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Ride On

Once upon a time, I had surgery on my knee that caused me to have to give up walking as an exercise. I put my bicycle on the porch and planned to start riding it. It got stolen the next day. It was October of 2006. In April when my knee healed and the weather turned nice I went out an bought a nice little comfort bicycle, my red Trek Navigator 2.0.

My Original Trek Navigator

I rode this bicycle for over 4 years and when I hit 5485 miles…it broke.

Bike Computer 1
The Bike Computer from my Trek Navigator.
Fram Break.
Broken frame on my Trek Navigator 2.0.

I went to my local bicycle shop and I was able to get a new frame…it just wasn’t red. They used many parts from my red Trek, but the frame and the crank were new. It came into my life in July 2011.

New Grey Trek 2.0
New Grey Trek 2.0

This is my Trek Navigator today. I have gone an additional 3200 miles. Many parts have been replaced, but it has been awesome for the last 9 years.

Grey Trek today
Grey Trek today

I also believed that if I had a bigger bicycle that I could or would ride it more. I spent $499 for my Trek 7300. The lock on this bike is the same one that I had from my original navigator.

Trek 7300 New
Trek 7300 New

Now I live in California and all of my bicycles have come out here. My Trek 7300 is also still running. The lock is still original from 2007. This bike still has the original bell and bike rack.

Trek 7300 today
Trek 7300 today
odo17999
odo17999
odo18000
odo18000

My Navigators so far include 5475 miles plus 3200 miles and now 18,000 miles on my Trek 7300. That’s 26,675 miles. That is since 2007. My daily schedule includes 24 miles a day. My car has 5,500 miles on it. I have done the equivalent of 4 round trips across the United States. I expected to get a new bike when I got to 10,000 miles. At my current schedule, by the end of October, I will have biked 20,000 miles on my Trek 7300.

I am always careful about my expenses. I did most of my bicycling as commuting and shopping and I still do. At an average of 30 miles to the gallon with an average price of $3 a gallon over the years, I have saved over 880 gallons of gas and saved myself 2,667.50 in gas money. The total cost of my bicycles was less than $1,000 for the two of them. I guess I justified the purchase. What do you think?

Freedom is Painful

This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document.

The Cast of 1776 from The Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ in August 2003.

There is an awful lot of debate now, particularly in the recent weeks that deal with the ongoing hate and prejudice surrounding men and women of color. There is a desire to expose our painful past and remove any public link to any degree of pride with some of the characters that have been involved with past events. Some, I dare say most, are justified. While protesting today’s injustices we must try to keep some kind of perspective. This nation had a painful birth. It was in the name of freedom from England’s tyranny that we sought to have a separation from them as a governing body. At the same time, we had a massive contradiction when talking about oppression but having a practice of enslaving human beings.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, he examined his own practices and conscience and intended to have this document indict the King of England for creating this practice and seeking to have it ended with the Independence of the United States. This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document. In the interest of the unanimous vote, the passage was removed.

Independence Hall with the “mythical” scoreboard that kept the audience aware of the score.

“The right to be free comes from nature.” This quote was from Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin encouraged Jefferson to leave out the entire passage relating to slavery for the sake of the vote to pass. Samuel Adams said to Ben Franklin, “If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble a hundred years hence; posterity will never forgive us.”

In 2003, I was in a play called 1776. This play and movie chronicle the proposal, debate and finally approval of American Independence. It was a painful process. No country had ever broken off from the mother country before. The quotes listed above were in the play but since Sam Adams was not the main character of the play, the line was given to John Adams character and shortened leaving out the “hundred years hence” line because the authors believed that it would be too unbelievable because it actually happened.

Now here we are…over 200 years hence. We are now “posterity”. We are trying to decide whether to “forgive” the founding fathers. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson have been vilified over recent days because they are now being identified as being in favor of slavery. They were living in a time when it was already part of a “way of life”. If they never debated it in the process of becoming a “free” nation, then I would agree that they needed to be judged a little harsher. They also became traitors to England, a crime punishable by death, in order to become a new nation. They were brave, honorable and yes, they risked the judgement of “posterity” by compromising their ideals for the sake of starting a new nation.

Statues of confederate soldiers and leaders that fought to continue the practice of slavery should be removed. Hate and prejudice will remain but as a nation we need to condemn the painful time. We have to acknowledge that as a nation worthy of the name United States, we have to come together. Our history is our history.

