Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes, You Gotta Say, WTF









Sometimes you have to say WTF. What a difference 160lbs makes, right? Tried as I might, I did lose weight, but I could escape the effects of it. What you can't see in the picture is a grade 3 stenosis of the L4-L5 vertebra. About 6 weeks ago I started getting tingling in my feet and it worked it's way up my legs and three weeks ago I started getting foot drop on my left foot. Not good. Between going to the docs, MRIs, X-Rays, and putting in for the procedure, I won't get worked on until October 29th. BCBS has a 2 week approval period. That's a real WTF. Maybe their actuaries have calculated that enough people die waiting so they won't have to pay out claims. Who knows. All I know is that's I'm starting to walk like Frankenstein, which some would say is ok since I already look like him. I am certainly as tall.

The older I get and the more health problems I have, the less the Tribal Bullshit means to me and all the petty shit people musterbate about. Most people don't understand what they believe and why and when the world doesn't fit those beliefs, they musterbate. It doesn't matter. They're trying to convince themselves as much or more than anyone else. Give it a rest and rise above. Life is too short for that non-sense. Do what you love, make no excuses, be kind, have compassion and let yesterday and tomorrow be. No one else is responsible for your thoughts and feelings. Own them. This is the best advice I can give right now. Ride safe, keep the shiny side up and I'll see you around.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

WWGD








Back in the bad old days, when a problem arose that was beyond my ken or ability, I would consult the small circle of people I knew that were well versed in the problem I had at hand. Cousin Bobby, Uncle Cam (kind of funny considering he was an auto mechanic, but his name was Carmine, for which the nick name was Camanuccio or Cam for short) cousin Donna's husband at the time Donald or friends Chris or Phil that were auto mechanics too or Lenny Mastro, who was pretty good with motorcycles. As you can tell, my problems were mostly of the vehicle kind. For other problems, there others I could consult, although some of these people could do double duty. I learned a lot from these folks and in turn, I became an "expert" to others over time, although I don't know how effective I was. Sometimes I still channel Uncle Cam, sometimes I think to myself, what would Mark Zimmerman or Kevin Cameron do? Both of which have individually forgotten more than I will ever know. I imagine some might ask what would jesus do, but I don't think his expertise was cars, motorcycycles or any other technology produced since the second century.

The thing is, is that all these people have left my life in one manner or another. I moved from NY, so I don't see Cousin Bobby, Chris, Phil or Donald anymore. Lenny and Uncle Cam left this world all too soon and while I have met Mark Zimmerman, I don't move in the circles those two do, but I will read their work. So, what's left? Well, like everyone else in the world, I ask, What Would Google Do? That is to say, do a google search on the problem at hand. Something like this was incomprehensible 30 years ago, but today it's De Rigueur in troubleshooting of any kind. The thing is, sifting through the miasma of possible answers in search of some well earned wisdom is necessary as accepting the first or second solution becomes risky. Whereas there was immediate trust with friends you know, not so with the big G. Your Mileage May Vary as they say. Still, I usually can find answers to questions I have fairly quickly provided I ask the right question. Unlike your uncle or friend, Google still has a way to go in understanding what I or anyone else is trying to find. The better the question is framed, the better the results. Humans are better at reading between the lines than computers.

This of course leads me to wonder about some things though. If I can find the right answers easily, is that a good thing? Knowledge + Experience=Wisdom. Knowledge without experience or earned experience creates or possibly creates problem solvers with a shallow understanding of how things work. Call any help desk and you'll know what I mean. Experience is always the best teacher and nothing and I mean not even VR/XR can replace real hands on experience. I sometimes wonder what it will be like in 50 or 100 years. Will it be like Demolition Man where people have become feckless in their dependence on what is basically AI and automation through a centralized authority? There are days I feel like the Demolition Man, John Spartan, moving in a world of Raymond Cocteau's and Associate Bob's where I see the direct solution, barred by their bureaucratic fecklessness. On a troubleshooting level, it hit's home when I read about someone's dealership experience with a problem that a diagnostic computer can't find or fix. They don't teach old school troubleshooting anymore, at least it seems that way.

