Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Visit to Mary and Roberto's home...New Braunfels, TX

Mary and Professor Roberto Salmon live in a Southwest style home in the Hill Country of Texas. We call this part of Texas "Dorfburg" because of the large German influence. The countryside is beautiful, the people are super friendly and our visits are to die for. We are here for ten days and have an opportunity to visit my high school physics teacher, taste exquisite wines, and be treated to excellent food. Did I tell you my sister Mary likes to cook and quilt?

Roberto is a retired history professor and Mary is a retired retail store owner and school councilor. They have lived in Texas for over 20 years and have acclimated to the area. But, in the summer they like to house swap with us and enjoy the cooler weather. This also gives me time to unwind and just have a great time. Marsha and I have been making this pilgamage to Texas for four years and hope to make many more visits.

As for my physics teacher…this is Rolf Smith and he also lives in the area. I hope to blog about our visit and share the information with some of the other students that attended his class. What a trip…it has been 48 years since I have seen Rolf and hope to collect many pictures and stories about his life. I think Rolf taught MacGyver everything he knows.  Stay tuned for more on Rolf.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Windows 7 Party

Last night I had the opportunity to host a Windows 7 launch party. Microsoft sent all the party material and software necessary to show all the features and benefits of their latest operating system. Without a doubt...Windows 7 ROCKS!

My experience with desktop computers goes all the way back to the DOS days. You have a real appreciation of the current operating systems if DOS was your first operating system. Finding yourself remembering such crazy terms as format c:/s and diskcopy a: like riding a tricycle compared to a mountain bike. The technology has improved 1000%.

You can find out everything you want to know about Windows 7 just by visiting But, if you are thinking about upgrading an old might be very safe to either consider the super cheap units that now come installed with Windows 7...or get a copy of the upgrade version of Windows 7 Home Professional. If you have been putting off this decision there is no reason to wait. Windows 7 is here and well worth the upgrade. If you are using Windows Vista and it runs fine...upgrading is a maybe. If you are using Windows XP you are going to love Windows 7.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My First Motorcycle

I moved to Boise Idaho in 1968.  WOW, that was a cultural change. After living in the SF Bay Area, Boise seemed like another world.  My United Airlines flight was on an old DC-6 prop plane and the flight attendant said "Welcome to Boise...set your watches back 20 years".  She was correct.  Television went off the air at 10:00 PM, and everything looked OLD.

But, this was an opportunity to start a new career and immerse myself into new business, sports, friends, and adventures. Remember...I was from California and never saw snow fall, never went hunting, and never did anything more exciting then riding my 10 speed bicycle. That was all to change.

Carl's Motorcycle was located near downtown. Being a little bored and thinking this might be fun...I pulled the car into Carl's lot and started for the front door. A big fellow with bib overalls was walking towards me and ask "Are you buying a motorcycle...if you are then buy the biggest one you can afford because some day you will". He was right.

My budget was small and the shop had a sweet little 120 Kawasaki that would ride both on and off the road. After arranging a payment plan with a small down payment...I rode the Kawasaki off the lot. I had no riding lessons, no motorcycle endorsement, no insurance, no helmet, not even a pair of sun glasses. That was all to change since these were safety items that you must have.

Now I had to show my new friends this really cool motorcycle. I rode from Carl's to my local Motorola service shop. While talking to them I gave the kick starter a firm push and the motor came to life. It has a nice rapping noise that sounded like a huge chain saw. Somehow I was not paying attention and the clutch engaged and the next thing I saw was the 120 flying up into the air doing a complete flip. In the process the mirror caught my nose and sliced a small layer of skin off. The blood was not bad but it scarred the crap out of me. No real damage was done and I rode the motorcycle home for the evening. The next day I started riding everywhere. The freeways were a kick in the ass as it would cruise at 60 miles per hour.  The dirt roads were fun (a little scary) and this model had a lever that would put you into trail gears. You guessed it...I hit the trails to see how it worked.

Eventually the little 120cc engine seized up and had to go into the shop for repairs. Carl personally did the work under warranty and I was off for more fun. This time I knew when the engine was getting a little overheated and I would back off and let it cool down.

This bike was wonderful. It gave me freedom, an instant release from the pressure of the job, and a feeling of empowerment. Later, many of my friends would buy the same model Kawasaki and we started doing group rides into the Boise hills and mountains. It was the perfect companion and never let me down after the initial piston problem.

After a couple years or riding, I moved on to that larger motorcycle just as the guy in the bib overalls said. Oh yes...the rides kept getting longer. Some of them were up to 10,000 miles per trip and took me places like the four corners of the United States, across China to Nepal, and into an even larger circle of motorcycle riding friends.

Today my wife Marsha shares the same addiction. This evening she said "let's ride to Spokane before the weather turns cold"...what a gal.

I will never forget my first motorcycle.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bicycle Riding when you are 65

When I was age 15, I could ride 135 miles in one day...but at 65, I am lucky to do 35 miles. Marsha (who can kick my ass on a bike) and I went for a ride late this afternoon on a familiar route which is a loop around Finn Hill, down the hill to Kirkland, then South to Juanita Beach and return up the hill on Juanita Drive to Finn Hill. It really is not that far...less than ten miles. But the ride back home has about an 800' rise and takes a little effort to crank it out. This is our warm up ride to try and get into riding shape. When we feel better and have sufficient "butt" miles...we add about five more miles to the ride.

Now that I take medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol...riding is just one of the many ways to keep the heart pumping. We also have an extra bike upstairs on a stationary roller for keeping in shape. But those miles are not equal to the effort of riding the hills. A couple years ago my best day was 65 miles with many hills included. Marsha was my motivator and would push me to get extra butt miles. I would ride the rollers twice a day and would ride the Burke Gilman trail almost every other day. But when I moved away from Kenmore (the trail was 1/2 block from my condo) it seemed less motivational. The trail did not cry out "ride me".

Marsha continues to push me and I know it works both ways...if I ride then she will ride. At 65 it is very easy to grab that remote and watch a movie. I even have a permanent reminder in outlook every day to ride. But, who reads their nagging mail? :)

When we rode to Denver for WeSTOC, one of our day rides took us over a 12,000' mountain. We zipped up the mountain on the motorcycle and passed a rider from Switzerland who was half way up to the summit. About 20 minutes later he made it to the visitor’s center almost at the top. He was not out of breath and was eager to pose for pictures. He said he travels the world riding to the summit of high mountains just for the fun of it. Oh to be young again.

Where is my remote control?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blogging when you are retired

So here I am retired and blogging about being retired.  Bill Pratt's Rest Stop is a place that will allow you to visit, clean up a little, share some information about yourself and make some friends in the process.  My wife Marsha and I like to travel and meet friends...the Blog will just speed up that process.

We believe in budget travel in order to maximize our travel budget.  There is still a lot to see in the USA and will stay state side for a while.  In the future we want to travel Spain, France, England, Ireland, and perhaps other places as suggested to us by friends.

Got any ideas you want to share...tell us here at Bill Pratt's Rest Stop.