Turner Classic Movies will be running the movie version of 1776 starring William Daniels on Saturday. Maybe we should encourage everyone to watch it. Aside from the songs, which probably didn’t happen, this depicts what actually happened. It may give a new perspective to those who would want to demonize all of our founding fathers without putting this into context.

It’s Going Viral

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror.

This is an all too common phrase. When we see a YouTube video that we like or some other video or post and we share it, it is said to go viral. The term comes from the medical world where a virus spreads from person to person because it is transmitted or “shared” with that person. That is why households get sick, places of work get sick and it goes from place to place. We seem to be comfortable with the term when describing the Internet experience but it gets clouded when you bring it back to medicine and that is where the viral experience becomes deadly.

Medical professionals have told us that it is a virus. They have categorized it as such and understand it as such, but the disease that it causes is new and it is attacking old and young alike in many different ways. In order for it to be treated we have to deal with it for a much longer time and experiment and we are going to lose a lot of people that way. In order to prevent it, we have to find a way to trigger an immune response to the virus. This also takes time and is unique to this new virus. Medicine has only one absolute. Remove the host and the virus will die.

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror. It would have taken about a month of serious lock down and we’d be back to “near normal”. Instead, we are on the path to real devastation. This is because we have another viral load to deal with…deniers…led by the denier in chief.

He said in January it would go away and has been saying it ever since. Now, what could have been a one month shutdown if it where handled as a national emergency has no end in sight and his narrative hasn’t changed. “It will go away”, he says. In spite of all that he has said that hasn’t come true, people are believing him…and they go about like there is no threat at all. They also do something far worse. They “share” their opinion and others follow suit. The idea goes viral and so does the virus.

Let’s Be Essential

If you’re struggling with being “essential” and you love teamwork and you’ve suddenly got a lot of time on your hands…join me for some lively discussion on how we can help each other through this difficult time of quarantine.

Meetings will not be held on Sundays.

Essential MeetingsEast CentralWest
Meeting ID: 752 5695 7335
Password: 025734
4pm3pm1pm
Meeting ID: 799 9014 0669
Password: 021178
7pm6pm4pm
Meeting ID: 776 2527 2370
Password: 004178
10pm9pm7pm
Meetings using ZOOM. Latest software client upgrade is being used. Security measures in place.

Together, we can talk about our situations. Separation is hard but we can still connect…thank God…and we can still make a difference. One good thing about this “quarantine” is that no matter how far away you are…you’re as close to me as my next door neighbor.

Additionally, if you have elementary school kids, I am reading aloud the book The Hundred and One Dalmatians. I am doing one chapter at a time on my school district YouTube Channel. Here is the first chapter. The others will appear as I get to them and read them from different locations. Subscribe to the channel and be notified of new chapters. My brother used to read this book to me when we were young. As a substitute teacher for elementary kids, I know that they enjoy being read to. I am also enjoying the process.

Reading Chapter 1 of The Hundred and One Dalmations

Please share this Story Time opportunity with anyone who you know with kids. Some of the conversations are related to the play that was going to be performed by the students in my wife’s elementary school classes. Everyone should be able to relate.

Story Time The Hundred and One Dalmatians

On april 9 and 10 of this year, the students at my wife’s elementary school were scheduled to perform an elementary junior version of the Disney musical 101 Dalmatians. During the rehearsals, I had always told the students of the subtle differences in the book version of the story. Sadly, due to the international pandemic, the students were unable to perform this show. In an effort to keep them from totally missing out on their experience, I have taken it upon myself to read the book to them through consecutive YouTube videos.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be reading one chapter a night and then having them stay on YouTube. This will hopefully encourage the kids (grades 3 to 5) to want to read more and give them some degree of continuity. I have also decided to read to them from a variety of different locations to encourage them to “bring a book” with them when they are out.

I am reading from an old Signet copy of The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. As I read, if I come upon any illustrations that can help with the story, I flash them up along side of my face. This way I don’t break the continuity. While I have targeted the students at my wife’s school, there is no reason why this can’t be made available to all kids…of any age.

My brother was a very good reader when he was in elementary school. I was not. He used to take great pleasure in reading to my brothers and sister some of the stories that he enjoyed in class. When I have been in the elementary schools, they also enjoy hearing stories. If this helps you get through this uniquely challenging family time I would be glad if you could share it.

Here is the link to the premiere.