If you think I am some old codger that bemoans progress, I would tell you that you are wrong. What I really bemoan is the layers of abstraction that isolate people from not only how things work, but the lack of critical thinking and relationships with real things. Sure things have become so complicated in some circumstances that it becomes beyond most to understand all of something, but there's not as much desire to. Like a help desk. solve the problem and move on, reading from the script. What is learned? What is retained? What will be passed on? One becomes only as good as a given moment. As John Allison, my 10th grade Social Studies teach said, ideas have consequences. So do actions. I have to wonder who is at the wheel so to speak, in this company town of sorts, but that is a subject for another day.

So when you have a problem you can't solve, instead of typing in a question and hitting the return key, take a break, go back and rethink the problem. Ask a friend who knows more than you do. If they helped or not, buy them a beer or lunch. The human element is something that cannot be replaced. At least I hope not. What Would Google Do? I don't know. Don't care. I'll call one of my friends or family or just take a break and rethink the problem. There's always time to solve a problem, there's always time to learn.


Thank you for reading this blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fuelishness and Into The Light








I finally got the time to fix my headlights. You see, with the crazy heat here and BMW's crappy implementation of connectors for headlights,  the connectors basically crumbled. I bought a set of ceramic connectors and did some soldering as well as upgrading the stock bulbs to LED. While I didn't take pictures of doing the job, I do have one of the front of the bike:


As you can see, they are pretty white. People seem to get out of my way more often now too. Hopefully these will last a lot longer than the H7's that I normally used, which averaged 16K miles between changes. As luck would have it, the next day I went to work with the bike and on the way home I smelled fuel. Once home, I found a fuel leak coming from the female quick disconnect in the fuel pump. 

Old picture for illustration




I purchased one of these from Beemer Bone Yard and replaced the fitting. The thing that pissed me off was that the last people to touch that item was the mechanics at Victory BMW when I had the fuel pump flange issue addressed with the silly ring they install. Victory is now RideNow Chandler, but it's the same owners and people, just a different location. Anyway, the problem really was a sealant issue most likely and I called them to have them look at it. I was owed a call, but never got a return call. Emailed them and got some sales idiot that wanted to know what I would like to buy, even though in the email I explained the problem along with the VIN as they worked on that part of the bike last. You'd think with the liability of a fuel leak that they'd call me back. Nope. The sales idiot said he'd forward my email to service. After this, if I found his miserable ass in the desert, I wouldn't pee in his mouth if he was dying of thirst. The BMW dealers around here suck and Iron Horse in Tucson is too out of the way. Anyway, it's fixed now, but I'll never patronize a RideNow dealership or GOAZ (a different form of stupidity there) again. 

Anyway, that's it for now. 36K mile service is coming up. It will be thorough. I really need to get out on the road. 

Thank you for reading this blog.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

It's Been A Long Time Since I Rock and Rolled









It's been a long time since I rock and rolled...So said Robert Plant. It's been a long time since I've written here too. Life goes on, a lot the same, some changes, some changes coming. I haven't been riding much this year at all. Since the breakdown in the previous article, I've ridden very little. I guess I got used to AC in a car. In the interim, I've taken on some beasts where the outcome hasn't been finalized yet, but we'll see. More to come, so stay tuned, at least occasionally.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Unstoppable. Not




This happened back in January. Sorry for the late response. 

Unstoppable? Unstoppable. Unstoppable is the the marketing phrase or word used by BMW Motorrad to promote their motorcycles. Obviously, judging from the picture, such is not the case. Riding to work this past Wednesday I pulled away from a light and after shifting to second gear, the engine went to idle. Ok. Now what. No turn of the wrist would make the engine rev. Figuring that something in the throttle mechanism broke, I called roadside service and 4 hours later I was home. That's right. 4 hours. Luckily it was January and not July.

