October 3, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of this post from my original blog (long since dissolved into the internet ethos), “A Blogger Looks at Forty.” I have updated the math in the dates referenced near the end of the piece; the rest remains unchanged from the original post. Thanks for reading about these two crazy, special women.
Why did Janis Joplin call me today?
While dressing for work I decided to take a few CD’s with me, and Janis’s “Greatest Hits” was one I happened to grab. At work, as I popped it into the computer to play, I studied the photo used for the cover art. It’s Janis in a red peasant blouse, a slug of bracelets on her wrist and beads around her neck, perched on a motorcycle and staring out with a grin through those big round glasses.
I’m feeling an odd connection to her since I started riding my Harley, but it’s not because I identify much with her music or her lifestyle. (I can’t get enough of her “Me and Bobby McGee” recording, which was released posthumously, but I can’t say I’ve been a lifelong fan. And the drug culture she embraced – well that’s just not my thing and never has been.) I think it’s just that she embodies the freedom of spirit I feel when I’m on the bike – even though the music itself doesn’t speak to me that strongly, her sense of self and the outward expression of it certainly do.
As I stare at Janis’s photo, I take in her look. It’s a strong, rebellious statement, one I am too straight-laced to mimic or adapt. She has, however, always kind of reminded me of my sister – from her general appearance to her hard-partying lifestyle and, ultimately, her untimely drug-related death. The photo of Janis on the motorcycle in 1970 could easily have been my sister Kathy in 1980. (Kathy rode pillion her entire life. I like to think she would’ve followed my example and learned to ride her own eventually, though it would have bugged the crap out of her that I’d thought of it first.)
I look up a few more images of Janis on Google, continually struck by how much she looks like Kathy and still trying to figure out why I’m suddenly so interested. I visit the official legacy website managed by Janis’s family, follow a couple links, and read a chronology of her life events. And a date pops out at me. October 4, 1970: the date that Janis died, at 1:40 in the morning, from a heroin overdose. It occurs to me that that is tomorrow’s date. Is that why I thought to grab Janis’s CD this morning, because for some reason I am supposed to mark that occasion?
I glance back at the photo and this time the resemblance to Kathy is almost over-whelming. And I realize: if tomorrow is October 4, that means today is October 3. And October 3 is the day Kathy was born.
And so, while not a week has gone by since Kathy’s death from cocaine overdose that I haven’t thought of her, it occurs to me that perhaps Janis called me today to make sure I didn’t forget my sister on her birthday. So while I’m taking a moment to acknowledge Kathy’s short, tumultuous life, I’ll also give a nod to her famous sister-in-spirit. I’ll reflect for just a moment on the fact that 46 years ago today, a kid named Kathy was celebrating her 10th birthday and a singer named Janis was living her last day on Earth. And both were probably thinking that forever still stretched ahead.
Note: Leslie Cook, who created the Wind Therapy line of hair and skin-care products, recently sent me samples of her products for my honest opinion about their use and effectiveness. Below are my thoughts!
Between the street in front of my house being closed for reconstruction since June 9 (JUST re-opened a couple weeks ago!) and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90’s the past few weeks, I haven’t done much riding since early June. BUT – I did finally get to venture out with the Chrome Divas on Saturday the 23rd. More about that soon!
What I really want to tell you about is that I finally got an opportunity to give a “fair trial” to some new personal care products for women who ride.
Maybe you have already heard about “Wind Therapy” – a new line of skin and hair care products from rider Leslie Cook. If you haven’t tried them, I hope you will! Leslie was kind enough to send me some samples recently, and I promised I would provide you-all with a recap of my experiences using them. I felt a little funny doing that, however, knowing I wouldn’t be trying them on a motorcycle ride – the very activity they’re designed to improve. So while I’ve had the products for a few weeks, I finally was able to try them over the weekend.
The product samples I received were Wind Therapy Shielding Lip Conditioner, Shielding Skin Conditioner, and Shielding Detangler. I used all three as directed, during and after my ride on Saturday the 23rd.
