stuck in Friday night rush hour traffic in Montgomery. Heat,
humidity, and gridlock were the name of the day. A sign said it was
95F, and I believed it.
After getting through Montgomery, I worked my over to Selma along
US-80. Selma was one of the crucial locations during the civil rights
movement in the 1960s. In 1965 some 600 civil rights marchers headed
east out of Selma, towards Montgomery along the same route I had
taken. The civil rights marchers barely crossed the Edmund Pettus
Bridge, which leads into Selma, before they were beaten and attacked
by the local "lawmen".
My journey over the Edmund Pettus was quite a bit less controversial,
but I found the ride along U.S. 80 to be interesting nonetheless.
At Selma I got an S, but unfortunately the Selma Post Office
makes it difficult to prove the location by only listing the city and
state on the door of the building. I got creative
though, and used the reflection in the door to prove my bike was
there without the use of a trailer.
I don't own a car (or truck, or van), but even if I did, I couldn't
understand why someone would trailer their bike in a scavenger hunt.
After grabbing the photo in Selma, I headed into Missississississippi
(hey cue a Fish Called Wanda and my name is K-k-k-k-ken). I took I-20
to the bustling metropolis of Newton, MS where I
promptly got an N.
As soon as I hopped off the bike to grab the photo, I threw away the
hookup cord which connects my starcom to my helmet. I'm not really
sure what I was thinking at the moment, but in retrospect it probably
meant it was time to call it a night, and that's what I did. I
figured for the rest of the trip I could just use the PS-2 extension
cable I routed in the bike to extend the socket anyway.
With my N in hand, I went and checked myself into the nearest hotel
and called it a night. It was 9:30PM EST (all future times will be in
EST), and I had just finished 537 miles and two letters.
A lot of negative stuff had been piling up in my life, and I could
feel it starting to slip away. The road is good that way.
Saturday, June 18
During the Memorial Day Weekend a friend of mine was in a real bad
head-on collision with another rider on the Cherohala Skyway. His
pelvis was shattered in many places, and the other rider lost part of
his leg. My friend lives in Jackson, MS, and had been flown into a
rehab center there from Asheville on Thursday the 16th.
When I first started planning the route, my plan was to stay with him
in Jackson, but after the accident, while he was convalescing in
Asheville, I forgot about it. When I realized that he was going to be
in Jackson while I was riding through, I decided to pay him a visit at
the rehab center.
The only problem was when I left Gainesville, I still hadn't found out
where he had been moved into. However, I had the phone number for a
friend of his who also lives in Jackson named Mark, and I made
arrangements to meet up with Mark for breakfast at the Pearl Cafe in
The Pearl Cafe is one of those small town southern diners that are
just a jewel when you find them. It's one of those places where the
good old boys gather around for coffee and jawing on any given
Saturday morning. There were about seven or eight guys sitting around
a table talking about politics, or whatever, but when I walked in
decked out head to toe looking like a First Gear advertisement, they
became very quiet and began to eye me suspiciously.
After the waitress came out and took my order, they seemed to loosen
up a bit and resumed their conversation. Mark showed up while I was
enjoying my eggs, and after we both finished he took me to the rehab
I spent an hour or so visiting with Mac, and his spirits seemed pretty
good. He's going to be in rehab for awhile, but he wants to ride
again so he's motivated to get working on it.
I left Jackson around 9:30AM and continued on I-20 West towards Ruston, LA for
an R. While leaving Jackson I hit a bump on I-20 and the starcom
power lead jiggled loose. When I stopped for a break I was able to
fix it again, but it was still intermittent until Sunday morning when
I was able to do a better fix on it.
From Ruston I took 273 into Arkansas, and I stopped in Hope for an
As you probably know, Hope is the hometown of Bill Clinton, who if
nothing else was one of the most interesting presidents we've had in
the last fifty years. People either love him, or hate him, and I'd
bet if he could run again he'd probably get elected to a third
Hope seems like a pretty friendly place. The gentleman who took my
photo apologized to me for the heat wave, as if he had any real
control over the weather. I appreciated his sentiments though, but I
explained that living in N. Central Florida heat becomes one of those
constants you get used to.
