Thursday 21 February 2013

Sure sign of cabin fever

Well we are right in the middle of the dark days as someone has branded the mid-February period in this frozen land we call home. And in spite of an upcoming 2-week break to Myrtle Beach to play some golf, there’s still a lot of snow and ice to get through before it’s safe to get out on two wheels again.
The catalogues are well thumbed but, surprisingly, I haven’t purchased any farkles or other upgrades for the bike this winter. It just seems unnecessary as the bike is just about exactly where I want it right now and nothing has really struck me as a must-have, or at least not worth the cost for the incremental improvement. So I get no relief from the mini-Christmas every day a package arrives, tearing open boxes from J&P Cycles or David Kirk or any of the other mail order businesses that are only to happy to cater to my every whim as long as a valid credit card number is provided. Nor do I get any from spending hours trying to make the just-bolt-it-on component actually fit as advertised.
The main home improvement project targeted for this winter has been completed and others are awaiting the next round of family stimulus spending, which may not be for a few months yet. (Note to governments: We have been doing our share!)
And so I’m a bit at loose ends at the moment, which is a dangerous place for me to be, idle hands and all that. That’s why my garage is now all torn apart.2013-02-19 13.32.34
I never had a proper workbench, instead I used the top of an old retail cabinet I picked out of the garbage about 20 years ago. It served its purpose but I wanted something with more space and at the right working height for me. As my shop is multi-purpose, used for mechanics, metal working, woodworking, and motorcycle parking, I also needed the ability to easily reconfigure depending on the current project(s) underway. So, looking for something to do, I tore everything apart. I made a simple bench with some lumber I had lying around. Then I took the old cabinet apart, cut it down, and installed an old set of casters so now I can move it and its contents to where I’m working. Add in a few storage bins from Ikea to keep all my ‘stuff’ and I am going to be so organized!
As a bonus I have even found tools I didn’t remember I owned. A month ago I bought a new soldering iron because I needed one for an electronics project. Today I found two in the bottom of a cardboard box unopened since we moved here in 2006, bringing my total now to three. And the safety wire pliers I thought someone had forgotten to return showed up in the bottom of an ‘empty’ toolbox. And there’s more, so I guess it is a bit like Christmas after all.
Yep, it’s a mess, but it’s my mess and it’s keeping me sane for a bit longer.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Spam, spam, spam, spam…..

“Thanks for another wonderful article. The place else may anyone get that kind of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.”
Every so often I will go through the comments on my blogs that are identified as spam by Blogger (a job that Blogger does quite well by the way). And while it can be irritating to have to wade through hundreds of computer-generated comments some of them are actually quite funny. For example, this one: “A lot of thanks for all your valuable efforts on this web page. My mother delights in going through investigations and it is easy to understand why.” It’s nice to knows all my “valuable efforts” are not in vain and they keep the writer’s “mother” delighted.
Or how about this? “I wish to express some appreciation to you just for rescuing me from such a incident. Because of surfing around through the the net and seeing methods which were not helpful, I assumed my entire life was gone.” Here I saved someone’s life with one of my posts. Shouldn’t I get a medal?
Not quite to the same life-saving standard but it pleases me to know I also helped this poor lost soul: “This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally Ι have found something which helped me. Many thanks!”. I trust he will sleep easier now; I know I will.
But not everyone is happy. While both of my regular readers may want to periodically scream “Enough already” this follower wants more: “I ԁo trust all of the ideas you've offered on your post. They're really convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for novices. May you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time?” Be careful what you ask for there sport.
Then there are those who would presume to to tell me my fashion sense needs updating. “If you are a fashion misfit, chances are you do not appearance and feel as good as you desire. Developing a excellent style is just not as difficult as you might consider.” Actually I feel great in a Harley tee-shirt, jeans, and work boots, but thanks for caring.
Looking for investment advice? “House value is extremely important in today's housing market. Hardly any individuals have any, and those that do, frequently have hardly any.”  As someone who has been known to “frequently have hardly any” I can relate, I think, but I still find the pitch less than compelling. Sorry.
And saving the best for last, this commenter may be lost, but there’s no doubting his ability to recognize quality when he sees it. “I don't even know how I stopped up here, but I thought this submit used to be great. I do not recognise who you are however certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you happen to are not already.” When I am a “famous blogger” I expect I’ll get an I-told-you-so.