Shielding Lip Conditioner – I have a love/hate relationship with lip balm. It is the one thing I almost always forget to take with me, and begin to miss it after about 60 miles on the bike. So I usually end up buying some at a convenience store, and as a result I have probably ten of them floating around the house at any given time. My product of choice has always been Chapstick. What I dislike about Chapstick is how thick it feels once applied, and how “goopy” it gets after being on my lips for some time. Wind Therapy Shielding Lip Conditioner does not have these issues. It feels like a thin, sheer layer on my lips, and feels the same after a 90-mile ride as it does when first applied. It has no flavor or scent. When I use it overnight, it works continuously to keep my lips hydrated and soft.
Shielding Skin Conditioner – My normal routine when prepping for a ride is to apply a large helping of moisturizing lotion to my arms and face, followed up with a heaping helping of sun block. The main problem I have with this method is that these exposed areas feel like they are covered with sludge by the time I get home – a layer of dirt and dust sticks to me precisely because of these products. What I appreciated about the Wind Therapy Shielding Skin Conditioner was that it seemed to alleviate this problem. It kept my skin hydrated, without the heavy feeling of a thick layer of lotion. It felt light and non-greasy when I applied it to my arms and face, and my usual layer of sunblock therefore also felt lighter because it didn’t have the thick undercoat.
This product also has a light fragrance, but I must confess I did not care for it – it seems too “mediciney,” more like a medicated lotion such as Sarna. (This complaint was alleviated once I put on my tropical-scented sunblock.) I did like the “weight” of the product on my skin, though – it seemed to literally disappear when I put it on, rather than feeling like a thick layer – as well as the job it did protecting my skin from drying out.
Shielding Detangler – This is the product I assumed I would need the least. I keep my hair fairly short, and I wear a helmet when riding. So, honestly, tangles are not really a problem for me on the road. (More about how I used it in a moment.) I will say, that what’s unique about this product is that one of its uses is as a detangler during a ride. To do this, you simply wet your hands and work the detangler into your hair. There is no need to immediately rinse it out – you can leave it in your hair.
While I didn’t try the product in this way, I did give it a try as part of my usual hair care routine: I simply used it as a conditioner after shampooing my hair in the shower. My routine here is to first shampoo, then use conditioner, all of which of course I rinse out. Out of the shower, I pat my hair with a towel so it’s not dripping wet, then comb it out. In this use, I was really surprised at how easily I was able to pull the comb through my hair – usually tangles remain, but with this product, they did not. Once fully dry, my hair had a soft and smooth texture that was nice, but I feared would prevent it from holding my usual style. I’m happy to report this wasn’t the case – my hair held its style with no problems. And, it worked better at removing the post-shower tangles than other conditioners I’ve tried!
Overall, while I know there are others who can give the Wind Therapy products a more rigorous trial, all the products I tried were more effective than the brands I currently use and felt “lighter” on my skin and hair. I absolutely loved them and appreciated the chance to try them out!
“Today we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. May God bless the souls of those who died defending our liberty.” – Senator Marco Rubio
Hope you have many moments today to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices made for us by those who gave their lives serving America and defending our freedom around the world.
Do you have sufficient arrogance?
I don’t mean to ask, “Do you think you’re better than everyone else?” What I mean is, do you know just how knowledgable you really are, and do you believe in the value of what you know?
Speaking from a business perspective, marketing blogger Scott Hartshorn years ago made the point that it’s easy to assume that other people in your industry are better or smarter than you, and therefore more credible. And this assumption can keep you from putting yourself out there, getting known, taking risks, and reaping the rewards.
I believe that this notion can be applied across the board: not just to Scott’s industry of commercial blogging, but to work, family, parenting, hobbies, socializing and even community involvement.
More recently, moto-blogger Rachael (Fuzzygalore.com) noted that for many of us, there are two yous: Your You and Someone Else’s You. And, that Someone Else’s You is almost always “bigger and bolder” than Your You.
