Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Prayer for the Silent Warrior

Hold fast your sword and tight your shield against the oncoming night. They are battle worn and show the scars of skirmishes won and lost but in your hands are peerless, flawless and shall lead you and all you love through safely until the blessings of dawn grace the universe. Demons and vermin cower at the glint of moonlight on your blade. Tempests rage against your armor yet you hold strong. When the singing of heaven-borne birds herald the oncoming morn I pray you find repose beside the blue-green crystal waterfall, for there I shall be and you may rest your weary head on my shoulder and weep and rest.

Prayer for the Silent Warrior

-Ken Linder 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Underqualified

As a proper preface, while going through a few of my boxes I discovered some backup CDs from days gone by. There was a phase where I dabbled in something called flash fiction and other forms of short story telling. Here is one that had been hiding a while.

Just so you know, gentle reader, this story has nothing to do with my own Dad. I just needed a character to convey an antagonistic current, and well, this is how it turned out.

"Underqualified" (C) 2011, by me.
---------------

“Underqualified! Again,” his father would say over and over. It was his mantra of self loathing.

“Jamie, I hope one day you ain’t underqualified,” he would say, old computer in front of his glazed eyes, bottle of whiskey in one hand, cigarette in the other.

“But Dad,” his son pleaded with a hint of desperate, youthful helpfulness. “Why don’t you just go to school and learn something. Get good and then you can get a job. I know you can. Just try, ok?”

He lay his head on the table in perpetual desperation. “I can’t, Jamie. I’m too old. Companies want the young workers, not old bastards like me.”

“But, Dad…”

“Go play, son and leave this old man alone.”

It was the same, night after night. Searching the Internet and newspapers for jobs, half bottle of whiskey and pack of cigarettes consumed in solitude before collapsing on the tattered couch or fourth hand easy chair. At the age of twelve Jamie just stopped trying. He was unqualified to help his father. Those that could help were ”stupid,” or “didn’t know shit,” or “didn’t know how hard his life was.”

“Jamie, come on, hun! If we are going to make the 7:15 ferry we gotta make tracks!”

Through the tears, he smiled. Standing at his Dad’s diminutive, newly cut gravestone, head bowed, he prayerfully whispered, “I love you Dad. Fuck you and your goddamn underqualifications.”

Turning, he wiped the tears from his face and waved to his girlfriend waiting with their bikes by the gravel road. Putting on his helmet and gloves he thought, ‘Fuck your underqualifications. Life is waiting for me to grab it.’

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My New Little Scoot

May I introduce my newest member of the family... A classic 1981 Honda CB900F.

She is an ancestor of the entire current Honda sport bike line. They were only sold in the states in 1981 and 1982 but marketed in other places from 1979 to 1983. That was the first generation; there was a second generation in the mid to late 2000's that was also known as the Hornet in Europe and the Honda 919 in the states.

Onward...

1981 Honda CB900F -vs- 2004 Harley XL1200C
The ride is a LOT different. With my Sportster, almost every bump and rock in the road causes a minor tremor. With the CB, the suspension just absorbs the energy. It can still be felt, but the feeling of being slugged in the backside with a 2x4 isn't there.

While I am not necessarily one to ride fast around corners, the CB does make it fun. Where the Sporty would dive into corners, needing pressure to keep her from laying over all the way, the CB just glides into them while maintaining wonderful balance. AND, in tight corners I could feel the Sporty's rear tire slide ever so slightly. Quite disconcerting. And it isn't the tire. Several rear tires have been on my bike with the same feel.

There is no sliding sensation on the CB. It's as if there were steel claws on the tires. She takes hold and doesn't let go. Heck, I was doing the motorcycle range at the local college parking lot and was able to do the figure-eight at 15 to 20 MPH. THAT was fun.

Honda didn't design the CB series to be fast from the starting line but get that engine to 4500 RPM and she could eat my Sportster for breakfast. Yes, the torque from the Sportster's V-Twin makes for fast starts, but after about 40 MPH, the CB could leave her in the dust.

Balance... wow what a difference. My Sporty is pretty stable, but the CB can creep along at 5 MPH all day without a problem.

