Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 - No Resolutions for Me!

2009 was interesting. It was a year of discovery and adventure and duty.

And now it is 2010.

Honestly, New Years resolutions never made much sense to me. Typically after a few weeks they are broken. After a few months, forgotten.

Goals I can do, or at least work on. For myself, once a New Year's resolution is broken, it is broken. Goals, on the other hand, are more flexible and forgiving and in many ways more fruitful.

So, in that vein, here are a few goals for the coming year.
  • Ride 25,000 miles. Yes, it can certainly be done. I'm up for it. Anyone want to ride along?
  • Rebuild a motorcycle. Working on it!
  • Rid myself of some debt.
  • Write more.
  • Simplify.
  • Smoke less.
Several of these are already on my bucket list but just happen to currently be at the top of my list.

A few suggestions from people I know just couldn't make it to the list. Ya... No...
  • Get a girlfriend. Ya, well...
  • Write a book about my cross country trips. Well, in all, not a bad idea. It is simply not the right time for that.
  • Open an e-bay business. Been there, done that. No Thanks!
  • Get another Harley. Well, four bikes is more than enough for me. I don't need another! There is barely enough room in my garage for wrenching as it is.
And with that, I am off to finish my coffee and do a little wrenching.

Happy New Years, all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nexus

Each moment is the result of a function. The function accepts the results of all previous functions. It's result is used for all subsequent moments in a recursive fashion.

MomentType moment(MomentType ParmMoment [, ...])

As time moves forward the results become infinitely more complex.

Riding down the road, the cutting edge of then and now opens ahead. Why is this so obvious now that I ride? And, it is not only riding where I feel this sharp edge.

Carefully the saddle and tank of my VX800 project bike is removed and set aside for later attention. The bike's yesterdays all point to this moment. Why? This could easily be someone else restoring her. This bike could easily be on an unceremonious junk heap. Why is she in my garage?

And what was it's life like? I compare both of my VX800s; V1 (my first VX800 project) was thrashed and abused and ridden hard. Her inner rear fender is coated with melted and burnt rubber, her rear tire is flattened with no tread left. Wiring harness and pipes cut and slashed, most beyond repair. How was her last mile? Did she enjoy the mysteries of the open road? Did she dance in the twisties or tear up any gravel roads?

V2 was well taken care of until she started having engine problems. The tires, while now cracked, have sharp tread. Her saddle still supple and comfortable after nearly twenty years. The previous owners obviously maintained her well.

Now is the opportunity for infinite points of moments to come together, for an abused bike and a broken bike to merge into an incredible, uncommon function of steel and aluminum. And what of the possible futures for her?

What of the possible futures for me?

Tomorrow.

(Image "Nexus" from www.bathsheba.com/sculpt/nexus/ )

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Little Project Bike Update

Honestly, I am too tired and not feeling well enough for a full update on my project bike. But, for those who appreciate V-Twin Suzuki bikes (Stacy) and other visually stimulated folks, here she is; a black 1991 Suzuki VX800.

OK, honestly, she doesn't look like much in this condition. The engine is in the garage, as is the final drive mechanism. Hence, the appearance of crap. BUT, I have all of her.

Current appearance not withstanding, this bike is a rare bird. She was only sold in the states between 1990 and 1993. At 805cc, this bike may be the largest displacement, most powerful motorcycle in the Standard class. (I may be wrong, though. Anyone?)

Oh, and I have heard of people who modified this bike into full blown street fighters, cafe racers, sport tourers and even one fellow who modified his into a dual sport adventure bike.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Strength

"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong." -Lao Tzu

Many years ago, weakness was my friend. Bowing and breaking and allowing myself to be subjected to others' whims was the norm.

There was a rumble deep in my soul with no outlet, only a thin mirror reflected the inner storm. Then came the leathers and armor and gloves, and I felt strong and the inner storm started coming out, expressed some would say, as an intrepid, enthusiastic, inspirational motorcycle rider.

As it happens with many riders, one day on a long ride, I pondered how this made me strong. How is it this two wheeled machine gave me strength? How could this black leather and armor grant me, a quiet farm boy living in the city, the feeling of strength sufficient to do what must be done?

In the crystal blue sky was the answer. It is not the feathers of the eagle that make it an intrepid hunter, it is the eagle itself. The leather and armor and throbbing engine beneath were merely expressions of my inner strength. These things did not give me power, but rather reflected my own.

Those of you out there who feel powerless or weak, have more within than you know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Desires and Dreams

Many face this conundrum; the near term satiation of desires versus the long term goal of dreams. Desires are subjective; ones desires or even dislikes may be another's dream.

The choice is personal and at times difficult. The desire, short term enjoyment. Not many will remember one for going out on a Saturday night to ride around in an attempt to impress the opposite sex. And what if the ride is successful?

100 years from now, people will likely not remember me for riding around and turning a few heads. A short term trist? It would likely be enjoyable but as permanent as a cool gust of summer air.

No. There are dreams; things of more permanence. The choice of dream over desire is not always easy, but is usually the better decision. It's an individual thing. Satiated desires in the pursuit of dreams are bonuses along the way.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Late Starter

By all intents and purposes, I am a late starter in the world of motorcycling. Sure, there were the occasional rides on the neighbor's little Honda 50cc dirt bike in the backwoods of Illinois when I was in high school. Maybe that is what lit the fire. For decades that ember sat somewhere, waiting.

Not until late in 2007 did the ember catch on. The reasons for the delay are many, and for the purpose of this, do not matter. What matters is that it did catch.

Yesterday I enjoyed the opportunity to ride up to Eureka with several other riders. No, we were not on bikes. 14F temps, in my opinion, are not conducive to enjoyable two wheel time.

The arid landscape is quite unlike that of Las Vegas. Here, is a quiet stark beauty. The roads are mostly two lane and sparsely traveled. The land, populated with trees and scrub, beckon the hiker, the rider, the adventurer. Odd signs, old roads and paths, ruins from the 1800's exercise an odd gravity to some.

To go where few if any tread. To experience what few if any do. To see things that few if any can or will.

These things urge me to go out and buy another type of bike. Maybe a little Honda CRF230L. Maybe a Yamaha TW200. Maybe something larger like a V-Strom or a BMW F650GS (see pic).

To think of the roads, the trails, the nights under the stars, the dirty, messy bikes, the broken spokes and chains, the friendships and experiences I missed while traveling my own path...

Being a late starter does not preclude one from missed experiences, it only means the new experiences can be savored more with a better trained palate. My project bike and the roads are calling.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not a happy camper - bike damage.

No, I didn't go down, thank goodness. This happened while she was parked and I was in a meeting. Came out, hugged everyone good-bye, went over to my bike, started her, and as soon as I sat on the saddle, the headlight shown down on the damage.

It certainly could have been worse. The wheel or forks could have been bent. Heck, for that matter, the whole bike could have been taken out.

It is indeed possible the person who did this, didn't even know. But, if they did, minimally an apology would have been nice. Recognition that they made a mistake.

It is likely there would have been no police called, no insurance adjuster called. Just recognition.

