Category Archives: Odds and Ends

TODAY I BOUGHT A THIN BLUE LINE FLAG

From the moment I first saw a thin blue line flag, I considered it to be a desecration of the American flag. I still do.

Today I bought one.

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I try to fly Old Glory every day. I’m proud of the flag and what it stands for. I admit I’m surprised that it hasn’t been stolen or worse.

Why is today different. My opinion has not changed, and I doubt it ever will.

One of the first things I saw this morning was the news of the murder of Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia. His last radio transmission: “Tell my family I love them.” The senseless killing of police officers is fast becoming a daily occurrence. I have been retired for decades, yet I still bleed Blue for my brothers and sisters wearing the badge.

I will fly the thin blue line below Old Glory with pride and love.

George Cramer #073
Sergeant (Retired)
San Leandro California Police Department

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Long Ride Update—More Bad News

Roadrunner Harley called today. I wish they hadn’t. “Boss, good news.” Here is where I was hoping they would say the parts are in, and the bike is ready to go.

NOT SO!

“One of the parts came in, and the other should be here in a day or two.”

Instead of telling the guy what I thought, I politely thanked him and disconnected the call.

Question: I two parts were shipped on one order from Milwaukie, how is it that one arrived today, and the other part is expected in a day or two?

Use your imagination and you will hear many of those words that would get your mouth washed out with soap.

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BAD – BORING – WORSE!

Today should be Day 9 of the ride; instead, it is Day 7 of sitting.

When Roadrunner Harley said it would take three or four days to get the parts to fix the Ultra, I was less than happy. Yesterday, almost a week later, they called. “Sorry, Boss, we won’t have the parts until Wednesday or Thursday.” You can probably imagine the words that came out of my well-known potty mouth. It appears the regulator and stator had not been shipped.

I called Mrs. Cramer and asked her to book me on the next flight home. I wanted to get the fish smell out of Mr. and Mrs. JAK’s home. As my Dad used to say: “Fish and visitors stink after three days.”

Got on a direct Southwest flight at 1:30 p.m. All the middle seats were left open. Got a can of water, dribbled all over the front of my soon to be tossed T-Shirt. I’ve flown hundreds of times and around the world three or four times. The seat was the hardest and most uncomfortable two hours I’ve ever experienced, even worse than eighteen hours in strap seats in a WWII vintage Navy cargo plane.

It’s good to be home with Mrs. Cramer.

When the bike is ready, I’ll fly back to Phoenix and continue on the ride—much abbreviated.

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Good, Boring, Bad – On two wheels?

 

Day 1- Saturday 6/6/2020 Started well with a tailwind. That was fine until I turned south, and that same wind pushed almost sideways off the road. In and out of wind tunnels for a hundred miles or so. Then running below the flow of traffic at 80+ mph on I-5. But sure ate up the miles. When I turned onto SR 138, it was a smooth ride, and a bit of scenery again had a tailwind, nice road, smooth as silk. Hit cruise control. After a couple of minutes, glanced at the speedometer, 90 mph in a 55 zone. Dropped to 75 until I the 210 and turned toward the coast, and now the wind was pushing me around again.
210 and I-10 to San Bernardino was an experience. At 85 mph, I was forced to the slow lane. The fast lane was 95 to 100 mph.

528 miles got me to the Best Western in Indio as I enjoyed the welcome dust blowing in the wind. What an experience check-in was.

What a boring day. The only positive was being on two wheels.

Day 2 – Sunday – Not as boring even without any scenery

Sgt. JAK woke me before 7:00 a.m. “You up yet?”

Hit the road and missed the turn to I-10. A mile down the road, asked a guy in a jeep, “If I keep going straight, will I hit the I-10?” He pointed straight ahead and said yes. I kept going for 35 miles. Stopped at the end of the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Checked my map, made a U-Turn, and back the way I had come for a 70-mile experience to the I-10. Trust me; the Salton Sea is not much in the way of scenery.

I-10 is not quite as boring as I-5, but not much less. Crossing into Arizona, I was feeling the heat and felt as though heat stroke was a possibility. It may have taken me 76 years to realize, when that happens, you should get out of the sun. I pulled into the first rest stop, drank two fruit juice packs, a bottle of water, and splashed water on my head a few times and sat in the shade. After a half hour, I felt refreshed and got back on the road.
Being in Arizona, I kept the speed down to 80 mph and watched those doing 90+ fly by.
About thirty miles from JAK’s place outside Phoenix, the cruise control bucked and quit working. This is usually a clue. The amp meter dropped and indicated no charging. I figured I could keep going and get closer to civilization as long as the battery had some juice. Nope, after a couple of miles, everything failed. As I pulled to the side of the road, I spied an overpass ahead. Time to get into the shade for what I knew would be a wait of several hours. I made it.