I think Scott & Rachael are saying the same thing – though in different words and from two different life perspectives: that we hold ourselves back from our true potential because we just don’t think our experience and knowledge are as valuable as that of others. We believe, for whatever reason, that outsiders are the experts while we are just… us.
Having been a business owner, a Chamber of Commerce leader, the “new gal” for various employers, a first-time parent, a newbie motorcycle rider, and even a newbie blogger at various points in my life, I can relate to this concept of “insufficient arrogance” on many levels. So many times, I’ve realized (perhaps too late) that I didn’t start out a new phase of my life or a project with the belief that what I brought to the table was just as good, if not better, than what other folks brought.
In short, I’m not sufficiently arrogant!
Or to put it in Rachael’s terms, My Me is standing in the way.
Is this because I’m too dependent on the approval of others? On the notion of being liked? On the idea that what I know is somehow less valid than what others know? Am I – inconceivably – allowing the hard-won knowledge I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve had in life to hold me back me rather than propel me?
And the questions too painful to ponder: What has my insufficient arrogance cost me? What opportunities have I missed because My Me did not measure up? Am I not yet who I wish to be simply because I didn’t think I was good enough to start?
I can tell you this: more and more, when I feel hesitant about a new idea, I am trying to take a conscious look at myself through the eyes of Someone Else’s Me. Because yeah, she’s bigger and bolder. She works harder than My Me. She puts herself out there. She owns the failures, and reaps the rewards.
Y’all probably remember (because, come on, who can forget…?) my dear pal Tina “Sash” Walker and her husband, Steve “Highway” Johnson – they came to Iowa on their original Road Pickle journey in 2013 and I had the privilege of taking them around some of my favorite sights and roads. (Hey, the girl wanted to see Iowa CORN – what else could I do?)
Anyways, Tina has her own internet-based marketing/coaching business, numerous blogs, and an open book of a life that sometimes puts her in the hot seat but always keeps her memorable.
Hopefully, you already read her primary blog, Sashmouth, and follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you do, you know her no-holds-barred personality. And you might have occasionally wondered just how she came to be – well – herself. In her latest e-book, Rude Biker Chick, you get the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful about what drives this amazing, amusing, unforgettable lady.
Rude Biker Chick: Lessons From My Daddy is just as no-holds-barred as Tina herself. It ruthlessly covers her early life experiences with an abusive mother, a distant father, and a deep connection to traditional biker culture.
But she doesn’t stop there, and believe me the book is not about pointing fingers for “who’s to blame.” Tina goes on to chronicle a disastrous first marriage, a more-than-brush with death itself, and the life-changing days that followed both as she rose from the rubble not to re-invent herself but to become who she really was all along.
Rude Biker Chick isn’t rude at all – although that’s what some people say about Tina. It’s a raw, honest look at how one human being took all the crap from a life that wasn’t hers… and turned it into something beautiful and right. This book is seriously fearless, and seriously worth every moment it takes to read it.
‘Round here I write mostly about riding. I hardly ever write about my personal life unless it’s a major milestone or something.
So you probably don’t know that my day-job (which many say I should not quit, despite my best efforts at blogging and karaoke) is that I work as the Lead Concierge at an senior community here in Central Iowa called Edgewater.
That means I manage a customer service team which takes care of the needs and myriad requests of over 200 older adults. The community where I work is not – and I cannot stress this enough – a typical retirement home. It is comprised of beautiful apartments and townhome villas for the independent residents, and smaller but well-appointed suites for the people in other levels of care.
My team takes care primarily of the independent living residents – and I do mean, independent. Heck, almost all of them still drive and some of them even still go to work every day. Most of them volunteer extensively, not only in the building but also out in the central Iowa area. They are active, vibrant, retired professors, farmers, teachers, business professionals, and much more – and they all have fascinating histories to share.
Fortunate was I, then, to learn recently that they just might be interested in learning a little more about my favorite past-time – motorcycling! Our activities director, Dawn, encouraged me to put together a program featuring photos from my many motorcycle rides and talk about my adventures. They’ll love it, she said.