After leaving Hope I went into Oklahoma and caught the Oklahoma
Turnpike up towards I-40. I then continued west on I-40 until I got
to the exit for Tecumseh where I
picked up a T.
After I left Tecumseh, I made my way to Oklahoma City and managed to
negotiate my way through traffic to the site of the Oklahoma City
Memorial right as the sun was beginning to set. I pulled out my
35MM camera and took a few photos of the memorial before hopping on my
bike and making a run to a Days Inn on the west side of town.
While at the hotel I checked with a friend of mine, Sean, who was also
headed to the national with his father. They were about a day behind
me in Missouri, but we made tentative plans to get together somewhere
I went to sleep with 738 miles for the day and 1275 for the trip.
There were lane closures on I-40 around MM 170 which slowed down
traffic, but I had a pretty good day for only about twelve hours of
Sunday, June 19
When I woke up I felt like absolute hell. My sinuses were blocked up
and my throat was sore, and to top it off my ears were plugged and
I actually had a moment or two of doubt about whether I would be able
to complete the trip, but I popped a few Advil and drank some coffee.
I also spent ten minutes fixing the electrical short in the power lead
to the starcom.
While enjoying the continental breakfast I struck up a conversation
with a guy named Dan from Nashville. He and his wife were just
starting a five week trip, beginning in Santa Fe, which is supposed to
end at the BMW MOA rally in Lima, OH. He was on a KLR, and his wife
is on an F650GS, and it sounds like they're going to have a ball.
Since they mentioned they were heading to the Colorado area anyway, I
invited them to the national in Montrose.
After a nutritious breakfast of a donut, two cups of coffee, a glass
of OJ, and a bagel, I hopped on I-40 and worked my way west towards
Albuquerque, with a planned stop in Adrian,TX. Once I started moving
my sinuses cleared up and I started feeling better.
The weather in Oklahoma was pretty lousy. Even though it was only
8:30, or so, when I got on the road, Oklahoma was hot, humid, and
windy. I really began to appreciate the effort it must have taken to
live in a sod house on the plains of Oklahoma before the invention of
About seventy miles east of Amarillo, I stopped at a rest area to
answer a call of nature. When I got off the bike I noticed several
signs which said, "watch out for snakes." I've never seen a sign like
that before... The scenery at the rest area was pretty, so I broke
out the 35MM and shot some photos of the prairie.
Texas is an odd place. In Groom, TX, they're proud of the largest cross in
this hemisphere, but I was more impressed with their DQ sign. In
Conway, they have gift shops which advertise that they have live
rattlesnakes you can play with.
Odd place indeed.
I made it to Amarillo around noon, and it was really starting to bake.
I grabbed a large Gatorade and water, poured some down my gullet and
the rest into my camelbak.
Ten miles, or so, west of Amarillo is a monument to Americana, the Cadillac
Ranch. I had no idea I would be passing it on this trip, but
because it's always been in my "if I get the chance to see it" file, I
pulled over when I caught a glimpse of it from the interstate.
The Cadillac Ranch has ten cars planted in the ground in the middle of
nowhere. It is one of those "whacky things" that only a few people
I am one of those people.
I stopped at the ranch and pulled out the 35MM camera and shot about
half of a roll of film at the ranch. A visitor to the ranch who was
tagging one of the cars allowed me to get a photo of him doing his
work. After about thirty minutes, I was ready to hit the road.
In what is really a tragedy to American Nostalgia, the old Route 66
(U.S. 66) has been absorbed into I-40 through Texas and New Mexico.
