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


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?


(Image "Nexus" from )

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


"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


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