So I did! I put together about 60 photos from various rides, organized them loosely into talking points, and then did a 45-minute extemporaneous (and hopefully amusing) talk that emphasized my love for Iowa’s roads, landmarks, history and food. Of course I mentioned our trips to the Sturgis rally, told tales of my (thankfully) few mishaps, and read a brief bit from my e-book, GET ON. But primarily, because my audience loves Iowa as much as I do, I focused on my memorable Iowa rides.
I gave my program on May 19 to a large group of residents, who – I’m glad to say – seemed to enjoy themselves as much as I did. It was a blast – and, a few members of the Merry Band even attended to egg me on!
The comments afterwards were plentiful and positive, with the only complaint being that I didn’t ride the bike into the performance hall. (I wanted to, but I knew if I did this would be the day I would forget to put the kickstand down. Oh, and, it was 39 degrees in the morning when I woke up, and I don’t ride in anything under 50 these days – at least not intentionally.)
There may be opportunities for me to take this show on the (local) road, so I might have gigs soon at a couple other communities. But even if it was a one-time thing, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my passion for riding with my extended family at Edgewater!
It’s the biker video that has stunned America: a group of riders in New York surround a family in their SUV, begin beating on the vehicle, and apparently pull the driver from the car and beat him in front of his wife and small child to the point where he requires hospitalization.
The story, as it has emerged over the course of the last couple of days, is that apparently there was an incident that provoked the riders to take this action. If you watch the whole 6-1/2 minute video, it clearly shows the bikes coming up on and surrounding the SUV, and one of the riders pulling in front of it and then slowing drastically. The rider shooting the video looks away just at the moment when the SUV most assuredly must have hit the slower rider.
Here is the link to the full helmet-cam video on YouTube, for which the “embed” feature has been turned off.
The video then clearly shows the SUV actually running over one or more of the riders, after they came to a stop around him following the collision. Then the SUV speeds away, pursued by the group of riders. It’s at the end of that pursuit that they begin attacking the vehicle. The camera shuts off apparently moments before they pulled the driver from the car and beat him.
I suppose that eventually we will learn the full story – what really set the whole sorry chain of events in motion. Regardless, the tragedy of this situation is two-fold: first we have a father beaten and brutalized in front of his family, and his family traumatized watching all of this take place. Then we have one of the bikers, also apparently a father, possibly paralyzed from being run down by the SUV.
I’ve said it before: I just don’t get the rage. If you engage in dangerous behavior on the bike, you are going to hurt someone or get hurt yourself. Does injury to you, or to one of your friends, justify this kind of vigilanteism?
In my opinion, no. Regardless of the injury to their friend, the riders had a responsibility to avoid further confrontation. And they certainly have no claim of self-defense, having pursued the driver for several miles.
Just stupidity, all the way around.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Now make no mistake, I’ve done shorter solo rides and (usually) enjoy them when I do. A few times, I’ve simply wheeled the bike out into the driveway to give it a cleaning, and decided to take off for a putt without planning or fanfare. Those are usually short, sweet, and fun. (The very first time I did this, it was early in my second season of riding and was a bit of a revelation – it occurred to me that there was no reason on earth why I couldn’t just hop on and go for a blow-the-cobs-out test ride. So I did! And came back exhilirated!)
Sometimes, if I know I want to ride but it’s too late to invite anyone and hubby doesn’t want to go with me, I might even pick a nearby destination and ride that by myself. I think this is the type of thing my friend was referring to when she said recently that she admired me for taking off on the solo rides: feeling confident enough, when others don’t feel like going, to just do it anyway. What usually happens to me on a ride like this, is I start out really enjoying myself, but after a fashion start feeling guilty and thinking in terms of “shoulds” – I should cut this short, I should get some laundry done, I should spend some time at home.