I disassembled the bike to get at the junction box for the throttle cables. Nothing broken there. I then got under the bike to look at the throttle pulleys and lo and behold, both were snapped off.


The offending part:





The best part was contacting BMW. The bike is out of warranty, but it's a weird problem to have, so I figured what the heck. They basically told me to have it repaired at a BMW dealer, send the receipt and they would let me know what they could do. Right. Over $1100 for the parts alone. That's right. The pulleys aren't sold separately, so the complete throttle body has to be replaced and that's X2, so at over $550 each, that's over $1100, plus labor, figure a couple hours billable. I found a pair of throttle bodies on eBay from a salvage with 20,000 miles on it for $250 plus shipping and included all the throttle linkage and fuel injection setup. The only other expense was the tool to remove the clamps on the throttle bodies and that was $35 shipped. So it was $300 total versus about $1400 at the dealer.

I was real sore at BMW for awhile and right about then gas prices tumbled so I've been driving my car to work. I just did a major service on the bike, so it's pretty much ready to go, although I have to bring it in for a recall on the rear wheel flange and it'll need a new tire in 1000 miles or so.

Life is good.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sometimes A Great Notion










It seems that good byes are getting more common and more difficult as time goes by. Today I learned that the younger of my older sisters passed away...Two months ago. Even with a recent estrangement, I have to say I feel very sad about this. My sister Paddy as she liked to be called was 19 years older than me. By the time I had any memories, she was already married and had two kids of her own. Still, having two sisters that are 19 and 20 years older than you is a lot like having three moms, especially if you are the youngest. I have a lot of fond memories of my sister, but there's one that sticks out in relation to this column. When I was about 5, I remember Paddy had a Yamaha 125. She used to come over and visit my parents house riding it, much to the chagrin of my mom. Paddy always had cool vehicles, like a 1965 442, a Jeep CJ-5 and the Yamaha.  I had always wanted a real motorcycle and when I was 18 I decided to buy one, without anyone's knowledge or consent. Well, I should say I attempted to. There was this blue 1980 Honda CB400T at Freeport Honda that I thought was just the thing. I put a deposit on it and for some reason I told my parents. What ensued can only be described as emasculating and went and got my deposit back. My sister Pat was upset and I remember her telling me that parents have their children's best interests at heart, but it's not always what's best for the child in the long run as how will we learn? She felt bad about what had happened and vowed that if she came into to money, she would buy me a motorcycle. That was never necessary as I bought my first bike some 7 years later anyway. My sister had a lot of spunk and spirit and she will be sorely missed. See you down the road sis.






Thank you for reading this blog. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

End of Day










Stan
Outside of my family I can count on one hand the people that have had a great impact or influence on me. In terms of motorcycling, one comes to mind and that is Stan Botway. You can read a little bit about Stan here as I have mentioned him before and I've also mentioned him in an article for the BMWMOA for their My First Bike column of June 2013. I had been thinking of Stan lately as I usually hear from him through email once a month and hadn't heard from him in a few months and decided to email him to see what's up. My heart sank a little when I received a rejection notice that his email address was unknown. I decided to send an email to the plethora of people that he would include on some of his emails, hoping for a quick response. In the meantime, I decided to do a simple Google search and found this. With my fears confirmed, I had wished I hadn't sent an email out asking if his other friends had heard from him. Then the onslaught began. Many of his friends knew he had passed away, but a surprising amount did not. What was more intriguing is the information passed along to me about their friendship with Stan. Some of which paralleled mine and some I had no idea existed. As Paul Harvey would say, "now you know the rest of the story." And I do now.  Stan was a colorful person that's for sure and to a person, no matter their point of view, all agreed he will be missed and he is. He did sort of have one last suggestion if not wish for me. Last year he advised me I should compile this blog into a book. May be I will take him up on it. In the meantime, here's to Stanley Leon Botway, friend. If there is an afterlife, I will see you down the road, if not, it was time well spent. Thank you.

