Been doing what’s required for a lot of years. Sometimes those that I love don’t like me much for that…and while it hurts…overall I’m okay with it.
I’ll see you on the road.
Warning…saga ahead. Yeah. I’m a writer. We do this.
Normally…I maintain all my vehicles to the degree that I could jump in/on any one of them and take a spur-of-the-moment cross-country trip with no more preparation than grabbing a fist full of gas-money and a diet Coke.
Since we have several distinct machines…with different distinct purposes…it’s quite rare when there isn’t one handy for whatever task is required.
This weekend was quite rare. We couldn’t have left town on a trip if we’d wanted to.
Chaotic space intersects ours at the eighteenth dimensional gradient. Apparently we drove through a trimetric fracture. The temporal surge that damaged our equipment was caused by an explosion of a microscopic singularity passing through this solar system. Somehow, the energy emitted by the singularity shifted the chroniton particles in our vehicles into a high state of temporal polarization.
Or…well…that’s my best guess as to how we got into this situation.
The short of it is…every single vehicle we own (and that’s a few) was down at the same time. I guess it’s inevitable…when the YOUNGEST of your vehicles is 13 years old and the LEAST mileage is 150,000…that no matter how well you maintain things there will be a time when they all get together and cause problems at the same time.
Gonna have to break ‘em of that habit.
Now…to be fair…most of ‘em would have gotten us somewhere in an emergency situation…and I can almost always make something work well enough for a single task…even if that means a sacrificial play…but it’s still rare for so many to be disabled at once.
Sooo…(deep breath):Last weekend I went to move The Left-handed Fargle-snorker and it wouldn’t start. Fuel delivery. I expect it’s the fuel pump. Also could use a carburetor rebuild, and I didn’t need the truck at the moment so I ordered the parts with the idea that it’ll be a project one weekend in the near future.
That’s one down.It rained quite hard a couple days last week. Quite unusual for July in Texas but there it was. If I rode the Valk, and opened my mouth, I would have drowned so I took Big Iron to work. When I got home I discovered it had developed a significant oil leak on a valve cover gasket. Significant enough that it’s not driveable…fire would be a distinct possibility with all that oil raining down on the manifolds. It’s a difficult repair so I shelved it for another weekend since the climbing and bending into an engine compartment may be a bit beyond me at the moment…but that’s another story.
And that’s two down.The Dragon needed an oil change, and air filter, and as it turned out, after I got it apart I determined it required a petcock rebuild kit. Since I gave my last kit away at Inzane this year, I had to head to the dealer in a vain hope that they would have one. They didn’t of course…they carry FAR too many jackets and shirts and other logo-merchandise to bother with…yanno…keeping actual parts in stock. My parts are coming in Wednesday.
So that’s three down.Little Rivet usually resides at The Old Vic, but its exhaust system was getting a little noisy so I had it here in town in order to replace it. I had ordered a system off the net last week and was planning on installing it this weekend. I had jumped in Little Rivet for the futile run to the motorcycle dealer and as I was returning…the rusted out muffler snapped off the intermediate pipe.
BLAPblapBLAAAAAPPPPPblapppCRUNCH!!.I got it home of course…banged on the muffler…and the VERY holy exhaust system pretty much fell off. No problem right? Drag out the giant box the UPS fairy dropped off last week and I’ll install the new one. Except…of course…they shipped the wrong one. Checked with the local places…parts on the way…they’ll be here Monday. Crap.
That’s four down.When I got back from trying to get parts for Little Rivet, Crunchbird (the wife’s ride), all we had left, decided to be petulant.
When I got out of it, the front windows rolled down.
This…of course…was, the “critical detector” going off…machines can tell when you need them, and it had decided that since we REALLY needed it this week, that it would be a brat.
So, yeah, for no apparent reason it started rolling the front windows down when we took the key out of the ignition. It was no longer possible to close the windows or lock this car, unless we left the key in it. I’ve never even heard of this…so I called Nissan. They hadn’t heard of it either, but laughed and said they’d be happy to dig around until they found it…at $175/hr…if I bring it in Monday.