But it still exist for little stretches, mostly for only a few miles
at a time, entering and leaving small towns. I decided to go ahead
and get my kicks, and I stopped in Vega for lunch. After lunch, I
continued on to Adrian,TX where
I got an A.
When I crossed into New Mexico I began thinking about some of the
great American literature. More specifically I started thinking about
the Grapes of Wrath. I suppose the combination of wind, dust, and
heading west on Route 66 made it happen. In an amusing coincidence,
someone else who made it to the rally mentioned thinking about the
In my case, I started thinking about the Joad Grandmother, who died of
exposure. Thank god for Gatorade...
I stopped in Santa Rosa, NM for gas, and met a guy riding a 2005 FJR.
Those blue ones sure are pretty.
At any rate, he was on his way home to Houston from a rally in Las
Vegas, NM. We chatted for about fifteen minutes before going our
While riding along I-40, Eastern New Mexico is a lot like Western
Texas, boring and scrubby. However around MM 250 the scenery starts
getting better. Mesas, red rocks, and vermilion outcroppings dot the
landscape. But they're still few and far between..
I made it into Albuquerque around 5PM, and worked my way to the University Post
Office where I got another A.
Right next to the post office was a used book store, and they had a
table with books for $1. I picked up two, but the shop was closed
with a sign saying they'd be back by 3:30. So, I slid $2 under the
door, and one of my business cards with a note explaining which books
I'd taken and to email me if I owed more, then hopped back on the bike
and took off.
I had some time to kill, and I knew that Monday would be a "down day"
so that Sean and his father could catch up. I rode over to the
Petroglyph National Monument, and then found a Super 8. When I
checked into the hotel I had ridden 558 miles for the day, 1833 for
the trip. The road closures on I-40 were in New Mexico between MM
305-300 and 275-265.
Monday, June 20
Since I knew my friend Sean was on his way, I decided to use Monday to
see some local sites I've always wanted to visit, and give them an
opportunity to arrive in Albuquerque. That meant Monday would be the
day I'd visit Chaco Canyon.
I left the hotel bright and early, around 7:30AM. I took I-25 north
to Bernalilo, and stopped for breakfast at the worlds most efficient
Mickey Dicks. After breakfast I continued on 550 towards Durango, CO
where I got a D.
The morning air was quite cold in the desert, and I was pissed at
myself for not wearing my heavy gloves. However, I knew it would be
warmer in the afternoon, and catching the sunrise in the Zia
reservation more than made up for the discomfort of the cold. The red
mesas glowed as they were struck by the first light of the day.
After gassing up in Aztec, I continued onto Durango and got my D. I
then worked my way west on 160 to 140 South, and followed that to 574
back to Aztec.
When I returned to Aztec, I stopped at the Aztec ruins, which are
really Anasazi ruins. I hiked the trail then made my way back to 550
headed towards Chaco.
There are two entrances into Chaco, a northern entrance off of 550,
and a southern entrance off of 57. I took the northern entrance,
which consists of 5 miles of asphalt and then 16 miles of dirt.
The dirt road (7950) was heavily rutted in some parts, and quite sandy
in others. I started out doing between 35 and 40 until I hit the
first very loose sand patch, and then decided going slower was
When I was half-way through the road I came across a guy using a plow
to smooth out the road. The problem was that in order to pass him, I
had to cross over a furrow of sand he left in the center that was
about 18" deep. I worked my way through the sand, got around him,
then worked my way through only getting caught in the loose sand once.
Even with the road conditions, I still managed to make it to the park
about 45 minutes after pulling off of 550. Not bad, but I was
starting to feel a little tired and my bike was close to over-heating.
I checked into the visitors center, and took off for a little hike in the ruins. However,
the combination of the head cold, the heat, and the altitude got the
better of me and I decided to sit down and rest for a few minutes.