Ah well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cause Cookies (Recipe)

There are special ribbons for breast cancer, domestic violence, Autism, child abuse, Fibromyalgia, AIDS and a host of other causes. Being involved with Bikers Against Child Abuse, the cause of child abuse is near and dear to my heart.

While thumbing through cookie recipe books, I found an interesting one in an old, 1950s Pillsbury cookbook. Little did I know this would be a rediscovery.

As a child, my grandmother make a doughnut shaped cookie that was simple and delicious. Somewhere along the way, that recipe was lost... Until today.

This cookie recipe is slightly modified from the cookbook to make it easier to roll into the shape I wanted. Here it is for all to enjoy.
  • 1 Cup butter or margarine
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon real vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon real almond extract
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 Cups unbleached flour
  • 1 Egg white
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  1. Cream butter and sugar until creamy.
  2. Add salt, vanilla, egg and almond extract.
  3. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add 1/2 of the flour.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Add the remaining flour.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Heat oven to 350F.
  9. Cover and chill dough for 15 minutes or so.
  10. Beat egg white and water very well.
  11. Take a small piece of dough and roll it into a rope about the length of the width of your hand.
  12. Fold rope into a ribbon shape and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  13. Gently brush a small amount of the water/egg white mixture onto each cookie.
  14. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Choose the color that matches your cause.
  15. Bake about 5 - 8 minutes or until the ends start turning brown.
  16. Cool on cookie rack.
  17. Do not handle until well cooled as the ends may crumble off.
There it is. Each batch of Cause Cookies makes about 100.

These are made blue for child abuse. Please celebrate and promote your cause with these simple cookies. And, please let them know where you got the recipe.

Ride safe, remember to use oven mitts and enjoy the holidays.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baking <-> Life

Last night I made about 70 oatmeal raisin cookies. By the end of this weekend, there should be about three times that number, ready to be sent to family and friends.

They are luscious, light and just a little crispy. Among the cookie eating public, they are a favorite.

But, why stop there? Different is good! Diversity in all forms expands the horizon. Staying with the tried and true is safe and comfortable and familiar... and a bit boring at times. So, it was time to mix it up.

In an old cookbook, I located an interesting raisin date bar cookie recipe. Something didn't look right about it as the mixer whizzed around, but I continued. It was something different, something intriguing, something new... And it failed.

In the end, it was far too crumbly to send to any one and the edges burnt to inedible crisps that seemed similar to what bad, burnt granola might look and taste like. The unburnt portions tasted fine but were so crumbly, cutting them was a grand challenge.

Life can be safe and comfortable and familiar, and that is OK for some. And, that is periodically OK for others. But, it can be a bit boring at times.

Trying new things broadens our horizons, regardless of success or failure. The first time I made cookies at the wise age of five, they burnt to a crisp. Mistakes are the only way to truly learn how to make things better.

This weekend I will try to make those raisin date bar cookies again. There are many things I am going to try again. There are many new things I will try. Through success or failure, the horizon will broaden.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Better News for Wednesday

Iowa Harley Girl's blog post really got under my skin in a good way. Most of the news headlines these days is just plain irritating. I don't give a big care who Tiger Woods is doing! Why did Paris Hilton disappear? PFFTTT!!! Extended US Financial bailout? My wallet is pretty empty at the moment... NEXT!

So, here is one way to make the news headlines more interesting. Just add a motorcycle! Sure, the news itself is just as boring and tedious and bla, but the headlines would at least sound better.

So, here are my altered news headlines for the day.
  • Obama Pushes New Stimulus - $5000 Cash Back on all Motorcycle Purchases
  • The Mystery of Harry Reid in Black Leather and Chaps
  • Why Did Paris Hilton Disappear on A New Victory Vision?
  • Madoff victims ask Congress to recover their funds by selling off his 1940's motorcycle collection.
  • Taking a break from his North American Electric Motorcycle tour, Al Gore rebuts Palin's climate change claims.
  • Japanese Economy Grew More Slowly Than First Thought, likely due to surge in Harley Davidson sales.
  • TSA passenger screening manual leaked online - bikers on list of groups to watch.
  • Coffee, Exercise and Daily Motorcycle Rides Fight Prostate Cancer
**These are not real headlines! They are just for fun, parodies if you will.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Day 357 - Rain and Cold Delay

41 degrees F. Rain. More rain coming.

On my list of things to purchase is a little space heater for the garage. It does get cold here in Las Vegas, and wrenching on a motorcycle without a heater is just not my idea of fun. Hot cocoa, the 'net and a little reading is the primary order of business for me this evening.

Please don't get me wrong... I like riding in the rain. To a reasonable extent I like riding in the cold. The combination of the two is just not pleasant for me.

All I need now is a fireplace, etc...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Leaves

A leaf falls from its tree one brisk fall morning.

"Tree," it yells. "I am not done yet! The sun is shining and I am cold! Why must I fall to the hard ground into the shadows?"

"Do not fear, my leaf. You have many things to do before your time on the Earth is done. You must help protect and shield many from the cold and snow and wind of the season. They are depending on you."

"But this is new and I have no idea what to do! Who do I protect? How do I help keep them safe from winter? I am only a single leaf!"

"Our parents and their parents and their parents lived in this forest, my little leaf. It is not a matter of knowing, it is a matter of being who you are."

"The ground looks so lonely down there. What if there are no other leaves where I settle for the winter? How does a leaf blowing in the winter wind find another?"

"Take solace in the knowledge that your brothers and sisters will always be near and if you are alone and do not find another while flitting on the wings of winter, so be it."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

365 Days Of New – Day 363

When strapped and blindfolded to the front of a speeding train, it can be difficult to notice its slowing. Laughingly, that is my financial situation. The train is indeed slowing; things are getting better; there are simply times when it feels like that train is barreling toward a bridge that is only partially completed.

Project Vixen, my little VX800 motorcycle project took a new turn over this long Thanksgiving weekend. After a day and a half of work, my garage was reasonably clean and work area temporarily set up.

With a container of parts cleaner on the right, soapy water on the left and a pile of Vixen’s parts in the center, she went from a disassembly project to a reassembly project.

It is time. Time for Vixen to change directions. Time to stop tearing apart and start cleaning and evaluating. Time to make some progress on my bike and maybe even myself.

So, 365 Days of New; new challenges; new beginnings; new experiences; and hopefully, after 365 days, a new custom Suzuki VX800 motorcycle in my garage.

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” –Benjamin Disraeli

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old Wounds

There it is. An old wound. Quiescent for months or years or even decades, once triggered they can change a life or change an outlook or change plans.

In the scheme of things this old wound is quite minor. Within the last twenty one years the only indication anything happened was a little pucker scar on the tip of my right index finger. Not even hundreds of thousands of keystrokes had bothered it.

In the summer of 1979 I could regularly be found wandering the woods or at a friend's farm. Well, on this particularly mild late summer night, my friend and I decided to make Molotov Cocktails and throw them at a pile of rocks. All went well until one of mine didn't catch on fire.

After waiting a little while we investigated. The bottle had fallen short and seemingly landed gently in the freshly plowed field that abutted the rock pile. I reached down to retrieve the bottle and quickly discovered it had indeed broken. Pain was instantaneous. It was not a bottle I retrieved, but several shards of glass embedded in a very bloody finger.

