Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Men vs Women: Choosing a Motorcycle

I think we can all agree that men have some trouble understanding women.  So any man writing about what makes a good woman's motorcycle is going to need some diplomacy and tact.  Since I have plenty of those, I will start the topic.

But first, here is a look by Visordown writer Ben Cope
It's called "10 best motorcycles for women".  And you must know in advance that there will be disagreements, both on the details (which exact bikes are selected and left out) and in the overall philosophy (why should men be picking bikes for women, why do all the selected bikes have smallish engines, why don't you acknowledge that some women are bigger and stronger than some men?) etc.

I am going to sidestep a lot of those issues by not trying to pick out ten bikes for women, just leave that to them.  I will begin with some observations about Mary Ann's choice of a bike.  My bike was a BMW K1100LT, and I actually had two other bikes, licenced, insured and road ready, that she could have used.  She is 5' 10" with a 32 inch inseam.  So she could physically handle any of my bikes, including the 600 lb. BMW, with a bit of practice.  So, instead of picking either my 1972 Honda 450 Scrambler, or my 1969 Honda CD175, she chose to buy a new used Suzuki Burgman 400, which cost about $7,000 and consequently I had to get rid of one of my bikes, as there was not enough room in the garage.

Now the question is, what female logic would have prompted this counter-intuitive decision?  Because I am assuming it was something to do with female logic vs. male logic.  First the cost.  For a man, the cost of a bike is important.  For a woman it is a relatively trivial point compared to the actual decision to ride a motorcycle.  For a man who wants a motorcycle, it's just a question of how much bike he can afford.  A woman wants to ride a motorcycle that she can actually use with safety.  Men are dismayed when their new bike is not as big as somebody else's bike.  Women (some women?) don't care too much if their bike is not the biggest, honkinest, loudest badass bike in town.

As soon as Mary Ann saw a Burgman and found out that it was automatic, and could travel on the freeway if necessary, she made up her mind that she did not need a traditional bike.  She did not need to learn the intricacies of clutching with the left hand, shifting with the left toe,  braking with the right foot, all while balancing a moving motorcycle.  She could just use the hand controls like a bicycle (plus throttle of course).  I'm not saying all women, or that only women think this way, because I can also see the appeal of not having to shift gears 1000 times every time I go out for an afternoon ride.  But I think a woman might see the advantage a little sooner than a man.

Next, Mary Ann was intrigued by the word "scooter" rather than "motorcycle".  In other words, there were two alternate names she could use, depending on the audience.  It would be nice to be able to say "Mom, I bought a scooter!" instead of "Mom, I bought a motorcycle".  I guess women like to use alternate words in social situations, men simply get confused by alternate words.

Once again, I have the disclaimer that not all women are like this, but Mary Ann was not at all put off by the repair and maintenance issues of the scooter.  She doesn't worry too much about how many plastic panels must be removed to do an oil change, or even replace a light bulb.  She just assumed I would do that.  In most things she is quite independent, but when it comes to scooter maintenance, it's either I do it or the Suzuki dealer does it.  She tried a few times to do some simple things like change the oil, or pump up the rear tire, but it was just not that appealing to her.  Or she had more "important" things to do.

So in summary.  Mary Ann could have had any one of my three motorcycles, or could buy a cheaper brand new traditional motorcycle, but instead wanted to have a Suzuki Burgman scooter.  And, I don't mind riding the Burgman either as driver or passenger.  Lots of guys have Burgman scooters, and even smaller scooters than the Burgman, and I understand the appeal.  But at the same time, I think Mary Ann's choice of the Burgman was influenced by feminine logic and intuition, which to some extent, values ease of use over desire for bone crushing, pavement shredding performance.

