Monday 31 December 2018

Screw it, let’s ride!

Good riddance to 2018.

Those of us who ride know that a sure remedy for all the bullshit that surrounds us is to go for a nice, long ride. No matter what, two-wheel therapy will have all that nonsense flowing off your shoulders like water off a duck’s back; it’s just you, your bike, and the open road.

Right now, as 2018 shamefully slithers into 2019,  the bullshit is at epic levels. We have elected incompetents, fools, and criminals – sometimes all three – to positions of leadership who head up xenophobic, populist governments, or spend their time virtue signaling and berating China (and others) for not having enough female CEOs. Climate changes are coming fast and furious with damaging storms becoming the norm and what were previously considered to be 100-year events occurring as frequently as annually. The worlds’ major stock markets are in freefall (see leaders, above) taking untold billions out of our pension funds and personal investment portfolios. But the ultra rich continue to amass obscene fortunes (see leaders, above). It seems the only news that isn’t fake news is news about fake news, which is now being employed to destabilize democratic governments and long-standing institutions world-wide, with the tacit approval of some of those same leaders.

And, as depressing as all that is, it’s only going to get worse for the foreseeable future until the pendulum swings back to a saner, more rational world order and the damage begins to be undone.

Meanwhile, the majority of us are buckled in and simply along for the ride.

So screw it, let’s ride. Right?

Don’t I wish.

Ice-covered roads and sub-zero temperatures put paid to that notion for the next few months so I’ll have to find another distraction. Drugs and/or alcohol are tempting, but then I might just start thinking those incompetents, fools, and criminals aren’t so bad after all. No, it will have to be something less self-destructive. So I guess it’s time to get the next 440LTD out of the shed and under the knife/wrench. 


If I can’t spend it on a beach or golf course somewhere, what better way is there to start a new year than dismantling something.

See you all in 2019.

Monday 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the holiday season.

Merry Xmas
(Image from Orange County Choppers’ Christmas Bike)

Monday 17 December 2018

Free stuff

Every so often I get offered some piece of equipment ‘for free’. Motorcycles, lawn mowers, snow blowers have all come my way like this. Sometimes it’s because the previous owner didn’t want it any more – works fine, just of no use. Other times the previous owner is so fed up with trying to get it running the alternative was the village dump. It’s the latter that I seem to be a particular sucker for.

The last time it was 10-HP snow blower of unknown vintage. The PO said it “ran a bit rough” when it was last put away “at least 5 years ago”, but he couldn’t get it running again. So, the sucker for punishment that I am, I offered to take it off his hands.


A new friction disk, new fuel lines, a new spark plug, and a carb cleaning later I had it running – sort of. Nearly impossible to start it would then surge, fart, and stutter on occasion. Other times it would just blow flames out the burnt-out muffler and quit. But it was ‘free’ so I was prepared to put up with its generally obstreperous attitude. Besides, I had another, somewhat better working, blower in reserve for when it was being particularly aggravating and bad-tempered.

Then things changed. The daughter and her partner just purchased a house and could use a snow blower. I really didn’t need two, and they really didn’t need anything as cantankerous as Big Red. But the price was right and so back into the shop he went. This time I went all out.  A friend supplied a used muffler in return for a couple of my special butter tarts and I put a $25 carb kit in it. Now it runs better than my old standby blower.

It must have been the butter tarts.

Friday 14 December 2018

Right to repair

The concept is very simple: if you purchase a product you (or your designated agent) should have the right to repair that product without having to go back to the original supplier or “certified” dealer/repair center.

This is a situation well known to Apple product users. For years Apple has been forcing its customers to only use Apple service centers and certified (i.e. expensive) parts. You can’t even replace the battery in your iPhone yourself. And if you crack a screen? Might as well buy a new phone for what Apple will charge to repair it.