And speed... I have pegged the Sporty and it is a scary thing to feel. The CB speedo only goes to 85 MPH and the engine cranks at about 6200 RPM for that. Her red line is about 9000 RPM. Plenty more speed than the max on the speedometer. And, hunkering down close to the tank gives a nice stable, safe feeling ride.

Mileage...
Here is where the Sporty beats the CB. Hard or moderate riding both yield a mileage of about 55-65 MPG on the Sporty. On my CB, it is 40 - 45MPH. Not so good.

Looks...
Yes, this is subjective, but going to throw it out. My Sportster has been mistaken for several different Harleys. There have been compliments here and there. However... I have only owned my CB for one week and people will just be walking by, stop, look and start up a conversation. Yesterday a neighbor stopped on his way to work and bet me he could tell me what bike it was. He lost. While the paint job doesn't agree with the sensibilities of some, the looks are classic.

Ride...
No more numb ass!!!!! Riding the Sportster was akin to motorized flogging on trips over 200 miles. Today I put about 175 miles on my CB with no uncomfortableness at all!

So... Please don't disown me... and please don't tell my Sportster (although I think she already knows), my old little grandpa of a Superbike is without a doubt my riding favorite.

If you see me on the road, and who could miss a bike painted like this, just give me a wave. See ya all out there!


Friday, October 28, 2011

A Little Riding Video


This guy has it DOWN!

Double click the video to make it full screen. It is DEFINITELY worth it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's In A Name?

What's in a name?

I have Athena, my 2004 Sportster.

I have Reb, my Honda Rebel.

Then there is Vixen and V3, my two, soon to be sold Suzuki VX800 project bikes.

So, what to call my new bike...

Maybe after a long quiet ride on a lonely desert road it will come to me. I pick her up on Saturday... My throttle hand is twitching. Unique bike in itself. Unique custom paint. Maybe sort-of a unique rider. Maybe, just maybe a good match.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pulling the Plug and Pulling the Trigger

There comes a time when one must say, enough is enough.

This morning I swapped ignitions, coils, plugs, carburetors, airboxes and some primary fuses. The best she could manage was a rough idle and occasional rev to about 3000 RPM for 30 seconds.

Here's the catch... she was only hitting off the rear cylinder. The front was firing, and burning fuel but generating almost no energy. My initial, thumb on the spark plug hole compression was false. This time, slowly turning the engine to TDC on the front cylinder yielded something I had feared. One of the exhaust valves was not closing. As a secondary test I removed the airboxes, cranked the engine over with the starter and placed my hand on the front carb's air intake. There is suction, but the rear carb almost sucked my hand in.

So, final analysis... Rear carb needs better adjusting and the jets need to be looked at & cleaned, replaced or who knows. Front cylinder likely has a sticky exhaust valve.

Damn it, Jim! I'm a computer programmer, not a bike mechanic!

Honestly, I NEED some long road time, not long garage time. She has given me a great education into the inner workings of a fine motorcycle; she has helped me learn many things about myself; and now the final lesson - knowing when to say when.

Without a doubt, someone with more talent and time and tools could have her going in little time. That person is not me.

So, this week... when time is available, I will be bagging up all of my VX800 parts and pieces and offering them for sale. I hope whoever buys her will be able to do the honorable thing, and get her running.

Now, on to pulling the trigger... I need something smooth running, somewhat simple, somewhat different, somewhat older or classic, something reliable. I pick her up tomorrow.
Classic 1981 Honda CB900F Superbike. Custom paint, 22k miles, custom saddle... a real head turner. Definitely something I could ride all day without my butt falling asleep and feeling like I was beaten up after 500 miles. More pics tomorrow.

When Too Much is Not a Good Thing

Yes, too much may not be a good thing.

Now with enough room in my garage and with it clean enough to not be considered complete chaos, I broke out my project bike. $110 at Nevada Suzuki for a new battery and diagnostics were ready to commence.

Crank, crank, crank, pop, crank, crank, pop. She would barely hit, enough to show that at least she was operable enough to mix some fuel, compress and cause it to ignite, but not enough to be self sustaining.

