Motorcycle Riding, Facing the Danger

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I wrote the following Facebook post on March 11, 2016 on my way through Jacksonville returning from a road trip to Maine in my recently purchased Miata and after my bike accident in December (2015) the previous year. I had not yet purchased my current bike and didn’t know at that time whether I would ever ride again.

I have been a biker/motorcycle rider in one way or another for about 50 years, starting out with a Bridgestone 90cc, working up thru a series of Hondas and Zuzukis to Harleys. As required for motorcycle riders on base, I went to biker training in the mid 1980s and always considered myself a careful defensive and watchful rider
I was careful not to be critical of either bikers or automobile motorists. Well maybe rice rocketeers LOL. There were times riding in groups when i would lag behind because of what I considered over zealous front runners and some in the group in too big of a hurry. And, reading and hearing of accidents I saw both motorists and bikers at fault.

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday driving down I-95 from SC to south of Jacksonville, especially as traffic was crowded from north Jax down to about St Augustine. Biker groups speeding down the highway some seemingly in a hurry to reach Daytona making dangerous maneuvers in and out, changing lanes, some following dangerously close to semi trucks. In one instance I was in the center lane about 70 mph when a group passed, one biker came within a foot of my left side straddling the line. They moved up to within less than 10 yards behind a truck and obviously would have been a massive accident if the truck had braked. Don’t ever believe that motorcycle accidents are always the fault of others.

I miss riding and may never ride again, but if my doctor gives the ok, I will, but will definitely steer clear of the maniacs who give us a bad name after the bike accident in December the prior year.

Update, March 2020

As my friends know, Several months later (after the story above), I finally felt I was physically able to ride again and bought another Harley. Very nervous about riding after such a long time, I met the seller at my credit union as he was a member also. I transferred the money to his account, he signed the title and it was mine. I spent several minutes riding the bike around the parking lot before heading home on the back roads. I still didn’t feel as comfortable as I should for the next week but it was a joy to be riding again.

A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the daughter of a retired Navy man who died asking me to perform his memorial service. He was a the husband of one of my cousins who had died a few years earlier. He had requested me to do his service not only because we were friends but because my father had performed his wedding ceremony when he married my cousin so many years ago.. The service was to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

To say the least this presented a problem. Should I fly, which at this stage of my life I don’t do as I detest the small aircraft cabins as well as the hassle of going through the in-processing at the airport. Thus I was prepared to drive the Miata and looking forward to the trip as I was due for a nice drive and I had not been to NM in years and was also looking forward to visiting the family members.
Then, I thought, maybe I should ride the bike. Yes it would be a long trip but it had been a while since a bike trip and I really wanted to do it. I decided to sleep on the idea and make a decision.

The next day I called and said I would ride the motorcycle and that they should have a back-up plan in case I didn’t make it. I spent the day getting ready for the ride. The next morning I left early in the morning and rode all the way to Memphis that day. It tood me 3.5 days to make the ride and I felt great. After spending a few days there, I rode to South Carolina to spend the weekend relaxing before heading back home to Florida. It was a wonderful trip and the beginning of the joy of riding again.

The following year I had a severe back infection and spent over a month in the hospital, almost checking out of this ole world. Once again I faced the prospect of not riding again, but with determination I got back on the bike. Now as I get older and my legs are no longer as strong I’m even more mindful of the danger of riding so I most likely will never take any more real long rides but as long as I can manage will ride as often as possible.


I see a short trip back up to the NC/TN area again soon. We’ll see. In the meantime daily short trips are a necessity.

Free At Last

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My Free-At-Last Story.

Being the cantankerous curmudgeon that I am, I’ve had several of those free at last moments and they never seemed to work out exactly as planned.

First there was high school graduation Yippee! Oops, get a job. So join the Air Force. Oh it was a great ride — 3 overseas and 4 great state side assignments. But follow orders. Then discharged. Free at last! And I’m my own boss. Right? Ha.

Read read read, write write write, and then that last paper, that last final exam. 8 long years and done. Free at last.

Ah, 2 years of working for the people and back in the service, the Navy and huge pay raise. Travel the world again, numerous assignments. Follow orders. Retire. Free at last!

Oops, kids still in school and starting college. Gget a job. Teach school Always someone to answer to.

Retire again and finally, finally, free at last free at last! Ride the Harley, see the unknown countryside. Freedom.

Oops, 1 doctor, 2 doctor, 3 doctor, 4.. Hmmm

Then tell them Facebook friends, my way, your way, this way, that way, da highway.