There was a major push driven by the farming community a few years ago about the proprietary restrictions put on farm equipment, preventing farmers (probably the most self-sufficient community out there) from working on their own tractors. They don’t usually break down between 9 and 5 during the week. More likely it’s going to be midnight Friday after a long day in the fields and losing a weekend during harvest is not an option.

And there are countless examples of other manufacturers doing the same, all in the name of maximizing profits.

With the number of electronic components in modern products, some of that makes sense. For example, do you really want your local backyard mechanic reprogramming a safety module such as your ABS system? Probably not. But replacing a phone battery? C’mon.

And some of it makes no sense whatsoever. Right after I got my 2018 Silverado I started looking for a second set of wheels for snow tires. Luckily I found a set from the identical vehicle where the owner had upgraded his rims. They even had the original tire pressure sensors. So I put the snows on the wheels, put the wheels on the truck, and discovered that the tire sensors have to be “reprogrammed” to my specific vehicle. And (go figure) only the dealer has the equipment to do that highly technical and important task.

Now I have no idea what the dealer will charge for that service, whether it’s $5 a wheel or $50. And it’s really not important as my low-cost solution was to put a bit of black tape on the dash display to cover the blinking light, and check tire pressures by eye, as we did for decades before the auto industry decided we were all incompetent morons who needed idiot lights on top of idiot lights to protect ourselves from certain doom. (I swear this truck has an idiot light to tell me when another idiot light isn’t working.)

This is, simply, nuts! There is absolutely no need for this other than it forces buyers back into the arms of the dealership and, in the process, undercuts the small operators who generally offer better customer service at much lower rates.

Fortunately there are at least some tentative steps being taken by governments to implement right to repair legislation to limit and eventually eliminate the practice. The US seems to be slightly ahead of Canada (and behind Europe) in that regard, but the manufacturers’ lobby has deep pockets ($$$) and, therefore, a lot of influence in the halls of power. But it will come – it must.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Messing about in the shop

Winter is well and truly here now so, since golf and riding are out of the question, I get to spend time in the shop. Most recently it was spent making Christmas presents and cleaning up a summer’s worth of clutter, but today I felt like playing.

A couple of years ago we got new neighbours, and one of the things they did was get rid of a couple of old log buildings going back 100 years or so. I managed to scavenge some remnants from the original log home before it was moved to a new site and I’d been waiting for an opportunity/inspiration to use them. I had also picked up a plasma cutter at an estate sale a few years ago that I had never used. Today seemed like a good time to rectify all that.

A small piece of tin roofing had a nice patina (for the uninitiated, that means it was rusty)  and I could “see” a stylized sail in it. Combined with a bit of well-worn barn board it made a folk-artsy kind of sailboat.


As a first attempt I think it came out okay but I can already see a few changes I’ll make in the next version.

I also had a few empty beer cans lying about (never a shortage here) that I thought I could do something with. So I made this little tree.


Again, future versions will be better.

All in all a pretty good day just messing about in the shop. And the plasma cutter is just too much fun to leave sitting idle ever again.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Season’s done

In these parts riding into November is a risky proposition. You never know what the weather is going to be like, the roads are often covered with wet (and slippery) leaves, and patches of ice lurk here and there when the temps approach freezing. But every year I hold off putting the bikes away in the unlikely event that there will be one.more.ride.

I’m already feeling the effects of PMS as I don’t even remember the last time I was on two wheels. We were away for a couple of weeks and since returning have suffered through a steady stream of colder than normal, wet, rainy days. And that pattern appears to have settled in for the next couple of weeks at least.

Season done

Last week I put everything away but the Harley, and now it’s time to face reality and get her ready for bed as well.  It’s going to be a l-o-n-g winter.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Fire and Fury - a review

Fire and FuryI just finished reading Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the White House which covers the first 9 months of Donald Trump’s presidency. When the book was first released it was panned by the President as “the Fake Book of a mentally deranged author” which, predictably, sent sales soaring.  And there are legitimate concerns about Wolff’s widespread use of unattributed quotes and anonymous sources.