A few little squirts of starter fluid and she kicks off for twenty seconds and stops. OK. That reduces the possibility the problem is with the ignition system. Even though I drained the fuel from each carb, there is still gunk in the fuel system, so I keep squirting and running until she finally pops and starts running a little.

20 seconds... 30 seconds... 40... 50... a minute. She is alive and breathing fuel, but just barely.

I shut her down and feel the exhaust pipes. Rear cylinder pipe is nice and warm. Good. Front cylinder pipe is cool. Damn! That is the one I had problems with before.

So, while the battery gets a little charge I pull the plugs. With its compact powerplant, just pulling the plugs is a challenge in itself. But, they do come out and the above picture is what I find. Carbon fouling.

Here is where I made a previous diagnostic failure. Memories of my Dad teaching me to read plugs are coming back and I see the error. Before I would pull and read and since they were wet and black, I thought 'oil leak.' But no black smoke. Diagnostic fail.

It wasn't oil, it was fuel. How do I know? This time I leave the plugs out for a few minutes. If it were oil making them appear wet, they would still appear wet after a few minutes in the air. If it were fuel, it would float away in the air and the plugs would look dry.

Dry.

There was something to chew on now; hard diagnostic analysis. Possible causes: rich fuel mixture; weak ignition; poor compression.

Poor compression is possible, but simple 'finger-over-the-plug-hole' indicate there is compression. It may not be up to spec, but there is. And, if there is indeed a compression problem, it is likely in the valves. There is no cross contamination between engine fluids to indicate any gasket or piston ring failure. So, compression is at the bottom of the possible issues list.

Weak ignition is possible and with my spare parts pile, I can easily replace the coils, plug wires and CDI. Actually, the last time I worked on her, I did swap out the coils and plug wires, so that likely isn't it. But, maybe the CDI. This is high on my list of possible culprits and with a little swap, is easy to confirm or dismiss.

Rich fuel mixture is another strong possibility and very likely the culprit. Getting in there to make fine adjustments is a challenge but not too tough.

So, #1 - Rummage through the garage and find the spare CDI and swap that out.
#2 - If that doesn't work, get out the tiny screw drivers and tweek with the carbs.

Looks like a good wrenchin' Sunday.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Karma Police

While the actual mechanics of Karma are, in my opinion, curious at best, the effects seem natural. You do good things, associate with good people, good things are likely to happen.

You do bad things, associate with bad people, bad things are likely to happen.

Well, I was arrested by the Karma Police, tried and given a sentence. There is no argument of its appropriateness and quite difficult to argue that the punishment does not suit the crime.

Earlier this year I promised someone a spare part from my project bike. Other things in my life pushed and shoved and because of miscalculation of priorities, this promise was pushed so low that it was never fulfilled. For the last month this gnawed on me like a rabid honey badger. So, the only thing that could be done was to contact this gentleman, explain the situation, offer an apology and attempt to make it right.

While gracious, he did say that over the course of the summer, several blue streaks of swearing did indeed, and much deserved, were shot my way. Honestly, I deserved that.

So, last night I spent some time in my garage preparing my project bike, a Suzuki VX800, for another shot at getting it to run. That's when the sirens went off and the Karma Police arrived. The arrest and sentence was swift, decisive and apropos.

For starters, the new battery I purchased about a year ago was not just dead, but had rigor mortise; only about 2 volts. After three hours on the charger, the voltage was still about 2 volts. Dead. Gone. Worth little more than the value of lead in its core.

But there was another part of the sentence... While checking out the chassis, dark spots could be seen on the fender near the front forks. Not one, but both front fork seals were now shot and leaking fork oil like it was running through a sieve.

Nothing irreparable, but quite appropriate. Fair enough. Time to accept the sentences, learn from their lessons and continue moving forward.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Of Friends and Bikes

Over the past several weeks I have received apologies from several friends for their lack of contact with me, or slow response to my e-mails or phone messages. These were heart-felt apologies, not some meaningless platitudes to calm any unsettled feelings they may think I have. One even went so far as to say she was a bad friend.