And that’s five down.
The last one…no more transport machines for me. All dead.
Clearly, untenable. I pondered renting something…I wasn’t really feeling up to mechanical mayhem…bending and lifting at this very moment is problematic…but then the stubborn set in. THINGS were going to get fixed…or I was going to end them…and possibly the world, trying.
The automatic “window’s down” thing on Crunchbird is a feature…you can do it with the key-fob by holding the unlock button for a few seconds…so I had to take them away from the proximity of the car to prove to myself I didn’t have a bad key-fob…then it was a matter of knowing that you could do the same thing with the key and figuring out how that HAD to work…and then of course…digging all the guts out of the door to get far enough in to find the durn thing just to see if my guess was correct…
This turned out to be…a cracked key-cylinder position switch on the driver’s door lock…it took a BUNCH of hunting to figure that out…nice to be vindicated…I bypassed the switch and we are good to go again. Only thing that doesn’t work is you can’t lower both front windows by sticking the key in the door-lock, turning it right, and holding it for a few seconds…a superfluous feature…and one we’ve never used.
I changed the door handle while I was in there…the old one was cracked. We’d already broken/replaced the rear ones.
4 hours work. Ugh.
Next, I converted The Dragon’s petcock to a manual model. She’s good to go until I get the right part in, as long as I turn the gas off manually when I shut her down. No problem.
Not much else I could do without parts coming in…but I never leave well enough just well enough. That would be boring.
I decided to teach Crunchbird a lesson.
It fought back hard on not only diagnosing the problem, but taking things apart to get to it. I need it to realize that it either works with and for us…or it’s going to die a slow, extended “taken apart into its component pieces” death if it keeps being petulant.So today I took the other front door apart, just to drive home that fundamental lesson. See, with machinery…I always win…one way or another. I may NOT actually be able to fix (or get fixed) something…but I enjoy the process anyway…and the machine gets to die. I may pause for breath…but I don’t give up.
Other than the lesson, I actually had a reason…I changed the door handle. After finding the other front one cracked, I checked this one and yep…cracked. That’s now all 4 that have been changed. Weeee!
Crunchbird now knows without a doubt I’ll take it apart in a heatbeat…and make it especially painful if it doesn’t cooperate.
It cooperated today. The car is ready for whatever’s needed.
Now…parts coming…and then on to the rest of them…only three more left to go…
I’ll see you on the road…perhaps I’ll even be driving/riding something!
Come with me and seize the night
Now’s the time for some inspiration
Leave the day and loose the light
No taboos only new sensations…
Pushing hard…more or less westbound through the cool dark hills of southeastern Oklahoma…bound for home. Sort of. What was supposed to be a 2-hour direct run between cities had taken me through parts of three states and at least three tanks of fuel. So far. At a guess I was another 3 hours from home…time does funny things…on a motorcycle…in the magical summer night.
In the shadows of the city
They’re dying for a thrill
They’re going out over the edge
They’re moving in for the kill.
Apparently the direct route was broken. I couldn’t find the desire to reach the city that was my cursory destination. Spirits were calling, and I had to answer. It was that kind of night.
With the practiced ease of long familiarity with my machine I aggressively carved through the woods. I was counting on the 200 watts of blazing lights illuminating the next corner in time to properly set up for it…and on the machine’s perfect response to my inputs, subtle or…less so.
Right to the edge.
Bless the night, before it has the chance to pass
Seize the night, you do what it takes to make it last…
Hyper-alert, tuned to every nuance of man and machine…blood, muscle, and steel, I caught in the periphery of my awareness a subtle, dull orange glow reflecting off the pavement as I set up for, decelerated hard, and entered each new corner.
The rotors. Only for a moment…at maximum braking…but they were glowing. The brake rotors were glowing!
