30 September 2004

Uh, I got some bad news

Shit like this happens once in a great while, but we lost a motor in a BMW today. Thankfully, it wasn't our fault. Thing let loose when we cranked it up to 60 mph on the dyno for the New York State Vehicle Emissions test. Number 5 piston took leave of the connecting rod at 3500 rpm. Yeesh. Man, I've seen and heard motors blow up close at least five hundred times over the past 35 years, and I still never get used to that sickening sound. Totally destroyed two spark plugs when the Number 2 followed a second later. Ripped the valve cover off and found some flotsam and jetsam up there too. Now it's a cast iron and aluminum boat anchor. It's a bitch having to call a customer and tell him that his Bimmer just went bye-bye. Another bitch is that he's Harry's neighbor. It was one of them days.

29 September 2004

Way to go, boys

The Ruttan boys, Dick and Burt, have been heroes of mine for a long time. I raise my glass in your honor tonight, gentlemen.

MOJAVE, Calif. - The SpaceShipOne rocket plane landed safely here Wednesday after a successful tilt-a-whirl start to its bid to win a $10 million prize for private spaceflight.

28 September 2004

Tire Day

It's raining like a bitch (you think these storms could dump all their moisture on Florida instead of bringing some up here), and I had 4 sets of tires to do 1st thing. Shit went downhill from there. We had a week of sunshine and everybody forgot how to drive in the rain. Let alone all the school-related people who only had to drive to the Poconos and back during the summer. Let's hope the Mrs. gets home smoothly, as opposed to last night.

27 September 2004

Just an update

Believe it or not, Dead Ed is back out the hospital and home. Didn't think he'd make it this time. If he was any less stubborn or belligerent, he'd have been dead by now. He called this morning, said he'd be in tomorrow. When I saw him last week, I figured him for a goner. Amazing.

Roll 'Em

The other day, Fixer went on (or off) about some strange, NY State-regulated cigarettes that go out when you ignore them. Significant others will do that too...but I digress. I know all about cigarettes going out. It's become a way of life for me.

Mrs. G. and I both started smoking in our teens, independently and many miles apart. After several years of marriage, she decided we were going to quit, so we went to a 'quit smoking' deal at the Nugget in Sparks, Nevada. They don't have these in California because it's illegal to smoke in a business, but we're close to Nevada so we went.

It was fucking awful. There were about a hundred people there in a conference room. The moderator issued everybody a stale cigarette and proceeded with his lecture on the dangers of tobacco, the addictive process, etc. Then he told everybody to light their cigarette and that they had two minutes to smoke it. He put on a gas mask. That was without a doubt the smokiest room I have ever been in, maybe even more than the shop when something needed a top-end job. People were coughing and retching and puking. When the bedlam subsided, the crowd had thinned out. I wouldn't have left for anything. This deal cost $49.95.

Then the guy hypnotized everybody, the whole roomful at the same time. Except me. I had a loose tooth and was wiggling it with my tongue and didn't get all the way under during the group trance. Then he planted a post-hypnotic suggestion that we didn't want to smoke anymore, snapped everybody back to this world and told them that they could help themselves in their goal by purchasing his anti-smoking products on the way out. Of course he did a brisk trade in these.

Think this is all a big crock?

My wife hasn't smoked a cigarette in the twelve years since. I must have been more hypnotized than I thought because, while I didn't quit smoking, I quit buying tailor-mades and started rolling my own. Mrs. G. lets me smoke in certain rooms of the house, so that's OK.

Problem was, I couldn't hand roll a smoke for sour owl shit. I'd been rolling funny cigarettes for twenty years, but I used a little rolling machine. So I used that. One day it broke and I had to roll one or go nuts, so I did. Once my fingers got used to it, I did fine. Now my smokes look like they're factory rolled, if I want them to. As soon as I can get some sheets of computer-ready cigarette papers, I'm gonna print my name on my smokes!