People have lives and friends are friends, regardless. It is not the frequency or quantity of contact that keeps true friends, it is the quality of that contact.

Now, on to motorcycles.

Yes, I am keeping Athena. We have a long ride coming up in January and she needs a little help preparing. Today while riding around, a mental tally started... $350 for a tune-up and check. $250 for a new set of tires. If the clutch is going again, that's another $200. $75 for a new battery cover and kit. And there was more.

The weather was nice and quite a few bikes on the road, many of them fresh and new and sparkly, not squeaky and a little sun-burnt and decorated with minor bumps and abrasions like Athena. And I thought... What if I just traded her, saved the repair money and not worry about it?

As her purr, her roar, her potential energy under me slightly sniffed with a cold, the speedometer hit 85. We weaved slightly in our lane, teasing the markers and likely confusing the drivers falling behind us. We were dancing.

One doesn't change good dance partners quite so easily. Guess I had better get that tune-up scheduled and new tires picked out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Just a Bucket List Revisited

Before I get to the point of discussing the status of my little bucket list, something needs to be mentioned about my ventures into the world of online social media. For a few days this week a good friend came to visit. While it was brief, the discussions we had were good. No, not good, they were deep, involved, complex and sublimely enjoyable.

This visit was good for the both of us on many levels. I discovered I am not necessarily bad at verbal communications, I just find it more difficult than having on-line relationships on places like Facebook. Sometimes the right thing isn't easy and the things that are easy aren't necessarily right. So, for a while, Facebook will only be a 'once in a while' thing.

And, for me, the ease of verbal communication is directly related to some property of the other party. That property may never be identified or quantified. Maybe it shouldn't be.

Bucket list... We also discussed our bucket lists and something surprising was discovered... I am scared of it. The individual items aren't frightening, and the fact it is directly related to my mortality doesn't phase me in the least.

What is frightening about my list? That at this point, the only thing between these undone items and accomplishing these things is myself.

On one side of the fence is the bucket list. On the other is myself and standing right there on the fence is a second instance of myself with a flame thrower in one hand and flipping me off with the other.

That's it. Just me, and for some reason that scares the hell out of me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On the bucket list... But first a story.

Over the past few days there has been some internal need to review and revise my bucket list. However, that will be for my next post.

Last night was a long one; "Roll Out Friday" as we call it. The maintenance schedule for our main piece of software only allows for downtime on Fridays from 3AM to 6AM. And this was not a typical maintenance release. Three new modules were planned for integration as well as the typical bug fixes.

So, the entirety of this week has been preparation for this little event. Since one of these new modules was mine, by default, I get to help roll it out.

Two nights ago I only had enough time for about 5 hours of sleep, what with bug fixes, testing, administrata, interfacing with users and taking care of some personal things... like baking cookies for my daughter. :-)

Tired... Over tired. Needless to say, four hours of sleep in the last 34 hours does not play well with introspection.

So, I have a lot of stories, do I? OK, here is one of petty theft back in 1998 or so. The statute of limitations on this is likely expired and there is no telling where these people are at this point... So here goes.

A new Star Wars movie had just come out and, as many techie people are, our computer techs and network engineers were fans. Not just fans, but fans with a slightly deviant thread running through them.

A plan was hatched. Several went to the opening of the newest Star Wars movie at a local casino theater where they saw several life-sized cutouts. In their minds, having a Dark Sith Lord watch over them at staff meetings would be comforting... somehow.

With the quiet lack of non-approval from the VP and director (they both were fans as well), several engineers dressed up in matching, official looking attire, drove to the casino, walked in and without a word from security, took the cutouts.

And so, for the remainder of the year we had a life sized Dark Sith Lord in one corner of our meeting room and Darth Vader in another. I remember the first time I saw them. It was about 6AM when I walked into the black dark room and turned on the lights. Interestingly enough this didn't startle me a bit; it had happened before. But, that's another story.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The enemy of my enemy is my friend...

Maybe not so much.*

A friend of mine once told a woman I dated briefly that '...he is full of stories. Just ask him.' Well, I suppose I am. The curious thing is that they are for the most part true.

