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