Monday, June 30, 2014

Crazed Two-Weeks....

I was a Cyclin' fool all weekend long.

I'm taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation  course as offered at the local Harley Davidson dealership as part of their "Rider's Edge" program.  It does 3 things.  First - it teaches good basics and fundamentals in the classroom using a good little booklet, teacher/coaches who lead discussions, and videos.  Second, it teaches riding skills in a controlled setting...starting with pushing the bike and ending with a fairly comprehensive skills assessment test.  And, lastly, it allows students to take the state DMV exam as part of the class so if/when you pass you get your motorcycle rating added to your license.

They're long days.  5:30-8:30 Friday and Monday, and 8am-4pm both Saturday and Sunday.  The good news is that it didn't rain on us either day, although standing out there in the heat and humidity with a long-sleeve shirt (required) and a helmet (also required) can be harder than you'd think.

It was fun, but there was also a serious side.  Two people dropped out of the course the first day - they didn't feel ready.  Another didn't pass the skills assessment.  There are no "do-overs", and the scoring is very strict.  Skills include everything from weaving in and out of cones, emergency stopping, swerving and turning exercises, and the box.

That box - it's a killer.

It's basically a 20' by 40' box drawn on the pavement.  Riders need to enter the box, do a U-Turn/Figure-8, do another U-turn, then leave the box...all without putting a foot down or touching any of the edges (it's like the picture above except that the red line isn't on the pavement - it's just a box).

You need to manage this using the clutch and the brake and it's hard to avoid going too slow.  Putting down a foot is  4-point deduction.  Going out of the box is a 4-point-each-time infraction.  None of us did it cleanly in any of the "practice" runs, and none of us did it cleanly during the test.  Thankfully, most of us did well in the other things and passed.

I need to master this.  I'll be bringing my motorcycle  back and trying it on my own bike as many times as it takes until I can do it.  That's just how I am.

Anyway - I passed the skills assessment.  Today I take the DMV skills test and the written part of the exam.  Thankfully it's a good hair-day (so far, anyway) - just in case they need to take a photo for the driver's license.  Fingers are crossed that they do.

Kudos to our instructors and to the local Harley dealership for doing such a good job with this.  The facilities were great, they provided brand new Harley 500cc bikes for us to use, they provided a good dealership "walk-thru" on Saturday morning - all things considered it was money well spent.

Here are a few shots from the weekend:

Part 1 of my Crazed's still not done but I'm hoping to put it to bed today.

Part 2 is tomorrow.  I'm taking the North Carolina Real Estate Licensing exam.  It's a difficult exam - only 30% of test-takers pass on the first attempt.  I've been studying but these last couple of days have cut into study time.  I'll do the best I can.

Part 3 starts on Wednesday when I fly to Phoenix....3a - get to Phoenix, 3b - pack the truck and 3c drive back across country.  If all goes as planned I'd like to arrive here a week from today....

I'm pretty jazzed right now.  The cycling stuff makes me feel like a kid.  I'm looking forward to seeing friends in Phoenix - I haven't been back in over a year.  And, I'm very very very much looking forward to finally getting all the rest of my "stuff" out of storage and back home.  I've been talking about that here for a couple of years or more - it's finally time to make it happen.  I'm not looking forward to packing it in the summer desert heat, or driving it all back.  But I've done it before so I'll just get it done.

One of the things I'm aware of is that this blog isn't really about being "T" very much anymore.  There was a time when that was the primary focus which isn't surprising given the various things I was doing at the time.  But I believed then and am relieved to see that it's true that each of us pays it forward to some degree before stepping aside for others to add their own energy and passion to the cause.  So, these days, my life is far more about simply living and doing things than about T-ness.  My blog reflects that.

I feel fully engaged.  My relationships are fulfilling.  I'm involved in lots of things that I enjoy.  Something as simple as going to the DMV to get my new drivers license was once a big, big deal.  Now, it's just something that you do.  The appreciation of that isn't lost on me.  

Anyway - lots going on.  Onwards!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fun in the Sun

I'm  a little toasty this morning.  Most of the weekend on the water or on the beach.  It was one of those ocean-centric weekends that reminds me why I loves being in the Lowcountry.