After a few swear words, alcohol, tweezers and a band-aid it was believed all was well. A few years later my finger started to itch. After several days of this a small piece of glass broke through. There was no blood and little pain, just a minute shard of glass.

What I believed to be the last piece came out when I was in college as I washed the dishes. As before it was an itch and after a few days a piece of glass pokes out.

Now, decades later, it is hurting. This is not without prompting. A great deal of my time this long Thanksgiving weekend was spent cleaning my garage, arranging tools, changing Athena's oil and working on my project motorcycle. Yes, muscles are burning. Yes, joints are a little painful.

This is new. An irritated old injury. It would be easy to stop working on my project bike or pay someone to change my bike's oil. That will simply not happen. This old wound will not stop what I enjoy doing.

Perhaps this same mode of attack could be used with other old wounds. Maybe.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Motorcycle Repair Shops...

Yes, Athena is out of the shop. With a new rear tire, rear brake caliper and caliper bracket, she is ready for a ride. While I am happy to oblige, there are some necessary comments that need to be made about this repair.
  • Number One. I arrive and the Red Rock Harley Davidson shop to pay for the rear tire and warranty work, only to be shocked that the final bill was nearly $100 different from the initial quote! Why, WHY???
  • Number Two. Is it THAT difficult to have a bike ready what the shop says it will be ready? I mean, REALLY?!?!?
  • Number Three. I hardly recognized her when the shop manager wheeled her out. Honestly, it looks like not a single centimeter was untouched or unhandled by someone. What gives???
OK, now that I have your attention, I was smiling ear to ear yesterday. The shop manager explained to me that the initial quote included a set of rear brake pads. When they received the calipers, the pads were included! Fresh brake pads, no charge! The initial quote was nearly $340. Actual price paid, $265.

No, she wasn't ready when the shop told me she would be. She was ready BEFORE they initially said she would be! How often does this happen???

And, what else did they do? Removed 5500 miles of dirt and grime. They detailed her for free!!!!!

Needless to say, I am quite happy with Red Rock Harley. This is an unpaid recommendation; stop by Red Rock Harley on Rainbow if you are in Las Vegas and need or want anything Harley related.

OK, I am leathering up and going for a ride.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Biker? Baker??

One of the things I like to do is bake and cook. Yes, bikers can indeed cook and be darned good at it.

Here we have on the left a Peanut Butter Heath Bar cookie.

On the right is an experimental, and good tasting oatmeal white chocolate cookie.

Give me a bike to ride, a different bike to wrench on, few good books, some good friends, strong coffee and a good kitchen!

OK. Step away from the keybuard, buddy.

Much to my chagrin, I did indeed click the "Publish Post" button on my previous post. Let's start a few days ago, shall we?

Wednesday night I feel like a beer. So, while getting dinner for my daughter, her boyfriend and myself at a local grocery store, I buy a 12-pack.

'Sure, that will last me all weekend, no problem.' Hmmm...

So, Wednesday night I have two.

Thursday night I have two.

Then there was Friday night. For no particular reason I sat in bed and decided to watch some National Geographic videos on Hulu and have a few beers.

Then I proceeded to watch some episodes of "Quantum Leap" and other assorted sci-fi shows. And have some more beers.

AND then decided it would be a good idea to hop on the internet and have some beer. There is some reading and laughing and writing. AND beer.

Well, I fell asleep with the thought I had written something here and not posted it. OK. No problem. I try to be careful when drinking and writing, to NOT post something until the next day so I can honestly see what drivel I wrote.

OOPS. Not this time. But as a badge of my stupidity, I will leave it up. What the hell.

Ride safe, all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Phone

Here it is. A phone; a piece of machinery that connects people.

For the last 10 years or so, I owe my financial well being to the telephone. In 1998 or so my current boss at a telecommunications company calls me with a job offer. I accept.

Cell phones bother me. Not the phones themselves but just using them. For years, during the 'dark times' they were an instrument of codependency and manipulation.

The cell phone rings. My ex. "Where's the whiskey? I KNOW you know where it is!" "Mr. Razor, could you please pick up your wife before the cops arrest her?" I could go on ad-nausium.

Now, there is a need to grow past that dislike, pushing into my uncomfortability zone. It is a necessity. I need to call. Need to use this tool. If you read this and receive my call, I sincerely hope you understand. This simple act of making a phone call is not always so simple.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Satisfaction, Never and Always

Satisfaction, Never and Always.

The road tempts with catharsis and peace and power and freedom.

Every mile, every turn, every straightaway; desert or mountain or plain satiates the primal being. The grinding pegs, early mornings, hum of the road, thump of the engine, din of the wind washes everything away, leaving nothing but the rider's bare eternal primal soul.

The day's end, a beer, a camp fire, silence and reflection. More is needed. There is so much to wash away but less. Gaining in perspective but ride as one might through sun and rain, heat and bone chilling cold, the end of the ride leaves an empty something.

A turn, a fork in the road, an unintended stop may bring unknown adventure, a new friend, a partner or more. Who's to say for there is satisfaction. Yet at the end of the day there is not.

To ride one more day, to be satisfied, to cleanse, to make a difference, to carry the colors again. That is my desire; my prayer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waystations

6:30 AM. 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity 84%.

Cold blooded Athena rumbles her complaints but knows we must be moving on. Another waystation ahead. Will there be shelter? Will there be dry warmth where the two of us can recover from the elements?

One never knows for sure when the next safe waystation may be. In this cold, harsh world, one must have faith in ones' friends and that the next stop will welcome the chilly, wet, tired rider. When a friend or waystation with open arms is found, they must be remembered, savored and held close to the heart, lest they be lost forever in a sea of mediocraty and ambivalence.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Maintenance & Repair Time

Yes, it is that time. Since Las Vegas really has no concrete riding season and alternate off-season, there is a certain pain behind my right eye while undertaking lengthy work on my primary motorcycle. If it is over 25F and under 120F in the morning, and Athena is willing, I ride.

But, it is time. She needs a little TLC. The items are not major, and will hopefully not keep me off the road long.
  • Rear Brake Caliper - There is something wrong with the rear caliper and/or caliper bracket. The rear pin on the caliper and bracket is loose and simply will not tighten. In my attempt to investigate, something else was discovered... The primary caliper pin is the wrong size and was forced into the caliper. That pretty much ruined the threads, but to add to the fun, whoever did this wonderful motorcycle repair, used Loc-Tite. So, now the pin goes in far enough to hold, but not far enough for me to be comfortable.
  • Rear Tire - $215. Before leaving on my little cross-country trip, the rear tire was worn but not unusable by any means. After riding up to Mesquite last weekend for a poker run, the tire is shot. The inner cords are now peeking through the rubber. NOT good. Date of repair... This Thursday.
  • Engine and Primary lubricant change. Quite an easy process.
  • Bike wash. Athena is quite the dirty girl and seriously needs a good wash and detail.
  • Tune-up and scheduled check-up. Perhaps she is overdue by a few thousand miles, but it needs to be done. New or cleaned air filter, plugs, etc...
  • Straight pipe liners. Liners in the straight pipes are starting to become loose. This causes a rather irritating rattle at mid-RPMs. It is a simple issue to repair.
  • New headlight bulb. Somewhere in Georgia my high-beam light went out. Low beam still works, but only having one gives me the jitters.
Personally, I think the worst part of this entire process is cleaning out the garage so there is ample room to work. Getting greasy holds a certain amount of pleasure. Shuffling boxes and getting rid of the things littering my work area is just not that much fun.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Reason For

There on a large billboard along Interstate 95 and smaller roads in the eastern part of the Las Vegas Valley; God has a message for me. He knows my purpose.