There's advantages to rolling your own. Yes, they go out when you set them down. This saves money. I can smoke one cigarette for an hour, like when I'm blogging, instead of lighting up an expensive one every twenty minutes like the tobacco companies want you to do. Time it. You'll be dazzled. I learned to buy my Bics in the 5-pack. People think you're poor, so they offer you cigarettes. You find out that a lot of people roll their own.

There's disadvantages as well. If you roll kind of loose, they'll burn little holes in your shirt. You spit out little pieces of tobacco and find them later, like on the monitor. The cops look at you funny sometimes. Sometimes you'd rather smoke than roll, but roll you must. You have to plan ahead when you go out and either roll up a few or take a pouch with you, but you adapt.

It's a lot cheaper. A 6-ounce can of Top or Bugler costs $7.49 at Costco or an Indian Smoke Shop and lasts me about two weeks. Indian smoke shops are giving state governments fits. Good. "Ugh! You, me, cheat Great White Father. One can Top, please." Around here, we have the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and they have a shop right on the state line. The stuff costs more at drugstores, but you can buy .65 oz. pouches to get you to a cheaper joint. There's more expensive brands if you're the snooty type.

Let's roll.

25 September 2004

Jersey Steve

Stole this whole article from The RN&R. I worked at Shoeman's about ten years ago. His name ain't Shoeman, but that's all I'll say because he might have his picture up in a post office somewhere still. He got that name from working in a shoe store when he first moved to Reno. Did pretty good at it, too. The guy could sell icebergs to Eskimos and charge them for shipping. He's a good guy and it was a good job.

Fix-it man
Steve Shoeman

By D. Brian Burghart

Shoeman’s Custom Cycle, 275 E. Fourth St., specializes in Harley-Davidson repair, restoration and custom fabrication. The showroom is filled with pretty much anything a motorcycle rider needs, with a bunch of extra stuff thrown into the mix. The labyrinth only gets more cluttered with motorcycles and parts on the way up to owner Steve Shoeman’s inner sanctum on the second floor above the shop. “It’s our own Winchester Castle,” he says.

How'd you get started in motorcycles?

I started playing with motorcycles fresh out of high school. I bought a Harley-Davidson at 18. Couldn't afford to pay someone to fix it so I started learning on my own. I came out here on my motorcycle in 1981. [I'm from] New Jersey originally. We've been open 15 years, 16 years in November.

I remember your shop being over closer to the hospital.

I was there from '88 until last year. That's when we came over here, bought this building, a friend and I.

Is that an indication of your success?

I would say so, yeah.

It's huge.

It's my attempt to keep up with the dealerships, the popularity of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in general.

What do you think of this trend toward custom bikes?

It's great. Anytime you have sparked real interest in motorcycles, it does nothing but good things for business.

Are people sticking mainly with the Harleys?

Harleys and some of the aftermarket, the Big Dogs, the Victorys have been real popular. Indian, obviously, didn't make it. I bought a bunch of their stuff at auction when they went on the auction block.

Are you integrating that into your bikes, or keeping it pure?

The Indian, the modern-day Indian, the one that just went out of business, was a copy of a Harley-Davidson anyway, made with different sheet metal. There is no real purity or anything like that. A lot of the parts cross over, and I'm using them the best way possible because I stole the stuff, pricewise.

What is the biggest misconception the public has toward motorcycle riders?

The motorcycle riders of today are mostly either retired or doctors, lawyers--professionals. You've got to remember, you've got a $20,000-plus motorcycle, and it's not something that anyone needs. It's a pleasure craft as opposed to a necessity. So anybody that owns one, it's disposable money. Most of the people who own them today are successful businessmen or family men or professionals that have extra money, extra cash.

It's not those bikers like from ...

Like from the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way But Loose. It's totally different nowadays. I have doctors, lawyers, judges, dentists, TV advertising guys.

What do you think fuels the trend toward custom bikes? Harleys especially, are customized right out of the factory. But everybody seems to be ...

Gravitating toward the chopper look?

Chopper look, yeah.