We got her Burgman in 2006 with 2000 km on it.  In seven years, it now has 44,000 km, and a few more scrapes from falling twice on gravel roads.  I have probably driven it 5,000 of those kilometers, and Mary Ann did the other 37,000.  She has not grown bored with the scooter, and does not desire more power.  She still loves it when people ask her questions about the scooter while riding around. Maybe even more now, when she can actually answer most of the questions herself.

Picture: Once again the difference between the male choice and a female choice, but this time the choice of a picture.  Was this picture chosen by me, or by Mary Ann?  It is Victory Motorcycle Girl Ciara Price, Playboy Playmate of the Month for November 2011, on the blog:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Logic. Made Simple

I have read more than once, that Atheism is a religion, but this is not what Atheists actually think.  I am almost sure that atheists believe that atheism is not a religion.

I read one long explanation, using some logic, of why atheism is not a religion.  But you have to remember that logic is not just "common sense", there are rules to it that must be understood or it does not work.

In this web page, some of the ideas presented as logic in the original argument are illogical. Here is one example:

"Religion is a philosophy of life.  Atheism is a philosophy of life.  Therefore Atheism is a religion."

The type of logic is called deductive reasoning.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia 1946

"Deductive thinking is largely reducible to a form such as: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal (all S is P, M is S, therefore M is P); or more exactly: If all men are mortal, and if Socrates is a man, Socrates must then be mortal. Such a form is known as a syllogism."

The many problems with the author's statement begin with the faulty logical construction. This is wrong: A is B, X is B, therefore A is X.  If this logic were valid, you could easily prove a dog was a cat.  (A Dog is a pet, a cat is a pet, therefore a dog is a cat.)

The correct form of this logic is actually "if all S is P, and M is S, therefore M is P".  The argument would have to be constructed as:

"If all philosophies of life are religions, and atheism is a philosophy of life, therefore atheism is a religion."

If the first two statements (called the major premise and the minor premise) are correct, the third part (the conclusion) must be correct. However, if either of the first two premises are incorrect, then the conclusion is also incorrect.  And in this particular example, both the premises happen to be incorrect.

OK Now lets have fun playing with "logic". This time I will use my own example, with a negative twist. In order to prove that M is NOT S, you have to juggle a few things around.  Let's try this: If all S is P, and M is not P, therefore M is not S.

If you substitute  S=religion P=tax exempt M=atheism

All religions are tax exempt.  Atheism is not tax exempt.  Therefore Atheism is not a religion.

So, does the logic hold up here?

I think we should go back to teaching logic in schools, unless logic contradicts religious teaching.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tmmy's in Port Dover After Midnight


Looks like the weather will be warm and dry for a few weeks.  I just bought a new rain suit (maybe that explains the sudden change in weather), and so far I have been forced to test it with a garden hose.  To make the test more realistic, I sat in one of our lawn chairs and had Mary Ann spray the hose at me from the front.  She doesn't like wasting water, so she insisted that I move my lawn chair to the middle of her vegetable garden, where the runoff could do some good.  At first she was reluctant to use the full force of the hose, but as the suit seemed to hold up well, she gradually got enthusiastic with the test program.  Maybe she enjoyed it a bit too much, but at least whatever was covered with the rain suit stayed dry in that test.

A garden hose is different from rain in many ways.  On a motorcycle, the rain will be hitting you at higher speed, over a longer period of time, while the garden hose hits you with a huge amount of water at lower speeds (even on maximum force), and over a shorter period of time.  Unless you're willing to sit there and shoot water for four hours, which I'm not.

Actually, there has been a small leak on the right knee that I have been trying to seal with wax.  Although the suit has sturdy nylon material, it also has many seams, including six on each knee.  They are not double stitched, and the tape seal on the back of the stitches is kind of sloppy.  Still it's quite a small leak, so I should be able to find it and seal it one day, if I keep on with my testing.