Ok, as a starting point, I am not religious. If it is simple, consider me a spiritual agnostic who has seen a few too many things to consider myself a complete atheist.

The billboards proclaim that God knows my purpose. He does. Really? It happens again.

A yell, a scream, a grab, a cry for help. There is no In/Out sign. There is no on-call schedule. No one pre-arranges these things. They happen. For some unseen reason, I am just there.

Working backward: parent yelling, child screaming and no way I could track down the source of the sound before it stopped; photos of a young boy who was beaten by his step-dad because he was too loud in gym class; little girl, out of the corner of my eye, black eye, before I could get to her through department store crowding, she was gone; man yelling obscenities and threats at his wife from a hotel room; a man yells at and grabs his female companion; a young man, upset with his sister, swears and throws her baby stroller out of her pickup; a woman tries avoiding her argumentative male companion, she sits to eat an apple, he kicks it out of her hand, threatens her and runs away; woman tries running over her boyfriend with her car; and there are more and more.

Two years ago in October my motorcycle was delivered. That was when it really started. There were ocassional incidences before, but nothing like I have observed in the last two years. Abuse and mistreatment seemed to boil to the top and there I am. There are no coincicences.

God knows my purpose? Well. If this is it, I am ready. Bring it on.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Five Things About Razor

Reading through a "how to write a successful personal blog," article, the topic of new post regularity was mentioned. It went something like this, 'Post regularly, even if you have little to write about.'

One of the other topics was 'what to write when you have nothing to write.' That looked interesting. Right there was a post idea; a top five or ten list about you that no one knows. It shouldn't be a regular post topic and should contain obscure yet not mundane topics or things from your life.

So, here goes. Five things you may or may not know about me, Razor.
  1. First Thing I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up: Astronaut.
  2. First Motorcycle I Piloted: Little Honda dirt bike when I was thirteen years old. I was riding it in a field and the clutch cable snapped. Had to speed-shift it three miles or so, up and down hills. Quite the challenge.
  3. First Computer I Owned: A Timex-Sinclair ZX81. After that, I built my own computer based on the 8080 processor, then moved up to a Tandy MC-10 Micro Color Computer.
  4. Things I Did As A Kid to Stay Out Of Trouble: There were plenty of things to keep me out of trouble on the farm. I did the typical farm work, hunting, fishing and climbing trees. Books, short wave radios, computers and electronics also occupied my time.
  5. What Am I Thinking About Right Now: Riding my dirty motorcycle to work. What else???

The Hawk DOT Wine Glossy Full Face Modular Helmet - Some Thoughts

Several weeks ago some young punks stole my helmets. One was an Arashi full face and the other was a Scorpion 3/4. Both silver.

Well, without a helmet I had no choice but to get a new one. After some thought I drove to Cashman Center on the last day of Las Vegas BikeFest. There at the LeatherUp booth is a red, modular helmet.

"How much?" I ask.

"$65. I don't want to pack all of this."

So, for $65 I bought a nice looking, DOT approved, modular helmet. Overall, it seems to be well constructed. The thumb pull modular release has never failed to lock or unlock. The paint and finish on the helmet's skin is rather thin and is not terribly durable. Mine has quite a few little scuffs and scratches.

There are two controllable vents. The one above the forehead tends to stick a bit. The vent in front of the rider's mouth doesn't stick much, but admittedly, the vents are pretty darned cheap.

Some helmets I have tried tend to deaden some of the ambient noise. The Hawk helmet does not, and I think that is a good thing. My Arashi and more expensive helmets did not attenuate the noise, and I like that.

The only thing that is a specific flaw in the Hawk Modular Helmet is the fact that the top of the visor does not even touch, let alone seal with the upper part of the helmet. In dry riding conditions, this is not a problem. In wet conditions this flaw becomes an issue. Rain easily enters the face area when riding through heavy rain, or slowly riding through moderate precipitation.

While this flaw is easily repaired with a length of simple household weather stripping, it is not something to overlook when reviewing.

Ken's ranking: 3.5 out of 5 thumbs-up.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Crushin' My Butt

Yes. It is that time... again...

On the last day of my little riding expedition, logic was surprisingly still holding strong. The thought was simple; 'I need to save money. Smoking costs nearly $100 per month. Smoking is not good for you. Quit. If I can ride like this, I can stop.'

So, at this point, my body as been without nicotine for 36 hours. It feels good... A little strange but good.

I am not depriving myself of anything else. Food, coffee, tea, sex, whatever... Oh wait. The whole sex thing, ya, about as active as a jelly fish after laying out in the desert for a few weeks. TMI? Sorry. No smoking here, so expect odd behavior. :-P

Seriously, since I quit a few days ago, it is as if I can't eat enough. Sure, I get full. It is as if I have the munchies. Well, healthy munchies. I am attempting to stay close to veggies and fruits and other healthy food. While not 100% successful, that's ok.

So, Athena awaits a new rear tire in the garage, Reb awaits a new oil seal. Vixen is still in 500 pieces and I fight the desire to grab a pack and start smoking again. Interesting day today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where I am, physically anyways.


Yup. Weatherford, Oklahoma. Just a little something from a wet, cold, bike riding amateur film maker. :-P

Riding Thoughts - Some Loose Ends

Riding for hours and hours, the subconscious tends to work while the conscious is busy controlling the motorcycle, time and space. Sometimes it locks onto something and nudges the conscious, 'Hey buddy, I got something important for you.'

Two days ago it knocked as I rode, cold and soaked to the skin. I have loose ends.

From my previous life there are bills and debts and loans. The reason is unclear completely, but my subconscious tells me that these loose ends must be tied up before I move on. To be clear, after the 'dark times' were over, I owe nearly $20,000 not counting my motorcycles. That is a chunk.

Through the recent years I have learned to trust my subconscious, my gut. Not going to question it, just follow the lead.

Now it is a matter of how to accomplish this task, and in short order too. I need to get past this.

Oh, and I don't gamble or strip so MegaBucks and male pole dancing is out of the question. LOL

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Riding as Life

There it is. A singular road sign on a well trodden path pointing off to the right where fresh two lanes lead off into the woods.

What is there? Maybe nothing but a lane into another frustrating Orwellian housing complex. Maybe an uncompleted asphalt stub only leading to a dead end. Maybe there will be soaking cold rain along the ride. Maybe you will go broke. Perhaps it will be straight and perfect and a little boring.