We had several adventures.  One of the most notable was that we took the boat out past the jetties into international waters.  It was a calm day, but the swells were still 3-5 feet - it's really cool when they roll you up and down, up and down.  Surreal, actually.

Half the time was anchored close to shore so the kids could fish, swim, and do what most teenage boys like to do - watch girls.  The kids caught several baby sharks - a foot long or less - and of course they let those go.  But it was an absolutely perfect weekend to be on the water (other than the typical late day monsoonal thunder storm that typically rolls thru).

Speaking of sharks - We stopped and were getting ready to jump in for a swim (in 60' seas) when one of those things you see in the movies happened in real life.  Right near the boat, maybe 20 yards away or so, was a single fin cutting through the water.  At first we thought perhaps it was a dolphin - we had seen lots of those on the way out.  But the more we watched the more it became apparent that no, this wasn't a dolphin.  It was a shark. We joked afterward that if we had been in the water and someone on the boat had seen it we wouldn't have believed them.  Needless to say, none of us got in the water.  :)

I did a pretty good job of protecting myself from the sun but one area on me is still crispy.  It's my lower lip, of all things.  Go figure.  Anyway - it was a wonderful weekend.  I'm enjoying it while I can, because life is about to pick up speed.

I'm heading into a stretch of life the likes of which I haven't experienced for a while.  I suppose I've been enjoying the lull, and now it's time to storm.

  • This coming week I've got Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Education all day Saturday and Sunday, and 3 hours on Friday and Monday evening.  
  • On Tuesday I'm taking a licensing exam that I'm studying like crazy for.  And, if all goes according to plan, I'll take my motorcycle test, as well.
  • On Wednesday after work I fly to Phoenix.  I can hardly remember the last time I was on a plane which is a big deal given there was a time when I seemed to fly every week.
  • On Thursday and Friday and Saturday I'll deal with the 110 degree summer days and load a truck with all the stuff I've had in my storage unit there for the last few years.  
  • Then, I'll drive the 2,200 miles to get it back here - probably two weeks from today.  Ugh.

That's a lot happening in a short period of time. Oy.

Truth be told (and the sickest part of all of this) is I'm looking forward to it.

I'm looking forward to my motorcycle class.  I went out last night and bought gloves for it - Love 'em!  I got some boots that I need for it as well.  Love 'em, too!

I'm looking forward to getting back to Arizona.  It has been over a year since my last visit, which is way way way too long.  I miss dear friends there and can't wait to see them in person and catch up.  The down side is that I won't be there all that long and I've got a pretty full plate trying to load my truck - I won't have nearly enough time to see everyone that I'd like to.  But that just means that I'll need to make another trip when I've got more time to socialize.

Lastly for today - as I've mentioned many times over the years a typical day at work is spent plugged in to music.  Whether it's Pandora, Spotify, or some other source - it just makes the day go by faster.  Lately I've been listening to a concert that The Black Crows did with Jimmy Page almost 20 years ago.  They just don't make music like that any more.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Healing Thoughts for Kyrie.

I ended my last entry mentioning that I was headed off to the concert.

It was a wonderful evening.  As I said, there are very few ways I'd prefer to spend a nice summer evening than watching some good music outdoors.  I've been to this particular venue before to watch the women's tennis tournament that comes to town each spring.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how intimate and comfortable it was for music.

Goo-Goo Dolls at the Family Circle Tennis Stadium on Daniel Island, SC
We had a wonderful time.

My little niece, Kyrie, went in for some significant surgery yesterday.  I've spoken about her before so I'm not going to go into detail here.  Suffice to say she's in my thoughts and prayers.  Whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, or think I've got problems, I think of her and it always brings me back to center.  She deals with it all without complaint or fear.  She's truly amazing....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Father's Day came and went on Sunday.  The highlight for me was to chat with my son.

We have never put much effort into Father's Day.  The same is true of me and my own dad - it just wasn't a big deal to us.  Ironically, it never felt like problem until after he passed away.  I guess some things are just like that - you take them for granted until you can't do them anymore.

