Slimy COLD! Run — Fall 2009

The Fall 2009 Slimy Crud Run.

This is just a beautiful motor

This is just a beautiful motor

It was 46 degrees when I fired up my V7 Classic to ride up to Slimy Crud with a new friend of mine from the Chicago Vintage Motorcyclist Group.  Mark met me at the Starbucks on Logan Square, mounted on his BMW tourer.  Mark’s a fire fighter and owns a few properties in Wisconsin, so I was more than happy to ride with him up there.  I had my long underwear on, a pair of Olympia Thinsulate Gloves, Jeans, Turtleneck and fleecy vest under my “First” leather jacket.  The weatherman predicted warm afternoon.  I’m going to find that guy… Continue reading

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Michigan Moto Guzzi Rally Live with the V7 Classic

3:31– packing up, getting ready to leave soon. Too many delays trying to get out of town. I haven’t chosen a route yet. Guess I’ll just wing it, take 94 to the 31, head north and see if I meet up with some other folks.

4:19. On the road. Goodbye pic

6:30- Sawyer, Michigan, for water at a T/A truckstop

8:30-Holland. Got gas-42mpg. Pretty steady 80 mph cruise. Saw a little faster. Decided to take the “easy” way up through Grand Rapids. Checked the mileage to Interlochen, looks like I was about 100 off of my estimate for distance. Don’t know if I’ll make the rally tonight, the Sun’s down.

9:50-Checked into the Holiday Inn in Big Rapids. Temperature had dropped into the 50’s. Saw a couple of ex-deer on the roadside as well. Time change makes it actually an hour later. Beer and burger. I’ll hit the sack and get an early start for tomorrow morning. Continue reading

The "Mean Starbucks" on Gloucester Road

Most of you know that I’m a huge fan of Starbucks.  They take care of their customers, their employees and really try to do the right thing with capitalism mixed in.  It probably isn’t completely perfect, but they have great coffee, good bites and great service.  I’ve made many friends at various Starbucks all over the United States, and frequented them in London because you know that you’re going to get good quality quickly.

Oh, but the Starbucks at Gloucester Road Tube Station just turns this on its head.  Three women running the place basically wanted you to get your coffee and get out.  I wanted to order some cookies for my daughter but she just moved on to the next customer. Everything was so abrupt, which was odd because it took forever to get my coffee.

When my wife took the empty half-and-half jar and put it on the counter, they just ignored it.  Didn’t even look at it.  When I put it closer to her she looked at me like I had landed a house on her sister.

We finally got the cream. No wonder the Espresso Bar next door was packed.

Redemption came a few days later at the Starbucks near Green Park Station.  Ah.  Just like home — a relaxing quick bite before the Trooping of the colors.

The “Mean Starbucks” on Gloucester Road

Most of you know that I’m a huge fan of Starbucks.  They take care of their customers, their employees and really try to do the right thing with capitalism mixed in.  It probably isn’t completely perfect, but they have great coffee, good bites and great service.  I’ve made many friends at various Starbucks all over the United States, and frequented them in London because you know that you’re going to get good quality quickly.

Oh, but the Starbucks at Gloucester Road Tube Station just turns this on its head.  Three women running the place basically wanted you to get your coffee and get out.  I wanted to order some cookies for my daughter but she just moved on to the next customer. Everything was so abrupt, which was odd because it took forever to get my coffee.

When my wife took the empty half-and-half jar and put it on the counter, they just ignored it.  Didn’t even look at it.  When I put it closer to her she looked at me like I had landed a house on her sister.

We finally got the cream. No wonder the Espresso Bar next door was packed.

Redemption came a few days later at the Starbucks near Green Park Station.  Ah.  Just like home — a relaxing quick bite before the Trooping of the colors.

Getting Cheap Theatre Tickets in London

Caught “Hairspray” in London Last Night.  For those of you that don’t know, you can get cheap theatre tickets in London at Leicester Square ticket offices on the day of the show, often for half price or less.

But of course, there’s a catch.  Pay in cash, because many of the booths are also “Foreign Currency” exchangers, and they put a double-whammy on you by selling you the tickets and then tacking on a currency exchange fee of more than 10%.  Buyer beware.  I wouldn’t go to a ticket booth with a Foreign Currency Exchange loudly advertised again.  It happens so fast that you don’t realize what’s going on until about halfway through the show.  So you’ve been warned.

Also beware of just putting money down on counters at food kiosks — I ended up paying £2 for a £1.29 water simply because I put the change on the counter to count it — the guy just started grabbing coins before I had a chance to get “situated”.  Very annoying but not worth making a public scene over a dollar’s difference in cost.  He knew it as well as I did.  I’ll let his Karma catch up with him.

First Week in Chicago — Looks Like Riding Season is Over

I think that part of my orientation with my new position at WMS is weather-related.  The day that I arrived it was in the 20’s, and the day after was a “balmy” 50 degree day.  Next day was snow, followed by a cold, windy day that showed the thermometer at 6° with a -20 wind chill.  Next day was a good foot of snow, demonstrating how traffic can get insanely snarled up.  It repeats until today, where it’s -5° and the wind is howling so much that I don’t really care what the wind chill factor is.  My moustache froze 15 seconds after I left my front door.

I had a great drive from Los Angeles to Chicago last week.  Took 3 1/2 days and I ended up at a friend’s house overnight, moving into my apartment in Roger’s Park the next day.  Up until that point I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t ride my Ducati ST2 out.  Sure, I would have had less stuff, but I would have taken only what I needed and just lived with a smaller footprint until I went back home for Christmas on the evening of the 23rd.  I could pack a suitcase and bring more stuff out on the return trip, and I would have the bike when the streets were clear. Continue reading

Airline Passenger Etiquette — When you're NOT the only one on the Plane!

I fly at least every 6 weeks, and I try very hard to be a good neighbor in what usually ends up being a quiet, uncrowded flight. I try to fly during the week and early in the morning because the planes are not as full, and if they are, they usually contain like-minded individuals that travel a lot and have a halfway-decent standard of Passenger Etiquette.

Passenger Etiquette

Passenger Etiquette is how you treat the people around you, how you allow for “personal space” and live within a “do unto others” envelop of manners. I often see persons that get on planes that do things that portray them in a light in a range from uncaring up to and including total douche-baggery.

The following are a few points to contemplate before you step on another crowded plane; they allow for others to enjoy a flight as much as humanly possible, which is often at the very edge of human endurance anyway: Continue reading