But just maybe there will be mountains and twisties and sweepers and sights and sounds and scents never before experienced. Just maybe. Can you resist? Even the detractors and expense, the possibility of getting soaked or being bored add to the adventure. The possibilities and chances tumble in your mind as the exit comes closer.

On a motorcycle or life... Take it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Route. Here we Go!

Well, the route is set. Athena has a new set of grips, fresh oil and short of a minor 'Harley Leak' she is ready. I need to take care of some bills, pack and I will be ready.

Right now, the route is pretty solid but may be changed slightly depending on traffic, time, weather and a host of other things. But, here it is, in order of travel. If anyone wants to meet up, let me know. I plan on spending a few days in Pensacola and a few in Burlington, NC. Other than that, it is road-time, baby!



View Larger Map


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View Larger Map

Another fellow is making a similar run for Best Friends Animal Shelter about the same time. The two of us discussed the possibility of meeting up, but alas, no luck. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So many things, so little money and so little time...

My last little jaunt across the continent was well prepared for compared to this one. For the past month things in the Razor household and life in general has been nearly non-stop.

It has been a very good form of busy, so no complaints at all.

Trip preparations have unfortunately suffered. I may have moved more than a month ago but still can't find my tools! So, the oil needs to be changed and grips replaced as soon as I find them, before I leave.

Then there were unexpected costs not associated with the trip. Alas, about 50% of the trip fund has been drained. With enough money for gas, a few nights of hotel stay and a few meals, planned departure is this Saturday, October 17 at 6AM.

I mentioned in my previous post that live trip reports would be posted on FaceBook. Here is my FB Page for those interested. Join up. This should be an interesting ride.

Luckily, I have places to stay in Oklahoma City, Pensacola and Burlington. The rest will be cheap motels and any couch I can rustle up.

Oh, and that feeling of adventure hit me this morning. That "what in the hell am I doing," thought was nearly as palpable as a rock wall. Honestly, between us (keep it hush-hush) I nearly threw my cards in after looking at the bills. But why? I thought? Why fold now?

There is adventure out there to be had. I deserve it. There are two close friends on the other side of the continent I promised to visit this year. The route is simple. My saddle is comfortable even after 600 mile trips. I can pack my food for the most part. I am not folding. The hand has just begun and I am all in.

Perhaps life should be viewed more like that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting Ready For Another Trip

Well, money will be tight. The riding will be hard to minimize hotel stays. Food will mostly be protein and granola bars, fruit I can bring along and maybe something from hotel lobbies. But, I am doing it.

Sure, I could save the money to pay down a loan I have. But this ride is just something that is necessary. Something inside that must be expressed through the art and beauty of a moving motorcycle on asphalt.

So, here is a rough itinerary...
  1. Saturday - Vegas to Albuquerque, NM - 570 miles.
  2. Sunday - Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, OK - 545 miles
  3. Monday - Oklahoma City to Pensacola, FL - 900 miles
  4. Tuesday - Relax on the beach.
  5. Wednesday - Relax on the beach.
  6. Thursday - Relax on the beach.
  7. Friday - Pensacola to Burlington, NC - 680 miles
  8. Saturday - Relax
  9. Sunday - Relax
  10. Monday - Relax
  11. Tuesday - Head Back to Vegas - 2280 miles
  12. Wednesday - Back to Vegas
  13. Thursday - Back to Vegas
  14. Friday - Arrive back in Vegas on Friday Night.
In case of weather or unexpected delays, there are two emergency days. This is going to be fun.

To keep the load lighter and less complex, the computer will stay at home. But, I WILL be posting updates via my cell phone onto my FaceBook account. For those who wish to track my progress across the country, as boring or exciting as it might be, add me there. Just log onto your account (or create a new one) and look for Ken Linder and add me. I am the one in black leathers standing in front of my Sportster.

Safe travels, please. We lost a rider this weekend.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"I Created the Sounds of Madness..."

OK, DonnaJean. Nothing to see here. :-P

Sometimes I feel the need to express my thoughts and feelings through someone else's music or pictures or words. And, well, this is one of those times. This song is played regularly on B.A.C.A. Nation and it is indeed a powerfully good tune. But the video? All I can say is, DAMN!

Sound of Madness by Shinedown

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Don't Steal from a Biker

Just don't.

After a wonderful evening hanging out with Angela Shelton and the B.A.C.A. Nation folks I battled the Las Vegas winds to ride home. Made it safe and sound but with a few frayed nerves. The wind was nasty and unpredictable.

So, I go into the apartment to have a beer, check e-mail and unwind. My daughter, Ed (long story) left me a note to check around for her cell phone. I do.

Not in the apartment from what I can determine.

Maybe the pickup. I open the garage door and walk out. My pickup is parked right around the corner and at midnight or so, there is no one around but myself. So, I leave the door open. Stupid me.

I walk around the corner and check my truck. Nope. Not there. As I close the door, four teenagers (or maybe on their early 20's) walk around the corner. Two guys and two girls. The guys have helmets and are joking around. "HA, here is my Xanax money" or something to that effect.

Initially I think little of it. There are many dirt bikers here and I just thought they were clowning around with their helmets.

Wrong.

Something wasn't right. It hit me. I sprint to my garage around the corner. Helmets are not there.

Cell phone. 911.

I run back to the car they got in. They are leaving. I point my finger at them. 'They had better stop. Those are MY helmets!'

Instead they nearly run me down to speed away.

Folks. If you steal, don't do it from bikers. The cops have their license plate and the word is out to watch for my helmets.

If I see them, I have a few four letter words for them. Plans must be changed now. I was going on a charity run tomorrow morning for a Pediatric Brain Tumor organization. Can't now. I will need to spend $100 or more of my money for a new helmet rather than having that for my trip.

Normally I am very laid back. I am not laid back now. I am pissed.

Just... DO NOT STEAL FROM BIKERS!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cross Country Redux - T-Minus 16 Days

More or less...

After my cross country ride last year, a decision was made. Every year I would take one helluva ride somewhere. This year there were two choices. First was a ride to Yellowknife and back. Nearly 5,000 miles of solitude and scenery and green. Second was a wild idea; a 50CC. For those that don't know, a 50CC is a hell-ride. Coast to coast, San Diego to Jacksonville, FL in under 50 hours.

Decisions...

Athena could likely do either. But, could I? Yellowknife seems wonderfully exotic but a bit expensive. A 50CC ride would be harsh and punishing. What if something broke down? What if...

One of my best friends lives in North Carolina and another in Florida. Other friends seem to start popping up; one in Texas, one in Louisiana, one in Michigan, one in Pennsylvania, one in Wisconsin, several in New England.

The decision was made for 2009, another coast to coast, not a 50CC. A three day hard ride from Vegas to Pensacola in preparation for a 50CC in 2010. But when? I wanted to leave early in October but events and plans precluded that. Early November was decided. I would depart on Halloween. But... always a but... Something had slipped my mind. An event on November 7th I needed to attend here in Las Vegas.

Leave on November 8? I would be back near Thanksgiving. There are plans in the works to be in Northern CA then. And what of the cold, unpredictable weather in the midwest?