ONE DAY AT A TIME.. Ahh so that’s it! Free at last free at last!  Thank God Almighty I’m Free At Last!

do i have to put on airs?

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Do I Have To Put On Airs?

as i was posting and commenting on facebook, i was reminded of an anecdote a grad school professor once gave about him visiting in the home of a couple. he said that he was afraid to touch anything. his host was so very proper, well dressed, everything was so ordered and there were several antiques. well, i can’t recall all the particulars of the story, only that the prof was afraid to let his hair down, so to speak, and that he felt like a stuffed animal.

wondering what it would be like if it had been me in the professor’s stead. well, i’ve been there too and didn’t like it. the ice was broken one night when in Okinawa my CO, a very dignified colonel, invited me along with some other officers over for Thanksgiving dinner. oh man, i showed up too early. got to the door, his wife said he was running an errand and in a jovial manner proceeded to kiss my balding head, grabbed me by the arm and put me to work.

to say i was nervous was an understatement but, long story short, it turned out to be a fun evening with all enjoying the feast and relaxing atmosphere. here was my CO, a no nonsense hard corps Marine officer who expected the best out of his staff in a laid back manner philosophy of work hard, play hard.

oh yes i’ve been in the presence of very high ranking officers and dignified civilian dignitaries in some very uppity functions and i can say for sure that some of them went home wondering who the heck that guy was, while others went home disarmed of their stiffness by yours truly.
well now i can pretty much size up a person and i tell you that if invited to some folks homes at this stage of life, it would be thanks but no thanks. and if i were invited to a full dress formal affair, well i might attend but i wouldn’t hesitate to lean back and get comfy on the couch and pull out my phone for a selfie with the VIP host in the background or whatever to record the affair in all its glory.

here’s to a well earned retirement where this old man can snob his nose and say, thanks but no thanks.

~ Fawkham Hall.

© Feb. 2018 Bob Haines

Thank You

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Thank You for reading this. I hope it’s meaningful.

I was not reared up as a thank-you person. In other words we didn’t say it on a routine basis as a habit growing up. I don’t remember it being said in our home, in my grandparent’s home nor the homes of my relatives. I don’t know why. We just did what we did and everyone went about their business as usual and expected others to do the same.

Nowadays I hear a lot of thank yous. When I’m wearing my veteran hat, as I usually do, I get folks thanking me for my service and sometimes they come up to me and shake my hand. In the military service itself, both active and reserves, it has become a custom to thank the troops at the end of their tours of duty, often via letters of appreciation. When military people retire, they are afforded a retirement ceremony in honor of their service.

I think it’s good to thank people for things – for jobs well done, for doing a good turn, and simply for being a friend. I’m not sure that it should become a constant thing where it’s overdone so as to lose its heartfelt meaning but I do think it’s important to verbalize one’s appreciation for others. Sometimes it’s not done enough, especially when we recognize that someone has done so much for so many and hasn’t been recognized for doing so.

Every year during the Thanksgiving season we are reminded of the art of being thankful. There are some instances in the scriptures concerning a lifestyle of being thankful, notably the time when Jesus ministered to 10 sick people but only one returned to to thank Him. (Luke 17:11 – 19). I supposed the others just took it for granted.

My life has become much more meaningful since I’ve learned and practiced being thankful for others, especially those who are just doing their job. After a funeral last week we were at the interment ceremony at the cemetery where full military honors were performed. There were seven very young enlistment men and two NCOs who drove all the way down from Ft. Stewart, Georgia in a crowded van to do the honors. I made it a point afterwards to walk over the the van, shake the hand of the two NCOs and thank them. The others were already in the van so I opened the door and said, “I know that some people feel that they are just doing a job, just doing their duty, but I want you to know that what you did today was very important and that the family and friends of the deceased are highly appreciative of who you are and what you did for their loved one today.” I thanked them and wished them well on their trip back.

Brighten someone’s life today by thanking them, for who they are and what they do.

Christian Protestant Worship Services

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On general Protestant* worship services
I’ve been around the block a few times so I am aware of, have attended, and have even led several styles of Christian worship-ritualistic services. The services generally have been derived from two basic groups, free-thinking and authoritarian. The free-thinking are at liberty to put on whatever type they chose and are flexible. The authoritarian are usually pre-set at the behest of some given authority and generally will be the same from place to place although some minor alterations may be allowed. The latter class can be and traditionally have been referred to as liturgical because they follow a set program of liturgy containing a set pattern of leader-community response order of worship. The free-thinking class has been customarily referred to as non-liturgical because changes occur frequently in the order of service but are in fact liturgical in the normal sense of the word. A more exhaustive analysis can be made but you get the idea.