A couple pictures of Stan in his prime:

 
Looks like the sidecar rig he tried to do a CC run



Classic Stan with BMW suspenders and cigarette in hand


Thank you for reading this blog

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Life Is Good









Life is Good is the sign off of one Greg Kinman, AKA, Hickok45 a shootist of the highest order that has a Youtube channel where he posts videos on his latest firearms test or just ramblings on a subject to do with firearms or gun rights. I like Greg or may be the perception I have of him. I think we would get along okey dokey and what impresses me most is a certain humbleness/ordinariness that comes across as genuine and I really believe he is grateful and expresses it at the end of his videos with "Life is good". Anyway, I digress greatly here.

For the last month I have been on assignment doing contract IT work in central Phoenix and not long after starting the job, I was told I couldn't use my motorcycle to come to work as I would have to go onsite to other locations of this particular business and may have to carry equipment. One, I wasn't told this before I started the job and two, it's rubbish for the most part, but I don't want to get too much into it as it would make me seem a complainer.  It is what it is and at least it's contract and I'll just find a gig where I can ride to work. That said, I'd never take a job where I couldn't ride. Anyway, the BMW has been sitting for over 3 weeks on the float charger, all alone in the garage. I've almost forgotten I had it and I went down to take a look see. I decided to wash it, which is a four times a year ritual and afterwards I sat on a 5 gallon bucket in front of the bike staring at it like a dog stares out a window focused intently on god knows what. In my case I actually thought, that really is a cool fucking bike. As much as I have bitched and moaned about the vagaries of how BMW deals with customers and common issues, BMW makes a very good and unique machine. Anyone that ventures into the Teutonic world of vehicular mechanization soon finds out there's a totally different mindset at work. One part anal, one part eccentric, one part genius and one part pazzo as we say in Italian. No motorcycle manufacturer gets the right combination of characteristics and attributes like BMW. The only other company that I think gets it is Apple Inc®.

So, I was sitting there admiring my motorbike and thinking that in spite of being underemployed, fat, middle-aged and bored out of my mind, life is indeed good. It could be a lot worse, has been and I am still here. There's a lot to be thankful for in this holiday season and there' was only one way I could make it better: Go for a ride. So I took the back way to Rio Verde and back, then rode the back side of the town in the hills and back home. I feel better already.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Get New Rubber, Lose The Juice











Well, I finally broke down and replaced my rear tire. Usually I replace in sets, but the front has a couple thousand left, back didn't as it was down to the wear bars and I am unemployed. Part of the impetus was that putting gas in the Suburban is killing me and I miss riding. So, I went to Mototire in Phoenix to have the rear replaced. The owner Danny was so fast that he had done before I paid for it. I've never seen someone change a bike tire that fast. Anyway, I thought I was home free. Fast forward to this morning. I had an appointment so I thought I would ride to it. The bike cranked a little slow, but I was off. I got about a mile and I stalled the bike. I thought, no problem, I'll just start it back up. Click. Oops...Seems I haven't ridden much in the last couple months and the battery must be weak. The first sign was the slow cranking. At this point I was frustrated, but happy I wasn't far from home. I decided to walk when someone pulled over and asked if I needed a ride. I happily said yes as it's uphill both ways going home and this would be faster too. I got the Burb and returned to the bike, jump starting it and riding it home. Once home, I rode a bicycle back to get the Suburban. Once back home, I hooked up the battery tender and hopefully I won't have to get a new battery, but it might be a good idea at some point in the near future. Now that this job is done, on to the next job, which is finding a job. All in a day's work I say...


Thank you for reading this blog.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nothing to Report










Nothing new to report as I lost my job a month ago and needed new tires for the bike to boot. I thought I'd be re-employed by now, but as they say, hope springs eternal, but reality is a bitch. Hopefully I will have something more interesting to write about soon...