Last night at about 10 PM I was struck with the brilliant idea of riding my bike down to Port Dover for a midnight hot chocolate and toasted cinnamon raisin bagel at Tim Hortons.  It also happens to be the 30th anniversary of a 35 hour overnight ride I made when I was 35 years old.  Except for a nearly full moon, conditions were similar.  Hot and dry during the day, clear and really cold at night.

My 2007 Vulcan 900 was ready for the trip,  and in many ways it resembles my bike from 30 years ago, a 1982 Honda Silver Wing 500.  The Vulcan has a bigger engine, but not much more horsepower.  Both are water cooled V-twins.  By coincidence, my Vulcan had no windshield last night, and neither did the Silver Wing, which turned out to be very important.  The only obvious modern technology my Vulcan had, that the Silver Wing could not match, was fuel injection.  Surprising, considering 30 years of technological advances.

I started the ride at about 10 PM, wearing only a t-shirt under my riding jacket, and kevlar pants.  But I had a secret weapon with me that I did not have on my 1983 trip to Baie Comeau for breakfast.  In my saddlebag I had my new rain suit.

I started to get cold before I reached the end of my street, so when I stopped for gas a bit later, I zippered up the front vents on my jacket.  It was still 19c and warm from the daytime sun.  But within another 15 km., the cold was increasing, so I stopped again and put on my sweat shirt.  That arrangement held me until I got to Port Dover, where I was kind of chilly, so I ordered a hot chocolate and toasted bagel.

On my return trip, the temperature was down to 16c. Out in Timmy's parking lot, I put my rain suit over everything else I was wearing. By the time I got home at 1:30 AM, I was still warm, even though wisps of fog were developing on the road.

I underestimated the cold because I'm used to riding with a windshield. Also, I am not used to riding when the temperature is dropping rapidly, like it does on a clear night in August.  Similarly, back in 1983, I had no windshield, as I had not yet bought a windshield for it.  I did soon after that overnight ride, though.

Picture: I need a real water cannon to properly test my new rain suit.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Biker Fashions For You (But not for you)

I now consider myself an expert on motorcycle fashions, having just completed my motorcycle fashion wardrobe.  (Or at least Mary Ann hopes I have completed it.)  Now is the time for me to dispense my valuable advice free of charge to the general motorcycling public.

If you have a Harley Davidson, a sportbike, a Honda GoldWing, or a BMW GS Adventure bike, and no other motorcycle, you are excused.  Not because you know everything about motorcycle fashions, but because those four types of bikes already have a complete and unique fashion wardrobe, and I cannot be of any further help to you.

This blog is for the rest of you motorcyclists, who do not have any particular style carved in stone for you and your bike.

For my non motorcycling life,  my wardrobe is minimal to sketchy.  I have one thing to wear to weddings and funerals (including my own).  Everything else is covered by one "look", basically t-shirt or sweat shirt, jeans or shorts, with some heavier outer clothing for going outside when it's colder.

For motorcycling, things get complicated. For one thing, your clothes need to perform more functions, such as crash protection, severe weather protection (basically like being in a hurricane all the time), visibility to increase chances of survival on the road, and have some resistance to road grime and oil.  Furthermore, these clothes need to match the look of your motorcycle, and look right in various social situations.

Let's start with the jacket.  The iconic black leather motorcycle jacket used have a very distinct tough guy image, which it has kept, but diminished over the years as it was adopted by high school girls and non-motorcycling people of alternate sexual preferences.  In modern language, the black leather jacket has been "nerfed" or rendered less threatening than it used to be in the early sixties.

What does a motorcyclist do if they want to recapture that "tough guy" image in the 21st century?  I suggest a black hoodie. It can be worn with a black leather jacket, or any other kind of jacket.  And nothing says "just shoot me Mr. Vigilante" like a black hoodie.  Oddly, the hoodie also has a nerd-like quality, as you can see on "The Big Bang Theory" where Leonard wear one all the time.  I think the connection between the hoodie, the geeks and the bad guys is through the Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars, who always wears a black hood, and is very evil, and throws lightning bolts from his fingers.