The Discovery Channel has a lot to do with it. It's great. Those two shows, American Chopper and Monster Garage do nothing but spark more interest and enthusiasm to the sport, which is all it needs. Once somebody gets on a motorcycle, it speaks for itself. The TV is generating that interest.

Do you have people come in and ask you for things you can't do--antigravity machines or something?

[Laughs] There's very little we can't do here. We do everything in house except bore cylinders. I could do them here, but it's cheaper and easier to have somebody else do it. Everything but painting and boring we can do here.

Every time there's a sudden enthusiasm for motorcycles, I always feel like, "OK, here it is. Next, interest will drop off, and I'll be able to afford one," but it seems to keep going up.

I, personally, thought '03 was going to be the start of the decline. That was Harleys' 100th anniversary. After that, I thought it would be harder to get everybody geared up for something. That was the big crescendo. But so far, it hasn't seemed to drop off much. Interest is still high, but production is high also. There's no waiting list, backlog, like there used to be. The price has come down on used bikes. Everybody's asking a lot of money, but that was five years ago that they were getting it. Now they're not getting it.

What question should I ask that I haven't?

There's not really much you haven't hit on. We have more experience, and we're better equipped to do anything that relates to Harley-Davidson than anybody else in town. We have a full-service machine shop, custom fabrication. We have a bar right next door. It's part of the deal--our own beautiful custom waiting room.

Is there a reason to come here instead of going to a dealership?

One reason is that the dealership won't work on anything more than 10 years old--90 percent of them. There are a few that still do, but most of them don't find it profitable. We, on the other hand, do anything back to the '20s and '30s up to present-day motorcycles. We're more mechanics and technicians rather than parts exchangers and installers, which is what the new dealerships have--guys who just exchange parts, they don't troubleshoot and fix motorcycles. They don't understand the theory behind it.

What's your favorite motorcycle?

I'm a panhead fanatic. They were made from '48-'65. I have a stock 1948 that a friend of mine's granddad bought right off the showroom floor. I'm the second owner of that bike. It's damned near like it was when it was on the showroom floor.

24 September 2004

And just a bitch

I hate these fucking cigarettes that are fire-safe. It sucks especially when blogging and they go out. If I want that, I'll smoke a bloody joint. Thank you very fucking much, Governor Pataki. And you know that little fucking troll Bloomberg had something to do with this too. I hate people who try to save me from myself.

Parts guys, revisited

Talked about their ineptitude the other day. And then Gordon and I got into a conversation about my penchant to blow shit up. (I'm in italic.)

This is New York. EVERYBODY has an alarm so they can annoy their neighbors in the middle of the night.

My buds in Reno love to go down rows of apartments at 3 AM with the straight pipes on their bikes. They claim they can set ALL the car alarms off!

I keep bugging the Mrs. to get me an RPG or two for Christmas. But so far she ain't budging. She says they'd be too many burning cars in the neighborhood.

[. . .]

I guess the fires would melt the batteries and the alarms would shut off if the explosion didn't knock the cables loose.

All them fire engines might keep you up, though.

Shit, I'd gladly forego sleep to blow something up.

And then I sent Gord here and here. He got a big kick out of this:

[. . .]

Or you say "watch this" as you light the flammable, atomized atmosphere you created in the bathroom with copious amounts of BrakeKleen, WD-40, and other aerosols that shall remain nameless. Man, you could smell it coming out of the bathroom door in the shop, the one we had wedged shut with the salesman inside. I took out my lighter and held it to the crack in the door. Indian said, "Do you think it will light?" And I said, say it with me now. "Watch This!" Man, the look on that guy's face when we opened the door after the explosion. He still had his pants around his ankles but not a hair was left on him. Like I said, bad things happen.

[. . .]

What is your fucking point here, you ask? We know you're an idiot, but what does this all have to do with parts guys?