But the aspect of the book that I found most interesting, and about which there is little dispute, is the infighting that took place (and continues to take place) between the various factions who inhabit the White House halls. With Jarvanka (reportedly Steve Bannon’s pet name for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump) on one side with decidedly progressive leanings, Bannon at the extreme opposite espousing alt-right policies, and centrists and professional politicians in the middle just trying to keep the President from self-destructing, the palace intrigues are worthy of Shakespearean treatment – or at least a Netflix mini-series.

It is easy to see why avid Trump supporters may not like the book as it doesn’t paint a very attractive portrait of the President; only insiders will ever know the truth about some of the claims made by Wolff. But still, I found the book to be a fascinating read. Even when I suspected certain claims might be exaggerated the narrative around the mistrust and outright antagonism between members of the President’s inner circle made for interesting, if disconcerting, reading.

If you are interested in politics in general, or US politics in particular, you should read this book. Just do so with a pinch of salt.

Thursday 11 October 2018


Well, we’re back, safe and sound and all in one piece (although there were times….).

Here are a few highlights of a great trip.

After flying into Marseille and spending a couple of days locally getting over the jet lag we drove west, towards Spain, to arrive at the city of Carcassone.


Initially fortified by the Romans (circa 100 BC), Carcassonne is the oldest intact walled city in Europe and is well worth a visit. The concentric circles are an art project undertaken to commemorate 20 years as a UNESCO Heritage Site. They appear as circles only from this one vantage point; from any other viewpoint all one sees is odd splashes of yellow. (And, no, they aren’t painted on the walls but are a sort of removable plastic wrap.)

While in the area we drove part of the Cathar trail in the foothills of the Pyrenees, where the Cathars took final refuge in the 1200s. This included a visit to the ruins of Termes, located at the end of a very winding, 40 km mountain drive and a long, uphill hike.


Heading east, a spur-of-the-moment side trip found the remains of an old Roman aqueduct, located in the middle of an olive grove. (That’s what I love about Europe – you never know when, or where, you’re going to stumble across something cool and historic.)


Which brings us to Nimes and Les Arenes, a first century AD Roman arena located in the heart of the city. Originally built to seat 24,000, it’s been partially restored and is still used today for concerts, bullfights, and other public events. Not the largest of Roman arenas, it is one of the best and most intact examples that remain.


Our next stop of significance was the iconic Pont du Gard, part of a Roman aqueduct by which water was brought to Nimes from some 50 kilometers away. The engineering was incredible as the flow dropped a mere 56 feet over that entire distance. Today families picnic under the bridge while kayakers and swimmers enjoy the shallow river flowing below.


We then leap-frogged Marseille and spent a few days along the Cote D’Azur, visiting St. Tropez, Nice, and Monte Carlo. Not being mid-summer the beaches were sparsely occupied and crowds were few, which made it great for simply walking about and ‘touristing’. Which included visiting the casino at Monte Carlo, walking in the footsteps of Bond, James Bond, among others.


Monte Carlo is all about conspicuous consumption, from the yachts in the harbour, to the sheer number of Bentleys and Lamborghinis on the roads. This car, made in Germany, bought in California, registered in Kentucky, and parked outside the casino was a good example. In comparison, Nice almost seemed affordable, and was, in our opinions, a much nicer city.


And boats. Big boats, little boats, everywhere boats.




And beaches.



Our last major driving experience was to tour Les Gorges du Verdon. Referred to as the Grand Canyon of Europe, this natural wonder offers some spectacular views and hair-raising driving. We spent most of a day driving the canyon and mountain roads, and still missed much. This map snippet gives some idea of the nature of the roads. Trigance to Aiguines may only be 35 kilometers but following highway D71, plan on it taking a couple of hours to drive. And that was only a part of the trip. Forget the Dragon’s Tail. If you want winding roads, this is the place to be.





