Saturday, November 11, 2017

Can’t ignore the signs…

We’ve had such a fabulous fall we got lulled into believing (with just a little bit of wishful thinking involved) that winter was still far, far off. Well, yesterday morning proved that wrong with a smattering of snow on the ground and temperatures of -10C (-25C with the wind chill). And today is even colder.

So now I’m looking at next week when temperatures may reach the lofty heights of 4C or 5C to take the bikes for a short warm-up run in preparation for their fall oil changes.

Meantime I’m getting everything else ready to go. The tractor has been serviced and tire chains installed. The big snow blower is checked, lubed and ready to hook on and go. An old walk-behind snow blower that was recently given to me (gotta love great neighbours) has been tuned up and is waiting anxiously to prove its mettle with the first big blow.

The last of the garden ornaments have been tucked away, along with various and sundry pots, deck chairs, and all the other ‘stuff’ that gets dragged out each spring at the first sign of nice weather.  The vegetable gardens have been turned over and next year’s garlic crop is in the ground, ready for the big chill. The wood shed is full and snow tires installed.

Now all that’s left (other than the oil changes) is to clean the shop/garage of all the summer clutter so that this winter’s projects can begin in earnest. Let it snow – I’ll be warm and busy.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Zombie Law

According to the this news item an Ontario legislator has tabled a bill, dubbed the “zombie law”, that would make crossing the street while looking at your cell phone illegal, with scofflaws being fined $50 and up depending on the number of times they have been caught in flagrant disregard of yet another Nanny-state incursion into the realm of legislating stupid.

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This province is certainly not alone in this regard but few jurisdictions seem to have the same degree of enthusiasm for protecting us from ourselves as Ontario does. Liquor laws are still firmly set in the immediate post-prohibition years where it was felt the population could not possibly control their thirst (pun intended) for the demon rum. Several years ago an attempt was made to limit motorcycle passengers to 14 years of age and older for “safety” reasons. (Blogged about here. Fortunately the bill did not become law but it was a close thing. ) Periodically legislation is floated (so far only as a trial balloon) that would see already legally-required helmeted bicyclists subject to training, testing, licensing, and insurance, again for “safety” reasons. And recently an intoxicated canoeist was charged with “impaired driving” which is a criminal offense and which could result in the loss of driving privileges if he was found guilty.

The one thing these laws, and countless others just like them, have in common is that they are all attempts to stop a few idiots from doing stupid things. Except that the broad legislative brush treats everyone the same as the idiots, whether they are guilty or not.

So here’s an idea. Scrap all these individual laws and replace them with a common sense law, something along the lines of “If you do something stupid you’re on your own, pal. And if society has to pay to rescue, resuscitate, rehabilitate, or, if all else fails, inter you, you’ll be getting a bill.”

In other words, let Darwin do his work unencumbered while making sure the taxpayer isn’t on the hook. Much cleaner, and we improve the gene pool as well.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

One thing leads to another.

There’s probably a famous quote by some renowned philosopher on the subject of how one small action can have a ripple effect far beyond expectations. I think I once read something about the unintended consequences of a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo – or maybe that was Godzilla.  But, whatever, I couldn’t find it so you’re stuck with “One thing leads to another”. Just imagine someone famous said it. Or something like it.


As my loyal followers know, a little over a year ago I acquired, for the princely sum of a bottle of great Canadian whisky (Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest – if you haven’t tried it, treat yourself. You’ll be happy you did.) a 1981 Kawasaki 440LTD. It had issues but since then I have sorted out the carburation problems and got it running, fixed the safety items like tires and fork seals, and it is now licensed and on the road. However there are still a few things I want to do to it cosmetically, including fixing the tank.

There’s really nothing wrong with the tank except for a largish dent in the side and a few deep scratches in the paint. My plan was to repair it myself and paint it over the winter (kind of partial to Jade Green), drawing heavily on the expertise of a friend who’s past life includes years as an autobody technician and who passes his spare time these days hand sanding his 1969 Barracuda Notchback in preparation for a trip to the paint shop some day soon. I think he’s down to 1200 grit wet by now.

Be that as it may, being the consummate professional I wanted to make sure I had a Plan B in place for when I screwed up the tank beyond salvage. So I started looking for a good used tank in all the usual places – eBay, Kijiji, Craig’s List. In the process I discovered there are lots of used tanks out there that already look like the anticipated outcome of my Plan A (in which case I could do that myself) and those that didn’t were outrageously expensive.

Then I discovered, quite by accident, a fellow who had 2 – count ‘em – 2 good used tanks for sale at a very reasonable price and he was only a couple of hours’ drive away. And, best of all, the tanks came with the rest of the motorcycles still attached!

So it was that yesterday found me on a 500-kilometre road trip to check them out. The bikes (and tanks) were as specified and generally in very good condition for being 35-plus years old. One is an ‘82 and the other is an ‘83 but most of the parts for those years are interchangeable so I would have many, many options that would result in two, if not three, serviceable motorcycles at the end of the day. And so, after a bit of negotiation and the requisite transfer of funds, they were duly loaded up and I was on my way home, having just tripled the size of my Kawasaki fleet.

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But now the garage is full so I really must stop checking out used bike sales for a while.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

“It’s just a jump to the left…”

There’s a local radio station here that plays a pretty eclectic mix of music, all wrapped around rural favourites such as radio bingo,  how many people attended Mabel’s 90th birthday celebrations and from how far afield (“Mabel’s third cousin once removed on her mother’s side, Ernestine, travelled all the way from Pembroke (about 50 miles) to partake of the festivities…” ), the current price of hogs, and Elspeth’s recipe of the day (Grandma’s amazing meatloaf made from kitchen scraps).

There’s a lot of country, and Sunday is full of gospel music. (Which is why I don’t usually tune in on a Sunday.) Canadian icon Stompin’ Tom figures prominently and there’s even a patriotic song of the day which is typically some sappy tune invoking images of rocks and trees and rocks and whatever....

But what I like about the station is you never know what they are going to play next. It could be the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine or a yodel tune by Cindi Lauper.

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to hear this blast from the past.


Took me back a ways to the mid-70s when, I think it was probably our second or third date, I took the (now) missus to a house party hosted by one of my fellow motorcycle safety program trainers. A typical party of the time, there was lots of beer being consumed and the hippie lettuce was being passed around generously. The Rocky Horror Picture Show had just come out and when someone put this song on the stereo and all these strangers immediately leapt up and started doing the Time Warp, singing along at full throat, I think she began having some serious doubts about this particular group of people, me included. But we persevered and soon won her over to the dark side.

Anyway, with that memory firmly in mind I was happily singing along, poorly, but with gusto, as I was driving into town. It was only later in the day I realised how lucky I was to not have been in Montreal where this guy just got a $149 ticket for singing in his car; Time Warp would be worth at least twice that.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Perseverance pays off

A while back I posted (here) about a hazardous road situation I was trying to get corrected. Well, it took some escalation, a few conversations, and several more emails but finally the county took corrective action, albeit in a sort of using-a-sledgehammer-to-kill-a-fly way.

All I wanted was to have some signage erected to warn that the pavement ends and the road becomes gravel after the intersection. The intent was that would slow riders enough so that when they hit the gravel they would be able to do so under control.

The county’s first effort was a dismal failure, but their second attempt will have the desired effect, even if it is, in my opinion, overkill.

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Hopefully pulling errant motorcyclists out of the ditch at this intersection will now be a thing of the past. And all I have to do is contend with all my rural neighbours who are now pissed at me because there’s yet another stop sign to deal with on their drive home. But they’re not likely to stop anyway, so I’m not too worried.