Well, that salesman I blew up started out life as a parts guy. Did the job for about 20 years before they made him a salesman. He was one of the best that ever worked behind the counter. Even though he's retired, he hasn't lost much. He still brings his car to us. Yeah, even after I blew his ass up. This guy knew the ins and outs of everything on a car, from acorn nuts to zerk fittings. No mechanical ability, but he knew his parts and it was a pleasure dealing with him. He's a prick, just like most everyone who makes their money in the car business, and the reason I blew him up, but guys like Charlie set the gold standard for parts guys. I have to admit I'm spoiled. When I'd call him, he got me the correct part each time with a minimum of effort on my behalf. He knew enough to ask the right questions to send me exactly what I wanted, not 'something close'. I tip my hat to him, and the parts guys who make the effort to know their job and do it professionally, and when they get the right parts to me in a timely manner, they make me look like a miracle worker. I wish he wouldn't have retired. Mainly because he's good and secondly because he hangs out at the shop two days a week, breaking my balls. He knows when I've had enough when I ask him:

"Charlie, do I have to blow you up again?"

23 September 2004


So, after I got my parts from Ford and put this bitch back together correctly, guess what the problem was? The display in the radio was draining the battery, eventually killing it. I thought I heard the guy shit himself when I handed him a bill for $1735 and change. My last word on this. If you don't know, DON'T TOUCH. It'll cost you more in the long run.

A-Slippin' an' A-slidin'...

Here's an article about our beautiful California Summer mountain weather.

"If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes. It'll change."

This is part of my build-up to a post about Tire Chains and Other Traction Devices.

22 September 2004

It Ain't Magic, Dipstick

Reading Fixer's post about the Wire Cutter From Hell got me to thinkin'. Ready or not, here it comes.

When I was in 'Sickle School at L.A.Trade-Tech the instructors told us to listen up in Electrical class, because if we knew electrics real well we could always get a job on account of a lot of guys didn't know much about it and wasted time and parts on electrical problems. So, we listened.

They taught us about electricity, AC and DC. What it was and what was necessary to create it on a bike. Same as a car. Same as a nuclear power plant, for that matter.

They taught us Electron Flow Theory and Conventional Flow Theory, as some bikes still used the latter at that time.

They taught us about Voltage, Current, Wattage, and how they relate. They taught us Ohm's Law 'til we knew it backwards and forwards, because you need to.

They taught us about resistance, capacitance, conductance, inductance and the effect of dissimilar metals on one another. We learned the Right Hand Rule and The Left Hand Rule.

They taught us how electricity was generated, rectified, stored, and distributed.They taught us about generators, alternators, solid state and mechanical voltage regulators, excited fields and electrolytic capacitor battery eliminators.

They taught us about batteries, sponge lead, sulfuric acid, and sulfation. Vibration, too, but that was a whole separate class.

They taught us about ignition, lighting, charging, starting and accessory systems.

They taught us about headlights, taillights, turn signals, horns, switches, relays and wiring. We learned about starter motors. We learned how many accessories were TOO many accessories.

Then they started teaching us what could go wrong. This part was easy, because there's only TWO things that can go wrong with an electrical system. Some technogeeks think three. It's an ongoing argument. Yawn.

Then they taught us how to troubleshoot and how to use a Volt-Ohmmeter.

Then we took written and practical tests.

Then, and only THEN, were we allowed within ten feet of a motorcycle with wirecutters.

That was over thirty years ago. The stuff mechanics (I refuse to use the word 'technician'; that's somebody with a clipboard and pocket protectors, like a service writer) have to deal with these days, like microprocessors and EFI, makes that stuff look pretty Stone Age.

It's still all true, though, and they still have to know it.


This came up in the 'comments' section over at The Alternate Brain while pulling Gordon's leg a bit.

I asked you the same question on another post. I was wondering if it was me. What can I say, I enjoyed the '70s. I'm in the troubleshooting phase right now. The bright side is that it's not deleting the comments themselves. I'm checking the scripts, but I spent the day unfucking up an alarm uninstall.

"Drop the cutting pliers and step away from the vheicle".

They took the alarm out and the car don't run. No timing signal, no injector pulse, nuttin'.

