Friday, October 8, 2010

A Rant

Ya know what burns my ass? An open flame about 2 feet high.

Ya know what else burns my ass? When others make a determined effort to kill your joy.

The best example of what I'm talking about is familiar to most parents - as soon as a woman finds out she's pregnant for the first time, people come out of the woodwork with unsolicited but well-intentioned advice and commentary. There's always one woman (at least) who has to tell the new mother-to-be about how HER pregnancy was the worst in recorded medical history, with labor pains beginning shortly after the moment of conception, 18 years of morning sickness, 21 years of breast-feeding, and now, 35 years later, cutting the umbilical cord.

So now the new mother-to-be is thinking "What the F**k have I gotten myself into?" Moments ago, she was glowing, now she's envisioning "ALIEN"!

With guys, it's usually related to the acquisition of a mechanical device - a car, a firearm, a power tool, or in my case, a motorcycle.

I've almost always ridden Hondas. Until recently I've only owned Honda motorcycles.

The first ride on a motorcycle I can recall is behind my Dad on an old 305 Honda, later rides were on the back of the '71 750 and the '75 750. Eventually I rode the '75 myself, both without a license and later with. Then Dad's '80 GL1100I, my '81 GL1100I, and Maria's GL1100.

As far back as I can remember I've wanted a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I don't know what first attracted me to the brand, although my Grandfather probably played a role in it - he never rode as far as I know, and rarely said anything complementary about motorcycles in general, but had a strong affinity for American brands. Who knows - maybe since he and the Motor Company were about the same age maybe he figured that any brand that went thru two world wars, the Depression and the Nixon administration deserved his respect. I don't know, but he was the one who let me stop at a Harley dealer while on a road trip one time. forward to 2003 and a trip to the Bay Area for a friend's wedding. Kids are back home, just me and Maria, and an ad for Harley rentals at Bob Dron HD in Oakland. We rented a 2003 Electra Glide Classic, and the die was cast. I knew that some day I'd own some sort of Harley, probably an Electra Glide.

Life happened while I was making this plan. I had my '81 Gold Wing, it was paid off, it was dependable, it was mostly comfortable. With four kids and a mortgage it never seemed like the responsible thing to do to finance a motorcycle.

Early in September this year a friend offered to sell me his '90 Ultra Classic. I knew what he paid for it, so the price he offered it to me wasn't out of line. Things fell into place - financing was secured, my Gold Wing was sold, and the Ultra was mine. Long time dream realized and all that.

The bike is not without flaws, and I know that, even expect that. I've been a mechanic of some sort for all of my adult(?) life and recognize that even with the best care and maintenance machines age. Besides, part of the fun of owning a motorcycle (for me, at least) is learning how it works, how it breaks, how to fix it, and how to make it better.

So, getting back to Mr. Killjoy.

Everyone I've talked to since buying the Ultra, even the brand-loyal Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki guys, has, at least to my face, been complimentary, acknowledging my history with the Wing, wishing me good fortune with the Ultra, offering unsolicited but helpful tips and advice.

Except for one guy.

He had a Harley at one time. Rode it a lot, worked on it (apparently) a lot more. Did this and that to the engine trying for more power. One thing after another went wrong with it. Spent lots of money on it and (apparently) was never happy with it. Ultimately ended up selling it, no doubt losing money in the deal.

Of course, I heard this tale of woe AFTER purchasing the Ultra, and without ever asking for his experiences or opinion. So now the seeds of negativity are planted, sown in the field of doubt and indecision that I thought I'd effectively fenced off, isolated and inoculated. So now, like that new mother-to-be, I catch myself wondering what I've done, second-guessing my decision, listening to every clank, rattle, clunk, whistle and whine, wondering if this is when it lays down and dies.

I know I shouldn't let one person get me down. I know that just because HE had a bad experience with the brand it doesn't mean that I will have a bad experience too. I know all this.

And yet, there it is.

One guy and his comments takes part of my fun away.

And that burns my ass just like a two foot high open flame.

Thanks, dude.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Weekend 2010

Yeah, I'm still around...more fun to read others' blog posts than write my own, though.

As I write this it's Sunday of the 2010 Labor Day weekend. The weather has moderated a bit so the house is open and the AC is off...for now.

I'm using vacation instead of going to work tonight.

I spent yesterday afternoon working on the yard - between the rain and the heat the last couple of weeks I haven't been able (or wanted) to mow - tough when you work nights...neighbors aren't happy with mowing at 6 AM at the same time they're unhappy about the height of the grass in our yard. Can't win.

Sitting here thinking of things I should be doing, things I need to do, and things I'd like to do, and trying to find something that overlaps all 3 categories. Might have to settle for 2 out of 3.

Time to post this and get on with the day.

Be safe...come back and see me again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Buy A Gun Day 2010

The Big Brown Truck of Happiness just dropped off the last major part of my first AR-15 build.

Note that I opted for the BUIS cat instead of standard sights.

The neat thing I'm finding out about AR accessories is that they are multi-functional. In this case, the cat is being used as an angled forward grip.

I have the for the second most fun thing to do with a new firearm: Time to ACCESSORIZE!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

An American Tradition

The Felps Phreaks* have crawled out from under their rock again, this time getting gratuitous news coverage over an Appeals Court decision in their favor. With their reappearance in the public eye comes the renewed calls for bans on protests at funerals.

Look, I probably agree with your assessment of them. I think they're scum. I think they give religious fundamentalism a bad name. I find their protests at funerals to be among the most un-Christian of activities possible, short of murder. As a means of encouraging change it ranks up there with flag burning. The group's actions diminish the message of its protests.

But here's the rub: Political protest is one of the fundamental elements of the American way of life. The heroes at whose funerals these inbred wastes of oxygen protest pledged to defend that way of life. Thousands of men, women and children died to bring forth that way of life, and to continue its existence.

Political protest is firmly ensconced in our Constitution in the First Amendment. Remember...the Bill of Rights doesn't give us rights - it specifies rights that the Federal government is not allowed to take away from citizens.

Political protest done correctly is always going to be ugly to someone. You may think this form of protest is over the line and should be banned, but odds are pretty good that some form of protest YOU find acceptable is over the line to someone else and THEY think it should be banned! (Hint: Tea Parties!)

Think about how a protest ban could be used against an issue you are passionate about. A law against protests written too specifically will be easy to challenge in court and/or get around, a law written broad enough to resist challenge will be easy to use against other forms of protest!

Political protest, though protected, isn't unlimited. It's quite common for 'protest zones' to be established at political conventions and international conferences. Often times these zones are well away from the venue. This may be a better solution to the funeral protests than trying to ban them altogether.

These idiots feed on press coverage. Deny them the publicity and they'll either become more and more outrageous in their attempts to capture the spotlight, thereby exposing themselves to more legal scrutiny and/or public ridcule, or they'll run out of money and go away. Paying attention to them just fuels their cause.

* Yeah, I know it's spelled the other way around, but why feed them search engine hits?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Same Shirt, Different Day

I've often said that I disliked living in the San Diego area because the weather didn't have variety.

I'm pretty well at that state with western Iowa and eastern Nebraska.

If there's a bright spot in our recent weather it's that at least we are nearer to normal on temperatures.

And, of course, it could always be worse...I could be living on the eastern seaboard waiting for a storm that's forecast to drop 24 inches of snow...that's as much snow in one storm as we've received since Christmas!