Perspective from a bus window

•January 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Perspective from a bus window

With sleep depravation and hunger hitting hard after spending six plus hours flying and at airports, depression came a knocking. Thinking of all the emotional, physical, and mental strains I’ve been under over the past year, including permanent physical disfigurement, I felt a bit sorry for myself. After an entire years worth of, let’s say stresses, that would send most people to the loony bin life was looking bleak. That is until I struck-up a conversation with the older women sitting next to me on the bus while her teenage son remains attached to his laptop. She wore a smile and was polite however even at first glance you could see the years of pain behind her eyes. A dead beat of a husband, after putting her through years of abuse, finally up and left while the boy was only a few years old. Not much of an education forced her to work hard, even harder with a little mouth to feed, and sacrifice not only her own possessions or goals but her hope as well, old and worn shoes, a coat that has seen its best days show the toll continues to this day. Despite all of this she kept on pressing forward and giving her absolute all to her son, that constant reminder of a previous life, never giving in or taking an easier route but forging forward to carve some semblance of a life for them. Even as we talk her eyes are turning misty at the memories and her son all the while oblivious to his mothers plight, watches his movie on the laptop. I wanted to slap the kid and shake him until he recognized the pain in her eyes. Yet what would that serve, she sacrificed to provide a better life for him and perhaps the only way for him to truly become a man is to not know, to live thinking the world can still be a good place and because of amazing people like her; the selfless, the strong, the brave, and the weak I felt a renewed strength in myself knowing that I have no responsibility to anyone except myself and to not take such an opportunity for granted. We all have our demons, baggage and whatnots yet it is how we treat others, and our perspective on the world that truly shapes us. For when man loses imagination and all semblance of hope have we truly lost humanity. Martha and her son Tommy served as a much needed reminder that no single person is ordinary or without strength even on the weakest of days. We all go through times of kissing demons and fighting with our angels, and our journey is ours alone. So remember that this journey has pains and joys, and even though the joy doesn’t always soften the pain, so the pain should never lessen the joy.

By: T.A. Wilson

•December 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If it were not for the downs we could not appreciate or enjoy the ups. And on those days, the days of despair, the days of failure, and self doubt, and frustration that we must look outside. Outside ourselves and our windows and unto the world and remember the good things, appreciate the beauty of the snow falling outside and what we have accomplished. For people will always come and go, it is the nature of life and as they blow into or out of your life like a simple gust of wind we must remember how temporary and precious things can be. That it is not the people that define us but our actions, our skills gained, knowledge achieved and lessons learned. – Perspective

By: T.A. Wilson

 

If you are facing a long commute or heavy traffic, don’t allow yourself to get angry and upset because it’s a waste of your time. Take control of the time, use it to relax to music you enjoy, listen to a book, and clear your mind of all the stresses of work you just went through and all you have to do when arriving home. Make it your time, time that can not be disturbed and soon it will automatically relax you just being in the car by yourself. And by relaxing your mind, perhaps a few of those good ideas from your subconscious pop up and solve and issue you’ve been stressing about. – Perspective

By: T.A. Wilson

Hyannis – Cape Code

•November 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Getting ready for the upcoming holidays can be stressful, to say the least, so when it comes time to get away and clear your head where can you go? Sure the idea of flying off to a sunny beach in Florida or for the more adventurous perhaps a trip to Cabbo would be ideal, yet then again who has time and the extra funds to really enjoy such a trip. All across New England there are many wonderful hidden gems and one such place just happens to be a short hop from Boston in wonderful Cape Cod. I set off with the goal of having a relaxing vacation away from the hustle and bustle of city life. What I discovered was more than an off season destination on the cheap, it was a majestic landscape dotted with quaint family owned restaurants, a slew of relaxing accommodations, and easy access to all the Cape has to offer. So, with Christmas in the air I hopped in the car and got away from it all.