The hoodie is a great motorcycle accessory for all bikers who need fashion advice, and even for Harley riders, as it is also available with the Harley Logo on it.  It works with old bikes, and new.  With metric cruisers, dirt bikes, even scooters.  The only situation where it may not work is in a heavy rainstorm, where it will capture cold water and funnel it down your neck.

Now that I have taken care of the all important "bad boy" image, lets look at survival.  A reflective safety vest will effectively cancel out any bad boy image you may have, so is it worth wearing from a fashion viewpoint?  I would say yes, if you are riding a vintage motorcycle, or a scooter, or if you are not going to a hard core biker rally like Friday 13th in Port Dover.  Actually even in Port Dover, the reflective vest would not be a fashion faux pas, compared to the nude guy with the bunny ears.

Next in the survival category is the helmet, but it may be even more important than a reflective vest.  For a big bike, or a bike that goes on the freeway, a full face helmet is the standard.  For trips around town, or for looking tough, a half helmet may look best.  Unfortunately, it is not as safe, but here we are talking about image.  It's up to you whether image is worth it, but apparently some helmets are now sold in Ontario that only meet DOT standards (not Canadian Standards), and some of them are clearly not safe, because apparently DOT does not test helmets.  But it really seems like some lawmakers don't care much about actual safety, because they have also allowed exceptions to the helmet law for religious purposes in BC and Manitoba, and maybe one day in Ontario.  So of you are a practicing member of a recognized religion that forbids wearing motorcycle helmets, you can really look tough wearing anything your gods will allow.

Now for footwear.  Black leather boots are best, but try to avoid over junkified boots with redundant straps and shiny buckles. Other colors such as yellow/tan workboots are OK, but if you have an old leaky bike they are going to end up black anyway from oil gushing from every gasket.  Stay with a simple Doc Martin style or military style, and you'll look OK no matter what type of bike you ride except for motocross.  Back in the seventies, I used to think cowboy boots were acceptable as motorcycle boots, but now I think lace-up styles are better because they are easier to get on and off and stay on better in a crash.  You just have to make sure to tuck in the laces so they don't get hooked up an any part of the bike.

Picture: Kitten with a hoodie.  When wearing this on the motorcycle, the jacket goes over the hoodie, but the hood itself is folded down outside the jacket.  It must be folded down, as it should not be worn under the helmet.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shopping for Rain Pants, I Buy a 2 Piece Rain Suit

After getting caught in a couple of downpours this year, I discovered that my rain outfit is not as good as I thought it was.  I have several rainpants, but none of them really suit me any more.  For one thing, my Vulcan 900 does not have lower leg shields, and that puts extra burden on the pants to keep the rain out.  Also, my new motorcycle boots are bigger (size 12), and have large soles that are hard to push through leg openings.  Finally, I am not as limber as I used to be when I bought some of these pants, and I often strain a muscle while dancing around trying to insert my second foot.  (The Lost Motorcyclist was 45 when he (I) bought one of these pairs of pants, and now I'm 65).

I have three pairs of rainpants. I have my 20 year old rainpants that are waterproof, and non-breathable, but I can't get them on easily.  Then I have a pair of Coleman walking pants, fairly easy to get on, but breathable and therefore not very waterproof when riding on my Vulcan 900.  Finally I have some Belstaff cold weather pants that are sort of waterproof, really easy to get on with a full length zipper, but bulky and hot for summer riding.

After looking about on the Internet, I realized that the only way to buy a new pair of rainpants would be to visit a store and try to get into a pair, while wearing my motorcycle boots.  Lately I have had some luck finding quality gear at low prices at the Tri-city Cycle Clearance centre, in "The Southworks" in Cambridge.  So I put on my normal summer touring gear, including the size 12 boots, and went to try on some rain pants.