So, last night after making enough cookies to give the Cookie Monster a stomach ache, it was time to step outside a bit, relax and finish my glass of wine. And for those of you wondering, yes, merlot does indeed go well with sugar cookies. :-)

At any rate, the weather was quite enjoyable and at ten PM, most things are settling down in the neighborhood. A fellow I have seen around here wanders up and introduces himself; we start chatting about how the local area is going down hill and the new vandalism taking place and the increase in drug activity.

I was honestly starting to like this person. Was...

Then the light veil, if one even existed, slightly dropped to reveal a certain something about this initially likeable person. While we both shared a common interest with regard to the neighborhood, his idea of a good neighborhood, as it turned out, is a bit... culturaly monolithic.

The epitaphs he used are in no way welcome here; just know that after he started revealing this certain attitude, the only civilized action available was to excuse myself.

I do not tollerate child abuse, domestic violence, selling drugs to kids and racism... period. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?" Not necessarily.

*Not sure where I read the entire quote, 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Maybe not so much.'

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ratrace-0 ** Razor-1

It realy feels like an addiction in a way; not unlike putting down the pack and not lighting up.

I know the enemy, and he is somewhere inside... wanting to buy stuff. And he is tricky too, just like the nicotine monster.

"Just a little."

"Just this once."

"It won't hurt a thing if you just make it quick."

Sitting here at home, working away this afternoon, the mental list of things to do after work started growing and growing. At its genesis was a simple task; ride to the post office and change my address. Then a simple list of items I needed from the grocery store - just a few things like sugar and zip-lock baggies and some fresh fruit.

Then things started going a little sideways.

For some reason I started thinking about the Knights Templar and how I would like to read more on them. OK, $30 for a book from Barnes and Noble. I can do that.

Then my mind wandered to the bare walls. Last weekend I unearthed my old flying charts.

Hmmm... Maybe I will take this Las Vegas Terminal Area Chart to the little framing place down the street and see how much it would cost for them to flatten the creases and place it in a frame. That would look nifty.

Oh, and a bike! How about stopping by the bike shop. You need more exercise, you know.

You haven't had beer in a week, why not stop and get a bottle or two of microbrews?

That's where I pulled the reins.

What do I need? I need to minimize. This is not minimizing - this is an attempt to justify wants. I don't need a book on the Knights Templar; there is plenty to read in this place. While a Las Vegas TAC would indeed look very nice hanging on the wall, it is not a need. Yes, exercise would definitely be a good thing, but why spend $100 or more on a bike when I can just focus on my hiking while adding a bit of cardio? And the beer? OK, maybe not a need, but it does rank up there in the wants.

What do I need? I need to enjoy the things I have and the people I know.

Tonight... Baking cookies with a little glass of wine, accompanied by music from the stereo I picked up at a garage sale several years back.

You need wine, cookies and some good conversation? Get yer butt over here. :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Little Sunday Night Comedy

OK, so it's a little programmer, engineer, Dilbert-esqu but always make me smile a little.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Minimizing Challenge - Success!

--With a drop of pragmatism thrown in for good measure.

This morning I received a gift rare in today's world. After gathering the necessary items, including an interesting book by J. D. Salinger to help wile away the necessary down time, I strapped it all onto the back of my bike and headed to the DMV. My tasks were simple; return the license plates from my truck and Suzuki project bike, and change my address.

A few words about my project are in order. In my garage are quite a few things that are honestly not needed - things like a mattress that is nearly as comfortable as sleeping on a mostly uninflated air mattress on sharp rocks, a washer/dryer pair that would likely require the assistance of a small crane to lift them up to my apartment and four motorcycles, none of which run well, if at all. Three of those are my project bikes. One frame is already spoken for and will soon be making its way to Washington State. The other two nearly intact but not running motorcycles will likely be sold soon.

There is a reason for this. While I do indeed enjoy working on them and generally tinkering in the garage, I want to ride. Now, I have the time and the opportunity and certainly the desire. There is no need to have them sitting there in my garage, taking up space and hanging out in my mental swap file. So, one was registered last year when it was actually running and the plate needed to go back so I could drop its insurance. Should have done that months ago.