"Dude, it was an aftermarket install, why you cut up the FACTORY harnesses, you bonehead?"

I'll figure it out.

It wasn't anything I could do and Haloscan fixed itself, but I charged Gord $50 anyway. But my point was the Lincoln Town Car that some genius went nuts with a pair of cutting pliers. Mr. DIY kept getting a dead battery. Fine. Ya think maybe he'd check the battery? Maybe check the alternator? Nah. He does the next best thing. He listens to his buddy who "knows something about cars". A leap of faith if I'd ever seen one. His buddy says:

"It's the alarm system."

And Bonehead believes him. Pardon me for a minute while I laugh hysterically. Yes, I know it's your only transportation, but I just can't help myself.

He would have still been okay at that point if he'd brought the car to me and said:

"Hey, you think you can get this piece of shit alarm system out of my car?"

When I determined it didn't run, I would have run over with a set of cables, jumped it, and brought it back to the shop. I would have figured out what was wrong with it, and then made a determination about the alarm. But . . . no.

He and his buddy thought that they could figure out what was factory wiring and what was the local alarm installer's. Harry, Indian, and I can tell the difference. Sadly, he couldn't. So instead of finding a bad battery (the real cause of the no start, maybe an alternator when I get it running), I'm waiting for the main electrical harness to the processor from the Ford dealer. Don't bother asking what this is gonna cost, it's dinner time and I wouldn't want to ruin yours.

LISTEN to me, Lugnut. DON'T CUT WIRES WHEN YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA OF WHAT THEY DO! Jesus H. Christ, do you think I like watching grown men cry?

21 September 2004

Religious Differences

I have now read all of Fixer's "Wisdom" posts. He's messing with my head. Since yesterday he added about a hundred of them. They're sure worth reading, 'tho, well worth the time, and if you haven't, you should.

However (long pause) I see our first religious difference of opinion. More culturally significant than Dem or Rep, left or right, Miller or Bud, Coke or Pepsi, or legs v. boobs.

He's a Ford man.

Friends don't let friends drive....Fords.

I used to be a Chevy guy, but now I'm in the Mopar camp. He'll probably say I'm a flip-flopper.

If you ask Fixer what FORD stands for, he'll probably tell you it means "First On Race Day."

What it really means is "F**kin' Okies Really Dig 'em."

He probably drinks Pepsi, too.

Parts Guys

Now I appreciate a good parts guy. Being in the business some 30-odd years, I've happened upon my share of great ones. Seems they are getting rarer and rarer nowadays. Jesus H. Christ, today I had the local idiot send me 6 pairs of front brake rotors for a Jeep Cherokee and all of them were wrong. Took me to stop what I'm doing, bring an old one down, and match it up with his shit. So there's 45 minutes out of my day with a car tying up one bay. Have I mentioned we only have 2 bays? Incredible.

I've pored through my share of parts books, and I know some shit can be very vague, but when I see some pimply-faced kid who don't know the difference between a Cherokee and a Grand Cherokee (a minor difference to civilians maybe, but something a parts guy should KNOW), it makes me want to scream. So I did. Not at the kid but the owner, whose answer was 'he's new.' Well fucking supervise him then goddammit!

Ah, I feel better now.

Welcome to New York

Just don't bother trying to get around today. While I love New York, there are problems with being the Crossroads of the World. Today, President Bush, Senator Kerry, and the U.N. General Assembly will all be in town today. All the traffic reporters are telling everyone to stay away from the section between 30th & 50th Streets , east of 5th Avenue. The East Side is gonna be a parking lot today. Yeesh!

20 September 2004

Winter Prep

Since I got snowed on yesterday and today and you probably didn't, I got to thinking about Preparing For Winter.

First thing when it started snowing, Mrs. G. and I headed to town to get necessary supplies.

We started at the local Hardware Store/Tourist Trap Boutique. I got a spare gallon of windshield washer fluid ($1.49 on sale) and Mrs. G. got a Columbia fleece jacket (also on sale).