The only rain pants they had were part of a package, either a one piece suit or a two piece suit.  At $67, the price of the suits was about the same as I might pay for a good quality rainpant alone somewhere else. And I already saw on Google, that it was not so easy to find good quality, separate rainpants for motorcycling.

The first suit I tried on was a one-piece Bering suit, and I tried the largest they had in the store, which was size L.  Although I managed to get my feet in (a bit of a struggle), I simply could not get the top of the one-piece suit over my motorcycle jacket without help.  Next I tried a camo two-piece suit that looked pretty cheap, with no nylon liner. Struggling to get my second leg in, I strained a muscle, which disqualified that suit.  My last try was a Nexgen XXXL suit, which I managed to get on without too much difficulty.  (Although the leg zipper is short, and the boots kind of stick to the mesh liner and try to drag it inside out.)   As I was getting tired, I did not press on with the shopping.  I simply took an XXXL silver-grey/black/orange combination that actually would look very good if it wasn't for the size.  In a XXXL size, I kind of look like I'm wearing a balloon shaped poncho.  But at least I don't look fat in it.  I will make the observation that Nexgen makes these suits in sizes up to XXXXXL. The XXXL is big enough that no one could really guess how big I might be in there.  Other than the gigantic size, the only thing that bothers me is how bulky the suit is for packing.  It's made of thick textile, with a liner, and the jacket and pants together fill up more than half my left saddlebag.  I have only done one road test so far, and all I know is that the legs begin to flap strongly at about 120 kph.

Now to wait for the next rainy day and take a ride on the 401.  If the suit is really, really good, it might scare away the rain and start a new round of droughts for southern Ontario.

Picture: The Nexgen 2-piece rain suit with suspenders, pockets, a liner, and a high collar with built in under-helmet hood.  Waterproof/rain prevention qualities as yet unknown.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Conservative Theory that Trudeau is Going for the Stoner Vote

Stoner Kitty

I began to read this opinion piece online from the "Star Phoenix", and before the first paragraph was done, I was already getting that "right wing nutjob" vibe from the author, Les MacPherson.

I didn't know this until I checked the internet, but yes, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix is owned by the same group as the right wing National Post.  So there is a good chance this is purposeful conservative propaganda.

Breaking down the article to its basic arguments and assumptions:

- Justin Trudeau (Liberal Leader) is promising to legalize pot in order to capture the all important stoner vote.

- Stoners will hate legalization, (if it happens) as government meddling will make pot more expensive and less appealing.

- Dealers will hate legalization, as they will be put out of business by excessive government regulation and taxing.

- Trudeau will not legalize marijuana anyway, he is only lying.  Hypocritical liberal governments do more marijuana busts than conservative governments.

- Conclusion: Trudeau should wait until the US legalizes marijuana before doing anything.

- Recommendation (implied): Don't vote for Trudeau, as he is a hypocrite and a Socialist, (if that is not too redundant)

Seems like an inoffensive article, but there are some underlying right-wing assumptions that I do not accept.

- The negative stereotyping and use of the pejorative name stoner.  Why are conservatives always stereotyping people????  OOOPS now I'm stereotyping.  Anyway, it's true.

- The assumption that all the people who want marijuana legalized are stoners, and only stoners want marijuana legalized.  That is not true, as many "non-stoners" believe that decriminalizing marijuana will boost our economy.  (a non-stoner is the opposite of what a stoner is supposed to be in this article, I have no other definition for it).

- The assumption that if the government gets involved in the marijuana business, things will fall apart.  This is dumb, even from a conservative free market point of view.  OK, we need a short lesson in right wing free enterprise.  ILLEGAL activities are not free enterprise.  LEGAL activities are not automatically "government run". By Les MacPherson's logic, black market gasoline would be cheaper and more potent than legal pump gas. I don't think so.