At any rate, a trip to the Nevada DMV was in order.

I pull up to the building and immediately wonder, 'Is this a holiday? There are at most two dozen cars and a few bikes here.'

After parking next to a very nice looking Goldwing trike, de-helmiting my head and gathering my things, I walked into the building. My jaw dropped.

The only line in the entire building was for the practical driving tests!

Walking up to the initial desk where number slips are issued, and telling the lady what I needed to do, she handed me a number and said, "Wait for it...."

"G 231 to desk 5 please!"

Um... I didn't need to wait? At all???

Not 10 minutes later, not only were the plates returned and my address changed, but my license was renewed!

So, what to do!?!?!

Little extra cash and all morning just for me. First and foremost... a trip to Leather Headquarters to buy a pair of nice lounge shirts. Taking a woman out for a nice meal may indeed require something a little more formal than a black biker t-shirt.

Then the mind started spinning... not a good thing.

'OOoo!!! A new camera!'
'A travel bag!'
'New gloves!!!'

Luckily some new minimalistic rule in my brain fired off, 'What, are you nuts? You already have a camera, you once rode to North Carolina with nothing more than two backpacks and a duffel bag and don't start about your gloves, they are fine!'

I did end up spending a bit of money that was unexpected but pragmatically, it was the right thing to do. Maybe that will be the subject of my next post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Be Careful What Ya Throw Out!

So minimizing and simplifying has it's logistics side too.

I have been holding off on selling my truck until after the move. Sure, the new apartment is only about 100 yards from the old one, just try moving any distance with only a motorcycle. Not a pretty picture unless everything can fit in the saddle bags.

So, late last evening I cut a deal. It wasn't necessarily as much as I wanted, however, given the issues it had, the offer was acceptable. Title was signed over; plates removed; key handed over; handshake; and it was gone for good. On the plus side, no more insurance, no more registration costs, and being that it was a high mileage vehicle, no soon to be necessary repair bills. On the down side, if something doesn't fit on the bike, I don't haul it, no more option of what to take somewhere and if my bike breaks down, the bus is the only option for transportation until she is repaired.

So, late last night one of my daughter's friends messages me. In my garage are some things of hers that she wants. No problem. We set a time for this weekend that I will bring them. Laying down, just about asleep, eyes pop open and the word 'crap' distinctly comes out of my mouth. I downsized without thinking, and I knew about her stuff and now have no way to get it to her.

Maybe its the same with all this extra stuff we want to get rid of; all the clutter. There may indeed be other things that we don't want to get rid of that rely on this clutter, or rather the existence of the clutter.

About 35 years ago my Dad taught me how to remove a rotted wooden fence post from a stack of good ones. Give it a few taps and see what moves. Just continue with with little taps and maybe a pull this way and that, watching the pile for movement. If other posts start to move, adjust the pile or maybe tap a good post in the rotten post's place. If you aren't careful, the whole pile could come down on you. When you are done, the rotten post will be out and the pile will be just as strong as before.

Got clutter, baggage or junk that you don't want? Remove it with determination and care or the whole pile might just come down.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Going With the Flow

A lone car broke the brief palpable silence, but it was enough. Living in Las Vegas with its go-go-go nonstop, break-neck speed just doesn't play well with my psyche. That palpable silence is a strong fragment of memory from my childhood years on the farm. There, in the middle of a light winter snow, there was a peaceful, palpable silence. It was heavy but not oppressive; somewhat like a heavy blanket you pull up under your chin; comforting.

Tonight the move is complete and a brief ride was in order. My friend suggested it first; that I go on a little ride. While something longer would likely be more recharging and enjoyable, a night time ride to the Lake Mead Rec Area entry gates would suffice.

It isn't far and the round trip is less than 20 miles. The air was refreshingly cool and traffic minimal as lightning danced in the mountains to the east. That is where I wanted to go. I wanted to dance with the lightning.

