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Low..ri..der.. Take a little trip with me

Thanks to a giagantus pot hole in DC, my old Italian buddy and commuter partner has been decimated beyond repair.  That's right, my Aprilia Scarabeo 250 has traveled it's last trek via a tow truck trailer to its final resting place, my house.  Thankfully, the pot hole only damaged my wheels and not me. But based on the rarity of parts and the age of the scooter (10 years), it isn't as cost effective for me run any more.   The wheels alone were going to run me over $500.  So once I find some replacement(used) parts I'll be selling the Beo.

However, after a few weeks as a metro bus/train commuter I started looking for another ride. The current scooter models just didn't have the same look I wanted as the Aprilia 'Beo, so I finally decided to expand into manual transmission territory.  Motorcycles.  It has been 25 years since I had a motorcycle, and that was a Yamaha 650 special that died more than it lived on the road.

Fast forward to me going through a refresher motorcycle course provided by a local Harley Davidson dealer, and I'm walking through their showroom looking for my new cycle.  My eye was drawn to the Sportster XL1200X, Forty-Eight immediately.  I test drove it with a Custom 1200 but knew that was the one I had my heart set on.


After buying my "48", I discovered the cycle was built seven days after my scooter had it's last ride. 

So, by the seventh day, the Harley builders finished the work they'd been doing; so on the seventh day, I could rest on a saddle seat and enjoy my ride!


Govt goes back to work but I never left.

Like many other State Department workers during the govt shut down, I continued working with no break in service.  It was odd after a while, because every other federally employed friend I knew was furloughed.  I was starting to feel like the State Department was the only federal agency that was still burning the midnight oil.

So I'm thankful both parties finally came to an agreement but there is so much to be said on how this end result could have been reached without causing the shutdown in the first place. 

Work has consumed most of my time so the last thing I've wanted to do was spend more time sitting in front of a computer when I'm at home.  But now that I'm getting settled in my new assignment and the pace is under more of my control, I'm slowing getting back into blogging again.

So here's to the govt monolith's gears starting their slow grind once again and the production of red tape once again in full swing.  I can't wait till Feb 2014 when they once again begin anew!


Just one day?

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Sept 11th, 2001 attacks.  Honoring those that died during the attacks and also those that fight for our freedom, U.S. political campaigns both set aside their name calling attack ads for one day. 

Is that possible? 

9-12-2012 - No it isn't.  Romney released a statement before midnight on 9-11.

"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." 

nice..  Next time direct your anger at the attackers and offer your condolenses to the families that lost loved ones, instead of trying to score some cheap points.     


Opportunistic pest or organized invaders?

Homeowners often worry and check for the evidence of insects intruders in their home.  I had to repel a horde of "camelback" crickets last summer.  A few random ones are starting to appear again this year but not as many as last year.  A simple re-application of pesticide in the crawlspace will send them packing.

However the crickets are only minor players in pest prevention when compared to major aggressors like termites.  During my landscaping upgrades, I discovered a surprising number of white "ants" near my front porch. They had infested the old wood mulch and were running along my foundation also.  Suspecting termites, I didn't see any evidence of their trademark tubes inside or outside the house.  So I called up a few companies to come out and confirm what I thought they were. Inspectors verified my suspicions.  

Soldier termite caught behind enemy lines
So the war is on.  All the inspectors suggested a product called Termidor.  I'm not too crazy about the application of a pesticide into the ground and possible contamination of ground water.  But all the companies I spoke with said the product they used adheres to soil and doesn't wash away.  An active ingredient in Termidor is fipronil.  The same ingredient found in Frontline, an insect repellent for dogs and cats.  So the choice was simple, the cost of replacing damaged structures in the near future or injections of pesticides into the perimeter of my house.  I could have tried using bait stations placed around the house, but they are not as efficient at eradicating termites all at one time.  And the termites have to go to the stations to become infected instead of just passing through treated ground.

After doing some termite research, I was surprised by how they operate in their caste system of worker, soldier and queen.  The worker termites operate near the surface and gather food for the other termites.  The soldiers defend the caste at lower levels and do it much like a Zack Snyder film (300). When an enemy breaches their tunnels, soldiers will defend the narrow spaces by using their large heads to block enemy access while the workers can seal tunnels behind them.  Once their path is sealed behind them, the soldiers fight to the end and ultimately give up their life for the rest of the termites.  Termites in South East Asia can commit suicide by rupturing a gland that emits a sticky substance that slows an enemy, similar to a tar baby effect.  Lastly, termites detect strange behavior quickly and scatter when one of their own exhibits signs of being sick.  Older pesticides use to attack termites slowly, so when others saw them dying they didn't hang out long to find out why.  Newer products will attach to the termite undetected and death occurs suddenly a few days later after its already been spread around to the rest of the caste.  Nasty.  If the risk of their damaging a home wasn't so high I would almost feel sorry for them.  Almost..

Why Facebook can never be gangsta

 When I did something wrong as a youngster, the last thing I thought about doing was taking a picture of the act and making it public.  How hard is that to figure out?  Picture=proof.

So when I read a news article like this, I'm still baffled why an offender thinks a photo taunt to a victim is worth their inevitable arrest.  How fitting is the term Facebook now.  The words "face" and "book" should be enough to warn potential violators.

The theft happened in Arlington, Virginia.  Area police say typical burglary cases are normally left unsolved.  I can understand that, if there's no trail of clues or witnesses it hard to find the culprit. So I wasn't surprised in learning how many cases go unsolved.  I've come to the conclusion that it up to you to protect your household and limit the risk.  Don't keep large sums of cash in your house, have an alarm system, get a dog, lock the doors/windows, and don't advertise when you're not home.  Limit who you're letting in your home. Thieves often know the layout before hand because they've been to the house before.

What surprised me the most was the  father's observation about his son losing some documents including one he had never backed up for years.  Never backed up?  How difficult is it to setup a back-up these days?  You can buy a nice hard drive with some backup software that will automatically run a backup as often as you need. Companies make these programs so user-friendly that it's impossible to come up with a reason not to have it.  

My three simple rules I tell friends and coworkers-

  1. Backup everything
  2. Uses strong passwords and don't write them down
  3. Never send email/post something you wouldn't want on the front page of newspaper