So, I look and think. After Thanksgiving wouldn't do. I want, no, need the ride. And there it was. October 16 through Halloween. Two weeks plus one day. It is now up to my boss. If he gives the green light, there it is.

Money is tight so gas and motels will be the limit of my expenses. Food will all be packed.

I am excited; elated. Several years ago within my mind, the definition of an adventure was defined. Any time I say to my self, "what the hell am I doing," it is an adventure. Life is an adventure. Let's ride.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

365 Days Ago

365 days ago... or so... I was not here.

I was warming myself in the Colorado sun riding east on my journey that would take me to Kitty Hawk, the Atlantic Ocean, Oklahoma City, Chattanooga, Route 66 and Memphis. A good memory, it pulls my mind and desires back to the road.

For those who don't feel the inner urge, the desire, any explanation would be lost in translation. It simply cannot be comprehended. Imagine someone attempting to explain quantum physics to a typical Nevada high school student.

While packing I found an aging notebook at the bottom of a weathered box. In it are trip plans first conceived in the mid and late 1990's. There are interesting titles like "Top of the World, Jeep Style" and "Alaska, Two Weeks, Two Wheels" and "Around the US in 30 Days." The pull is strong; irresistible to some. Disenchanted by Las Vegas and sensing the beginning hints of a broken marriage, the road called out. It wanted to comfort an increasingly weary soul.

I didn't listen then.

A decade later I did.

Saturday, October 31, Halloween, 6 AM, I plan to depart on on another cross country trek. Two weeks of Athena, the road and friends. For me, this is living. Hope to see some of you out there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kudos for Good Caging

Cagers, specifically the stupid, texting, cellphone using, reading, iPod Playing, stop sign ignoring, porn watching cagers of Las Vegas receive quite a bit of well deserved tongue lashing from me here. To those I have waggled a finger at or wrapped my engine at, you deserve it. Friggin drive that vehicle!

What is rarely mentioned are the contentious drivers out there. Earlier this week I was riding behind an older van on the I-215. The hazard lights come on and it slows while easing onto the shoulder. I slow and ease around, pulling onto the shoulder in front of the van. Turning on my hazard blinkers and stopping the engine, I dismount, look back to the driver. I flash the thumbs-up / thumbs-down to her.

She holds her cell phone out the window and yells with a smile, “I just need to make a phone call! Thanks!”

If it were not for my full face helmet, my jaw would have likely fallen off. Thank you, mysterious young lady for being a safe and responsible driver.

Last night there was an errand on the other side of Vegas that needed to be attended to. While waiting to turn left at a busy intersection an old beater pickup pulls in behind me. I look at the driver. There is no way he could be more than 18 yet he is safely one car length behind me. Not many drivers, let alone a young one, would be that thoughtful.

Maybe a fluke. Maybe he was clowning around with his young passenger and just stopped early.

Maybe not.

After turning left I get into the right lane and the pickup in the left. Down the street traffic gets squirrelly. The large SUV gas guzzler I am behind veers onto a side street, revealing the issue. A small fender bender accident is immediately ahead in the right lane.

With traffic solid in the left lane there is nothing I can do but stop and wait for the left lane to clear up. Then, what do I see? That same pickup, driven by that same young driver in the left lane, STOPPING and WAVING ME IN!

Holy Schnitzel! I ride in front of the pickup, past the fender bender and back into the right lane, being sure to wave at this young fellow. In my opinion, 75% of Las Vegas drivers should take a lesson from these young drivers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Curiosity...

There is a certain wonder, certain curiosity we all have to varying degrees. What is this? Why is that? When will the coffee be done? And the intensity varies from day to day, hour to hour. It is normal and it is good.

For some reason this evening I wonder why some refer to me as a biker. Does a biker have a certain look? A certain attitude? A certain intangible something?

What is the difference between a motorcycle enthusiast and a biker? Is there one? Are they the same?

My reading took me to a few places...
What Makes a Biker
Are You a Biker?
Definition of a biker??
Daily Blather...

Here is what I have learned tonight. It doesn't matter. Who's up for a little midnight ride?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Foot

Stop sign.

Small blue and silver car.

Driver didn't stop.

Second gear.

Front wheel off the ground.

One foot.

There are several four way stops near where I live. I am always, I mean ALWAYS careful. It paid off by the fact I am not writing this from a hospital room. Or worse, that I am not able to write this at all.

I stop at the same time two other vehicles do; one to the right, one to the left. Person on the right goes and person on the left waves at me. Once the intersection is clear I start. In mid intersection, to my right, a speeding car masked by the other stopped traffic.

There was no hesitation, no thought. I twist the throttle to WOT in an instant. The front wheel comes up just as the car passes within a foot of my rear fender. they didn't even slow down. Probably better for them. If they had, I just might have given them an ear-full.

If I had been in my pickup, I would have been T-Boned. On my Rebel, well, there would have been no way to get out of the way. Athena carried me through.

Maybe she was happy to get a nice new front tire. Perhaps she was watching out for me. Maybe the new ride bell a friend bought for me. Maybe it was just physics.

Any more, I don't know.

Ride safe out there, just like you are invisible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Haunting

I try to live under the concept of "no regrets," and "live for today," and lately, "you can sleep when you are dead."

Honestly, that first one, has a few wrinkles. You see, there is a ghost haunting me. Not the type that goes 'boo' or creaks the stairs or rattles ethereal chains in the attic. This one just hangs out in my subconscious, occasionally stimulating my long term memory and visual cortex.

199o, Prospect Heights, Illinois. My ex-wife and I had just purchased a small condo for a nice price. It was right on the approach path for one of Palwaukee Airport's runways. Didn't bother us much.

It was an unusually quiet and pleasant late summer Saturday. Our third floor condo had a small balcony where I could regularly be found on the weekends grilling or watching the planes or reading or just enjoying a coffee, looking down at the small cul-de-sac parking lot. This fine Saturday was winding down. The afternoon breeze cooled the grill after sizzling up a nice round steak.

Going out to clean the grill, I see it. Them. In the car.

Now, I am 43 and my memory of things past is becoming a bit hazy. Never known for a good memory, I can't even remember my new street address after living here two weeks.

But those shoes. Those red sneakers and white socks worn by a boy, likely in his teens. Flailing under the weight of an older man, all that was visible of the two was from the waist down, hanging out of the open left rear car door.

Sneakers and socks waving wildly, trying to catch hold of something, anything. The man's waist twisting in a motion that could only indicate he was swinging his fists.

Muffled cries could be heard as I yelled down. He didn't stop. I called 911.

Part of me wanted so badly to go down there and break it up; get between the two. Another part thought of the danger and the legal issues and the fact that I had a new job and bills to pay and a baby on the way. All I did was call 911 and yell at the bastard.

The man stopped and exited. There was only a barely perceptible crying coming from below. The boy, no longer thrashing, likely exhausted and injured, pulled his legs and his red shoes and his white socks into the car.

I yell. Ignoring me, the large balding bastard closes the door, opens the driver's door and drives away. No plates.

Police arrive about ten minutes later. They take a brief statement and leave.

To this day, I wonder of that boy. Wonder if that now thirty-something man is ok. Wonder if justice or karma was served. What would have been different if I had gone down there.