Then to the supermarket. There are many hardships we are willing to put up with in order to live up here in the mountains, power and cable TV outages, etc., but running out of jalapeno-cheese foccacia and garlic & herb crumbled Feta ain't on the list.

Now for the car:

Make sure you have -20deg. windshield washer fluid. Don't use water. It's a royal pain having to unbolt the reservoir and take it in the house to thaw out. Beer works, but it's a waste, and that cheap Vodka (you know, the kind you put in the Gray Goose bottle when company's coming) is too thick.

Turn on the heater to make sure it works. You haven't used it all Summer and if it doesn't work, or dumps coolant all over the inside of the car, best to find out now.

Check the wiper blades by squirting some w.w. fluid and see if they wipe it off. CAUTION: Don't turn them on without first peeling them loose from the windshield or you're liable to get to see them yank the little motors right out of the cowl!

Get the Fixer to check your belts and hoses. When they get dry and worn and cracked, sometimes they'll freeze up and either break, or else yank all the teeth off the flywheel when you try to start the engine.

While you've got your wallet out, have him check the battery electrolyte's specific gravity and clean the terminals. A frozen battery makes a great emergency parking brake, but it won't start the car very good. Also if your battery is weak, when you turn on all the accessories, you can watch its sides suck in.

Get him to check the temperature protection level of the radiator coolant, which is supposed to magically morph into anti-freeze at 32deg., but might not if it's old or if you've been adding water all summer. If you had to add a LOT of water, keep your wallet out.

If you live in Nebraska leave NOW to go to the Fixer's shop.

If you have four-wheel-drive, you probably haven't used it all Summer either. First, check that the 4WD lever is still there. (Yeah, I know they use buttons now, but I have an older model, but not old enough to have more than ONE lever.) If it's there, engage the locking hubs (I know: older models, but this is one part that seizes up from lack of use), shift into 4-wheel and drive a few miles to see if it works. You don't want to find out it doesn't while you're trying to climb Granny's hill on Thanksgiving, unless you like sliding backwards onto a state highway. Don't ask me how I know, but it's thrilling!

Put some Lock-Ease in the key slots on the doors. You can always thaw them by urinating on them, but this may be considered bad form in the parking lot at work or at the mall. Keep a large screwdriver handy to pry the doors open after you unlock them.

It's smart to carry a set of snow chains . DO NOT buy a set and throw them in the trunk. Have them fitted, unless you LIKE laying in the snow trying to either shorten or stretch them with your fingernail clippers. I'll have more on installing and driving on chains (aka slingin' iron) in a later post. Got to keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation, after all!

Now you're all set. Let them Northers blow!

A Transportation Classic Bites The Dust

Since Mr. and Mrs. Fixer are just back from Jolly Olde England, I thought this was apropos:

"LONDON — Ding-ding! That old-fashioned red double-decker bus, the one that has graced scores of movies about London and become an international symbol of Britain, is tooling off into the Waterloo sunset."

Read the whole article in the LATimes.

You don't suppose that Mrs. F.'s purchases from Harrods collapsed one of these in the middle and burnt out its clutch, do you? Bloody 'ell!

Work 2

So, what's the 1st job I get when I get in? Something easy like an oil change? Hell no! I got a set of cylinder heads waiting for me. So much for easing back into work. And, me being the engine guru, Harry and the Indian felt no qualms leaving them for me. Harry said I was probably having too much fun over the past few weeks and he wanted to bring me back to reality quickly. It worked.

On a sad note, Dead Ed, our office weenie took a turn for the worse this weekend and had to be hospitalized once again. Talked to his Ol' Lady this morning and she says he probably won't be coming out this time. According to her, he'll be lucky if he makes it the week. As I've asked in the past, if you're the praying type, say a little one for him. Shit, say one for me. If he goes, I'll have to answer the phone and make out bills all the time. Oy!


Well, after being off 4 of the last 6 weeks, I have to go to work this morning. Motivation is sorely lacking. Oy!!!!