I think I say this every year but I'll say this again - I respect how each of us decides to treat Father's Day.  There is no one right answer just as no two relationships between fathers and their kids is the same.  For me, it's a simple thing.  I am my son's dad.  I always have been, and I expect that I always will be.  I'm not his mother.  I didn't abdicate any fatherly ownership simply because of my mid-life lane-change.  I am tremendously proud of being my son's father.  Period.  End of story.

None of us can afford to allow any one role in our lives define us.  In that same vein, we can't allow ourselves to shape ourselves around traditional expectations or definitions.  We own that far more than most people realize, so long as you're willing to accept that not everyone will agree.  I'm fine with that.  No worries.

Tonight I'm headed to see a concert.  We've got tickets to Goo-Goo Dolls and Daughtry at the Family Circle Tennis Center.  I haven't been to a concert in a while.  And I can't even remember the last outdoor concert I attended.  It's a beautiful, warm evening here, and I can't think of a better way to spend an evening.


Monday, June 16, 2014

A Big To-Do

In the evolving story about my new motorcycle, the big news is that I went to the Harley-Davidson dealership and picked her up on Saturday.  I've thought several times over the past few days that it's still weird to realize that I've got a brand new motorcycle out in the garage.

Harley makes getting your new bike a big to-do at the dealership.  Once all the paperwork was signed and the deal was consummated it was time to do a "walk-around".

It starts with ringing a big, loud bell so that everyone in the showroom can hear.  When it goes off, everyone comes over to congratulate you on your new purchase and to welcome you to the Harley "Family".

Then it's over to the retail side of the house to get a free T-shirt.  Then, it's over to the service side of the house to meet all the service guys and pick up a starter care kit.  Then it's over to a special place where they stage new bikes for photos.  And finally - it's all over and it's time to go.

Me and my new Harley

Some have written to me to make sure I'm a safe rider.  All I can say is that I'm as safe as I know how to be.  I have a full-face helmet, I've got a pair of sturdy leather riding boots, I'm very cautious when I'm out riding - I'm not looking to get killed on this bike.

As I've explained before, I'm a new rider.  At this point in time I've only got a learner's permit.  I'm scheduled to 4-day take a "Learn to Ride" course in a couple of weeks.  Elizabeth and I have been out on our bikes all weekend - we did a good 35 mile loop up and around near the beaches last night.  It's got a good mix of everything - windy roads, city driving, highway 55mph roads, scenery....and it has been very helpful.  It could be very easy to become intimidated by a 755 pound rocket between your legs headed down the road at highway speeds and I've already got a very healthy respect for her.  So far, so good.  No buyers remorse at all.

In other personal news I'm studying like crazy for the North Carolina Real Estate Broker exam.  I'm already licensed in South Carolina, but living near the border as I do I'd like to have additional opportunities.  Getting to the point of being approved to even take the test has been quite the journey, but that's where I am.  Anyway, I'm scheduled to take the test on Friday.

I enjoy tests.  I really do.  I suppose it's a personality thing but I've always been this way.  When I signed up there was a warning message saying that only 31% of people who are licensed in another state pass the NC exam the first time.  It encourages test-takers to take it seriously and study.  So, I am.

In bigger picture stuff - it is being reported that President Obama has directed his staff to draft an Executive Order protecting nearly 1 million LGBT Federal employees and contractors from workplace discrimination (story here).  People have been asking him to do this for a few years now.  Perhaps this is his PRIDE  month "gift".  Regardless, it's the right thing to do and I'm glad to see him do it.  Now, if we can just pass ENDA....

Monday, June 9, 2014


It has been a weekend to remember.

I mentioned a few posts back that I've gotten into motorcycles lately.  I obtained my learner's permit a couple of weeks ago.  I've been reading about them, and looking to buy one, for a while now.  I think that's where I left off last time....

For me, the entire process of buying a motorcycle is a very personal thing.  I don't want to get a small one and work my way up to larger ones.  It's far more my style to make a decision on whether or not I want to make the investment in it, do all the research to be able to make a good decision, to clearly identify what I want to use it for, and then to make it happen.

