Monday, March 15, 2010

Wayne And Chuck And Bank Of America

My wife has agreed at last to clump Bank of America and go with a local bank. She manages our paperwork and the prospect of making the change was more than she wanted to handle but her irritation at the Big Banks finally overcame her reluctance and she sent me out to find a local bank that would work for us. Bank of America used to be my local bank decades ago, when I lived in Santa Cruz, California. It was founded in 1904 by Amadeo Giannini an Italian American in San Francisco. He made a name for himself by making collateral-free loans after the 1906 earthquake to anyone who spent the money to help rebuild the city. You can't get more local than that! He was also famous for pointing out that not one of those loans ever defaulted. In 1922 he bought an Italian bank and changed the name to the Bank of America and Italy. In 1930 he acquired the Bank of America in Los Angeles and then he tried to go national by creating the Transamerica Corporation as a way to avoid New Deal anti-trust laws. This was in the days when banks were regulated to be risk-averse conservative places of deposit.
Cheyenne Getting Fresh

In the 1980s deregulation began and led to Bank of America growing and merging and moving it's headquarters to North Carolina after being absorbed by Nation's Bank. By now any vestige of a local banking operation was long gone and Bank of America boasts it has more assets than any other bank in the country. Perhaps but the Bank has taken tens of billions of public money to maintain it's status as "too big to fail" and I am no longer willing to support them with my tacit complicity. So my wife set me the task of finding a new bank which all goes to explain why it was that I was in the parking lot at First State Bank on Summerland key this afternoon. First State is the only local bank left in the Keys. The Island Bank (TIB) is based in Naples and Centennial Bank is owned by people in Louisiana while Orion Bank went bust. We have an account at my wife's credit union but we wanted a bank with branches (and free ATMs) so we seem to have settle don First State. I am glad to have finally joined the national movement to dump big banks, even if First State is a creation of the Spottswood family, people who never saw a piece of open space or a low income trailer park that wasn't worth leaving alone. Which brings up the very pertinent question asking who are these people in the photographs? Strangers it turns out, but when one lurks on the Web it seems one is not destined to stay a stranger for long. I was walking out of the bank enjoying a warm sunny afternoon when a debt collector approached. He had my name right but I was sure I was the wrong person as we have no outstanding debts (my wife assures me). It turns out these wastrels have nothing better to do with their time than read my blog and raise abandoned dogs.
It was pretty funny actually because I got the blame for them adopting these puppy mill mothers. It turns out we had in common the need to replace expired dogs in our lives and when i got over Emma they got over Napoleon and off they went to adopt about the time I found Cheyenne. Apparently they are Vizsla dogs originally bred in Hungary as hunting house dogs (who knew?). Cheyenne took my interest in these very sweet dogs as an excuse to get involved far more than she would normally.You might say they, like Cheyenne have won the lottery. Had Wayne and Chuck not grabbed them they would have been killed as being of no further use to the puppy mills. Look at these retired mothers and ask yourself why not adopt.And there I was just minding my own business. A day full of surprises in the Lower Keys. I've got a new bank, two new neighbors and I found out about Vizlas. Too much to absorb, I need a cup of tea.

Iron Butt Member 39523

The peanut gallery which has been harassing me about motorcycle content on my diary can kiss my iron ass.
My membership number might seem a little high, indeed it's hard to imagine there are 40,000 nutters ahead of me who have ridden at least a thousand miles (1600 kms) in less than 24 hours, and my membership number is a little higher than my badge number at work, BUT, I made it. Read it and weep: It takes toughness to be...tough and I grant you "World's Toughest Riders" may be a nice touch of All-American Hyperbole but when I was standing in the gas station at 3 o'clock in the morning in Lake City, Florida last October I felt less... tough than I should have...The paperwork requirements seem daunting but I managed those too, because these people are tough...If you want to join them they measure and double check everything so you had better do that too.Go on line at Iron Butt Association and download the forms and go riding. I recommend a long straight road for ease and simplcity. The Florida Turnpike isn't terribly scenic but it gets the job done. The loneliness of the long distance rider. Tough all right.My wife was grinning when she handed me the Manila envelope that came in Saturday morning's post (How dare they consider abolishing Saturday delivery?). Cheyenne knew something was up.
You get a nice wordy certificate that lists your accomplishment. This says I completed a Florida Saddlesore 1000. Very cool.
Absurd but I was pleased.You get some bits and pieces in the stout Manila envelope.
This clever little plate goes behind the tag on the motorcycle and can be reversed to stick up above the license plate if that suits your motorcycle's tag arrangement.
Plus you get a pin. It would go well on my mesh jacket but honestly all these labels are a bit embarrassing. I've only done one ride, the shortest qualifying ride and I am a member alongside people who have done some truly extreme rides. Their stories are on the IBA website and you should read them to appreciate how modest my accomplishment actually is.They send along a sample magazine to induce you to join the newsletter club at $40 a year which seems inexpensive enough but it comes with some pretty intimidating topics: Auxiliary Light Systems, Fatigue, Tech Inspection and Going the Extra Mile. I was a total amateur when I jumped on the Bonneville and got going. No auxiliary anything, just me and the Bonneville.
I've got the badges though: And I do have to say that NOT riding a Goldwing, a BMW or a Super Sport Tourer from Japan does make the ride feel a little more seat-of-the-pants fun. Hey it's just a 60hp chain driven roadster with a plastic windshield, no heated gear and a plank for a seat (that I alone among Triumph riders find quite comfortable over the long haul).This is the machine that replicates the motorbikes that I used to ride all over Europe and North Africa as a kid. I knew no better and now that I do I still like the simplicity of the biplane style over the jet airliner way of traveling on two wheels. I used to read the exploits of a Canadian sailor (Larry Pardey) who crossed oceans deliberately choosing not to use a GPS which I thought was extreme. He's still doing it and I would never leave port without a marine GPS these days, but on a motorcycle with a time constraint, I like the challenge of leaving the electrons behind. Perhaps one day I will be riding with fuel injection, a tach and a full complement of gadgets. Not yet though.But you know what? This Iron Butt thing is starting to get to me. I don't feel like I am stealing time from my wife by doing this because she wouldn't want to be riding past all the sights (and neither would I if this was the only sort of trip I did), but this is something I can do for me, alone, just as I like it, responsible only for myself.

I am going to go up a step this Spring and try the 1500 miles in 36 hours, called a Bun Burner. Maybe that will help me feel like I have really earned all these badges of merit. Oh, and it will be attempted by me, on the Bonneville, with the stock seat. And no GPS.