Bob’s Big Picture technology predictions for 2017

January 16, 2017

As he has done for years, Bob Cringely has posted his 2017 predictions. Number six ought to be a fun one to watch.

Prediction #6 — Come-to-Jesus time for IBM. The most important 2017 event for IBM will be the retirement at 60 of CEO Ginni Rometty. The future of Big Blue absolutely depends on the actions this year of her successor. If she follows the example of the two previous IBM CEOs Rometty will stick around for a year as chairman before flying-off to paradise in her jet.

The reason I call this a Come-to-Jesus time for IBM is because the next CEO will have a chance to do something different with the company. If he or she decides to break with the past IBM has a chance. If the new CEO takes whatever game plan Rometty hands over and runs with that, then IBM is doomed.

More >

Maybe just as interesting, in one of his other predictions, Prediction #1, in fact, he talks about the Cloud Arms Race. In it, he only mentions IBM as an aside, with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft being the leaders. I suppose all of the talk from IBM about their cloud, is just that, talk. Oh, there may be some companies in their cloud, but not in the numbers that fill Amazon, Google, or Microsoft data centers.


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Five

January 13, 2017

Here it is, the last day on the tour. We aren’t exactly happy when we mount up in the morning, knowing that this will be the last day we ride on the Circle Tour. After five days, and talking about just saying “Eff it, let’s keep riding,” we head south and east. Not a lot of things to report, as it is all highway as we head home.

Day Five:

day5

See? All highway. While we were rocking the Ohio Turnpike at 70+ mph, it was still awful boring. Thanks to my bluetooth headset, at least I have some music to lessen the boredom.

Total miles: 337

After switching the bike off, one last picture to remind me of the trip:

odometer

Five days seems like a lot, but trust me, the trip was too short. We decided that in 2017, we are going back to the Upper Peninsula. This time, since we’ve ridden some amazing roads on the way to the UP, we’re going to ride I-75 north, to minimize travel time, and spend more time exploring the east, central, and western parts of the UP. Perhaps make Newberry, MI, the base town for exploration of the central and eastern areas. Then, find a town in the western part, and explore that area. There’s so much to see and do, this seems to be the best method to properly ride the UP.

What We Learned:

  1. Gas stations, and towns, are few and far between. Be smart, gas up when the opportunity arises. Or, even smarter, map out the gas stations along your route.
  2. The Upper Peninsula has spectacular sights and vistas. Once you’re here, you’ll want to spend more time exploring than you’ve budgeted. A return trip is most certainly in your future plans.
  3. To go with the gas stations point, above, there are long distances between the places you want to visit. I hope you have a comfortable saddle. If not, spend the money. Your ass will thank you. Also, you may want to do some longer trips to prepare yourself.
  4. Gas stations are few and far between.
  5. Just because your GPS or Google Maps tells you that there is a town just up the road, there may not be a gas station. Small towns are norm in the UP.
  6. Don’t count on your GPS, Google Maps, or having cellular coverage in all areas of the UP. Bring an actual map with you.
  7. Everyone we met, with the exception of a few (Newberry hotel operator, customers in a bar in Iron Mountain) were gracious and happy to talk to us, happy to provide directions, and very happy to recommend dining options. You’ll make some new friends in the UP.
  8. If you’re looking for souvenirs, like patches, pins, and stickers, the small stores that you see along your route is where you’ll find them. As a bonus, you’ll be supporting local businesses. And, the staff is used to seeing and interacting with bikers.
  9. The SS Badger is an excellent, relaxing way to avoid Chicago traffic. Remember to bring your tie downs. And since it is a part of US 10, it “could” count into your mileage. We didn’t count it, but you could. 🙂
  10. We averaged 377 miles a day.
  11. Gasoline averaged $2.48/gallon.

endofearth

Links:

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations and Day One

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Two

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

Bonus Link:

As it happens, RoadRunner magazine has an article on riding the Upper Peninsula. Take a look for more professional photographs (no monkeys) and text.

RoadRunner Magazine – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Northern Exposure


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

January 13, 2017

The sadness begins, as we know that we are heading home, the Upper Peninsula already a (great) memory. We now have a destination that does not wait for those that are tardy, a ferry crossing of Lake Michigan, so that we do not have to ride through Chicago and all that entails when you are on two wheels.

Day Four:

day4

As you can see from the route, it isn’t all that spectacular. However, we did make one memorable stop, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.

lambeau1

lambeau2

Monkey does the “Lambeau Leap.” I laugh every time I watch this video.

monkey_girlfriend

Monkey found himself a girlfriend.