Friday 1 February 2013

July 1, 1978

July 1, 1978 was a Saturday. The number 1 song in the US was Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb which, for the life of me, I cannot remember even though it held that spot for 7 weeks. But it was the height of the disco craze and the songs were mostly forgettable anyway, especially after the great rock ‘n roll tunes that came out in the 60s and early 70s. Some of my readers were still in diapers and according to Google and Wikipedia absolutely nothing of significance happened in the world that day.
For me July 1, 1978 was the first day of a planned 9-week vacation, the day I was to load up my trusty CB550F and head for points west, Vancouver Island to be specific. A lowly civil servant, working as a software developer in Ottawa for Canada Post, I had been saving my vacation for a couple of years to make this trip. With some unpaid days thrown in I managed to scrape together enough time to be away all summer, as did a friend and co-worker. We had no plans other than a list containing the contact information for friends of friends who we promised to look up on the way and perhaps get a good home cooked meal or two and a place to sleep in return. I had packed and repacked my throw-over saddlebags and old military pack so often I could do it in my sleep (a skill that was later to come to good use). And I had found a spot on the bike to strap, hook, or bungee everything I needed for the next 2 months with room left over for the missus’ stuff on the return trip. So when I got up that morning I was pumped and raring to go.
It was as I rounded the corner in the underground parking garage that I saw my bike lying on its side in a puddle of gas that had leaked out of the gas cap breather. Fortunately it was beside the car wash bay so I dropped the luggage I was carrying and grabbed a hose with which I rinsed the area clear of gasoline before going over and righting the bike. My initial thoughts that a careless driver had clipped it and knocked it over were dispelled as soon as I saw the bent seat and broken seat latch. Some son-of-a-bitch low-life had pried up the seat and stolen the battery(!) and the Honda tool kit that was stored there, under the seat.
The seat pan was bent and wouldn’t lock any more, but the seat was still functional. The toolkit I could care less about but the battery was a problem. It was July 1 and everything was closed in the city. The next day, Sunday, the shops would also be closed as they were on Sundays in Ontario in those days. And Monday? Well because July 1 (Canada Day) was on a Saturday everyone got the Monday off in lieu. So unless I could find a battery somewhere it was going to be Tuesday before I could buy a replacement, and a 3-day delay to the start of our trip.
I called my travelling companion, Frank, and explained the situation. Then he and I got on the phones to everyone we knew who might have a suitable battery stashed away somewhere. By mid afternoon neither of us had had any luck. Then I thought to call my friends Bugs. I’m sure he wasn’t Christened Bugs but that’s the only name any of us knew him by. He was a great guy and all round motorcyclist. A competent amateur racer he usually had a couple of bikes around his place and was well connected in the Ottawa motorcycling scene of the day so if anyone could lay his hands on a battery it would be Bugs. I told him what I was looking for and he said he’d hunt around, reach out to his friends, and call me back in an hour or so.
Forty-five minutes later the doorbell rang. I opened it to find Bugs standing there with a helmet in one hand and a battery wrapped in rags in the other. He had pulled the battery from his own street bike. I protested but he was adamant and said he wasn’t going to ride that weekend anyway. I tried to pay him for it but he responded that it was an old battery he was planning to replace soon. So giving in I graciously accepted the battery, installed it, and we were on the road early Sunday morning, having only lost a day.
006Well that ‘old’ battery took me more than 10,000 miles, zig-zagging out to the west coast and back, with not a single hiccup and proved, one more time, how special motorcycling friends can be.
The seat pan was still bent when I sold that CB550F a few years later.