A Seismic Change

Yesterday I was watching a special extended news program regarding the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the news broadcast there was a sudden boom and shaking of my chair, violent shaking that lasted for about 5 seconds. The government put the seismic measurement at 4.9. The news had already gone to commercial but was cut back immediately to the local anchor who was knocked off his game. He was clearly shaken up and for the rest of the broadcast there was a trembling in his voice as the tremors continued.

Just two days ago I had been hiking in the mountains very close to the center of the quake. I remember thinking to myself that just one misstep could kill me or seriously injure me. I also thought about and earthquake. The ground was rock solid. There was nothing but rock. This was unthinkable. Imagine the power to move all of this rock.

There are protocols for what happens in a quake. Emergency vehicles have to exit their structures so that they are not trapped in the event of a collapse. Local law enforcement is put on high alert and now, our cell phones send out the emergency message. Everyone knows what to do but it doesn’t make it any easier. The very ground we live on, the literal foundation of our lives has become unreliable.

This is what we, as a society are facing right now. All of the things that we held dear are now unreliable. Our jobs, our schools, and certainly our government officials have become as unstable as the ground was last night. We want to have back what we have lost. At this point, we have been so shocked at the speed that it has vanished that we miss our opportunities.

We now have the opportunity to rethink a lot of things. We can re-imagine our lives. In the war against a killer virus, we have all become foot soldiers in the battle against the pandemic. We are driving our cars less and the air is beginning to clear around our urban centers. Gas prices have come down and this could contribute to lower costs of moving goods and services around. Our ability to work from our homes has made the highways less crowded. We have all had to embrace technology just to continue to survive.

On a Hike with Mike

I have seen far too many people focus on the negative aspects of this “crisis”. I choose to look at the situation with a different perspective. I choose to consider things that I never would have considered before. I refuse to take a bias against anything as we are in a new world. The ground has moved. It may knock me down but I will get up. If the path is gone, I will make a new one. I will be a better person in the end.

If you build it…

I smelled a faint burning electrical smell in my house. It was actually coming from my bedroom…specifically my computer. I know that I should have investigated this further. I didn’t. Eventually, my computer started to act funny. It started coming on and off when it was supposed to be sleeping. About a week later, it was dead. I found the power cord to the power supply was melted. The resulting damage to the motherboard forced a hard decision.

The new upgraded pc and cabinet.

This computer cabinet had seen about four different motherboards. Each one required a bump up in the processor. Also a jump in the RAM. Many of the upgrades remained with Windows XP. I was a very late mover out of XP. When I made the move to Windows 10, I left the ASUS and Intel Motherboards and moved to MSI. This is the brand of the computer game enthusiasts.

My recent interest in Day Trading has required me to add more monitors. While I have exhausted what I could put into the old cabinet without an extra video card, I could still get 3 to work. When this gets up and running, I will still have 3 working. I need to wait on the video card as this is already too expensive. I needed to replace the processor, the motherboard and the RAM already. It is over $1000.

I probably could have saved the old computer if I had reacted sooner. The old video card was pulled because the fan on it was so loud. Day traders need multiple monitor setups and I know I will have to add a video card which means more fan noise. Well, the new case that I had to buy to accommodate the new requirements of the video cards also contains 5 case fans for cooling. When I add more video cards there will be two more fans. If you include the power supply and the processor fan, this is going to be one loud pc setup. I hope that I will still be married next week.

The Pain

Physical pain combined with emotional and spiritual pain can be unbearable.

In 2018, when I arrived in California, I was in serious pain. I had both a DVT and a Baker’s Cyst in my right knee. I was placed on blood thinners and did whatever I could to relieve the pain. I just felt old and helpless. In march of 2018, I saw an ad for a Stem Cell Therapy Seminar. I met Dr. David Duffner and was able to chat him up at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage, California. He was presenting but was experiencing technical difficulties. Two days ago, on Valentine’s Day, he was fatally shot in his office.

People go to doctors when they are in pain. Doctors have solutions for the pain that vary according to their specialty. I have had doctors work with me and been successful. Some have been unsuccessful. In some cases, they have been the cause of more pain and ill health. I have been angry with doctors. I have been angry with lawyers. Physical pain combined with emotional and spiritual pain can be unbearable. It can make someone believe that “if I can’t get rid of this pain, I must cause equal or greater pain to the person that I believed caused this pain”.

Then they take their legal gun and make a lethal choice. Common sense gun laws mean that we have to make sure that people who are taking huge does of pain medication do not have access to a gun, a driver’s license, or anything else that we seem to consider a God given right… I pray for the family of Dr. Duffner’s and hope that they can get past this event and move forward. I pray for his patients who had successful results. I imagine that there were quite a few.