19 September 2004

But it itches

Lugnuts? I had them when I was a kid. A shot of penecillin cured it. Ha!

Oops! Linkage

Fixer has kindly pointed out to me that, in the "information age" I need to put in more information for you.

If you would like to know more about the AMA, click here

Or about how to find the good racing on TV, click here

Hope this helps.

Race Mechanic? Bah! Humbug!

A friend of mine, who was once a top-rated Harley-Davidson factory race mechanic and now owns a business manufacturing and distributing high-quality performance accessories, told me this story from his own experience.

Once, many years ago when he was just getting started in the motorcycle industry, he applied for a job at an old-line Triumph-BSA dealership. He was a racer and thought he'd add "racing mechanic" to his then-fairly-skimpy resume. The dealer took one look at this and said:

"Race mechanic? Shit, race mechanics put one part on, polish it up, and stand back for twenty minutes admiring their work. Useless bastards! I'm trying to make money here. Hit the bricks!"

In this dealer's experience, my friend was not exactly over-qualified for the job.

This same shop, which was located on a main drag in the San Fernando Valley, had their sign mis-spelled, in bright red, three foot high letters, "TRUIMPH-BSA". I pointed this out to him one day. He said he'd never noticed it but would check it out. About a year later I was riding by and noticed a ladder and a sign painter tending to the sign. He was re-painting the sign, again in bright red, but did not correct the spelling!

At least they spelled "BSA" right.

Kopp-Carr In Hot Pursuit

BLACK HILLS SPEEDWAY, Rapid City SD, a half-mile dirt oval, was host recently to the premier flat-track series in the U.S., the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Progressive Insurance Dirt Track Series. That's a mouthful, huh?

The "Speed Channel" program condensed the evening's entertainment into a one-hour show. The events are not available live, more's the pity. Good coverage at any rate, with highlights of the heat races and semi-mains which transfer riders to the 25-lap Main Event, and complete coverage of the Main.

The heats were pretty good racing, as were the semis. One semi had to restart twice as three riders were involved in two separate incidents involving one rider getting run over and two other riders using the words "endo", "head first", and "hay bales" in the same sentence! Good clean fun!

The Main Event started fast, with Harley-Davidson-mounted Joe Kopp, number two man in the points chase for the championship, getting the hole shot over Chris Carr, H-D, current National Champion and points leader. Kopp got a pretty good lead, but Carr ran him down and passed him with a good outside pass on about lap 10. Carr later claimed he was just setting Kopp up for a later pass , but that circumstances forced him to pass at that time. Kopp stayed close to Carr, with two other riders close behind him, and re-passed Carr on the outside with three laps to go. Carr didn't have time to re-pass Kopp, and said he "almost got off twice in three laps" trying. Good, close racing.

Carr stays in the points lead, but Kopp narrowed the lead from 29 to 25 points. There are several races left and Kopp is going for the championship. Will he make it? It's anybody's guess at this point. Stay tuned.

"Speed Channel" broadcasts these things on an irregular basis, usually late on Saturday night, so check your listings and TIVO up!

Stock Cars

NASCAR today, 12:30 pm Eastern on TNT. They're in New Hampshire. Should be a good race, even though my boy Rusty Wallace has no chance whatsoever.

18 September 2004

Single Track Mind

Thanks, Fixer, for letting me contribute to "The Fixer". As if I haven't screwed up "The Alternate Brain" enough, I'll try to do good here too.

I've been riding motorcycles for 46 years. All my arms and legs still work, so I must have learned something. The brain damage is from something else, the 60's maybe.

I've been a motorcycle mechanic since 1971. I worked on my own bikes before that, but I thought I'd like to actually do it for a living and, since you couldn't get a job without experience, I enrolled at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, major in Motorcycle Repair, for two years. Should have taken the AA degree that came with it, but didn't think I needed it. I've worked in many shops, on many brands, and have had my own independent repair shop.