While getting ready to leave I ran into two guys on enduros who had
come in from the southern exit. By their description, it sounds like
that is the better way to enter and leave the park, but I decided to
exit via the way I came. After running the loop through the park, I
hopped back on 7950 and made my way towards 550. This time it took me
45 minutes just for the dirt, but I was proud that I made it back onto
terra firma without spilling the bike once.
I refilled my camelbak with more water and Gatorade, then stopped in
Cuba for gas. When I arrived back in Albuquerque at 6:15 it was 102F.
Sean and his father arrived fifteen minutes later.
Total mileage: 508/2341.
My journal has this one note at the end: "Although I'm not really
religious, anyone who doubts the existence of God needs to spend time
in red rock country."
Tuesday, June 21
I woke up very sick with a hard time breathing. It seems that the
exertion from the previous day moved my head cold into my chest.
We got a late start and left Albuquerque around 9:00AM. We took I-40
west to Gallup then US-491 north to 264. US-491 used to be known as
US-666, but about two or three years ago someone got their shorts in a
wad over having a highway with "the devils number" so we renumbered
Once on 264 we continued west to Ganado, Arizona
where I got a G. 264 was interesting, running us up to about 6500'
through some forests. I saw a coyote running along the side of the
After our photo op, we hopped on 191 north to Arizona 59. 191 ran
along the top of a ledge and was very windy. 59 ran through the
middle of nowhere, but parts were quite pretty as we passed through
red canyons and cliffs.
We took 59 all the way to the end, and then continued on into Kayenta
where we stopped for lunch at The Blue Coffee Pot. We were pretty
much the only tourists in TBCP, but the chicken salad sandwich was
After lunch we went through Monument Valley, where Sean and I played a
round of dueling
cameras. With temperatures over 100F, it was really hot, but just
when we felt like complaining we came across a group of bicyclists who
were riding from San Diego to Atlantic City as part of the Race Across America. Heck,
I figured if they could continue to sit there and peddle, the least I
could do is work the throttle.
Valley we continued on 191 up towards Monticello. Just south of
there we were stuck in traffic as there is road construction at the
"Devil Overpass". While in traffic we met two guys from Arizona,
Rodge and George, who were also headed to Montrose for the ST.N
national. Rodge was on an ST3 and George a K1100RS.
We chatted a bit, and then when traffic opened up we stayed as group.
However, in Monticello they pulled off to get a room while we worked
our way up the Abajo mountains to the Canyonlands Overlook.
After the Abajo, we worked our way to Moab. When we arrived in Moab I
decided I needed to find a drug store and get something for my chest
cold. I also wanted to make an appointment at a clinic to make sure I
was healthy enough to continue the trip.
I picked up some Robitussin caplets because I wanted the expectorant,
and made an appointment at the clinic for 8:40AM local time the next
We managed to get the last rooms at a Super 8, and I picked up an M before we had
dinner at the Poplar Place. I had the lasagna and a Guinness, and it
was as good as I remembered from the last time I breezed through Moab.
Wednesday, June 22
I woke up feeling better than I had in two days. Although the
Robitussin seemed to be working, I still wanted to get a professional
Because we had time to kill, we decided to hit 128 as the sun
was rising. I rode with Sean and Pat (his dad) for the first 25
miles, then I turned back so I would catch my appointment while they
followed it to I-70.
I arrived at the clinic a few minutes early, but I used the
opportunity to fill out the various forms that doctors invariably have
for you. I explained to the doc that I was about 2000 miles from
home, on a motorcycle, and that I intended to be home by Saturday.
She said that my chest sounded clear, and that it seemed like the
Robitussin had done some good. She offered to write me a prescription
for a steroid, but that in her opinion I was probably over the worst
of it and as long as I paid attention to myself I'd be fine for the
She also recommended taking Wednesday off, just to give me a day to
catch some rest, and she warned me that I may have a relapse shortly
after arriving home just from the exertion. I told her we were only
heading to Montrose, and then I would take the rest of the day off,
and she said good.
