About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Motorcycles and the Death Wish




Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey


Around my day job, I’ve become a highly-visible practitioner of the motorcycle arts. Hence, when an issue comes up concerning the sport, I become the recipient of many questions. But nothing generates conversation like an accident.

We humans are seemingly riveted by death and destruction. I think a big part of that is our fascination with the amount of destructive potential that exists in the simple act of driving down the road. Also, there is that sense of compassion for those victims who lives have been turned upside down. A motorcycle accident, however, is particularly horrifying.

In July, a motorcyclist was leaving town on a trip to Tennessee. He didn't get very far. As he approached the entrance to a shopping center, a driver turned left in front of him. The pictures in the paper were horrifying. The bike, a big cruiser, had essentially disintegrated; the rider, killed instantly. Over the next week or so, several concerned colleagues, some who had known the deceased, wanted to talk about that tragedy. Dependably, at some point, those conversations would wind around to the question, "Do you ever worry about accidents?"

I do think about accidents; all responsible riders do. In fact, one of the ways to avoid them is to think through the possibilities and plan for those situations. I don't, however, dwell on death. People burdened with that particular obsession have far more serious issues than traffic.With forethought, planning, and a lot of practice, the average motorcyclist can avoid accidents most of the time. Mostly it's the simple things, like...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Love of a Dog

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey


I've always been a dog person. While we've owned some cats (usually the result of a process of reverse inheritance), I've never been able to warm up to them in quite the same way. While dogs seem to respond to their owners with an uninhibited joy, cats are much more reserved, taking their affections on their terms. And at 54 years old, I have no patience for hard-to-get.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Train Travel*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat August 9, 2009
as "A Journey of the Soul"

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey


I was sitting at my desk, contemplating an upcoming business trip to New York City. I was researching flight schedules out of Pittsburgh, adding up the hours I would need to allow, taking into account the drive over, security, and all the folderol I’d have to endure once I got there. My best guess was that this 90-minute flight would take about 8 hours to complete. Yes, I could have flown out of Johnstown to DC, but for two reasons. First off, the seats on those planes are decidedly tiny, whilst I am decidedly not. Plus, I’ve about had my fill of the roller-coaster ride I always seem to get on those flights over the mountains.

As I continued to ponder, my eyes went to the windows where outside, Johnstown lay basking under the bright sunshine of an all-too-rare perfect summer day. My gaze wandered across the rooftops, eventually resting on the train station. It took my brain a moment to make the connection, spawning a novel idea. Why not take the train? Upon researching, I discoverer that the train took about the same time as the convoluted process of flying. And cheaper, after looking at gas and tolls to and from Pittsburgh, a rental car, and parking in Manhattan (up to $50 per day at most hotels). I could catch the train one block from the office, and ride all the way into Penn Station, right near where I needed to be for my meetings. My bosses bought the idea, an easy sell since they tend to err on the side of the parsimonious.

On the appointed day, my wife dropped me off in front of the station, our goodbyes tinged with the sadness of two people grown used to having each other around. We've gone through this several hundred times, and no matter whether I am gone for 6 days or 6 months, those final moments weigh heavily upon us both.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why a Newspaper is Better Than a Laptop*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, July 7, 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey
Being a child of the Alvin Toffler generation, I'm the first person in line to acknowledge a paradigm shift in our culture. Information technology has exploded, and every newspaper now has an online site. Some have asked why a hard copy version is still necessary.

But, I guess I'm a traditionalist. I love the smell of fresh newsprint in the morning.

So in recognition of our shifting perspectives, and out of respect for the time-tested traditions, I respectfully offer...

Top Ten reasons a newspaper is better than a laptop.

10. You can't fold a laptop to make it easier to hold.

9. You can do crosswords online, but you can't live dangerously and do them in ink.

8. Breakfast just doesn't taste good with silicon. Besides, you get crumbs on the keyboard.

7. You can't cut an article out of a laptop without killing another tree.

6. Newspapers don't need powercords or batteries.

5. With a newspaper, you don't have to worry about losing your wireless signal.

4. Nobody can hack into your bank account through a newspaper.

3. A newspaper won't give you carpal tunnel.

2. Just try to line a birdcage or light a fireplace with a laptop.

And finally...

1. If you spill coffee on a laptop, you have a $1,500 piece of junk.

If you spill coffee on a newspaper, you have...

...a wet newspaper.