That's where I am.  My bike arrived this week, and it sitting in the showroom with a "Sold" sign dangling from her handlebar (see below).  I went to visit her both days this weekend, and will be picking her up next Saturday.  I'm very excited.

In the meantime, I've been using a smaller HD 1200 to practice with (see below).  I put 150 miles on her over 24 hours between yesterday and today.

Riding a motorcycle makes me feel like a kid again.  It brings back memories the days of practicing driving a car and getting my license, all those years ago.  I remember how nerve-wracking it felt sometimes, and I still marvel that I typically feel at home in my car as I do anywhere else.  Most of what we do as seasoned drivers we do without thinking.  We know what to expect, we know how to react, we've trained ourselves so most of it is just second nature.

Right now I'm at the "thinking stage" of motorcycle riding.  Clutch in, change gears, brake, turn signals, watching what traffic is doing....left foot does this, right hand does this, be careful of mind is on overload.  Zipping down the road at 50 miles an hour is a while different thing on a motorcycle than it is in a car.

At the close of the weekend, I'm light years ahead of where I was heading into it.  I feel like a kid with a new toy - I just want to go and play with it....for hours on end.  

Anyway - I expect there will be more to come on that.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Surprise Myself Sometimes

I feel fortunate that I am still able to surprise myself.

The last few days have brought an unexpected couple of happenings.  Now that I've had a couple of days to let them seep in I'm good with both of them.  No regrets.

On one front, I bought a motorcycle.

I find it interesting how people seem to have strong opinions about motorcycles.  I respect all of them.  But the fact of the matter is that I have enjoyed riding on the back with a certain someone, I've got my learner's permit, I'll be taking a riding course soon, and the opportunity to get something presented itself.  Impetuous?  Perhaps.  But, as I say, I'm good with it.

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday practicing around the block on a certain someone's bike.  By the end I was fairly comfortable.  As long as I never need to shift out of first gear, I'm good.  It's the shifting thing that makes is complicated - at least for me - and we haven't crossed that bridge yet.

I told one of the neighbors that I needed training wheels and that's partially true.  It reminded me of times long past - when I first learned to ride a bike, when I got my driver's license.....all those many miles ago.

It's not my style to start with something small and grow into something.  I tend to become "connected" to my vehicles , and I look at them as a long-term relationship.  I know what I'd like to use this bike for, so I focused my search on bikes that could achieve that.  We spent a few hours at some of the local dealerships over the weekend.  I wrote to friends who have bought bikes and have learned from them.  And, in the end, I made my decision and made it happen.

I don't have it yet.  It's being shipped. Stay tuned....

On the other front - I attended a class all day yesterday to become a Realtor.  I always used the terms Real Estate Agent and Realtor interchangeably.  I didn't realize that there was a difference.  There is.

A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors.  One of the key elements involved in being part of this organization is pledging to follow their Book of Ethics when it comes to dealing with buyers and sellers, and other realtors.  It is an added layer of requirements for Ethical behavior, and I'm all about that.  So, I took the class, made the pledge, and received my pin.  I am now a Realtor.

The reason this has relevance here is that NAR updates it from time to time to keep it "fresh".  Late last year they updated Article 10.  At the time it read as follows:

Article 10 of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) code of ethics states that Realtors® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religtion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.  Realtors® shall  not be parties to any plan or agreement to discrimiate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.

For some of us, that list has a glaring omission.  Well - they updated it late last year to add "gender identity" to the list of categories that it explicitly identifies as being "protected" from discrimination.  It further elaborates that it is also against the Code of Ethics to discriminate against Realtors with regards to employment based on those same categories.

During one of the breaks yesterday I went into the office of one of the leaders to talk about it.  I outed myself to her, and talked a little about my experience with corporations who have done this same thing.  I have 2 concerns.  The first is that organizations do this and that's great, but they don't take the next step and do the education about what that means in their day-to-day dealings with people.  As a result, my second concern is that some Realtors are discriminating against transpeople and there is no avenue for these transpeople to push back.

Long story short - they were very open to options and want to investigate training opportunities over the next few months.  Good stuff....

Anyway - it has been a busy few days.  I'm already looking forward to another weekend!