We left Moab around 11:30AM (EST), and headed south to 46, which we
took to 90, then 141 to 145 to 62 and finally 550. The 46/90
combination was really fun, with some nice switchbacks around the
state line. 141-145 were OK, but it rained on us for about ten
minutes. 62 was absolutely gorgeous, and we stopped to get a few
photos. Once we were on 550, we got stuck in traffic, but we
still managed to make it into Montrose by about 3:30 (EST).
I got to meet up with some old friends, and make some new ones. I put
some faces together with screen names, and had a beer. I had dinner
again with Mary and Mike, and made plans to have dinner with them next
year in Virginia. Then, I sat in the hot tub in my room for fifteen
minutes, then went to bed.
Total mileage: 220/3046.
Thursday, June 23
The gods were smiling on me this morning, because when I woke up
bright and early I felt better than I had in a week. Because of how
good I felt, I decided to skip the Robitussin, which would also give
me a better gauge of how my body was doing. I packed up the bike,
checked out of the hotel, and hit the road by 7:10AM (EST).
I headed east on US-50 towards Gunnison. Aside from a brief stretch
where 50 is now a dirt road, approximately 5 miles east of Montrose,
the route was perfect. I passed through the Blue Mesa area as the sun
was rising and caught one of those perfect sunrises
you're lucky to see.
In Gunnison I stopped for breakfast and talked with a few people who
were doing Ride the
Rockies. After breakfast I spoke briefly with one of the staff
and asked if it was a tour, or a race.
"Well, it's a tour. But some people just can't help themselves, and
to them it's a race."
Because it was getting cool, I decided to put my jacket liner on and
continued west on 50 over Monarch Crest.
The elevation might have been high, but the view was
Before I got to Canon City, I saw a woman painting landscapes along
the Arkansas River. I stopped and asked her if she minded being a
subject for me, and she agreed, so I shot about half of a roll of
The canyon which she had turned into a studio was stunning, red rock
walls with green vegetation covering everything. Afterwards, I
continued on 50 east towards Canon City.
By this point in my trip I had forgotten about how some people can be
assholes, but while I was getting gas I was reminded that not everyone
is pleasant. Oh well, I wasn't going to let a dickhead ruin my trip,
and I shrugged his comments off as I continued towards Salida and Pueblo.
The route from Montrose to Salida is quite pretty and hilly, but from
Salida to Pueblo Colorado becomes a prairie. There were lots of deer
along the prairie, and in Pueblo I saw military jets performing
Outside of Pueblo I hopped on 96, which crosses from Colorado into
Great Bend, Kansas. Within fifteen miles of Pueblo there were four or
five prisons on 96, but after that not a heck of lot else. There was
very little traffic on the road, and I started playing a game of
counting how many minutes it took before I saw another vehicle.
Most of the time I saw a car within three minutes, but I hit ten
minutes at one point.
In Colorado I also saw a large number of cyclists with their bikes
fitted with panniers and/or trailers. They looked like they were
doing a cross country trek, but they were spread out too far to be
part of the same group.
While riding through this region my mind was able to visualize how the
prairie must have looked, with bison running free, even just 150 years
Crossing into Kansas was a night and day experience for me because
although eastern Colorado had the same flat grasslands, it lacked the
wind that Kansas had. The wind was horrendous, it blew my face shield
up several times, and kicked up dirt and dust from all of the farms
I stayed on 96 into Great Bend, then hopped on US-56 to 150, and
eventually made my way back onto US-50. I took US-50 into Emporia, where I
got an E.
I stopped for dinner, then called my wife Sandy, then Sean and Pat to
let them know I was alive, and then my friend Josh to confirm our
plans to get together Friday night. After dinner I took I-35 to
Ottawa, Kansas where I got a room.
Although I still felt great, I decided to get to bed early because I
knew I had a long day ahead of me.
Friday, June 24
I once again got an early start. After checking the tires, and
finding the rear down about 2psi, I topped it off and started on my