Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Days

Oh what a difference a few days can make.

Thursday started out as a pretty good day.  The weather was finally forcast to be sunny, warm, and dry, so I rode the bike to work.  I was eagerly looking forward to my ride home, and all seemed well as I headed to the parking lot to hop on and and go home.  The sky was a bright blue, with cumulus clouds dotting the sky like so many cotton balls in the bathroom of a house with an unattended 2 year old.  Things started sliding downhill as I inserted the key into the ignition.

I don't know who the genius was who designed the ignition system on motorcycles, but the switch is activated by inserting the key and rotating it about 15 degrees.  In the middle position, the key cannot be removed and the power is on.  In the down position, the key can be removed, and the power is off. So far, so good.  Some engineer somewhere, who probably also thought it would be a great idea to put the handbrake and clutch on the same side, but fortunately was overruled by clearer headed individuals, succeeded in creating a third position for the key.  In the up position, a mirror image of the off position, the key can also be removed, but power is left on for the headlight and taillights.  The down position is aptly called the "off" position, the middle is called "run", and the up position is "hope you have some jumper cables coiled up somewhere in that bike". 

Theoretically I suppose the idea is to allow one to remove the key and walk away, leaving the lights on temporarily so the bike is more visible if stranded on the side of the road.  In reality, this means that if you twist the key (located by your left ankle, where you are handling it via feel, not sight, 15 degrees up, rather than 15 degrees down, you can still remove the key, but you leave your lights on.  Also keep in mind that there is no "off" setting for the lights on a motorcycle, it is a toggle switch between dims and brights, and there is no dinging bell to let you know that the key has been removed and the lights are on (did I just discover an after market device that could make me a fortune?).

As you have probably already figured out, I made this simple mistake on Thursday, and realized it when I reinserted the key into the ignition and noticed it was angled up instead of down.  The battery was as dead as Tiger Woods' advertising career.  Being fairly new to the motorcycle scene, I don't know alot about the anatomy of a bike, but I seemed to remember that the battery was located under the seat.  Luckily I replaced the stock seat myself, so I am familiar with this simple operation that involves removing a single screw in the back.  It is operated via a hex, which I quickly located in my toolbox (yes, motorcycles come with a toolbox, although there is no glovebox, which makes it hard to store your gloves).  After removing the seat and poking around the wiring underneath I realized that the battery is not located there.  In fact, it is located near the bottom of the bike.  After replacing the seat, and with the help of a coworker and a random stranger with jumper cables, I was able to get the bike started.

While putting the seat on I noticed that I had threaded the screw at an angle, so once I was home I removed and replaced it.  This caused the metal bracket it seats in to be off-center for some reason.  Being a bit OCD, I couldn't let that be the case, so I grabbed my hammer and gently tapped it to the left a few times.  This worked perfectly, except for the fact that I accidentally tapped the bike in mid swing, removing a bit of paint.  A bad day was getting worse.

Once I got in the house my realtor called me to let me know that the house that I had finally decided to put a bid in on several days earlier, but had not gotten around to doing because he was out of town (although he had the paperwork ready to go and a co-worker who was willing to submit it) had gotten a bid from another buyer.  I could go higher or let it go.  I decided to do the latter, as there are plenty of other houses out there, but my mood was quickly sliding into the area where Keith Olbermann lives.  To put the final Coup de Gras on the day (I have no idea if I used that term correctly, but I like the way it sounds), I got a letter in the mail saying that I had failed to pay my property taxes on time, and was being penalized 1% of the total cost for my lateness.  This was a revelation, since I never received a notice in the mail that my taxes were due.  Of course, the letter informed me that not receiving proper notice was not an excuse for not paying on time.  So I called the Treasurer's office, which had just closed, and which is also conveniently closed on Fridays, meaning I can't get this taken care of until Monday.  All of which to say, Thursday sucked.

Compare that to yesterday.  I got to enjoy another beautiful day getting some yard work done, had a great conversation with a good friend from out of town for about an hour and a half, knocked out some reading for my "professional development" (ie, work-required studies), read over half of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, babysat my friends' kids so they could have a night out on the town which they seemed to really enjoy, and had a good time with the kids.  We even stayed up a bit late to watch Zathura (ok, so it's just Jumanji in space, but it was still entertaining).  The only thing that would have made the day better would have been if Heather and I could have done the hike I wanted to do, but Heather had a lunch date with a friend from out of town, so that got called off.  But we're going to the Royal Gorge today, so that wasn't a big deal either.  Thursday = awful, Saturday = Awesome!

It's Not You, It's Me

Yesterday my realtor, who is working with me to find an investment property, gave me a book.  It's called Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and was written by a self-made millionaire who's father (poor dad) was highly educated, and preached the standard mantra of "get a good education, get a good job".  His rich dad is actually his friend's dad, who basically taught him how to have an entrepreneur's mindset.  It's a really good book about building wealth and making money work for you, rather than just working for money, to basically steal a phrase straight out of the book.

My realtor also gave me a survey to find out how to better help guide me into buying an investment property, as well as a pep talk.  I know he's got to be getting nervous that all the time he has spent on me will have been wasted (as he doesn't get paid if I don't buy a house), but I assured him that I will buy once I find the right property.  I don't rush into decisions, but once I make my mind up I generally follow through to the end with tenacity.  I appreciate the book, though, and the fact that he hasn't made the fatal mistake of trying to rush me into something I'm not ready for.  That would have the opposite effect with me. 

I've read a little over half the book, and am happy to find that most of what I have read I have already learned on my own, without a "rich dad" to enlighten me.  For that I am grateful, since I can't really pin down exactly how that happened.  I have to thank my parents for teaching me the value of buying with cash rather than credit I suppose.  I have a blue-collar (read slightly above poverty line) upbringing mixed with a natural easygoing disposition to credit for being satisfied with very little, and my tendency to save much more than I spend.  I'm glad those pieces fell into place but I need to work on being more generous with what the Lord has blessed me with.  If I can't be generous then I don't really want to build wealth.  That would only make me feel more self reliant and be more self serving.  I have to remember that I am a steward of what He has given me, and that ultimately it all belongs to Him.  Sounds good in theory, harder to do in practice.