- Les's conclusion is typical of your basic Canadian Conservative:  Wait until the US does it, on the assumption that, except for Obama, the US is always right.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Getting Caught in the Rain on a Motorcycle

I admit that I am not the expert in staying dry, I do not live in British Columbia or England.  But in some ways it is more difficult to stay dry when rain is unexpected.  My first experience with rain riding was extremely shocking.  I had been riding a motorcycle for five months by the time May 1970 came around.   It was my first year in West Africa, where there is a rainy season and a dry season each year. For five months, I had been riding my motorcycle all over the country without any concern for rain, or even cold.

The day I first experienced rain on a motorcycle started out like many others.  I was at the beach for the weekend, and travelling the 200 km. back to my home on a nice Sunday afternoon in May.  About 30 km from home, a sudden thunderstorm came up.  I was wearing a helmet, sunglasses, T-shirt, regular shoes and jeans.  No face shield or windshield, no gloves.  No spare clothes, and of course no rain suit. I had not seen a drop of rain for about six months, and the temperature had been 31 degrees every day.  And, as I said before, I had never in my life ridden a motorcycle in rain.

The first drops of rain that hit me were a big surprise.  It was like being hit by rocks!  I thought about it for a short while.  Was this hail?  No, it was just raindrops.  I slowed down, and that was a bit less painful.  Within a few minutes, the rain was coming down very heavily, and I was soaked completely through and through.  Then the gravel road started to fill up with puddles.  Every puddle almost blasted my feet off the footpegs with the spray. It wasn't too long before the road started to get muddy, and the mud started getting slippery.  Luckily it was a short storm, and within about 20 minutes the sun was out again.  The temperature felt like it had dipped to about 70 degrees during the storm.  Then within another 20 minutes, I was almost totally dry, or at least comfortable again.  Just wondering what had hit me back there.

Unlike Canada, most of the time in Sierra Leone, they didn't bother with the weather reports. For half the year this would be the daily weather report, if they bothered with it at all.  Sun will come up at 6 AM, sunny, high of 92, sun will go down at 6 PM.  For the other half of the year, it would be:  Sun will come up at 6 AM, sunny with afternoon/evening thunderstorms, high of 82, sun will go down at 6 PM.

Many years later, riding in the summer in southern Ontario to me is mostly like being in a dry season.  This year has had more rain than usual, and quite heavy at times.  So how do you prepare for this kind of rain?  I have a windshield and splash guards for my feet.  I usually bring a rain jacket, rain pants, rain mitts, and boot covers with me.  Then I use my smart phone to check the weather radar, so that I know when to put on the rain suit.

A couple of days ago, I was on the 401 and I knew an intense rain storm was coming towards me.  So I stopped early, while it was still dry and put on my rain pants and jacket.  I don't bother with the rain mitts or boot covers.  Right where I expected it, the rain started, and it was really intense, some cars were pulling over. But my visibility was good, so I kept going, and I was only 15 minutes from my destination.  At my Mother's house I had a spare set of clothes if I needed them.

In the rainstorm, the first breach of the defences was my neck.  I had made the mistake of wearing a hoodie under my rain jacket.  The hood was sticking out, and apparently wicking cold water into my jacket.  About ten minutes later, I started to feel cold water from the front zipper area reaching my crotch.  When I got in the house, I changed my clothes and found out that my pant legs were half wet because of the "breathable" rain pants flapping too much.  Also my socks were damp, but this was actually better than I expected, as in a previous rainstorm, my boots had actually filled with water.  These lace-up boots are not advertised as waterproof, but they work surprisingly well as long as water does not run down my leg into the boots.  My T-shirt was mostly dry except for the lower front.  My gloves were completely soaked, but at least no black dye had run out to colour my hands.  And overall I was warm enough, because of the time of year, even though I was a bit wet.

But I have now changed my breathable rain pants to old fashioned PVC.  And next time, no cotton hoodie will be sticking out in the rain.  Always striving to do better.

