Conflicts of Interest

September 15th, 2007

Weather: Cool and dry… The best of Minnesota in Autumn.
Road Conditions: Dry and congested… The worst of Minnesota Road Construction Season.

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Daddy’s home… at last.

I’ve been a Bad Daddy…

That is the consensus between my girls, anyway. Summer is over, after all, and we never even went on vacation together. Not only that, but after a brief and unsuccessful early effort, I gave up on trying to teach Emily Rose to ride her bicycle without training wheels.

Too busy Rambling and writing about it, I guess. Guess hell… I know.

So we have arrived at this unhappy moment, where I must make a Choice:

1) Continue on as I have been, oblivious to the needs of my family and my home, or…

2) Suspend Rush Hour Rambling for awhile, so I can make the necessary repairs to my battered house and domestic relationships.

The house has had a rough year. Hail damaged the roof, and I haven’t even called for an estimate yet. The basement has flooded repeatedly, due to the heavy rains we had in August. Mold is beginning to grow in the wreckage down there, and the smell is intruding upstairs. I have a hell of a mess to clean up, and that is directly analogous to my relationship with the girls.

They aren’t very happy with me right now…

After taking delivery of my new Vespa GTS, I was overcome with creative spirit and the thrill of new adventures. Travel back through this blog to the early part of the season, and you will see what I mean. This Summer was the shortest I can remember, ever. I was lost in my own little world of Rambling and writing, oblivious to the effect it was having on those I love.

And because they love me too, they seldom complained. When they did, it was in a quiet voice, full of hopelessness, because they recognized the signs. Daddy had his blinders on, gazing towards distant horizons, the next ride, the next Ramble, the next adventure.

Even then, I didn’t do all that I had planned this year. Rush Hour Road Tests never happened, for instance. Granted, dealers are a bit stingy with their demo rides these days, but I’m sure I could have bagged a few if I had tried.

I never ventured outside of the Minnesota/Wisconsin area, either. The money wasn’t there, for one thing. Then there was the decision by my boss that I would have to drive a cage on all future audit trips. We can’t have any distractions, you see.

So it has all caught up with me, here on the cusp of Autumn, and I have decided, at long last, to do the Right Thing.

This Winter, I will be riding the bus to work. I have spent the past week learning the routes, before the cold weather sets in. Three busses, two transfers each way. This commute takes an hour and a half in the morning, and two hours in the evening. But I’m not risking my life, and I’m not staying out all night. I get home at a predictable time, and my girls get to have their Daddy back.

I have to do this. There is no other choice. Since I can’t make a living with my writing, I have to concentrate on my Real Job during the day. My nights and weekends will be spent with my family, and fixing my home. There is no room in my life for Rambling, right now.

When the Motorcycle Show comes to the Twin Cities, I will probably attend, and write that up here. I’m sure there will be other occasions where I will have something to share with you. But for the immediate future, Rush Hour Rambling is going into hibernation. It’s all about Priorities.

Arizona Lucky and the Savoy Pizza Review

August 31st, 2007

Weather: Sunny and 78°F (25°C)… Can it get any better?
Road Conditions: Congested, as always, since the bridge collapse.

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Arizona Lucky meets Frogwing… Joy ensues.

We were supposed to get together last Sunday…

Arizona Lucky, and his Lady Luck, had come up to visit relatives and friends for the Minnesota State Fair and other local attractions. But they got so busy with these things that we finally had to reschedule for Thursday night. That meant fighting late rush-hour traffic, around dinner time, but it all worked out just fine in the end.

Both Minnesota natives, they now live in the great state of Arizona, where you can ride year-round, if you can stand the 100°F + temperatures.

Arizona Lucky writes the blog linked in my sidebar called, strangely enough, “The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour “. This man is a connoisseur of crusts, a sage of sauces, and a Titan of toppings (Alliteration is such an ugly thing, when it gets out of control…).

I wanted to test his expertise on the best pizza within my stomping grounds, but I didn’t really have a clear favorite. My family and I kind of like a place called Carbone’s, which is close to home, but more often than not, we end up with a Take-n-Bake from Papa Murphy’s ™.

So last night found Amy, Emily, and I at the corner of Seventh Street and Lafayette near downtown Saint Paul. Savoy’s Pizza resides there, and they are the oft-recognized champions of the local pizza scene. Ask anyone, from Hastings to Hinckley, where the best pizza is, and they will likely tell you Savoy’s.

The crowd inside certainly confirmed this, when we arrived shortly after six pm.

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Don’t click on this image unless you want to drool on your keyboard.

But I won’t presume to go in-depth on a pizza critique when I know that the maestro himself is going to hold forth on his own site at a later date.

Let me just tell you that everyone at the table was really satisfied, and you can see for yourself that the pizza was packed with quality toppings. If I had to voice any complaint, it would be that there wasn’t enough sauce. Savoy is supposed to have a sublime, spicy sauce on their pizza, but I could barely detect it under the mass of toppings on their house Special pizza.

Next time, I’ll order a side of sauce for dipping.

So, that was all we saw of Arizona Lucky and Lady Luck. They will be flying back south soon, away from our unpredictable weather. Arizona might have cooled down a bit since they’ve been gone.

Let’s hope so, for their sake.

Energy Crisis

August 23rd, 2007

Weather: Rain and Fog
Road Conditions: Dangerous

“You are one rugged sumbitch!”, said a coworker who prefers to remain anonymous.

This, after I rode into work this morning, in peasoup fog on the freeways. At least he didn’t call me crazy, as most of them do when I ride in the rain.

I have no photo to illustrate this post with… sorry. But I’m not Steve Williams, and our fog here isn’t a charming atmospheric effect. It is a serious hazard, especially when half the traffic out there insists on travelling at their usual breakneck speed, and the other half decides that they should slow down to a crawl.

The most dangerous condition out on the roads is caused by “speed differential” between the lanes of traffic, and motorists who don’t take heed while changing lanes. We get these idiots who barrel into a herd of cage zombies at 30 miles per hour overtake, and then make a game of swerving between them in the fog.

Frogwing has one, one, not-so-bright tail light to warn them of my presence. I depend more on the big reflective strip on the back of my Aerostich Darien for visibility in this crap.

Then there’s my own visibility to worry about. In some places I find myself wiping my visor with my finger-mounted squeegee about every quarter-mile or so. There’s no telling when a dead car or large lump of debris may appear in the road ahead, and I need to see at least to the edge of my headlight beam.

None of this explains the title of this entry, of course.

Some of you may have noticed that the frequency of postings here has slowed down a bit in the past three weeks. This is primarily due to my new, temporary job assignment to my company’s warehouse and distribution facility (gulag) five miles further from home.

The work I do there is high-pressure and relentless, lifting sometimes heavy boxes and taking fine measurements on intricate parts. I spend most of the day on my feet. All of this, of course, under urgent time pressure.

After several years of the cube life, this comes as a shock to the system. So, after work, I am worn out both physically and mentally, and my enthusiasm for Rambling is considerably dampened. If this were not a temporary assignment, I would be shopping my resume around right now.

Add to this condition the fact that the weather has been grey and wet non-stop for the past two weeks, and you can see where the dearth of postings originates.

But, the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild has decreed dry weather for this weekend. Let’s hope they are right. Arizona Lucky and his Lady Luck are coming up for a visit. It would be nice if the weather cooperated.

So, bear with me through this difficult moment. It won’t last, but I will.

I am, after all, “One rugged sumbitch”…