I've learned enough about the damn things to know when to run like Hell but I'm stupid enough not to sometimes when I know I should. I don't make rookie mistakes (much) anymore and I learn something new from each job.

I'm not as "former" a mechanic as Fixer says. It's more like I'm "in recovery". I still keep my hand in. Motorcycles get in your blood, that's no shit. My dear departed Aunt Florence once told me "motorcycles are just a phase. You'll get over it, hopefully before you get killed on one of the damn things."

Well, it's been nearly a half-century (shudder!), and I'm still "in a phase".

I really like to work on English bikes, and I particularly like single-cylinder jobs from any country. One or two cylinders (the latter are better for blowing up air mattresses) are all you need. Simple. Basic. Used to be cheap wheels, not so much anymore.

So much for now. I'll be back. Rants, screeds, diatribes, philosophy, metaphysical certitude, funny stories, and life's little lessons are all in store.

Wish I was there

Munich Welcomes the World

The 171st Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich, when Mayor Christian Ude ceremonially taps the first barrel of Wies'n beer in the Schottenhammel tent.

About 6 million thirsty and party-spirited tourists from Germany and all parts of the world are expected to gather again for the world’s biggest beer bash. In just 16 days, visitors guzzle around 5 million liters (1.32 million gallons) of amber brew and consume over 200,000 German pork sausage links. This year, visitors will have to pay a record €7 ($8.50) for a Mass (a liter glass filled with beer).

In light of this event, DW-WORLD has put together a list of interesting articles on previous Oktoberfests, German beer culture, and the city where it all unfolds -- Munich.

[. . .]


If you've never partied with the Krauts, you're missing something.

Passing of a Baseball Pioneer

I swiped this whole thing from History Wire:

Youngsters watching the dominant U.S. Olympic softball team may have been unaware that back in the day before Title 9, women's baseball was not only an afterthought in athletic life but openly ridiculed. Even the legendary Rosie Gacioch's mother told her "playin' ball wasn't for girls." But the woman whose exploits inspired the 1992 film "A League of Their Own" received encouragement from a Roman Catholic nun and patiently honed her skills.

"I learned how to pitch out in the hills, between two trees. My girlfriend would go behind the trees, and I'd throw the ball with a twist and it would go through and curve around a tree. We got an old mattress and cut a hole in it. My friend would hold it up and I'd practice pitching through the hole," said Rosie in an interview.

Rosie Gacioch, who died in Michigan this week at age 89, played with the Chicago-based All Star Ranger Girls and later in the All-American Girls Baseball League, created by Chicago Cubs' owner Philip K. Wrigley. Single her entire life, she once said, "When I was younger this guy wanted to marry me. I liked him very much. (But he told me) when we get married, you gotta quit baseball...You gotta quit bowling...I said, Go to hell."

If you like tidbits of historical fact, you have to visit this site.

The new guy

I invited my partner from The Alternate Brain, Gordon, to come blog here too. The guy is not only a pundit, but a former motorcycle mechanic. I'm positive he has some great stories and bits of wisdom too.

Home Sweet Home

Back from London and I had a wonderful time, but it's good to be home. I posted this at The Alternate Brain.

What are we doing to our kids?

From WABC in New York. Tips for organization:

[. . .]

Create a Mobile Homework Station: For moms and kids on the go, a mobile study station is essential. You can create one according to the age of your child or your individual needs. Pick up a Lap Desk by Smart Lap that you can stash in the car and fill with items that your child needs for homework assignments. The durable lap desk has a compartment for storage that will hold markers, calculators, mini-staplers and more.

[. . .]

Jesus H. Christ, we're turning kids into little corporate execs. Ain't it bad enough that parents are so stressed that they have to have their butts wired with a WiFi modem? Do today's kids ever get a chance to be a kid anymore?

01 September 2004

Wrap up

I'm heading to London on Friday, so this will be the last post until I get back (Sometime around September 20th). Political blogging will continue over at The Alternate Brain and welcome my new partner Gordon while you're there.