My recent trip to Drakesville, with my family out of town and no “shoulds” on the horizon, morphed into a real solo riding opportunity and so became kind of a test. Originally, a couple of friends were going to go with me. But their schedule changed at the last minute, and I was just stubborn enough not to let that alter my plans. Instead, I decided to see if, given the opportunity to take a longer solo ride, I could become really comfortable with being alone on a bike trip.
But even with a full day to ride alone, I found that I could not get past the “what if something happens” mentality. It went beyond simply being aware of potential hazards and looking for escape routes. I won’t expound on this too much because I don’t want to get morbid, but I definitely feel there is comfort in knowing someone else will be around if something goes wrong.
Aside from the short solo rides which are enjoyable until I start to over-think them, I also know that there are people who yearn to take an epic solo journey such as a cross-country trip or even a continuous nomadic experience with no end in sight. They save for it, plan for it, dream about it. Some of them even take it. I would imagine it is life-changing. I am not sure why I don’t share this dream. Without making assumptions about other peoples’ motivations, I wonder if it’s because I don’t ride for “big” reasons like escape or self-discovery. I just ride to enjoy the landscape, the view, the towns and the oddities along the way.
Now maybe 227 miles just wasn’t enough time to put my negative thoughts aside. Maybe one has to ride alone for a week or a month or a year before catching “the bug” to take an epic solo journey.
Maybe I dream too small, think too much, and worry needlessly.
Maybe I’m just not there yet. Maybe it’s just not a place I’m headed.
What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy – or even prefer – riding alone? Do you always ride alone and yearn for a “merry band” to ride with instead? Are you planning or dreaming of an epic solo journey?
Editor’s note: Although I don’t wear prescription eyewear (yet!), I’m sure many of you probably do. I hope this guest post from Michael Spanjol at ADS Sports Eyewear will be encouraging – it sounds like the technology for wrap-around prescription sunglasses is really improving. This is a compensated post.
by Michael Spanjol
Prescription Motorcycle Sunglasses are now available with Free-Form Digital lenses that dramatically enhance a wearer’s field of vision and overall optical clarity. This is one of the biggest advancements in eyewear technology ever. In the past, if you tried putting your prescription into a pair of sunglasses that ‘wrap’ around your face, you would experience a disorienting peripheral distortion known as the “fishbowl” effect. This effect renders the sunglasses useless and is the result of using traditional lens technology that is meant for flat lenses. People who have tried wearing contacts under sunglasses know that they can dry out easily and become a dangerous distraction at times. These problems have been solved with the development of new Free-Form Digitally Surfaced Lenses.
In a free-form digitally surfaced lens the curve is recalculated at every point on the lens. This is helpful in everyday eyewear, but it is critical in the wrapped frames worn by motorcyclists because you do not want a blurred peripheral view or blind spot when you are navigating traffic; it is just too dangerous to be without the sharpest vision available for your peripheral views. A traditional prescription in a wrapped frame will fail you where a Free-Form lens could save your life. Contact lenses can be an irritant in high wind activities making them pale in comparison to the versatility and durability of free-form lenses which can be made Single Vision or Progressive (no line bifocals).
The free-form digital lenses for Motorcycle Sunglasses can be made with one of the two acceptable lens materials for motorcycling and fitted into almost any frame by any brand. The two acceptable shatter-proof materials are Polycarbonate and Trivex. Polycarbonate is the most popular lens material in sports sunglasses. Trivex was developed by the US military as an improvement on Polycarbonate. A version of polarized Trivex, known as SR- 91, costs about 50% more than polycarbonate, but the optics and durability are state-of-the-art. Polycarbonate and Trivex can be tinted to any color, can be polarized, or can feature a transitions lens film. There are no good options that are both polarized and transitions at this time.
Prescription Oakley Sunglasses are now a major player in the Free-Form Motorcycle Sunglasses ring with the recent popularity of their Wind Jacket model. The Wind Jacket features a removable eye seal and very easily exchangeable lenses for those that want more versatility out of their riding sunglasses.
Free-Form Digital prescription lenses for motorcycle sunglasses are a huge step in the right direction when talking about optical clarity and overall safety for motorcyclists. What once took a head-turn to see now only requires a glance.