I pulled out the iPhone. Crap, almost out of charge because the GPS sucks power like the sun melts ice. I did manage to call the Harley-Davidson Road America and get the process started. Four cages and one BMW Motorcycle stopped and offered help. Four Harley’s went by without stopping.

I called JAK, and he came out and got my gear. When the two arrived, the operator was a woman. She was a character. In large letters, she had “TOW CHICK” tattooed on her neck.
IMG_7078Loading was an adventure. The bed of the truck was as slick as snot with oil. Of course, JAK had to get a photo of me sitting on the scooter on the truck. Almost a duplicate of a photo he took about ten years ago when the bike broke down on the way to Sturgis.

We get to Roadrunner H-D. No service personnel until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They would not allow me to lock the Ultra inside. “I’ll lock it up in front of the service door.” That was not well received, but look where it’s parked and locked.

I’ll be waiting when they open.

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The Time Is Here

Tomorrow I hit the road, two days to Phoenix, grab Sgt. JAK and we will be on the road.

Over the years, during road trips, I’ve accumulated a small collection of T-Shirts. My wife believes I have collected far too many. We have agreed to disagree on that. However, I’ve found the collection has multiplied. In the photo are quite a few shirts. Believe it or not, I have worn one each day since Shelter-in-Place started.

After not much debate with she-who-must-be-obeyed, not much because I never win, we have an agreement. She will take one of the stacks to Goodwill. I tried to choose the one to take, but it was impossible. Each has a strong sentimental value. There’s the Sturgis one from my first trIMG_7071 (002)ip there. Santa Fe, where I earned my MFA, three shirts, from H-D, and IAIA. The Big Island of Hawaii, we traversed the entire island in one day. The list goes on. There is one shirt missing from Alaska. It was cut off by a Para-Medic just before my airlift to Medford, Oregon.

It’s a secret, so don’t tell Mrs. Cramer.               I’m going to begin restocking on this ride.

 

Take Care, Ride Safe, Stay Safe.

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Private Investigations – A Glimpse into the Hearts of Your Favorite Authors

Private Investigations was not what I expected and found it to be a pleasant surprise. 41dKe9cUVJLBesides, the pleasure readers will find, PI is a primer for writers and aspiring authors. The stories are essays about the struggles writers often experience.

Rachel Howzell Hall’s “I Don’t Know This Word” uses words to build a compelling story about an exceptionally strong and resilient woman. Her battles with cancer struck home with me. I lost two children, ages three and forty, to cancer. Shortly after the loss of my daughter, I began my battles with cancer. A two-time survivor, I empathized with Hall’s struggles, although mine were nowhere near as horrifying. She is an inspiration who brought tears to my eyes.

Jacqueline Winspear’s “Writing About War,” pulled at my heart in many ways. My taciturn Grandfather fought in France in World War I. Not once did he ever mention a word about the experience. The only one to remark was my Grandmother, who once said, “He was gassed, you know, mustard gas.” She would say no more.

My father was in France during World War II. He only twice mentioned his time in combat. “The only time I fired my gun was when I pointed it in the direction of the Germans and pulled the trigger. I don’t know if I ever hit anything.” The other was riding in the back of a 2 ½ ton truck when a German fighter began strafing them. The driver pulled into some trees. My Dad said he didn’t remember anything from then until the end of the war. He wasn’t wounded.

Both men suffered what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Robert Dugoni’s “Nuns, Magic, and Stephen King,” was as good as King’s On Writing.
Twenty engrossing essays leading me to appreciate not only the ones familiar with but others I’ve never read but will.

In Private Investigations, Zackheim has once again succeeded in assembling an outstanding array of stories.

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Old Murders Inspire Mystery Author

via Old Murders Inspire Mystery Author

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May 8, 2020 · 7:40 pm

QUARANTINE SPEED

I keep my Ultra Classic in the garage on a trickle charger. For non-bikers, that is a slow charge that keeps the battery alive during winters parked on cement.

Not long after the Shelter in Place (SIP) started, I decided to take a ride. Low and behold, a dead battery, couldn’t even charge it. I checked and found the extension cord was plugged in. Next stop the bike, yup, charger connected. Last stop, the charger. Oh, Oh, not connected to the extension cord.

With my years of investigative experience, I make a deduction: someone in the family used the cord and tossed it back in the general direction of the charger. Hoping, I guess, for immaculate connection. Asking the usual suspects, I received what I expected, a litany of not guilty pleas.