The first objective is obviously to find accommodations, and the town of Hyannis proved to offer just what I needed. Whether you’re looking for an ocean view or proximity to night life for that evening high ball both can be found for under $100 a night. Now that may seem a bit high even for off season prices yet it provides a luxurious three room suite complete with four pillar Jacuzzi tub, flat screen TV’s and décor that brings you right into the aristocracy of the Victorian era. Many of the areas hotels have similar offerings and vary from private decks, soothing fire pits, and attached lounges complete with piano players.

Upon settling into my suite it was time to find a bite to eat. Not Your Average Joe’s truly lives up to what the name implies; house infused liquors made with the same passion and warmth the staff imbues to each customer and a unique and playful menu taking what can only be described as magnificent twists on classics like Mac and Cheese or Meatloaf. Each dish offers a wide variety of flavors your palette is sure to enjoy and if your spirits need a cheering up as well the Pineapple Painkiller or Apple Sauced are sure to delight. This is one of the must visit restaurants in the area and after your meal head on down to the Irish gift shops or browse around the mall to knock out that early Christmas shopping.

Perhaps you’d like a soak in that Jacuzzi tub right about now but the kids are pestering for something to do, in that case a trip to Veterans Park is in order. Soak in the sight of yachts departing from the Hyannis Yacht Club while the kids play on a well maintained playground and collect seashells. If it happens to be just you and your significant other this also serves as a romantic location to bring a blanket and watch the stars over the water from a rocky outcropping as the waves softly break in the evening. From cranberry marsh tours to brisk kayak trips out on the water, activities for the whole family are right around the corner.

Time for a night cap yet? Then any number of choice bars along Main St offer relaxing drinks and the ambiance of firelight while you relax away the worries of the city. When morning comes rolling along, and perhaps the consequences of those evening cocktails, try the traditional Irish breakfast from the Keltic Kitchen, with rave reviews in USA Today and the Cape Cod Times you surely won’t be left disappointed or hungry. Located snugly close to all the activities of Province Town and the Cape area Hyannis will leave you feeling refreshed and your wallet, along with your belly, well stuffed just in time for Christmas.

By: T.A. Wilson

MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) Basic Rider Course – Ferris State University

•August 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I was once told “Why write a note when you can write a novel”. Please join me now as I delve deep into perhaps the most enjoyable course I have ever taken.

On a crisp cool Wednesday night, at approximately 4:40pm, I walked down the dimly lit halls of Ferris State University’s heavy machinery department. Tucked away on the west side of campus is a fair size facility with the distinct aroma of tools and that certain magical something only an auto shop can exude.  I briefly drift off into remembrance of working in my schools auto shop, what good times we had.

I follow the signs that say “Motorcycle Class” placed upside down so the arrow points in the proper direction. After taking the time to admire a giant manual transmission model I make my way into the generator room doubling as a classroom for the night. I am greeted by a very friendly man who I soon learn is Bill McAfee one of the instructors for this journey into motorcycle ridership. Another larger, gruffer looking man with a great personality and sense of humor is introduced as Russ Leonard. I would briefly get to know Russ and Bill over these next few days, and it was a pleasure.

I guess now would be as good a time as any to tell you a little more about them, huh.

At first glance, many will want to stereotype Russ as a “typical biker”. I do not see what is bad about a “typical biker” but some take offence at this. Russ, employed as an associate professor at FSU (Ferris State University), is currently working towards his PHD. Although I do not know much about him, I can say he is very kind, patient and terrific teacher. These characteristics were displayed from the first day on the range. Russ showed an exuberant knowledge of proper riding technique and safety while having fantastic fun and putting a smile on all of our faces. With the knack for gently coaxing us to push our limits, we all gained much needed knowledge, skill and safety training.

Bill immediately gives the impression of kindness and experience with a warm smile. His ability to meticulously spot details, while we the students demonstrated what can only be called an attempt at technique, and gently show us how to improve in those key areas was the pendant of a true teacher. Bill shared with us that he has put on over 100,000 miles on one particular motorcycle and many more under his belt. A man with that kind of experience has more real life knowledge to share than ever could be expressed in our 20 hour course. Yet somehow he managed to pass along fathoms of this experience to the students upping our confidence every step of the way.

