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


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.