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September 25, 2006.

The last month has been almost totally consumed by the house without Anna or I ever noticing it. We're back in town firmly placed in the social arena, but mostly our free time is spent working on the house unpacking, arranging, building, connecting, etc. The house is really comfortable, a safe haven to return to after a night out or a hard day's work. Keeping it clean, organized and furnishing the place have been our biggest concerns. Hopefully we'll break ground on the pond in early October.

The diversion that was most fun during the past month of being home bodies was the Motorcycle Safety Course (MSF). We took a 20 hour rider's safety course where we rode motorcycles and attended class with 10 other students in Groton. The classroom was boring, but the riding time was well worth the money paid for the class, and I learned about motorcycle porn.

The classroom is just like Driver's Ed. Class where you watch videos, answer questions in a workbook and watch classic videos that somehow appear dated immediately after creation. I still remember the video from D.Ed. I took with Mandy, "Today we're going to be talking about chains of events." and then the co-host pulls out a long metal chain and clanks it on the floor while the host replies, "Not real chains silly!" and the laugh-track plays before the next graphic pops up. That was 5 years ago and it was terrible enough to remember until now. Nothing in this course was that terrible, but the workbook was boring and stupid.

At least the instructor was a nice looking biker chick with a good sense of humor. She even laughed at some of my jokes and that's hard to do. Check this one out for instance: The question was "What is the difference between a three-quarter helmet and a full helmet?" Too bad for everyone in the class that she called on me and I responded "one quarter." See it's not even funny to me, but she laughed and groaned and moved on, what a good instructor. The other instructor was her husband.

Riding was exhilarating and fun despite being confined to the parking lot. In D.Ed. you get to cruise the city streets at least, but in MSF you practice with cones and lines at the training facility. Still, it's a whole lot of fun and I recommend it to all people. As an added bonus you get to take 4 points off your driving record and you get a discount on your insurance for any type of vehicle. This was a surprise bonus for us and while I don't have any points on my record to remove, Anna was well on her way to speed-demon status with the local cops (this isn't true, neither of us have any tickets in NY). We were fortunate that it only rained on us for about 20 minutes the whole weekend, which in Ithaca is an accomplishment.

I never intended to purchase a motorcycle before next spring, but after riding them a couple days I'm hooked. We spent the next weekend after the class checking out bikes and bike rallies and decided we really love Harleys despite the current social trend of lawyers putting on their leather on the weekends and trying to act tough. I guess I'm a sucker for an American product that achieves. Unlike the American car market, Harley has great design and engineering and is clearly the smart choice when purchasing a new motorcycle. Unfortunately, we aren't planning to buy new and we aren't planning to buy a real motorcycle. We're looking for something smaller than the smallest Harley so they are pretty much out of our decision process. As beginner riders, we don't want to get more bike than we can handle. Also, we found out that loud pipes are not stock equipment and in fact are illegal in most counties. Even so, the class actually taught that "Loud Pipes Save Lives." Loud pipes are typically sold on the bikes as dealer installed options and we'd probably have to request special to have them left off.

Basically, we're all wrapped up in bikes right now and my ultimate dream of owning a motorcycle and surf shop is much more real. I even applied online to become a Moto Guzzi dealer. Moto Guzzi is owned by Vespa, which also owns Piaggio and Aprilia. Readers that actually know me may remember my obsession with the Aprilia 4-stroke scooters that get over 100mpg. I'd be a dealer for them too, which I think would sell well in this college town. The only other brand I would want to carry would be EVT because they make all electric scooters.

I'm looking for business partners right now. Anyone willing to move to Ithaca, co-sign on a loan, and work in the bike shop, send me a line. Motorcycle repair skills a plus. People that can not appreciate Italian styling need not apply.

Crow