And, as always, one eye was out for interesting motorcycles. The owner of the electric scooter was busy explaining its benefits – in rapid-fire French – to a couple of interested onlookers. My French is passable but not good enough to follow him. The Harley was in the dealership near Nice where I stopped to pick up the requisite tee-shirt. And the 2 Mash motorcycles were examples of dozens we saw on the road. Seems like Mash is doing a booming business in Europe with its small-displacement, retro-styled bikes.





But the most interesting bike I saw was this Suzuki Hayabusa side-car rig we came across in La Ciotat. One doesn’t normally consider a performance machine as a sidecar platform but Choda Sidecars of France apparently do. A very cool and unique machine.


We covered a lot of ground and saw some amazing places over 2 weeks. But now it’s back to reality as summer fades and old man winter threatens just around the corner.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Too close for comfort

It seems every time we have a major thunderstorm forecast our cell phones blare out a severe weather watch and a ‘potential’ tornado warning for the area. Such was the case on Friday. After the 2012 storm  we always worry about falling trees and wind damage, so it was with some trepidation that we watched as the black clouds built up around us. When the storm hit it hit hard, with very strong winds and torrential rains, but 15 minutes later it was past us with no apparent damage done. Some trees did come down nearby, and many neighbours are still without power 48 hours later, but we were unscathed this time.

Not so fortunate though were our friends in Dunrobin, Ottawa, and across the river in Gatineau where F2/F3 tornados did touch down causing severe damage. This is such a rare occurrence hereabouts that we are unaccustomed to seeing pictures like these.


Tornado 3

Tornado 2


Tornado 4

Craig Henry, Ottawa This is more personal. The first photo is of houses across the street from where we lived in the 80s. The 2nd and 3rd are of our then-neighbour’s home which had a complete shed roof come through a second floor bedroom wall along with other major structural damage. (They are currently vacationing in the UK so there was no one home at the time, which is, in a way, fortunate.)

Tornado 1

              Tornado 5                         Tornado 6

There are hundreds of other photos and videos appearing online showing just how devastating Mother Nature can be when she’s pissed. But what is most amazing is that there have been no fatalities reported to date and few serious injuries in spite of the fact the storm hit at dinner time when most people would be home. The good news is that the first responders did a fantastic job, communities are all coming together to lend a helping hand wherever possible, and the Hydro crews are working around the clock to restore power.

Still, it's frightening, and somewhat sobering, to realise just how quickly your life can be turned inside out by events totally beyond your control.

Saturday 22 September 2018

On the road again

It’s been a little more than a year since our last major trip (Where in the world…?) so the missus and I decided to soothe our itchy feet with a soak in the Mediterranean. After landing in Marseille and picking up the rental car, the south of France will be our playground for a couple of weeks. A short excursion into Western Italy may also be in the cards.


As usual, we have no plans and no itinerary (other than flights) so we’ll take each day as it comes and enjoy any surprises that come our way. Stay tuned.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Unintended consequences

While the tank on my ‘65 Frankenbike was in generally pretty good condition, there was just enough rust in it to cause fuel problems when running. The fact that the original fuel filter was rotted out didn’t help either. And so I decided it was time for a vinegar soak to clean the tank properly.

After two weeks of soaking I poured out the acid and it was nearly black with rust. But the tank was nice and shiny inside, so, mission accomplished.

Or so I thought.

What I didn’t realise then, but do now, is that the fuel petcocks on these bikes were made of white metal, or pot metal, which reacts to vinegar by dissolving. A fact I discovered when I put gas in the tank and it immediately poured out all over the garage floor from a dozen small pinholes in the petcock housing.

As my father-in-law used to say, “Too soon old; too late smart.”

A new petcock is now on its way from Thailand and should be here in a few weeks. Which will give me time to find the source of the oil drips on the floor.


Thursday 13 September 2018

“Ran good before disassembling.”