I Think We All Know Why Obama Flubs Geography

I was reading about Sun News * fighting for status as a legitimate "news" channel.  In one of the comments, claiming that the liberal news was also biased, an example was given where the liberal news covered up for Obama's latest gaffe.

Apparently, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Obama had said that various Atlantic seaports were on the Gulf of Mexico.  Is it possible that Obama has so little knowledge of US geography?  After all, I watched the show, and I did not notice any gaffe of that type.  But according to right wing sources, (Michelle Malkin) this gaffe was as big as the famous one where Republican Vice President Dan Quail said potato was spelled potatoe.
Let's compare the two gaffes.

First about Obama's gaffe:

According to newsbusters (a right wing blog), Obama said "If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don't do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs."

Read more:

A link to a video on Jay Leno's show

Obama was naming places where deepening is needed, to me it means ports all along the Gulf *and* places like Charleston and Savannah.  He did not write "ports all along the Gulf  (places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida)."  Punctuation is important, especially when you are adjusting it to suit your propaganda purposes.

What kind of person will not only call this an example of Obama's ignorance, but also an example of Liberal left wing bias. I guess it's the same kind of person who will pretend there is actually a dash before and after  "places like...." instead of  commas.  And then say

"The only conceivable way to interpret what Obama actually said is that the ports of Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville are "along the Gulf" of Mexico. Of course, these ports are really on the Atlantic Ocean."

This text was not given in writing, it was in a live interview.  I heard a comma, I guess some nitpicker heard dashes, or some might have heard parentheses.  I already knew where these ports were, so it seems I was biased into hearing the commas.

Now let's compare Dan Quail's potatoe gaffe,

In the video of Dan Quail, a student is spelling potato on the blackboard.  Dan Quail jumps in and tells the student he is wrong, and he needs to add an "E" to the end of the word.

One is actually the definition of an embarassing gaffe, the other is a deliberate misunderstanding by a hostile  commentator.  Apparently right wing "news" organizations like Fox and Sun News do not see the difference.  That's why I do not consider them to be genuine news.  They are too biased.  That is "the only conceivable way to interpret" their ignorant arguments.

Next time, Obama should have two versions of the statement, one for liberals who know geography, and the other one for right wingers who need a map and some red arrows pointing to all the ports.

* Sun News is a Canadian TV "news" station that is similar to the U.S. Fox "News".  And for those who don't know what Fox News is, it is a network news channel that claims to be "Fair and Balanced" but also claims to be the voice of the right wing conservatives and Republicans, counteracting what they call the left wing liberal bias of the mainstream press.  Sun News and right wing backers have so far been blocked in Canada in two attempts. One, to eliminate the restrictions on false and misleading  information in the news.  And second to force Sun News onto all basic cable channels free of charge, claiming status as an independent genuine news organization.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Genesis of a Shade Tree Mechanic

A shade tree mechanic can be defined in two ways

1. A person willing to perform repairs and maintenance on their own vehicle, usually with only a tree for shade and a small portable tool kit.

2. A person who, while trying to fix their vehicle, causes more harm than good.

I have described myself as a shade tree mechanic for almost 44 years now, since my first tune up job on my first bike.  I was reminded of that today, when I did a valve and timing adjustment on my red 1969 Honda CD175.  The first tune up I did was early January 1970, about 44 years ago.  It was also under a shade tree, like today, and also performed on the same year and model of motorcycle.  The main difference was that in 1970, I had never done anything like it before.  Also, then, I was 200 km from my home, which at the time was in Sierra Leone, West Africa.  And I had only the as-yet-unused tool kit from the new bike, and the owners manual, which included two small pages on how to perform these adjustments. If I screwed up in any way, I was quite far up s-h-double hockey sticks creek.