I wonder.

Should that happen now, there is no question what I would do. No hesitation. No pause. No regrets. I would be that obsticle.
---------------
Kind readers, this is sadly a true story and one I don't believe has been told. It is one of my ghosts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Passing on the Love of the Road

There are those times when we have the opportunity to pass our love of riding on to another generation, another group, another person. Those times offer infinite open doors.

What if this person asking about my bike is the next Robert Pirsig? The next Lois Pryce? The next Neil Peart? Passing the love of the road and of riding onto another can be profound to both the giver and the receiver.

This weekend as I relax with a Red Bull outside an Albertson's grocery store, a thirty-something woman and her son walk by, both eying Athena. She was freshly detailed and looking sharp in the Las Vegas sun.

Even at thirty feet away, their necks craned, they continue to look. Then, they turned around and returned. And then she asked me the question...

"How do I learn to ride?"

I have read some people feel new riders should be discouraged to cull out those who only want to ride for show or adrenalin or to look attractive to the opposite sex. The motorcycling wannabees. Personally, their reasons are of no concern to me. They are interested in riding, and that is what matters.

I show her my Motorcycle Safety Foundation BRC card and tell her of the classes offered up the street at the College of Southern Nevada. Her and her son's eyes sparkle as I tell of the BRC exercises and training and of my trips. She asks more questions, including those of danger and safety and I answer honestly.

She promised to call the college and sign up. It felt good to pass a little of my love along. A changed life, a changed world may only begin with a single change of direction.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lessons of the Wind

The wind teaches us many lessons on a motorcycle.

A forward wind tells us to not ride so fast; relax and enjoy the scenery. Not heeding this lesson results in rider exhaustion and poor fuel efficiency.

A rear wind teaches that there are times when the natural elements can help the rider by making the path easier to navigate with less energy required.

A side wind teaches that it is folly to directly fight some forces. Trust yourself, your bike and ride easily through the crosswinds. Enjoy the lean, don't go so fast and use your mind to maintain the line.

It regularly surprises me that lessons learned on a motorcycle are directly usable to life.

Ride safe, all. There will be a tailwind eventually.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Time as the Wind Blows

Ah, the roadblock is clearing at just the right time. SO many things to write about, so many things to do, so many things to think about and SO many miles to ride.

Ever wonder how linear time really is? In reality it isn't. It bends and twists and given the right circumstances can be quite distorted.

Let's start at the beginning, nearly 30 years ago. There my grandfather and I are, sitting on lawn chairs on the bank of a small stream in Illinois. The late summer sun warmed our bodies as the early morning coffee steamed in thermos cups. My fishing pole starts twitching. I set the hook and start reeling in my catch. Pulling it free of the water, I mutter "damn." A snapping turtle.

The hook is barely in it's mouth but there is no way I would put my fingers within striking distance. My Grandfather gives me a pair of pliers and a pocket knife. After a brief struggle, the turtle is free and swimming back into the stream.

Using the pocket knife I cut the line and replace the damaged hook. When done, I hand the knife back to my Grandfather. He shakes his head, "You keep it. You need a good little knife."

"Old Timer" is stamped on its small side plate. Made by Schrade in the USA, its three small blades sharpened near the point where someone could shave with it.

Bump ahead thirty years. I am moving; cleaning out a closet. There on the floor is the knife my Grandfather gave me. I smile and place it into my pocket.

Several days later my daughter and I are out shopping. In celebration of her new job I am buying her a new pair of pants or two. SLAM goes the truck door; and the sinking feeling immediately hit. My keys are still in the truck; doors locked tight.

Locksmiths are not inexpensive. After a dozen calls, I settle on one that will open my truck's door for ONLY $50.

My daughter comes out of the store and says, "Dad, I read something on the internet. Mind if I try a few tricks with that old knife you found?"

"Sure, as long as you don't break my truck or the knife," I smile.

She takes the knife her Great Grandfather gave me... and picks the door lock in about five seconds! Not only did that save me from paying $50 but made me wonder a little more about time and fate and free will.

Maybe it is all like the wind. Free will can change its speed and direction but it is still the wind.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

AH! A Roadblock!

There I am, relaxing and reading blogs. And the one-way sign seems to be up. Blog after blog, MeanDonnaJean and mq01 and Ann and Doug and Wooley and Torch and Earl and a host of others... And I so want to respond, write something more meaningful than "Yup," or "I feel ya," or "oh ya."

The words are there, simply stuck behind a roadblock. Luckily roadblocks are temporary. After I recover from my move, it will likely fall to the side of the road.

So, until I can write something that resembles cognizant thought, ride safe!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Caging is Dull?

Since getting my motorcycle license and starting to ride, driving my truck has been a secondary choice in my transportation needs. The only time I drive is when I need to transport people or things; Athena is not feeling well; or I am not feeling well. For the last two years I have not traveled out of the Las Vegas Valley on four wheels for recreation.

As circumstances would have it last Monday, I drove my pickup to work. The plans were for a buddy and myself to drive to St. George. We would have ridden but we both decided that caging it would be better.

About 3:30 in the afternoon he calls. Something important came up and he can't make it. No problem at all. I thought, 'It will be an enjoyable, peaceful, thoughtful drive. This is going to be fun.'

Apparently, motorcycle riding has spoiled me. Driving the 130 some odd miles to St. George was more mechanics than anything. For one reason or another my brain would simply not enter into a shallow, let alone anything that could be considered a deep philosophical mode. Retrospection and introspection were not operable either.

I drove. Changed radio stations. Changed lanes. Drank water and a Red Bull. It was not calm, the drive was actually somewhat unsettling.

The gorge from Mesquite to St. George was honestly boring and dull. Riding through there has always been an experience. Driving? Simply motion.

Interesting change of perspective from not even two years ago. Caging is dull? For some, yes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't Wait

First of all, many thanks go out to my friends Deb and Rick for sending this. It is very much appreciated.

Secondly, instead of e-mailing it to my friends, here it is. I wouldn't want it to get caught in a spam filter somewhere.
--------------------------------
A friend of mine opened his wife's underwear drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package: "This, - he said - isn't any ordinary package."

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

"She got this the first time we went to New York , 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on , was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is it."

He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral home, his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said: "Never save something for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion."

I still think those words changed my life. Now I read more and clean less.

I sit on the porch without worrying about anything.

I spend more time with my family, and less at work.

I understood that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through.

I no longer keep anything.

I use crystal glasses every day...

I'll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if I feel like it.

I don't save my special perfume for special occasions, I use it whenever I want to.

The words 'Someday and One Day' are fading away from my vocabulary.

If it's worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now...

I don't know what my friend's wife would have done if she knew she wouldn't be there the next morning, this nobody can tell.

I think she might have called her relatives and closest friends. She might call old friends to make peace over past quarrels. I'd like to think she would go out for Chinese, her favorite food.

It's these small things that I would regret not doing, if I knew my time had come. Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.

Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one.
-----------------
Ride it like you stole it.
I added that last one. ;-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking for a Little 'Dirty Time'?