What I do not need are any more projects. That’s what the sane me says. The less sane me says, “I wonder what new projects there are out there that might be fun?” And since the less sane me seems to be mostly in control these days, I spend an inordinate amount of time perusing used motorcycle ads looking for anything interesting. Collectible 60s and 70s bikes like vintage British iron or early Honda 750s are priced right out of my budget zone, but there’s lots of other neat stuff out there. I always wanted to do a vintage Gold Wing cafĂ© build. Or perhaps resurrect an old Honda CB350 like the one I used to own, although they are becoming scarce as well.

What I have noticed more this year than previous is the number of ads for mid-project bikes, partial basket cases that “Ran good before disassembling”. The owner got bored, lost interest, or discovered how much it would cost to rebuild and so wants to unload the lot for about the same price that I MIGHT pay for it if it was complete and running. Sorry, but if it’s disassembled I will assume it did not “ran good” and will also assume the worst in terms of cost to restore. Which makes your disassembled bike worth about as much as you’d get from a recycler for the metal content.


My other favourite is “no papers, bill of sale only”. It’s getting near impossible to get a bike with no ownership registered in Ontario. (It’s a stupid policy, worthy of its own rant.) Days gone by it was a simple process of swearing an affidavit and you were good to go. Now you need to prove you searched for the last registered owner, purchased the bike legally, prove it hasn’t been reported stolen, and find a sympathetic ear at the license bureau. And then, maybe, just maybe, you’ll get ownership. In fact it’s become such a PITA that no one I know will buy a bike without the proper paperwork, unless it’s strictly for parts. And a parts-only bike is worth a fraction of the value of the same vehicle with full documentation. See metal recycler comment above.

So, want to get top dollar for your HondaYamaZuki? Make sure it’s running and you have the necessary paperwork. Otherwise my lowball offer might be the best deal you’re going to get.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

“It would be the ruination of the country”

When your so-called best friend, neighbour, and largest trading partner (every day nearly $2 Billion in trade crosses over the border) threatens the “ruination” of your country ( people can get a little pissed. But before The Donald gets too carried way he may want to consider this:

President Trump was in the Oval Office, texting and eating his third Big Mac of the day, when his telephone rang.

"Hallo, President Trump" a heavily accented voice said. "This is Archie, up ere at the Harp Seal Pub in Badger's Cove, Newfoundland, Canada eh? I am callin' to tells ya dat we been readin’ the news and are officially declaring war on ya!"

"Well Archie," Donald replied, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army?"

"Right now," said Archie, after a moments calculation "there is myself, me cousin Harold, me next-door-neighbor Mick, and the whole dart team from the pub. That makes eight!"

President Trump sighed. "I must tell you Archie, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers."

"Holy jeez," said Archie. "I'll have ta call ya back!"

Sure enough, an hour later Archie called. “Mr. Trump, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!"

"And what equipment would that be Archie?” Donald asked.

"Well sir, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Harry's farm tractor."

Donald was silent for a minute then cleared his throat. "I also have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military bases are surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missiles.”

“Lard T'underin' bye", said Archie. “I'll be getting back to ya."

An hour later. "President Trump, the war is still on! We have managed to git ourselves airborne! We up an' modified Harrigan's ultra-light wit a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four byes from the Legion have joined us as well!"

Donald paused. "Well that’s impressive but I must tell you Archie that I have the biggest army ever. I have more than two million men waiting to move on my command."

"Jumpins," said Archie,”I’ll have ta call youse back."

Later, Archie called again. "President Trump! I am sorry to have to tell youse dat we have had to call off dis 'ere war."

"I'm sorry to hear that" said Donald. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

Well, sir," said Archie, "we've all sat ourselves down and had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and come to realize dat dere's no way we can feed two million prisoners."

Monday 3 September 2018

The Russians are coming!

No, I’m not referring to the upcoming US midterm elections, although you can be sure they’ll be there bigly, with or without executive support.

I’m referring instead to my simple little blog. Hardly a source of international intrigue and top-secret musings, the Russians nonetheless deem it worth following. In fact, the third highest number of pageviews originate from Russia, right after the US and Canada. Add in Ukraine and they combine to exceed the number of Canadian views.