A quick look at the time and all shenanigans ceased; we have a ferry to catch. Off to Manitowoc, WI, for the boat ride across Lake Michigan.

The SS Badger

This is a proper ferry, not like the ones that take you to Kelleys Island or Put-in-Bay.

We made it with about 40 minutes to spare. Motorcycles park in a special queue, as they will be among the first to get on the ship. Do not forget your tie downs, they do not supply them for you. After securing our bikes, we had 4-1/2 hours to eat, explore the ship, and simply relax before it arrives in Ludington, MI. The ship is actually a part of Route 10, which is really cool.  Also, it’s a 72 mile ride across the lake. Much like cruise ships, this one has a cafeteria, a movie theater, a cruise director (who runs the games and other entertainment), and, if you want an upgrade, private cabins. We opted to find our comfort where ever we could (cheaper). Not quite to midway, we all agreed that while this was a wonderful method of travel, we would’ve preferred to be on our bikes. Basically, it meant “nap time.”

ssbadger1

 

ssbadger2

Where I had to go to get this picture, it nearly cost me getting the bike on the ship. Much to the amusement of my biker “friends.”

ssbadger3

CJ relaxes on deck.

Once we off loaded in Ludington, we headed south for our last overnight stay in Michigan, in Muskegon. Once we unloaded our bikes, we went in search of dinner. As it happened, this was the first meal we would have at a chain restaurant. All of our other meals were eaten at local establishments. Without my knowledge and much to my chagrin, Doug told our waitress that it was my birthday. After finishing our meals, here comes the waitress, dragging what is best described as a saddle mounted to a saw horse. They coerced me into sitting on the damn thing, placed a cowboy hat on my head, announced to the restaurant that it was my birthday, and proceeded to regale me with the “Happy Birthday Song.” Much to my “friend’s” delight and amusement, I was totally embarrassed.

And that’s another reason why I travel with bourbon in my luggage.

Total miles: 261

 


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

January 12, 2017

A whirlwind tour of the Upper Peninsula coupled with miles of, basically, nothing.

Day Three:

day3

A long, very long day.

After a quick breakfast in Newberry, and gearing up for rain, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Seashore. A little tip: Getting to this area will require you to ride on gravel roads. Now, as it hadn’t rained (much), the roads were okay. However, if you’re in a downpour, this might be a bit challenging. That said, it is well worth the effort and time.

On the way to the entrance to Pictured Rocks, we encountered what can only be described as a suicidal bird. I’m leading and up ahead, I see what appears to be a rock in the road. I move to the right a bit, signal to the others that there is something in the road, and, as I pass it, I see that it is a bird. Just sitting there, in the road. As the other two bikes pass, it doesn’t move. Strange little bird, hope you didn’t get flattened later in the day.

Then, it was the gravel road, until we reached a ranger station and the start of our tour of Pictured Rocks.

Got off the bikes, removed our rain gear (the day was turning out to be sunny and beautiful), and asked one of the rangers for a map of the seashore and the places we needed to stop and see. Off we went.

Day Three Best Roads:

day3-best-jpg

Leaving Newberry, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Words cannot do this park justice. You must see it to believe it. It is worth the time and effort to get there and run the road next to Lake Superior and to stop, often, to see the sights and take pictures. Here is an example, Miners Castle:

minerscastle

There is a trail that will take you up close and personal, which we walked. It’s worth the time for the views of the lake. Amazing location. I think we all fell in love with the Upper Peninsula during this run through Pictured Rocks.

Then we it was time to ride to Copper Harbor.  But first, a search for gas. I don’t think we saw a gas station until we reached Harvey, MI, 40+ miles from Miners Castle. Then, a quick lunch in Marquette, MI, as we followed Route 41 west and north. As we traveled north on Route 41, in the town of Hancock, we passed Quincy Mine. It’s a tourist spot and it looked very impressive from the road. All of us determined that the next time we pass through here, we would stop. But not today, we were on a mission to get to Copper Harbor and daylight was getting in short supply.

Somewhere along the route into Copper Harbor, I glanced over to the side of the road and swore that I saw a porcupine. I asked Doug and CJ, when we finally arrived in Copper Harbor, if they had seen it. “No,” was the consensus. Ah, well, I saw it.

The last 15 miles into Copper Harbor are amazing; great road surface, twisties, sweeping curves, altitude changes, this bit of road has it all. And, once you get there, you will be at the start of Route 41, which you can take all the way to Miami, Florida. Here’s my bike at the start of Route 41:

copperharbor2

And here are our bikes at the start of Route 41:

copperharbor

The best part of this, Doug rode his bike around the turnaround several times, scraping floorboards for most of it. Trust me, it was hilarious.