Less speed…or less brakes…should be the order here. One I was unwilling…the other I was unable…at least if I wanted to survive.
I slammed the throttle to its stop exiting the corner and shifted my weight in preparation for the next one, already looming large at the edge of my bubble of light.
“You okay babe?” I managed before braking hard and dragging heels and pegs through the corner.
Accelerating out she answered, “Oh yeah boss. I’m good.”
“Brakes gonna hold out?” I could see the sparks we were throwing off the dragging pegs as we pushed through the next one. Pushing this hard…everything had to work perfectly or we’d be a tumbling mass of smashed metal and torn flesh.
“Please boss. This is what I was MADE for!”
Hard to argue with that. I’m pretty sure I was too.
Let your dreams out of their cages
Every passion and desire
Let your visions be outrageous
Set your fantasies on fire.
Engaged in the run…totally immersed in piloting the big cruiser through the woods, I was startled when the sun reflected in my rear-view mirrors. Belatedly I realized it had been growing subtly lighter for some time now.
Oh. Yeah. Home. I was headed home.
A warm and willing woman was waiting there…and probably worried about me. Hmmm….and unless I missed my guess I had to be at work in just about 4 hours. Somebody’s gotta pay for all these shenanigans.
I glanced at the eastern horizon, now momentarily to my left as I rocketed out of a corner. Yeah. My woman. Then work. Should be just enough time.
“We gotta head home babe.” I eased up on the throttle.
“Okay boss.” The big Valkyrie cruiser sounded disappointed.
The next corner loomed ahead…and as it always does, my blood quickened.
I accelerated hard…throttle to the stop…right to the point where I had to brake hard to set up for the corner.
Weary but elated, I laughed aloud.
“Right after the rest of these corners!”
“You got it boss!”
I’ll see you on the road.
I had to fill out an extensive questionnaire/patient form and financial portfolio just to do a consult. I’m pretty sure I gave away my first born…and perhaps my soul…
The forms had two blanks to fill out I was unsure of…
Race, and ethnicity. Two separate questions.
I was somewhat unsure of the difference…pretty sure they’re not looking for “human” under “race”…human is the species really…so…in my case “Caucasian” would be race…
But “race” is also used to classify humans by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation or characteristics. “Left-Handed Irish Catholic Caucasian Dentist” could be “race”.
So…what then, is “ethnicity”? I recalled it being a totally subjective, usually inaccurate, completely pointless socially defined grouping of…usually…bitter pills with a victim complex.
There are LOTS of choices. What sub-group would I break down into? Texican? Cat-god? Redneck? 45ACP? (’cause shooting twice is just plain silly).
Ethnicity could be part of race I suppose…I’m pretty sure I’m 3/5′s dragon…on my Mom’s side of course…and at least 12/3rd’s “lone wolf”…and deep down…right in the tip of my little toe…there’s a part of me that’s bound to be defined as “a character”.
I know without a doubt my best friend would classify me as “an asshole”. He often gets that classification confused with my actual name…but that’s another story.
What a dilemma…
I know the government thinks I’m “sheep to be fleeced”…or more accurately lately…”sheep to be fu…ur…screwed”…the cops think I’m a punching bag and their personal ATM machine, and the fact that I’m a middle-aged white guy that asserts my right to actually exist has some groups automatically defining me as a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, war-mongering, rapist, scruffy-looking nerf-herder…but yanno…I don’t really fit any of those either…I haven’t herded a nerf in ages.
What group to choose? I mean, I’m writing it down and we all know paperwork is king beyond all reasonable senses nowadays…this will be on file with the IRS along with my other medical records…and thus…open to all…and indisputable. My gawd! My choice now could determine my (echo-on)VERY FUTURE(echo-off).
I can see it now…in the not too distant future when I’m JUST *one* step away from complete world domination (after-all, I already have two towers) when, “BAM!” The press finds my questionnaire.
“Do you see what he answered for ‘ethnicity’?”