So, Vladimir, care to explain?

Sunday 2 September 2018

Roads less traveled

I’d been hearing about some good riding roads a couple of hours from home. Since I had a free day and had been wanting to take a long’ish ride for some time, I headed out yesterday morning under cloudy skies but with the promise of sunshine and hot temperatures as the day progressed.

IMG_0996After skirting a nasty storm (Where was THAT on the forecast?) over near Hopetown I hit the South Lavant Road. Running through Poland, Lavant, Ompah, and Plevna this road is made for motorcycles. While the road is rough in places there are lots of hills and curves to demand one’s undivided attention. And while there were few other vehicles on the road, those that I did encounter seemed to be piloted by locals with no place to go and absolutely all day to get there. Given the twistiness of the road it sometimes took a while before a pass could be (somewhat) safely made, but before long I would have nothing but empty highway in front of me again.

Dropping down the Ardoch Road from Plevna I encountered one of those heart-stopping moments every driver experiences once in a while. Cresting a blind hill at about 80 kph I came face-to-face with a Darwin candidate riding a 3-wheeled bicycle with 4 or 5 large dogs on leashes. Coming towards me. Taking up most of my lane. Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic so I was able to brake and swerve into the other lane while his dogs (I think they were Dobermans, but I’m no expert) decided they liked the looks of my shin bone and went nuts. I had just passed a couple of pickup trucks with 4X4s in the backs – good ol’ boys I expect – and can only hope they saw this fool before he and/or his dogs became “grilled” meat. Of course this all happened about 2 minutes after I had turned off my camera.

Swinging back up Highway 7 towards Perth (and a Tim Hortons – it was lunch time) I ran smack into the back-to-school/back-to-university parade. Kilometer after kilometer of bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic comprised mainly of U-Hauls, loaded pickup trucks, and SUVs packed to the ceiling with boxes, blankets, pillows, and kids made the last leg into Perth a nightmare. And any not actually on the road were to be found in front of me in the line to order food at Tims. I guess future rocket scientists have to eat too.

Then it was back on the secondary roads in a roundabout routing home. 350 kilometers, 6 hours, some new (to me) roads, and I managed to not get rained on. A pretty good day.

Plevna Loop

Thursday 30 August 2018

Is that a new rattle I hear?

I never would have made it through medical school. I would have been the guy in class who contacted every disease studied. (I did feel flushed yesterday. And that headache is back, worse than ever. My vision seems a bit blurry this morning. Is that a rash? OHMIGOD I’ve got this too! I’M DYING!) If the stress didn’t kill me it would have sent me packing to some safer pursuit, like accounting. (Thankfully that didn’t happen.)

So, how do I know this? Well, for example, a while back I read an article about replacing worn-out cam chain tensioners on high-mileage Harleys. At 38,000 kilometers my bike is not high mileage but now I imagine increased noise coming from the primary. While I try to convince myself that the tensioner is NOT worn out and I don’t have to replace it over the winter, the thought nags: But what if it is? Then there’s general engine noise. Is it louder than usual? Valve clatter? Or is an automatic pushrod adjuster not working? And it goes on…

What topped it all of was yesterday, when riding, I heard a new noise, a rattle, coming from the front end somewhere. Scary stuff. What if it’s the brakes about to seize? Or a wheel bearing about to disintegrate? It took about 5 kilometers of worry and a total (mental) teardown and rebuild of the front end before I realized the noise I was hearing was coming from a banged-up trailer just ahead of me. Whew!

Oddly enough I never consider any of this in a car or truck. Get in. Turn the key. No idiot lights? Good to go. Perhaps the difference is the driver’s isolation from the heart of the beast. Instead of it pulsing six inches under your butt and other high-value bits it’s somewhat remote, a few feet up front, and well insulated. And unless the engine completely fails or the exhaust system falls off I’m unlikely to pay the slightest bit of attention to any part of the power train. Not necessarily a good situation, but there it is.