We took a quick tour of Copper Harbor, then headed south.

As I remembered seeing the porcupine, I was determined to point it out to my fellow travelers. Which I did, as it was in the same spot as when I first saw it.

And it was dead.

Today was also the day that I fell off of my bike. Stopped for gas in a (very) little town south of Copper Harbor. As I was dismounting, my right foot caught on my tank bag. I did an admirable job of not falling, until I thought I was going to recover, and then, ended up on the ground.

After they stopped laughing, CJ and Doug helped me up.

It was the only “accident” on the entire adventure. Damn tank bag.

The other highlight of this trip:

As I was leading, I was the one that determined the gas stops. We were riding US 141 south and east, to get to Iron Mountain, MI, for the night. At the junction of 141 and 28, there is a gas station. Thinking that we could make it into Crystal Falls, MI, I decided to keep riding.

That was a mistake.

Riding down 141, watching my mileage go up, I knew we weren’t going to make it. It was about that time when I saw a gas station sign. Pulling into the station, we were all commenting on how lucky we were to find this station.

But it had just closed.

The owner hadn’t left yet, and she powered up the pumps for us. It was a magical moment. And she told us that the next nearest station was only about 20 miles down the road. Oh, well. We were still very happy. This is also the station where Doug tried to leave without paying. CJ and I set him right.

Pulling out of the station, our lights caught the only deer we saw in the UP. Which was nice, but still kept us on high alert as we rode into Iron Mountain.

Iron Mountain wasn’t without its “eccentricities.” After checking into the hotel, we were given the name of place that was “open late.” It appears that most everything closes around 9PM, regardless of the day, in Iron Mountain. When we arrived at the sports bar, karaoke was going in full blast. Hard to hear in the place. And, as the three of us came in, in armored jackets and riding pants, several patrons at the bar took an immediate interest in us. After looking us over, the bartender told us that they stopped serving food only minutes before our entrance. And a bouncer appeared at the door, where he came from is anyone’s guess, because he wasn’t there when we entered.

Okay, we get the hint.

An open pizza shop it was to be for us. And it was good. And quiet.

Tomorrow, we continue riding south, for our date with a Lake Michigan ferry.

Total miles: 450


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Two

January 11, 2017

Spent some time, the previous night, mapping out Day Two’s ride. Using Google Maps and the Ride Michigan book, determined the roads we were going to ride and some of the specifics on those roads. After a free hotel breakfast, we rode out of Ludington and continued north.

Day Two:

day2

Day Two Best Roads:

day2-best

From bottom to top:

Michigan 22 gets you really close to Lake Michigan, beautiful views, sweeping curves, and altitude changes. Great road, with one spectacular road side park. If you ride M-22, you must stop, take a break, and take pictures of the lake and the vistas. While there, we watched a lake tanker making its way north. It looked so small and insignificant on the lake.

Michigan 119 is also known as Tunnel of Trees. A great motorcycle road. Very tight, the road is a bit more than one lane. Keep your wits about you as bicyclists and other cars could be just around the corner. As I was leading, I rode farther ahead of the others, riding to the left of the center line, so that CJ and Doug would have ample time to move to the right in the event of an approaching car. And there were quite of few of them on this beautiful day. There is a portion that goes down to Lake Michigan, of which we rode a little, as it heads south and away from our true route. If you do go down to Lake Michigan, watch for sand on the road. Back on M-119, you’ll know when you get to “Devil’s Elbow,” the road takes a 90 degree turn and then goes up. Simply awesome! Riding M-119, you are truly in a tunnel of trees. We stopped at a little roadside post office/deli/store and picked up some pins, patches, and stickers. Except for CJ, who doesn’t understand vests, pins, or patches. Or putting stickers on your helmet. Too bad for him. Gorgeous road, highly recommended.

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Mackinac Bridge. Are you kidding? Nearly 5 miles of bridge. The outside lane is paved, the inside lane is grate. We rode the grate, to pass semi tractor trailers and to get a great look of the Straits of Mackinac, 200 feet below us. Toll is $4, which is collected on the north side of the bridge. It was a bright, blue beautiful day to ride the bridge. And the wind wasn’t bad, which is important to know if you’re riding two wheels.

Michigan 123, heading to Whitefish Point. You have to see this to believe just how close you ride to Lake Superior. Beautiful vistas with the lake basically lapping at the road. And Whitefish Point? This is where you can see the actual bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald. While the museum had closed by the time we arrived, the views and the grounds are great.

whitefish_1

Our first experience with the Upper Peninsula. Two things we learned in our short time in the UP:

  1. Gas stations are few and far between. Just because you know that there is a town up ahead, it may not have a gas station. Make smart decisions with respect to your fuel levels and don’t be hesitant to fill up even though you still have 100 miles to empty.
  2. When the sun goes down, it gets dark. Really dark. Because there are few sizable towns/cities in the UP, there is no light pollution. And zero street lights. It is really, really dark. Keep your wits about you, there are big things in the dark, like moose. And deer.