Here is a list of general types of worship services knowing that there are mixtures:
1. High Church, strict liturgy. It is the same basic format on any given Sunday in any area of the particular church where it is an institutionalized. It will normally contain a brief sermon pre-published by the church institution by which the priest or pastor uses as the standard for the week. The scripture has been pre-selected with some commentary and the priest or pastor may add some remarks, anecdotes, etc. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ accompaniment, with choir.
2. General liturgical. The same as #1, with the pre-set scriptures as per a particular denomination or sect or as used by a number of churches. The sermon may or may not follow the scripture text but will be more or less a topical sermon depending on a pre-set theme of the week of the season. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ and/or a piano as accompaniment, maybe an extra instrument and a choir.
3. Independent liturgical. A set order of worship, the same each Sunday but the pastor chooses his own selection of scripture and sermon topic. Traditional hymn with perhaps a more modern non-tradition song, an organ and/or piano and maybe a small orchestra.
4. Modern, non-traditional service with no printed order or worship. However it is usually the same every week as to the order beginning with praise songs and modern Christian songs with a traditional hymn or two with a piano and/or an orchestra or praise band. All music is non-traditional with a small contingent of voices without choir robes. You will not see many suits and ties if at all. It is very casual and members are free to move about, may check their cell phone messages, shoot pix or videos and even carry own individual conversations.
5. Strictly non-traditional. These are the Pentecostalists and free non-Pentecostalists but with an highly emotional tone, referred to by some as holy-rollers. No set responsorials but congregation members can respond as they see fit at any time with shouts of amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord and sometimes dancing about. The preacher will preach his sermon with fervor, There may be some traditional hymns but mostly choruses and modern praise type songs. The services will be the same each week however as the congregation will be in worship mode as usual. An extended invitational period and/or altar call will end the service, sometimes with the laying on of hands and praying with individuals by the elders. Some churches will have a period of anointing with oil for the healing of the sick and the repentance of the broken hearted. Sometimes the term, revival, is used as the members are revived each week with renewed spiritual energy.
6. Military, hospital, prison, and other institutional services may include one or more of the above depending on the chaplain(s) employed to lead the services. In most cases they are shorter and more subdued depending on the institution.
7. Services for INFPs. The service I fit in and prefer. I’ll let you known when I find one.

(*non-Roman Catholic, Greek & Eastern Orthodox, etc)

© 2018. Chaplain Bob Haines

A Coffee Drinker

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Although I am positive, but I must have drank it earlier because my mother drank it and my grandpa and uncle Alfred drank it — every morning, slurp slurp, whereas, my first vivid memory of have a cup of coffee was on the morning of March 15, 1960. It was in the coffee shop of the Alachua General Hospital — the day my world changed, the day my father was killed in a tragic accident.

On that memorable morning I was walking across my front lawn from the house headed toward the school bus stop when my father yelled out the door asking me if I wanted a ride as it was a slight chilly morning and I think a little misty. Of course not. I’d walk on.***
After the 15-mile bus ride to school, I was still in my homeroom, B-4, when an announcement came over the intercom instructing me to go to the office. I don’t remember my first thought on hearing that announcement but the feeling I recall, naturally, was hmmm, wondering why. Well, I got to the office and our assistant principal, Mr. Joe Hudson told me that there had been an accident and he drove me to the hospital. I was greeted by someone who informed me that my father was DOA (dead on arrival). Can you imagine a grown adult informing a 15-year old boy that his father was DOA. And then that person left and I was just there.
After a while a young man, but older than me, the ambulance driver who had brought my father in from the accident site to the hospital, invited me down to the coffee shop and bought me a cup of coffee. What I’ll always remember is not the coffee so much, but the act of kindness by someone who took the time to minister to me in a time of need. Everyone else was all about the business of the day. I have an idea of who the guy was, not sure, but he had an instinct about grief at a time before the current understanding of the process.

From then on I was a coffee drinker. I don’t have clear memories of the rest of my school days as to coffee but I know I drank it often. Nevertheless my next vivid memory of enjoying a cup of coffee was the early morning, before sunrise, when I arrived in the mess hall at Lackland Air Force Base along with other Air Force enlistees beginning basic training. I remember well walking up to the large coffee urn and getting a large cup of coffee in that old ceramic somewhat rounded coffee cup. I was the shift coffee maker in my first overseas assignments and we always had coffee pots in all the areas I worked in all my units. On road trips I always stopped for coffee and drank my fill on aircraft flights.