Maybe it’s a heightened sense of vulnerability on a motorcycle, or a perceived lack of reliability compared to modern automobiles, or perhaps it’s just me. But it’s also why my motorcycles are over-maintained compared to their 4-wheeled brethren. And that’s just fine by me. (Note to self: Take a good look at the front end, just in case.)

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Training your bat(s)

Living in the country we are no strangers to bats. Seeing them swoop and dive as they gorge on mosquitos brings joy to the heart. I mean, who doesn’t like to see mosquitos “get theirs”. Miserable blood-sucking bastards.

Brown batSo, we have lots of little brown bats around, including a couple in the attic. I’ve known they were there for a few years but they were never a problem and, as long as they minded their own business, were welcome to stay. Sure, once or twice a year one would bumble/flutter into our living space, only to be ushered back outdoors, but that was a small price to pay to enjoy the benefits.

About three weeks ago that all changed when we were awakened by a bat doing laps in the bedroom at 2 AM. That triggered phase 1 of the established SOP for bat removal: close bedroom door to living area, open bedroom door to screen porch.

Having done so I waited as the bat continued to lap the bedroom, apparently unaware that escape was as close at hand as flying through the damned door to the porch. It was like watching the Daytona 500 - around and around and around he went - and for almost as long (at 2 AM and groggy, 10 minutes can seem like 5 hours). But eventually he/she/it flitted into the porch, triggering phase 2: close bedroom door, open outside screen door. Ten more minutes of dizzying circles later, it finally realised the door was open and out it went in search of a mid-night snack.

Which brought on phase 3: go back to bed.

Two hours later it, or a close family relative, was back. What the….?  One night, two visits? This was new. But same SOP and, eventually, back to bed.

This continued every night for a couple of weeks. The fluttering of little wings would wake us up some time around zero dark thirty, I’d do the sally port routine for a few minutes, then crawl back under the covers. Like having an infant needing regular nighttime feedings it was becoming routine.

But then I began to notice a change in our little bat’s behaviour. Instead of continuing to fly circles in the bedroom once the porch door was opened, it seemed to anticipate it’s opening, heading for the door as soon as I got out of bed. Then, the instant the door opened it was through and into the porch. Ditto with the outside door – open the door, bat flies out. The whole bat egress process was now down to seconds instead of the previous 10-15 minutes. And, a couple of times, I went through the whole routine without the spousal unit even being aware.

So I now have a trained bat (or bats - hard to tell them apart). Or perhaps it now has a trained human. Either way it’s not really the kind of pet I want so a bat relocation program has been initiated. Wish me luck.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Cigar box guitars

I’ve mentioned in a few posts my interest in making cigar box guitars. I don’t play, or perhaps I should just say I play poorly, so for me the fun is in the design and building of these folk instruments. I’ve created 5 or 6 so far but it’s been a year or more since the last one, my attentions being elsewhere in the meantime.


Then, a couple of weeks ago, we spent an afternoon at the Stewart Park Music Festival in Perth where I attended a workshop on building cigar box guitars. The presenter, Mark Hunt, referenced a couple of good books on building various folk instruments, two of which were available from Lee Valley Tools. Today my copies arrived in the post.


So the flame has been rekindled with my next project being to make a canjo from this H-D labeled beer can.


Stay tuned.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Just because you can….

I came across an article on the site ( describing this Indiana-based builder’s creation.


I’ll accept it’s a three-wheeler (yup, 3 wheels) but a motorcycle? Let me put it this way: If that’s a motorcycle then the Taj Mahal is a Little House on the Prairie and the Space Shuttle is just another version of the Kitty Hawk.

This thing is as big as it is ugly. Tipping the scales at 10,000+ pounds it is 19’ long and has a top speed of 84 mph. The 80-gallon fuel tank feeds a 335-hp Detroit Diesel coupled with anThe_Original_Gua_4eb6f34d98447_large Allison automatic transmission. Mileage figures are not given, but let’s just say it’s no gas sipper. Your $100,000 (or thereabouts) also gets you “storage” (Note the tour-pak behind the passenger seat.) and a cross engraved with the 10 Commandments, an over-the-top version of the guardian bell, I suppose, but with no better guarantee.