There are times in everyone's life when it is appropriate to get a little dirty. Idle moments in the mind turn to dirty thoughts. Sights, sounds, scents and tactile sensations that under normal circumstances would be banal become the sparks of obsession.

An empty garage. The scent of leather and diesel fuel. The slipperiness of fresh oil. The sounds of a thunderstorm. Those dirty magazines and websites and advertisements conspire against my last twenty-some years of cleanliness.

Yes. I used to be a dirty boy. Memories like echos from a previous life are becoming clearer. In the garage or shed. Maybe the barn on a sweltering Saturday afternoon and out by the pond on Sunday. After school under the oak tree was a favorite.

Alright. Before I run into any trouble, I want to get dirty. I mean really dirty.

Like grease and oil and skinned knuckles and sweaty type of dirty.

Had you going???

Growing up on a farm I learned to love getting dirty repairing things. Big things, not like toasters and coffee pots and door bells. I mean big pickups and Caterpillar dozers and cranes and tractors and all means of mechanical items.

Replacing that fuel injector in my little Chevy pickup really caused a spark. Struggling through a few repairs on my Rebel fanned the flames. Repairing the clutch on my Sporty was honestly joyful.

And my poor little VX800 project bike; all 500 pieces of her. In garage where I will be moving is a place all ready for her. She will come back to life... I will get dirty again... And enjoy the hell out of it!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Message From the Past

It started as a slow trickle about two years ago. There in a box, unopened in years and many moves, was a letter. Not just any letter, but one from a dying man to his eldest son. The paper somewhat crisp after nearly thirty years but well preserved.

It was not long or deep with philosophy or emotion; that wasn't the type of man he was. It was a simple letter wishing his son well and telling of the man's recent difficulties. He was failing in many ways. Even through his honest attempt to hide this fact, it was obvious to his son.

Through moist eyes, I read the letter a few more times, smoked a few more cigarettes and swore. It was a one way letter. That man is buried in a grave to the right of this photo in the Eliza Creek Cemetery.

You see, the man sent this letter the day before he died. The son received it a few days after he passed. I was starting my senior year of high school in 1983.

The trickle slowly increased. While packing for my upcoming move, I found a shot glass. Not just any shot glass, but one my dad used to drink the occasional Canadian Club from. I packed it carefully.

Then, slowly, old friends from school would find my profile on FaceBook and add me. People I hadn't conversed with in over twenty years were contacting me as if we had only just parted.

The pace increased. A fellow I went with to my first concert contacted me. To my utter surprise, not only is he doing well, but is in a real band making money! AND, he rides a StreetGlide!

Then a few days ago, who sends me a message about a certain 25 year high school class reunion? My girlfriend from high school... AND she made me laugh by asking if I were with the Hell's Angels. (No, I am not).

Last night I was messaged by a lady from grade school!

Here is the crux of this post... I understand that there is something going on that I don't understand. Does history have a message for me? Why should these people and things start becoming part of my life again? Not that it isn't welcome, quite the contrary, but why?

And here is one of the reasons that make me wonder. A few weekends ago, while packing, I discovered a small cache of photos from when I was a kid. I was smiling and laughing and playing.

'Look at what I had, who I was and now... who I am. Where did that guy go? Will he awake? Will he rest forever? Will he till the ground again? Will he kiss the hand of a beautiful woman again?'

And words failed. For more than a week the words would simply not come out, whether it be computer or voice or pen and paper. Sentences and paragraphs held hostage in a cranial traffic jam. Off in the distance is the cause; my history and my reality. I let the words go and the traffic jam disintegrated.

What does it want to tell me, and further, do I really want to know?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shift Of the Gears - Best Buy Selling Motorcycles?


What do you all think? In thirty years will we be heading to Best Buy or Fry's or Circuit City to buy a motorcycle? Will fake leather and armor clad riders sporting eco-friendly tattoos gather behind the local strip malls to eat artery friendly BBQ while telling stories of how loud and noisy and smelly old motorcycles used to be.

Will talk change from Synthetic versus Dino to Fuel Cell versus Nickel Cadmium?

Will us 'old timers' lament the passing of adventure riding? Cruising? Chrome? Loud Pipes? Poker Runs? Long Distance Touring? The tactile sensation of the opposite sex in real leather?

Luckily, most of us will likely have ridden into the sunset before this happens. Thoughts?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Target Fixation

One thing every motorcycle rider must learn to avoid is target fixation. Target fixation is a process or situation when the mind focuses on one thing to the exclusion of most everything else.

Beginning riders have a propensity to look down at the road in front of the wheel. They also have tendencies to focus on what their brains think are hazards. Things like light poles and caution signs and even median dividers can be deadly.

Riders fight target fixation their entire lives. Maybe drivers' education and training should focus more on this topic.

You see, I was nearly the victim of target fixation today. Not MY fixation, but the fixation of a car driver.

While riding in a little group today, a car driver seemed to become fixated on the front of our group and changed lanes... right where I was. Thank goodness for good brakes!

And thanks to the other folks in my group who watched out for me.

Ride and drive safely all!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Holding the Reins Tight

So, what to do this weekend... Saturday is to be cooler than normal, likely no warmer than 95. There are a few dollars roaming in my pocket, so where to?

There are things to do Saturday morning and a friend is coming over Sunday to help pack, so only about twelve hours. What cool place can I go within 12 hours? Someplace secluded; someplace quiet; someplace uncommon...

The first place that came to mind was Rachel, Nevada and the Little A'Le'Inn. But, why make that my point of turn around?

After poking around Google Earth, I found a little ghost town site between Rachel and Tonopah called Warm Springs. Any guess why?

If you answered, 'Because of the warm springs, duh!!!' You would be correct! Apparently this little place was home to a stage coach station back in the mid-to-late 1800's. While very few remains of the station and other buildings of that era still remain, supposedly a previous owner in the 40's or 50's tried to make the area into a nice, relaxing rest stop for people traveling between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Later in the 20th century, someone attempted to operate a little bar and grill. While it is now abandoned, the building is still there.

At any rate, it seemed like a perfect little day trip for Saturday. A cool morning ride up to dip my toes in a real, natural warm spring. Then, a ride over to the Little A'Le'Inn for lunch. Finish it off with a relaxing ride back to Vegas.

So, yesterday the plan is set and I start my pre-trip bike check-out.

Oil? Check
Lights? Check
Controls? All solid. Check.
Tires?

Ah... Tires???

Hello??? Are the tires OK???

Crap. Reality hits me. I need a new front tire. Not only is the wear below the wear bars, but the tread is nearly gone. I have no problem commuting back and forth to work, but to ride 300 miles into the desert where there is no cell coverage? Maybe not right now.

So I check. $130 for a new tire and mounting from a local independent. Only $130. Nope. The cash I have is needed for the move. Next month.

So, this morning I am poking around Craigs List while waiting for some reports to run and what do I find? As some of you may know, I have a 1991 Suzuki VX800 project bike. Well, I really need a donor bike to make mine complete. I found one. Only $200 and a five hour drive away.

BUT. Cash is short. Maybe next month.

Perhaps this is a little learning experience. Right now I hold the reins tight, but definitely not forever.