As night fell, we rode into Newberry. First hotel stop, they didn’t have room for us. Although we doubted that was true, because of the lack of cars in the parking lot. They may not have had rooms for us because the registration desk saw three guys, in armored jackets, arrive on motorcycles. After asking about other lodging, we headed down the road to another hotel. The second hotel had rooms for us. And, bonus!, it was located next to a bar/restaurant, just a short walk from the hotel. Perfect! Newberry eventually worked out okay for us.

Total miles: 350


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations

January 11, 2017

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a few months. Okay, it’s been five months. Specifically, since the last week of August, 2016. Better late than never. This will be the first in a series concerning an excellent ride (mostly) around Lake Michigan.

The riders:

theteam-michigan

(left to right, me (with Monkey), CJ, and Doug)

The tools:

  • EatSleepRide – Probably the premier, free, motorcycle GPS app. Recorded progress, share location with others (like those watching our progress from afar), also has CrashLight, which will text someone, or 911, if your mobile phone detects that the bike has crashed.
  • Waze – Route GPS, updated by the crowd, provided best routes, police locations, and more.
  • Google Maps – When Waze wasn’t doing a very good job. It’s always good to have a backup GPS.
  • The Weather Channel App – You’re on a motorcycle, you need to know the weather.
  • Sena 10S Bluetooth Headset – Handsfree, motorcycle helmet bluetooth headset. Allowed me to follow along with Waze’s directions as well as listen to music. First time using a headset, now I can’t imagine travelling without one. Easy installation, easy setup, paired quickly with my iPhone.

Preparation:

This was not an Arctic Circle run and we wanted to be as flexible with our time as possible. We roughed out the route, the stops, and the deadlines (ferry’s do not wait for those that are tardy). Plus, we didn’t want to be beholden to specific overnight stops. Thus, we spent all of three hours planning the tour. At first, we were simply to circle Lake Michigan. But after our first, and only meeting, we all read more about the tour and were sidetracked by what we read about the southern shore of Lake Superior. From that, we knew that we really wanted to see Copper Harbor, Michigan. In the end, the plan was to ride the western shore of Lake Michigan, until we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. At that point, we would head northwest to the southern shore of Lake Superior and ride that to Copper Harbor. We made no reservations at any hotel, we were going to ride until we decided it was time to locate suitable overnight accommodations.

In addition to the above, we spent a lot of time on the website, Lake Michigan Circle Tour. A great resource for the route as well as things to see and do along the route. Finally, I bought and brought along three additional items. Weather proof maps of Michigan and Wisconsin (again, on a motorcycle, you need backups and items that can be subjected to water) and the book, Ride Michigan. The book was extremely useful to determine what would could see and the best motorcycle routes to take along the way.

Day One:

mi_day1

We met at Cracker Barrel, in Sheffield, OH, for breakfast. Afterwards, we rode the turnpike into Indiana, then turned north into Michigan, Sturgis, MI, specifically, for lunch. If you ask yourself “why Sturgis?” then you aren’t a biker in the United States.

sturgismi

This turned out to be a most fortuitous stop. Using Google Maps, I found a highly rated, local restaurant, Boundary Waters Kitchen and Bar. We just happened to parked out bikes in front of a barber shop. Since three bikes can cause an auditory commotion in a tight area, the owner of the barber shop came out and greeted us. As it turns out, he is biker and had just returned from a trip to the Upper Peninsula. And he had photos, real photos, in a book, to show us. We had a great time talking to him and he provided us with a lot of excellent tips and places we needed to stop and see.

During lunch, he came into the restaurant with a list of things we should see. That was really cool.

A little ways outside of Sturgis, it started to rain. A very light rain. We didn’t stop to gear up, just rode through it.

Then we hit the east coast of Lake Michigan and turned our bikes north. We stopped for gas, and rest, but didn’t stop to see anything, as we were headed to Ludington, MI for our first overnight stop. Rode into town, hit Lake Michigan, and, as luck would have it, a hotel on Lake Michigan had room for us. Ludington is also the town where you can catch the ferry across Lake Michigan. We’ll see Ludington again in a few days.

Total miles: 405

 


From my inbox

January 10, 2017

frominbox

Two bars of the most wonderful chocolate in the world, from Norway. And a beautiful card. Thank you, Arvid and Liv.