Coming over the pass, leaving Las Vegas and its incessant din behind, the storm on the Nevada side of the lake disappeared. About a mile down the eastern side of the pass I slow and turn into a parking lot just before the entry gates. Here is a restroom, parking area, trail head and only the moon as an overhead light. Perfect for someone seeking a splinter of peace.

I share the lot with no one. Only the receding dance of distant lightning shares the space. It is quiet and peaceful. The transit of the moon across the sky makes as much sound as the wind.

Now lightning is dancing to the south and is is not receding; it wants to dance with me. There are times when it seems as if every cog, every lever, every rain drop is immediately working and all is well.

A car coming over the pass breaks the spell. The brief duration of that singular existence was long enough to reset a few internal switches. I smile, give the oncoming lightning storm a rain check and head home for a late dinner.

Honestly, it's likely better to watch lightning dance by itself.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Extrania

I know 'Extrania' isn't a word, but it should be.

ex·tra·ni·a

[ik-strey-nee-uh]
noun

1. Item, thought or other entity that is not essential.
2. Something that is irrelevant or not pertinent.
3. A piece or part that does not productively contribute to the functioning of the whole.

Extrania. I got it. Don't think you have any extrania? Move from one home to another and extrania is likely to be discovered.

Physical extrania is the most obvious and easiest to deal with; just get rid of it! Drop it off at Goodwill or Salvation Army, give it to a needy neighbor, post it on CraigsList or have a garage sale. If someone wants your extrania, let them have it!

Internal extrania is a little different. Like physical extrania, it tends to accumulate unnoticed in the nooks and crannies of the mind. This mind clutter, luckily, has properties of its more tactile version. Moving makes this extrania obvious and easy to toss aside.

Experiencing long periods of internal dialog on long rides really sweeps the corners and dusts the bookshelves. For many, removing this extrania of the mind is best accomplished on the back of a motorcycle. The physical minimalism of this mode of travel tends to creep into one's soul, making the unneeded obvious.

At that point, it's up to the individual to deal with the extrania as they see fit. Keep it or pitch it along the median... It's all up to the rider.



Thursday, September 01, 2011

And A Few More Changes

Looking back at the last six months or so, I am honestly surprised at how much has happened. Just to recap...

  • Rear bike tire went flat at 80 MPH. Honestly, it wasn't terribly frightening; the front wheel started bouncing and as I slowed, she felt like I was riding on thick pudding.
  • The battery cover of my Sporty fell off while riding down I-215 at 65. Hearing 'chink...clink...clank' while riding is typically not the harbinger of happy tidings.
  • Had the opportunity to spend two weeks with my daughter while getting all her education details situated back in Iowa.
  • During this same two weeks, the joys and inequities of the federal student aide program became quite obvious.
  • Blew the primary oil seal on my Rebel... Again.
  • Learned from my Dr. that a few ailments associated with my occupation are starting to become apparent.
  • After putting on some additional, undesired weight, took up hiking again.
  • Got another tattoo.
  • And...
And... lost a close member of the family. First, a warning and bit of context. Below is the recounting of a tender subject with some; the passing of a furry family member. As for context, my ex wife was taking care of him until his medical needs exceeded what she could handle, at which point he came to live with me. Because of this, and the fact that our daughter lived with me, there was some amount of necessary interaction. We don't hate each other; we just don't want to associate much, other than when necessary.

At any rate, what follows is something I wrote not long after his passing...

A moment perhaps, a second. His head gently dropped. A second needle was inserted and second chemical injected. The drugs were efficient and painless. The doctor checked for heartbeat and respiration; none. He was gone. No more pain or exhaustion or seizures or cancer.

A scream of love and concern and sorrow echoed from my bedroom. Sprinting up the stairs I found my daughter sitting, crying, petting Jake as he lie helpless on the floor in the throes of another seizure. I hug her around the shoulders. “I am going to get your mom.”

Lying there within the physical comfort of his favorite blanket, Jake now passed, 'B' sobs, “Please get three pebbles.” I understand. After retrieving three stones, tucking them next to the mortal coil of a friend and tucking the blanket around him, I kiss him on the head and whisper, “If we meet again, it would be an honor my dear friend. I love you.”

