Monday, September 28, 2009

Mystery energy

I had a dream a few nights ago about the ride back from Saratoga. We got onto the Interstate highway at Fort Collins and had a fast ride back to Denver. We past several 18 wheel tractor trailer trucks on the highway; the trucks were going 70-75 miles/hour and we passed them at 80-85 miles/hour. On a motorcycle you are about level with the top of the trucks tires. In my dream I recalled the sensation I experienced while passing those trucks. I felt as though there was some kind of evil energy at the front of the truck that was trying to pull me over in front of the tractor. It is the same evil energy that pulls at me when I look over the edge of a tall building. I don't believe in any kind of supernatural entity or energy; perhaps there is a real physical force that interacts between large and small objects as they pass one another but more likely the evil energy is all in my head.

I didn't ride the motorcycle again until Friday afternoon. The rain we rode through coming back from Saratoga arrived in Denver Sunday night. The low pressure system that brought the rain set up over Nebraska and Kansas Monday and stayed there - it wouldn't move out and the Forecasters kept extending the rainy forecast another day all week; the low finally pulled out Friday morning taking the rain with it.

Friday evening I went with the club on a Mystery Dinner Ride. We gathered at Chessman Park then were led on a short ride to a restaurant for a moderately priced dinner - no one knows where the restaurant is until we get there. This months Mystery Dinner took the club to Tia Maria Mexican Restaurant at 7260 Pecos. The restaurant was clean, we were seated immediately, the service was friendly and quick, the food was excellent, and the price was right. Most of us had the Carnitas (roasted pork). I ate everything.

On Saturday I and another guy went with the Denver Dykes on Bikes for a 3 hour ride into the foothills. Altogether there were 8 riders. We rode south to Sedaila, west over Rampart Range to Deckers, north to US285 then back into Denver. The weather was great and I had a lot of fun though my skills were really challenged on the gravel road going over Rampart Range. We ate Chili and corn bread at Patty's house when we got back from the ride.

Next Sunday will probably be the last group ride of the year. I and a few others will ride our motorcycles up to Leadville to ride the Leadville Southern Colorado Railroad. The train ride takes about 2 1/2 hour. I haven't been on a train since Junior High School. We hope to see a lot of fall colors.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Motorcycle ride to Saratoga Wyoming

I and Two other guys rode our motorcycles from Denver Colorado to Saratoga Wyoming on Saturday. We met-up with a fourth guy just north of Fort Collins; he drove a car. We couldn't have asked for better weather. The sun was shining and the temperature was just right - not too warm and not too cool.

We started our trip by taking the Interstate Highway north from Denver then turned off at Fort Collins. We met-up with the fourth guy north of Fort Collins at a place called "Ted's Place" on US287. The Four of us continued north on US287 to Laramie Wyoming. We stopped in Laramie to get gas and eat lunch. We did a little local sight-seeing after lunch.

After lunch we took a side trip east on I-80 to the Lincoln Head Monument. Interstate 80 is called the Lincoln Highway named in honor of Abraham Lincoln. A few miles east of Laramie WY on Interstate 80 is the Lincoln Head Monument commemorating the highway.

After pictures at the Lincoln Head we continued east on I80, then a side road, to an almost forgotten monument called the Ames Pyramid where we took more pictures before heading back to Laramie.

We got back off the Interstate at Laramie and took Highway 130 west through the Medicine Bow National Forest. We stopped at Medicine Bow Peak and took some pictures.

The drive was wonderful. Many of the Aspens had turned bright yellow. There was a mixture of green, yellow and rust (the rust was mostly from the dead pine killed by pine beetle.) The road was fairly easy; no cliffs and only a couple of tight S-curves. We checked into the Sage And Sand Motel (now there is some nostalgia) in Saratoga WY, unpacked, and discussed what to do next.

We decided to all pile into the car and go searching for Aspen Alley. Aspen Alley, as the locals call it, was a full 42 miles south but it was a beautiful drive and Aspen Alley was worth the trip even though these Aspen had not turned yet.

On the way back to Saratoga we circled through the town of Encampment to look at some of the old buildings there.

After supper we went to the Mineral Hot Springs 2 blocks from the Motel.

What a difference a day makes. When we started our trip we knew we had a good chance of getting wet on the way back, sure enough, we ran into rain just after leaving Saratoga. We rode in rain all the way back through the Medicine Bow National Forest and we had to reduce our speed considerably. We got past the rain as we left the National Forest on the east side but had strong winds until we reached Fort Collins. Back on the Interstate Highway at Fort Collins it was a fast run back to Denver.

Round trip mileage was 455 miles.

Also see:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A cold wind blowing

Fall and winter started asserting themselves this weekend; yesterday and today have been cloudy, cold and wet. The heat in the building hasn't been turned on yet so last night I used an electric heater in the bedroom. Winter isn't here yet; the Sun will come back and it will warm up again, but I predict a cold and wet winter.