I would like to take the time now to say Thank You to Russ and Bill!

Ah, class room time, although a much needed aspect of the course to me this was the most boring part of the course. I am not much for book work; I prefer the hands on variety. Upon completion of a talk, video or reading we were placed into groups and tasked with finding answers to specific questions. These answers, we were told, would be found among the chapters of our workbook. After finding the answers to assigned questions, we would then share that with the rest of the class. I found this method very affective for retention and helped stem off the boredom that inevitably ensues with class work. Well, enough with this book work already; we now part ways for the night and decide on what time to arrive for our next step to becoming motorcycle riders!

The weatherman calls for a balmy hot day as we embark on our first steps in this journey. Eleven men and women are found joyously yet groggily staring at one of the most beautiful sights. A line of motorcycles before us with the knowledge that today we will be riding them. For a brief period of time those will be our bikes and a wonderful sense of ownership comes upon us. It’s 7:15am and the sun is peeking over the trees. Yup, it’s going to be a hot one today.

I do not know the words to express the joy felt from the first instance my leg was thrown over the side of that bike to the last time I dismounted, yet the song “Bittersweet Symphony” rings through my ears. They may not have been the newest, or sleekest, or fastest, or most savvy bikes but they were our first. They were the ones that would carry us through this journey and for that a special place of gratitude is given.

Proper safety protocol is discussed and we fire the bikes up for the first time. A low grumble stretches across the parking lot as the first of the engines spring to life. One by one a new sound is added to the orchestra and at last it is complete and the tune plays forth.

Our first task is to learn the clutch friction zone. Now that I have been constantly riding for a few weeks around my little town, I greatly appreciate that skill. It is perhaps one of the most important aspects of riding and imperative to safely riding in town. Upon mastery of this, we power walk from one end of the lot to another. Balance is soon learned and mastered upon this task and the real fun ensues, slowly riding from one end to another. We break free from fear under the watchful eyes of our instructors and start making the wind, at a gentle 2-5 mph. A few stalls and frustrations and the class moves onward and upward. Upon mastering a few of the more rudimentary skills such as starting off, turning, balance and stopping, we break for lunch.

Returning from our brief break, the afternoon sun is high in the sky on this cloudless day and temperatures peak over 90° as we hop on the bikes, time to get out of first gear and really feel the need for speed. We launch forth from formation and ride in a large circle around the course. As the day heats up so do we, leaving first gear and getting a taste of what it’s all about. Cones are put out and we learn the push-pull of turning/weaving. A very interesting concept, a bit difficult to understand until practiced. “Carving,” as Russ called it, really is a lot of fun! Some were more daring than others and took “carved” around the cones in full second gear, giving a real thrill and boosting confidence. End of the day and everyone is tired yet excited to return. We say our goodbyes and head home for some rest.

It’s the last day of the class, spirits are high and so is the temperature. We find our bikes all sitting in that beautifully row and ready to be ridden. TCLOCKS check and some instruction and off we go. You’ll have to take the course to learn about TCLOCKS, or do a bit of fancy Google searching, I recommend taking the course. More advanced maneuvering and some safety skills are added to our repertoire. Quick stopping can install a bit of anxiety in some that is soon relieved with practice. Everyone did a great job and stayed safe. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it really does. Test time has come and after a pep talk we begin. Everyone did a great job, especially the instructors, in getting us ready. I was very happy to have learned with everyone there, it truly was an amazing time.

Down the road: It has been just over a month now; I have been riding as much as I can to gain experience   and practice the techniques learned at the course. As expected, the most dangerous, in a sense, rides are around the city and in crowded areas. While gaining further experience I discovered the skills learned in this course really shined in these conditions. Low speed maneuvering, the dreaded figure 8 box and the scenario simulation all came into play. The skills learned and honed on the road really will save your life out there. Pay attention and be safe.

Enjoy The Ride!

P.S Thank You Russ Leonard, Bill McAfee and Ferris State University for hosting the course, it was a pleasure

By: T.A. Wilson