Later this week, Donald Trump will be speaking in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Duffner will not be in attendance. I won’t either. Common sense and Donald Trump are don’t go together.

New Year, New Scam

Nothing like a scam to start the new year. It’s becoming way more common than you might think. Scams have a way of affecting the masses everywhere. Let’s take my day here and think of all of the scams that I encountered.

This morning, like I have been doing since November, I got up at about 5AM to prepare for my day in the stock simulator. I have been doing this for the last 3 months and I have been very excited to learn the procedures. I was getting better and better at this over the past week, but today, no. When the President attacked Iran, he put fear into more than just the Iranians. He put fear into the Middle East, the allies, and everyone connected with international commerce. The result was something that I had never encountered before. Craziness put me close to $2,000 in the hole. Of course it was play money but I am trying to develop skills and discipline.

Somewhere along this losing streak, I became aware of new activity in my online store. That is the one on this site. You can visit it if you want, but i has been disabled temporarily. You see, people started buying my stuff. They were buying my downloads. This was my original content. I was so pleased. Then…I realized, most of the transactions were being denied. I quickly realized it was all the same person using many credit cards. After briefly researching this and removing the downloadable products for now, I found that this was a way for people who had acquired stolen credit card data to find out which cards were still live and which were cancelled.

There were 7785 attempts to purchase materials using this stolen credit card data. All but 3 were denied because of credit card rejection. The total attempted crime was $80,536.35 . Yes, that’s a big number, but I was not the intended target. I was the conduit. These people were seeking the cards that “fell through the cracks” to rob individuals of far more. They are operating outside of the United States. Up until this week, all of my website traffic came from the US and China. This week, India and Australia spiked. I am angry but thankful that there were security measures in place to protect me and most of the credit card users. What about getting the perpetrators? They’re in India. Should we bomb India?

Truly the new battlefront is the Internet. If it is not misinformation regarding our politics, then it is the very real threat to national and international commerce. Foreign powers continue to abuse the naivete of American citizens aided by selfish partisan politicians who continue to ignore the fact that the failure of the government to act to lock down our electronic communication and truly defend this front instead of their own personal agendas.

It took me 3 hours to figure out and lock down my site. This is a major crime and if you are reading this, there is a chance that your credit card was used on my site. At some point during my work, the President made a public statement about his “war footing” and the stock market found some more confidence and went on a run. Surprise, surprise. I opened my trading software and I found that I left an open position on 17 shares of Tesla. It went from -$17 to +$325. At some point, I am sure that I will have to deal with the refund of $27 that actually went through on my site. My prayer is that the criminals who found these credit cards were working will immediately charge way more on these accounts. That would be tragic.

If you own a website store, lock it down. If you are alive a breathing, your information is already out there and no amount of free credit monitoring will fix that. Be vigilant. Oh…and Happy New Year.

Above it All

It took a lot of time and effort, but when I got to the top I realized that there is a noise that you just can’t drown out when you are so close to the ground. I also learned about what you need to get to the top. No one is going to carry you to the top. You have to be determined. You have to understand support and resistance. Your support is the ground, twisted and angled as it is against the resistance of gravity.

I received trekking poles for Christmas this year. I like cycling but it does leave your upper body out of the picture. Also, I am a little intimidated about cycling on these trails that are actually labeled cycling trails. Rather than purchasing a mountain bike (and having to explain to my wife that I purchased another bike), I chose to get the poles. I consulted YouTube to get the proper techniques for using the poles, and I was off on my first trek.

The top of the Boo Hoff Trail in La Quinta California. The Salton Sea in the distance.

One thing that I learned is that the route is not marked well. I wanted a much shorter distance with a little higher altitude. At the bottom, you start with a crowded field. As you ascend, the crowd thins out until you are all alone and you have to make your own decisions. When the choice is yours, it’s scary. There were times that I wanted to turn around…but when I got my bearings I decided to get there to the top.

When you’re at the top you want to share it with someone. It is as this moment that the metaphors come flying out of the blue. It’s lonely at the top. While I feel I can learn a lot from the experience, one thing I really know is that it really hurts. Using the poles makes it a full body workout. My arms and my shoulders hurt as much as my legs. Furthermore, my core is nice and tight and I didn’t get the chance to overeat.

It is very possible that I have found my new passion…you know, to go with cycling, day trading, and the other activities that consume my retirement. You need a challenge to get the reward. I am up to the challenge.