Monday, January 16, 2017

2017. Already?

Yup, it’s 2017, whether I like it or not, and it’s time to check in since I haven’t posted in quite a while. I wish I could say I’ve been AWOL, spending the last month riding in some location that enjoys sunnier and warmer weather this time of year, but I can’t. I’ve been right here through every perverse cycle of snow, thaw, rain, snow, thaw, freezing rain, thaw, blizzard, rain, –30, +8 that have so far defined this as absolutely the worst winter in my memory. With conditions like these it’s nearly impossible to actually enjoy being out of doors so the best place to be is in the garage.

And that’s where I’ve mostly been.

The Hondas (remember them?) are proving to be a bigger challenge than I expected. IMG_20160509_095141753Both bikes were abused, but the S65 (the red one), which was the one I had the most hopes for, was both abused and involved in an accident. As I dig into them I’ve concluded I may only get one usable machine out of the two, but first I want to have a running engine before spending any time or money on body work. So I’m rebuilding one engine to S65 specs (the C65 is automatic). The cases have been reassembled and I managed to get one good top end out of cannibalizing the second engine for parts.  Now I just have to bolt it all together and see if it runs. If not it will be decision time – continue or part out what I have?

IMG_20160925_113842892webAfter getting the Kawasaki into the shop it didn’t take long to determine that at least part of the problem was a badly rebuilt carburetor. The throttle slide had been installed wrong causing it to jam the choke butterfly open. That, and a few assorted springs and o-rings that were missing from that rebuild, would likely have caused the poor running condition. It took a while to find carb kits but eventually eBay came through. Carbs have been rebuilt (properly this time with no left-over pieces) and the bike is now ready for a good tune-up, which can wait for warmer weather. Still not sure what I’ll do with it at that point.

Elm and mahogany vaseAnd it’s not only been old motorcycles demanding my attention.

The lathe has been getting a workout since I acquired a few cords of good dry elm from a neighbour. I didn’t realise what a nice grain pattern it had until I started turning some of that firewood into small bowls and vases. It’s been fun to get back in touch with a machine that I’ve all but ignored for a few years, but the missus is now complaining about running out of space to display my creations.

And then I came across this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9-ltPsbw9g) and got interested in 3-string guitars, and then, more specifically, 3-string cigar box guitars. I don’t play, but I do have access to lots of cigar boxes and a keen interest in the oddball, so I built one. It actually sounds amazing but I made a few mistakes and discovered some areas where it could be better so I now consider that to be the prototype. I have started on version 2 which will be similar but electric. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even learn to play a bit. I mean it’s only 3 strings, right? How hard can it be? And if I can’t figure out 3 strings there’s always the diddley bow.

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So I’ve been ignoring the weather as best I can as I suffer through another winter of PMS. But the days are already noticeably longer so spring can’t be too far away. Can it?

Friday, December 23, 2016

All I want for Christmas is … camo?

Just recently a new Cabela’s opened up in Ottawa. For anyone not in the know, Cabela’s is essentially a big-box store selling everything any hunter, fisherman, or general outdoorsman (and the female variants of same) could ever want. And most of it is in camouflage so that, one assumes, if you ever put it down in the woods you’d never find it again and so would have to purchase a replacement – at Cabela’s of course.

Which brings me, in a rather roundabout way, to this conversation over-heard at a local Timmies.
Guy 1. Have you been to the new Cabela’s yet? 
Guy 2. No, but they’ve got their pre-Christmas sales on right now so maybe I’ll stop by and pick up some camo underwear for the girlfriend for Christmas. 
Guy 1. It better be for your girlfriend; your wife would shoot you if you ever gave her something like that.
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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Dreaming

Dreaming: The process one goes through to get from here:

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To here:

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Or here:

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Or maybe here:

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Or even here:

Shopping Honda

Well maybe not that last one. But with winter on its way it’s time to start thinking about where I want to take the Cub. It’s pretty rough right now so it will depend on how much work I want to put into it and how much of this I want to part with.

Money

And plenty of dreaming.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

And another one leaves the stable.

Many years ago now I used to participate pretty regularly with a group that rode trials in this area. Every week or so we’d go out and climb rocks (or try to), ford streams and creek beds, and generally play in the dirt, all the while collecting a fair assortment of aches, pains, scrapes, and bruises to remind us just how much fun we’d had.

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And the bike I did all that on was this ‘73 Honda TL125.

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As seems to be a frequent occurrence with me, this particular motorcycle and I crossed paths at least twice over the course of about 35 years, last coming into my possession 10 years ago. Again, as often happens, interests change, bones become more brittle, and the bike sat in the shed, unused and unloved, for the past 5 or 6 years. So when a young lad expressed an interest in it as a winter project to do a partial restoration and put it back into use among the rocks and trees it was time to let her go.

Sniff…..

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When is a difference of opinion…

… just a difference of opinion?

Much has been written lately about the polarisation of uppercase-P-Politics in Western societies – Brexit in the UK, the recent presidential election in the US, Marine LePen’s ascendancy in France, etc. To that I would add lowercase-p-politics – the politics of religion, of race, of socio-economic status, of citizenship, and the list goes on. We see this every day, sometimes in the form of political correctness gone berserk, other times in the way those who agree with us are labelled “winners” while those who disagree are “losers”, and yet others where the overly sensitive among us are “traumatized” when they find out there may actually be dissenting opinions out there, the anti-Trump protests/riots being a good example.

And then we muse about how this all got started in the first place. We’ll here’s a clue. http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/how-cultural-relativism-on-campus-has-chilled-freedom-of-expression-philip-carl-salzman-in-inside-policy/

When I went to university, back in the Pleistocene, diversity of opinion was considered healthy. Universities weren’t merely echo chambers where one constantly heard only the most “correct” viewpoints on any topic. Sure, we had our problems, and we had our riots (the Vietnam war being the main, but not the only, cause), but no one ever demanded counselling after Nixon’s win, had classes cancelled to mourn Humphrey’s loss, or needed a trigger warning every time South East Asia was mentioned in geography class. It got ugly sometimes but we coped and, more importantly, we learned.

If opposing viewpoints belong anywhere, then surely they belong in our institutes of higher learning. Even if one accepts Foucault’s assertion that politics is war by other means, any competent military leader since Sun Tzu will tell you that understanding the enemy is key to winning. And that understanding doesn’t come from putting one’s fingers in one’s ears while chanting, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you”.

Some blame helicoptering parents and their need to protect their children’s sensitive ears from non-conforming (by their definition) views. Others blame the “everyone is special” movement where no child ever loses – at anything. But to my mind most of the blame lies clearly at the feet of a liberal academia where disagreement is conflated with discrimination and non-compliant thoughts are considered dangerous.

Instead of being “safe zones” our colleges and universities should be “unsafe zones”, places where unpopular and/or uncomfortable viewpoints are debated, places that are the very antithesis of political correctness. (Now to be clear I am not advocating an open forum for extremist and targeted hate speech, although I consider the term “hate speech” to mean matters of true hate rather than its present broad brush application to virtually anything or anyone with which one disagrees.)

It’s a lot more difficult to defend an untenable position in public than it is to simply "like" the latest Facebook clickbait posting that supports your world view, and in doing so in an open and honest way both sides will come to a better understanding of the battlefield on which they are engaging.

And if they did that then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to find a few more people who are interested in actually discussing politics rather than simply assuming the fingers in the ears position and shouting slogans and spitting epithets. After all, it is just a matter of a difference of opinion.