After leaving the military and beginning college my first act after my first class was to head to the campus cafeteria for a cup of coffee which I’m sure I did at least once per day throughout my 8 years of college and graduate school. I drank a lot of coffee on those all-night cramming sessions studying for a mid-term or final exam.

I continued to drink coffee after I went into the Navy and served about one-half of the remainder of my career with the Marine Corps, enjoying a cup around a fire during a field exercise. There was always coffee somewhere except on one flight hop on my way to Operation Desert Storm when there was no coffee on board. That was my first experience of withdrawal symptoms, a terrible headache until we stopped for re-fueling in India and I hurried to the terminal for a couple of quick cups. Then my first days in the desert when I collected instant coffee packets from the MRE packages from those who didn’t drink coffee until my family sent me a stove top aluminum 4-cup coffee maker and pounds of Maxwell house coffee. The only other “real” cup of coffee was offered by a company gunnery sergeant who had a drip maker in his LAV and could make it by firing up the generator.

Somewhere along the line through my years of retirement I have broken the caffeine addiction, per se, so that now I drink one, two or sometimes three cups daily. Such a delight when coffee time comes around.

***What is striking about this brief few seconds in time is the adamant fact that one moment in you daily life, one small decision, whether with much thought or just a reaction of something, can have a dramatic affect on your entire life and personality and change you for the rest of your life in all aspects of your future direction, decision-making, etc. Just one second, and the every second of the rest of your life may have a totally different fate and outcome.

© 2020, Bob Haines

Strike Out, Walk, or a hit

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(I first wrote this Sept. 11, 2016 when I was trying to decide whether or not to ride my new motorcycle to New Mexico to conduct a funeral not long after spending over a month in the hospital with a severe infection and almost a year after a motorcycle accident.  As it turned out I did ride it and everything went well.  Sometime you just have to take a chance to get back on your feet after being down and almost out).


“Life is like being up to bat in a baseball game. You never know what kind of pitch you’re going to get.”
~ Bob (Forrest Gump) Haines

True enough, I was up to bat Friday. All sorts of things were going through my mind concerning taking my first motorcycle trip since my 40-day hospitalization last year. I was working on making a short run up into the Carolinas for a few days and maybe a revisit up into New England. I needed to get my new 12V hot spot wired which I did and then a major bike wash. Then, of course pack up and hit the road.

Well, rather then getting the pitch I wanted, such as a fast pitch down the middle, or maybe even a walk which might have been better, I got a weird breaking curve winding up a little high but got the corner of the plate. I took the strike. The next one was an old-fashioned knuckle ball, also managing to hit the strike zone. “Man, I thought, I’m rustier than I thought.” I concentrated and sure enough, right down the middle, but I only managed to get on first base but I got there.

So, what happened was I got a phone call asking if I would do a funeral and grave-side service for my cousin’s husband, a retired Navy man who had just died. I knew it could happen anytime, but it seems always to come when least expecting, and sometimes brings with it a host of unforseen phenomena. The person making the phone call said that they had gotten on my cousin’s computer and found his obit and that I should do the funeral if available. Well, I thought, since my father performed their marriage ceremony, perhaps I should do the funeral. But, man I am so not prepared for this.

Well, the next guy got a walk, so i trotted on down the second base. I got the bike washed yesterday, so hot and humid, and got my GPS mounted. Had let myself run out of cigars so spent the day wanting one and finally gave in last night. Hey an old man needs a stress reliever even if it’s bad for the ole bod.

Hanging out on second base, I’m going to run into McDonalds for a second cup of coffee and chat with whoever shows up. Then, head back home and finish plans for the trip, and then pack u p this afternoon.

So, then, I’ll be ready to head to third base, Albuquerque, NM, for the funeral and burial in the national cemetery for a retired Navy CPO and one of the greatest guys who ever lived. Third base looks so far away, but I can make it if I don’t have to run too fast. Hoping for a nice carefree trip, and then visiting friends on the way back home with a detour through northern Georgia and down through the Carolinas and then I’ll get to home and score one for the gipper.

So fellow players, spit a little tobacco juice, or whatever superstitious method you use to wish me luck. Otherwise a prayer or two will work.

© copyright 2015, 2019 Chaplain Bob Haines

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