ADS Sports Eyewear has been selling prescription motorcycle sunglasses and other sport sunglasses for over 10 years. The owner is an avid motorcyclist and certified optician who has performed unbiased testing on motorcycle sunglasses and lens technologies and has trained his staff thoroughly on these topics. They will happily answer all questions you might have on selecting the right pair of shades for any activity.
Here’s the thing about me and The Walking Dead: the story, the characters, and the drama are top-notch. Fabulous. Bellissimo!
But I can barely watch the program because of the gore. Quite honestly, the flesh-eating stuff just makes me want to puke. Which, I’m fairly certain, would only attract walkers. So on Sunday nights, when the show is on and my husband tunes in, I am usually sitting at the dining room table with my back to the TV, listening.
And turning around to watch only during the dramatic parts that don’t involve flesh-eating. Seriously… when Carl had to kill his own mother? When Rick and The Governor had their summit meeting? When the Governor mortally wounded poor Milton and left him to die in the locked torture chamber with the be-shackled Andrea and she had to reach for the pliers with her foot? WHEN DARYL DISCOVERED THAT HIS BROTHER HAD BECOME A ZOMBIE??!! (Oops, some flesh-eating in that scene – ew.) Still, all great dramatic moments.
Anyway so recently for the Season Three Finale, I decided to actually sit and watch the show, facing the television. Mostly I watched through my hands in front of my face, but, here’s something I quickly figured out:
Norman Reedus playing Daryl Dixon is hot. It might be the crossbow, or the shaggy hair, or the ripped physique that comes from fighting zombies. Or maybe a combination.
Or, it might be the motorcycle.
Consensus is that the bike Daryl rides is a 1976 Triumph Bonneville Hardtail Frame Conversion (I really don’t know exactly what that means, except for the 1976 Triumph Bonneville part)… maybe a 650cc or 750cc. Whatever it is, it’s a tough old chopper for sure, and Daryl looks hunk-a-licious riding down the highway. And completely at ease, since Norman Reedus is a long-time rider and former Harley Davidson mechanic. Plus, he’s got a titanium skull, or eye socket, or something.
Much debate has taken place online about the “SS” or lightning bolt emblem on the tank. That appears to be a nod to the character of Daryl’s brother Merle, who according to my sources is the actual owner of the motorcycle and who had a bit of a White Supremacy problem.
Another frequently asked question online is, why ride a noisy motorcycle when noise attracts walkers? Well DUH: it’s because Daryl is a sexy bad-ass who’s thumbing his nose at the zombie apocalypse by busting through the hoards in an open vehicle, and if he did that from a frickin’ Mazda Miata he’d be, like, John Cusack or something.
Seriously, folks who ask these sorts of “gotcha-logic” questions really annoy me. THERE IS NO LOGIC IN THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, PEOPLE!
If you’re going to ask dumb questions like that, you might as well ask “where do they get the seemingly endless supply of gasoline,” or “Who’s paying the light bill at that prison,” Or “how come we never see anyone eating… or showering… or pooping?” (POOP – oh dear Lord, noise AND stench! WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THEIR POOP SO IT DOESN’T ATTRACT WALKERS??)
Silly, silly questions we need not concern ourselves with. And yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition. See what the zombie apocalypse has done to grammar? Oh the humanity!
But I digress.
Anyway, Daryl is hot. And tough. And hot because he’s tough. And I give some of the credit to the motorcycle. And, now that he’s stabbed his racist zombie brother repeatedly in the head, I’m hoping he can relax a little in Season Four and hook up with Carol. And maybe replace that Nazi emblem with a “Hey Girl” decal.
This post is probably a good example of why I’m not a TV critic.
P.S. – Shout-out to Merle, brilliantly played by Michael Rooker. Bitter redneck jailbird mercenary for the entire series, but tried valiantly to repair his relationship with his brother and ultimately saved the group from the Governor. Way to go, Merlz!!