In early January 1970 was attending a workshop at Milton Margai Teachers College in Goderich, Sierra Leone.  The college dorms were right near the beach.  I had travelled to the conference with my new bike.  And while I was there, the odometer read 480 miles, and according to the book I had to do a tune-up.  Being a bookish person, I could not imagine waiting until I got home, when it would be reading over 500 miles.  So as everyone else left by taxi and bus and lorry, I moved my bike under a nearby shade tree, overlooking the beach, and got my tool kit and owners manual out.

The setting was about as idyllic as anyone could imagine.  I didn't take any pictures, as my camera got broken as a result of a poor packing job on my new bike.  But I have attempted a photo-shopped picture, showing a tree and a similar bike together, with a similar beach in the background.

I took stuff apart, following the directions in the owners manual. All the tools were included, even the .002" feeler gauge.  It probably took an hour, and when I put it all back together, the bike started right up.  To say I was relieved would be an understatement.  It would be accurate to call this a life altering moment.  I know people misuse this term all the time, but this was the real deal. I was 21, and after pretty much a lifetime of going to school and generally mucking about, for the first time I found out that I could actually do something real.  Anyway, I thought it was real, and that's what counts.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ride It To Port Dover Like You Stole It.

I have heard this strange expression "Ride it like you stole it".  Today I tried to  figure out what it means.  I assume the scenario is this: you  come across a random motorcycle with the key in it, jump aboard and take off without doing the 12 point pre-run safety inspection.  Due to the spontaneous nature of the ride, you also do not take the gear you will need, like a full water bottle, a rain suit, and a tool kit.  Of course, you do not perform a tune-up on the stolen bike before firing it up, nor do you add air to the tires.  Then you ride mostly at top speed without regard to engine longevity, or safety.

Another thing you would not do, if you were stealing the bike, is plan out a circular scenic route, ending up back where you started.  But actually, I did just that.  I left Kitchener and headed for Ancaster first, on my way to Lake Erie, then back home.  Just before Ancaster I went on Weir Road and Sulphur Springs Road.  These are good roads for a reckless rider on a Honda CD175, as they have hairpins and some gravel sections.  And if I dump the CD175, who cares?

What kind of clothes does a bike thief wear?  I would expect a bandanna to hide your face, and a black hoodie sweatshirt.  Probably not a construction worker's safety vest, but then again, I might do that just because who would ever expect a person in a safety vest to be stealing a motorcycle?  It's the perfect disguise.

Just before I got to Ancaster, I missed a turn and ended up across the street from a corn maze.  The sight on the ground was nothing much, but while  was checking out my location on Google maps, I saw this pattern across the street from the overhead satellite view.,-80.026925&spn=0.005748,0.01929&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=43.287866,-80.027903&panoid=paU3ml4NhsVoL3IlLiyZPQ&cbp=11,359.52,,2,4.4

After getting back on track with Google maps, I headed for the bridge over the Grand River at Cayuga, and soon after, took Kohler Road down to pick up the scenic Lakeside Trail heading for Port Dover.  This is not a walking trail, it is a car trail.  There are signs along the way to keep you on track without having to stop and use your i-phone at every turn.

At Port Dover, it was time to eat, but there was no parking left at Tim Horton's.  Instead I stopped at Willy's for a Willy Burger, fries and a Coke. Normally, I should be looking for a nice healthy meal, but a guy who was worried about healthy food would not be stealing bikes, would he?  Also, there was a free motorcycle parking spot nearby, where I could hide the hot bike among all the Harleys outside Clare's Harley Davidson Shop.  Unfortunately the 44 year-old Honda 175 managed to called some attention to itself even in that crowd of shiny hogs.  After my meal on Willy's patio, I was ready to head home. I slowly put my helmet and safety vest on, then backed up and started jumping on the tiny kick starter.  When I turned around, I saw a crowd of Harley riders gathered around me.  I guess they had never seen a kick starter or a stolen bike before.  So I got going before anybody decided to call the fuzz.

First Photo: Sulphur Springs Road.  Second photo: Bike thief from "Bike Locking Tips" at