Out to the local Harley-Davidson dealer and $200+ later, I have a new battery.
After working on my soon (hopefully) to be released novel, writing with my on-line writer’s group, and a fantastic grilled SPAM and cheese sandwich, it was time to change out the old dead battery. I’ve done this too many times over the years.
Well, removing the backrest wasn’t too bad, even with a touch of arthritis. I could not for the life of me get the seat off. Swallowing what little dignity remains in this beat-up body, I turned to my wife. “Honey, please help me.”

Between the two of us, mostly Cathy, we got the seat out. I was happy; she dropped the mounting screw, something I never fail to do. She’s human. Then for the battery, my hands would not grip. We constructed a makeshift battery strap and got it.
Putting it all back together was a snap.

Warmed up all 88 inches and went for a ride. On the ride out of town, the traffic was as heavy as a normal commute. What gives? Who are these people? In my neighborhood, it seems most people are staying at home.

Anyway, it was great to be out on the road. When I came back, the traffic was light. I was on a five-lane highway in the number two lane, second from the center. I was rolling along with the flow of traffic when I noticed a car coming up fast in the number three lane. Thinking I might be impeding traffic, I checked the speedometer. Wow! I was clocking along at 85 MPH. The car passed me doing at least 100. A minute or two, another IMG_6900speedster passed me in the fast lane going about as fast. Dang. It was a short but exhilarating ride, and yes, I was wearing Shorts.

If the hotels are open, my buddy and I will be heading out for a fortnight in about five weeks.

 

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Under the scarf is a happy rider.

 

 

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Thanks, Gig Harbor SJP

It’s been several years since my wife and I took a road trip to Gig Harbor, Washington.
We took a couple of weeks up and back. Other than Gig Harbor, the trip was in some ways like a motorcycle trip, except we were in a cage. We went hither and yon with no other plans. When we arrived, we were pleased, not that we would move there.

One morning while on a walk, I saw one of those newspaper boxes advertising free local IMG_6885papers. I opened it and there on top of the papers was a shiny rock. Painted on it was a rainbow with happy faces at each end. Smiling, I picked it up and felt a sense of wellbeing. I took a paper and put the rock back and walked on, thinking about that rock and the feeling it gave me. Back I went. Picking it up, I thought: I’d like to take you home. But I couldn’t bring myself to take something that wasn’t mine. Back a third time, like a thief in the night, I looked in all directions. No one in sight, I slipped the booty into my pocket and fled.

I didn’t know about rock painters leaving a friendly face to be found by people like me. The finder is supposed to take the gift or leave it for someone else to find. Not happening!
Back at home, I put the rock on the window shelf over the kitchen sink. Many times since then, I stop and look at MY rock. I always smile and perk up.

I’ve been suffering writer’s block. I needed something to get me going, so I brought the IMG_6886rock into my office. Holding it helps. I turned it over and found a note from SJP, allowing me to keep it. At the top was a request to post on FaceBook.

Today on the blog and FaceBook, I’m sending my thanks to SJP.

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It is the Ride, not the Destination

Over the years, my motorcycle trips have been more about the journey than the destination. I have been to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, at least a dozen times. Three or four times, I was what is called derisively ‘a trailer queen,’ we pulled a bike trailer behind a motorhome. Those trips were in the early days, and we were all about getting to the rally: no side trips, only twelve-hour days driving straight through. Once there, we took rides to Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Wounded Knee. These trips were made quickly so we could get back to the rally. Everything was a crowded rush.

We could say we had been there and done that. (I hate that cliché)

In 2001, I got an Ultra Classic and began riding to Sturgis, following the advice of Robert Pirsig: “Sometimes it’s better to travel than arrive” (Pirsig 103). No longer on the road 1c4nPGlJQmVpftM0Tu9w_Beartooth-Pass_54_990x660from morning until dark, I looked around. Instead of the most direct route, we mapped out places we wanted to visit. Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass are just some of the big names. Places we never imagined like US-191 north out of Green River, Utah, and through fantastic country and on through Wyoming. I liked US-191 so much that I made a solo trip south on it. Not as scenic, but a great ride. I have made these long rides with a dozen riders, three or four, and alone—never once lonely.

This summer, my buddy Jim Kennemore and I, plan on heading north to the Cascades, make a right onto Washington-20 across the state to Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. There we will flip a coin and go—

We have room for other bikers; we don’t care what you ride as long as you miss the open road and the wind in your face.

 

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Bantam Books, 1981.

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