“Oh. Well. That’s it for him then. Cry havoc and release the dogs of war!”
“Rent a yacht. Sick Monica Lewinsky, Ginger White, and Donna Rice on him! No, the other Donna Rice.”
But then *I* ask a question…I know that’s frowned upon to the point of sacrilege nowadays…but I did it anyway.
“Why is the ethnicity question even necessary? Race…maybe…has some medical value, but ethnicity?” I got several blank looks and one, “Oh, he’s one of those…” sneers.
So…well…I went with my gut…which I usually do…and which also tells me that folks that ask me stupid questions get what they deserve for answers.
My ethnicity? What did I put on the form?
I put, ” ‘mericun. Fuck yeah. ”
In red Sharpie.
Then I drew a picture of a dragon…just because I could.
That is, by the way, the same answer I put in, “Are you sexually active?” …except for that one I drew the dragon with a big penis.
It’s unclear at this point whether this surgeon…will consent to being *my* surgeon.
‘mericun. Fuck yeah.
I’ll see you on the road!
*edit: As I should have included this earlier…if you’re not a movie geek and don’t know why I would have even *thought* to respond as such…it’s some “Danny-esq” reference to this movie (link). As for drawing a dragon? Well, that was simply because I didn’t have any references handy to draw a tesseract.
My bank has a REALLY good, hi-res surveillance system…it takes gorgeous, full color, sharp video rather than the grainy, washed out typical security camera system feed.
They WANT you to know this…somehow they expect that to reduce crime or such…I mean…a hi-res video of a guy in an Elvis mask is SO helpful in hunting down suspects I suppose…
Anyway, since they want you to know this, they have a large, color monitor on the counter for customers to view. On that monitor is the feed from a camera on the counter beside it. It’s generally pointed at the customer currently in the front of the line…
Only today…for some reason…even though the entire person is apparent in the feed…the camera is mostly pointed at…well…the customers’ groin area…or if they stand sideways…their butts.
Because of the slight fish-eye of the camera and the central vision focus of…the butts…they are exaggerated in size and shape and quite ur…distracting.
The bank management and security dude have no sense of humor and get upset when it’s your turn at the front of the line…and when you find your butt on closed-circuit TV in larger-than-life glorious color for all the other customers to see…you grab it hard with both hands and say enthusiastically to the other customers, “OOOOOOOHHHHHH YEAH! Firm! I mean, have you EVER seen the like?” If you then give it a wiggle and a hearty smack and say such things as, “Oohhh that’s good!” they tend to want you to step out of line and converse with a manager.
They also tend to hurry your transaction when, after they ask you for ID and your bank-card you wander back over to the camera to take your wallet out saying, “Oh…but I want to see this!” as you slowly slide it out of your back pocket.
I also offered to pay for some select prints if they could pull some stills from the footage. “I mean, that’s a really hard angle to take a decent selfie from!”
I have to say, it sped up my transaction though. I like the personal attention to my banking details. I think I’ll use this technique more often in the future!
CUAgain! (and from every angle apparently)
Got some fried chicken while traveling…lady waiting for her order at the counter SAW me wandering in all crispy and sweating from the heat and sun and watched me take off my gloves. She then asked what was wrong with my hands…I blinked…looked at my hands…pondered…really waiting for her to realize it was a tan line…and when it was obvious that revelation was never going to come I said, “Cheetah Syndrome”.
Yanno. Spots. Cheetah. It was the best I could do on short notice.
“Does it hurt?”
“No, but it makes me ride much too fast. It’s pretty common on motorcyclists.”
wait for it…
wait for it…
…annnnyyyytime now…she’ll get it and we’ll have a good laugh…
“Ooohhh. Is there any cure?”
“No ma’am. I expect it’ll effect me till the day I die. It’s less of a problem during the winter though.”
“Is it contagious?” she was looking at me sort of sideways now…one eye sort of squinting. She was too polite to just step away.