I've been feeling tired and run down the past week. I don't know if it is because of the changes in my eating habits, changes in the weather, work, or the smoke from the California wild fires. Several people from work have been out sick this week and the news reports that the flu season has set in early this year too. I don't have flu symptoms so it's probably allergies.

I have mixed feelings about the new cell phone (Blackbeary). It is a lot more phone than I need and the rates are a lot higher. I may end up getting rid of it after awhile.

Next weekend I plan to ride the motorcycle, with four other guys, to Saratoga Wyoming to spend a day at Hobo Hot Springs. In early October a bunch of us are planning to go up to Leadville to ride the Leadville Southern Colorado Railroad - it will be their last run of the season. We are hoping for good weather and fall colors.

I've listened to several audio books over the past week. I listened to one of the Harry Potter books (performed by Jim Dale) again a week ago - I just wanted to be entertained (TV sucks.) I enjoyed it as much the second time through as I did the first time. After finishing Harry Potter I switched to a more serious topic . The next selection was Political Theory: The Classic Texts and Their Continuing Relevance (Professor Joshua Kaplan), then The People and the Ballot: A History of American Party Politics (Professor Joshua Kaplan), and yesterday I listened to The Death of Conservatism (Sam Tanenhaus). These selection have been very enlightening; I even learned something about the British form of government that I didn't know before.

I listened to President Obama's address to Congress twice. I have mixed feelings. I think Obama is a good man; I support him and I know our Health Care system needs reform. Health Insurance premiums have sky-rocketed and continue to rise, too many people have no Health Insurance at all, and with down-sizing, right-sizing and off-shoring more people lose the coverage they did have. This can not continue, unfortunately there are too many problems in the proposed solution for it to be successful.

Lost in the whole debate is the simple fact that Health Insurance and Health Care are not the same thing. Health Care is: education on how to stay healthy, provisioning of clinics, hospitals, surgeries, pharmaceuticals, equipment, clinicians, nurses, doctors - and access to those resources. Health Insurance does not provide those resources. Insurance has always been a way of sharing risk by distributing the risk across a pool of investors. When one investor incurs a loss, rather than that investor incurring the loss alone, the loss is distributed across the pool of investors so that each investor incurs a small portion of the loss. Insurance is about sharing risk. I want to believe that Health Care is a basic right but I am not completely convinced that it is, and for the time being, I maintain that Health Insurance is a privilege not a basic right.

Many of the propositions laid out by the President Wednesday night are simply untenable. While it may sound good to outlaw the practice of turning down health insurance because of pre-existing conditions the simple fact is Insurance companies have an obligation to minimize their risks. Requiring Insurance companies to take on someone with a pre-existing condition removes their ability to manage their risks and guarantees they will incur higher losses. The practice of refusing to pay claims and dropping coverage does need to be outlawed and must carry severe penalties, and Insurance companies must be able to compete across geographic boundaries.

The claim that a public option can be funded without raising taxes by cuts to Medicaid and Medicare and making government more efficient is both delusional and dishonest. Many doctors will not accept Medicare or Medicaid because it doesn't even cover their costs. From the Health Care providers perspective every Medicare/Medicaid patient represents a loss. Medicare and Medicaid can not be cut any further. Increasing preventative treatment will cause costs to go up not down - you have to perform 100 Colonoscopies to detect 1 cancer; doing more Colonoscopies results in more unnecessary treatment and higher costs with little benefit. Every Congress and Every President has pledged to make government more efficient - it has never happened - to believe it will happen this time is foolish.

The reality is clinics, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, doctors and nurses cost money - a lot of money. How should we pay the costs of Health Care? I'm not sure that is the right question to ask. Before the question can be addressed I think it is important for We the People to acknowledge the fact that we are born and we will die. The concepts of fairness, justice and morality are human constructs; they are not intrinsic to life and the universe. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. We are each responsible for our own happiness and well being. Humans have a limited ability to influence the present and the future but we are powerless to control either. Our American standard of living has risen to such a high level that it is no longer sustainable. For hundreds of years Insurance was a not-for-profit venture, only in the past 30 years did Insurance changed to a for-profit venture. The United States is a Federal Republic operating under the Capitalist Free-market system. We all share this world together. What kind of world shall we live in? That is the question to ask.

I believe in our limited representative form of government and I value Liberty and personal responsibility. I also believe in private enterprise and the free-market, however I recognize that human frailties, such as greed and short sightedness , require that there be some constraints on the capitalist free-market system (anything for a Dollar is not ok). Ideally I would like to see the profit motive stripped from the Health Insurance and Health Care systems. It is for this reason alone that I support a tax funded (everyone pays higher taxes) Public Health Insurance Choice.