This was not the time to break down and cry. To everything there is a season, and this was not it. Peaceful for eternity, Jake's remains lay safe in my saddle bag. Crying in a full face helmet is not conducive to safe riding.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Staying in Motion

Sometimes things in motion need to stay in motion.

The last several months have carried along a few changes. For starters, my daughter made the choice to move out of the nest and do what she wants; to pursue something she has talked about for years. While she is not pursuing an MD, I am damned proud she wants a PhD.

The house is quiet in an enjoyable and somewhat unsettling way.

Another change, a good change, I am no longer a smoker. Sometime early this year, I just didn't go to the smoke shop. No patches, no drugs, no acupuncture; I just quit. Do I want a cigarette? Absolutely. Am I going to have one? Absolutely not.

I tried reading Walden's Pond again for the fifth time. Didn't take. Same as my love life. Earlier this year I dated a nice lady briefly but it didn't take. Honestly, I'm good with both.

Perhaps more importantly are the things that sat unattended during this time. This blog, one of the better things in my life, purposely sat unattended. Back in February, that was my intention; to move on; write the last chapter in this book and close the cover. Some books don't like to remain closed.

Another item that sat unattended is my Suzuki project motorcycle. She is honestly rather sad. Clearing boxes and general junk from around her over the course of the last few days revealed two badly leaking forks. After three days on the charger, the battery could barely hold enough charge to spin the starter. Click-click-click-click. Motorcycles are meant to ridden, meant to be operational. Once that equilibrium is reached between rider and machine, little energy is required to maintain a mutualy productive relationship.

Here's to things in motion that should stay in motion, and to things not yet in motion. It's nice to be back.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Goodbye with a Goodbye

To everything there is a season. This is the season to say goodbye.

Admittedly, my little blog here has suffered from a lack of attention. Years ago it served its purpose. Through it I met several fine people and was able to express my feelings in a form I could understand; writing. I think that now it is time to close up shop here.

I will still check into my Facebook account from time to time; many of you have my phone number; and many of you have my e-mail address. I am not falling of the face of the earth... yet anyway.

So, I am going to end this blog; this chapter of my life; with a goodbye that was an unintentional goodbye.

Post Mark: Nov 8, 1983; Nov 10, 1983; Nov 17, 1983

From: Kenneth Linder, Milan IL.
To: Kenneth Linder, Joy, IL

Nov 7 1983
Dear Kenneth

How are you? I am fine I guess. How is Crystal & Lemuel & Manuel & Leola now? Your mother was up to Muscatine hospital to see me a little bit last Tue the 1st. I guess it was. How is the Shotwell getting along now? They are not going to cut on me. I could die on in the cut.

Well, how is Sharon getting along in school and how are you getting along. Has Manuel been to office the last two weeks? I take 7 pill 2 & 3 & 4 &5 + time a day. What did she say after she came over and seen me hospital she didn't stay long and left on the run. Ruth said she came with a kid but the hospital said they can't come upand see me. Did she bring them up. My left foot hurt and sleep all the time so I guess I will live till I die.

Well I love you all. I don't get to see you guy. I am on a hell of a diet - no salt or sugar or pork.

Someone said that you mother has lost her friend in New Boston now is that so?

How is your grades in school.

I guess I will close for now, don't tell your mother or she will get mader than hell.

With Love
Dad
Kenneth Linder

P.S. I would like to see you and talk to you. That all...
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Also in the envelope that holds this letter is this:

In Memory of
Kenneth Wayne Linder

Date of Birth
December 2, 1927

Date of Death
November 10, 1983

Time and Place of Services
Monday, November 14, 1983
1:30 PM
United Methodist Church

Officiating
Rev. William Eastin
Rev. John Weishar

Organist
Mrs. Shirley Dunn

Place of Internment
Eliza Creek Cemetery

Pallbearers
Everett Linder
Raymond Linder
Jerry McLee
Richard Sells
Robert Sells
Steven Miller
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Time to close up shop here. Could the last person please turn out the lights?

Vivam usque dum moriar.