In for a penny…in for a pound…I guess.
“Not from person to person. It’s like a virus. You catch it from traveling on the road too much. There’s no vaccine but…” I looked at her conspiratorially, “Spouses and girlfriends of riders…yanno…intimate partners…develop immunity.” I leaned in and lowered my voice, “It only takes 4 or 5 uh…intimate encounters…and the immunity lasts a lifetime.”
“Ooooohhh.” I could see the wheels turning. She seemed to be varying between scandalized and fascinated.
“Also it has some benefits…riders and those with immunity seem to overall be more mentally healthy and need less therapy than others.”
Frankly…I expect at that moment…I could have gotten laid…but I was saved by the bell…ur…by the chicken. My order was up and I grabbed it and turned for my table.
“Well I hope everything’ll turn out for the best. You just never know.”
I blinked again and politely thanked her…there seemed no other graceful thing to do…having gone that far and all…
Sitting there eating my most excellent chicken, I shortly noticed her glancing at me on occasion…I winked back at one point and she blushed clear to her neckline…I expect I’ve started a new rider related mythos.
Maybe I should start a support group.
I finished my chicken and skedaddled.
I’ll see ya on the road!
Lots of sunflowers planted in northeast Texas this season. Gorgeous flowing fields of them. The color is quite startling contrasted with the prevalent green and brown of our normal landscape.
The flowers change direction to face the light…and at any given time the entire field will be facing more or less the same direction.
This always tempts me to stop and talk to them…as they seem to pay rapt attention.
…and then of course…my reading education of the greats…recalls Larry Niven’s worlds…Ringworld in particular…and I wonder if these…like the sunflowers there…are concentrating on me simply because they’re trying to burn me to a cinder…
This IS Texas…it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Pretty much everything else is trying to kill me…
My Valkyrie is over 8 feet long…not small…a thousand pounds of man and machine…shiny chrome…and there are over 200 watts worth of driving lights on the front of this machine…
And still they pull out in front of me.
Multiple times daily.
Not even a long way in front…I mean…I’m right there! Often screaming something like, “EVASIVE STARBOARD!”
You’d think I’d have gotten used to it over the last 30 years…but it’s getting worse…and now they are getting very creative in new ways to attempt the “I didn’t see him” maneuver.
200 watts of lighting…
What do I have to mount up there so drivers will get their head out of their ass (or out of their text message) and NOT kill me?
A terawatt laser? An M-134? The severed heads of my vanquished enemies?
Y’all be safe.
I’ll see you on the road. Will you see me?
One moment there, the next he was gone
His shell now empty, his spirit free to carry on.
His family not mourning and I wondered why
The eldest of them had just passed from this life.
Then a presence I felt, one I’ve met before
Death incarnate had come to escort him through the door.
And for just a moment he stood beside me and grinned
a spirit, a wraith, the young man who had been
He doffed his helmet and set down his gun
and said to me quietly, “They smile, because they know my fight is done.
“We stormed the beaches and every one of us died
We unleashed hell on this earth and it consumed all our lives.
“Some carried on as we knew no other way
Death simply couldn’t collect us all on that terrible day.
“We were too many, and we were too strong.
Dead but still here, none knew for how long.
“Life goes on and thus, so did we
We built nations and families and protected the weak
“Each day was a gift that we struggled to treasure
as we never left that beach by any rational measure
“Live all like our last, and nothing to dread
each moment’s a lifetime, when you’re already dead
“The price we had paid would one day come due
so we lived full and lived hard as good men should do
“But we could never forget the end of our life
and lived it over and over in the depths of the night
“The guns and the smoke and the sound of the dead
rob the sleep from the strongest, alone in our beds
“But now I can rest, my part here is done
good men will make sure the world will carry on
“So live hard and live well” he said with a smile,
“And be sure you are ready when you’ve traveled your last mile.”
As he faded from view I wiped a tear from my eye
There was no death here, just a wonderful life.
June 6, 2012