People build all sorts of bizarre, one-off machines, which is ok, creativity is a good thing. But this guy reportedly thinks there’s a market for up to 1,000 of these monstrosities. He may be right – there are lots of people out there with more money than sense – but still, the mind boggles.

Sunday 15 July 2018

No choice at all

I haven’t been doing much blogging lately as enjoying this summer weather has been my first priority. So when it comes down to sitting at the computer, or this…..

Gone fishin'

Well, there’s really no choice at all.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Is 210 km too far to go for coffee?

Not if you’re on two wheels, eh?

With an unexpectedly freed-up afternoon and beautiful weather it was the perfect opportunity to go for a ride. And while not every ride needs a purpose mine generally involve at least one stop at a Tim Hortons for one of their addictive Iced Cappuccinos and possibly an apple fritter. I also needed some fishing sinkers and hooks to replace the ones the bass made off with the other night.

The nearest Tim’s is in Arnprior, but when I hit the four corners in White Lake I decided that wasn’t far enough; Perth was a better option. So I headed straight through to Burnstown. From Burnstown to Calabogie is a nice ride with a few curves to keep the rider awake, but the best road starts at Calabogie and heads directly to Perth.

Highway 511 has been a favoured riding destination for me for decades. Of course increased traffic and road improvements such as straightening some curves (damn them!) mean it’s not quite as exciting as it was in days of yore when we’d hammer along at ridiculous speeds on our Nortons or Hondas or whatever, but it’s still a fun ride.

After an hour or so the Perth Tim Hortons sign appeared and it was time for a break. As usual there were some riders in the parking lot and conversation ensued. Turns out we had a few friends in common (the riding community really is a small world) and we traded war stories while enjoying our drinks. To add some excitement a squeal of tires across the street was followed by a loud crunch as someone drove his/her car straight into a telephone pole. After the ambulance, police, and wreckage were finally gone it was time to hit the road, homeward bound.

The trip home was a bit longer than I expected because I had to go in search of lead-free sinkers, which, it turns out, are a lot harder to find than one would think with all the concerns about lead poisoning fish, loons, and other aquatic life. But that’s the topic for a future rant.

With all the stops it was about a 4-hour ride covering a little over 200 kilometers. A great afternoon outing for a coffee!

Perth loop

Wednesday 27 June 2018

In search of quiet air

For my first few riding decades (Yes, it’s been that long.) I rode naked, so to speak, with no windscreen blocking the wind and rain. I did have a 1/2 fairing on my RD350LC, but that hardly counts as a windshield as it was definitely more cosmetic than functional. But on all my other bikes it was just me, meeting the wind and bugs head-on.

Then, 10 years ago, my first Harley came with a windscreen and I finally realized what I had been missing all that time. Long rides weren’t nearly as exhausting, fewer bugs met their fates on my face, and a sore neck and shoulders weren’t the automatic result of a day in the saddle. But it also had a downside. The wind flowing around/over/under the windshield created a turbulence resulting in helmet buffeting which, in the extreme, created its own issues like blurred vision and headaches from the constant shaking. This condition is certainly not unknown to riders and so we are always looking for solutions to minimize, or at least reduce, the effects.

One option, which reportedly does work, is to have a reverse curve at the top lip of the shield, thus lifting the turbulent air up and over the rider’s helmet. That’s the theory anyway; the physics involved are beyond my understanding. But I’ve read enough reviews to at least give it a try, so my Klock Werks Flare Billboard Windshield arrived today in the post. Twenty minutes later it was installed and ready for a test run. Just about the same time as the rain hit, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Klock Werks

I have high expectations that this windshield will give me a bubble of quiet air, so I hope I’m not to be disappointed.