Double Vision

Some of ya’ll may recall my father-in-law…shown here sporting the “Oldest Rider” award at this year’s Inzane.

My father-in-law Henry

My father-in-law Henry

The wife and piled in Big Iron to visit him for Thanksgiving week, with a quick stop on the way to visit her brother.

We took Big Iron as there was a need to pick up some furniture and stuffs Henry wanted us to have. He was trying to clear some space and some projects ya see…

The Rig

The Rig

We grabbed a trailer as we expected it to be rather a lot…and wanted easy loading anyway.

Sidenote…gotta love those Dodge V-10’s. Especially in a generation two 3/4 ton 4×4. Smooth. Powerful. Stable. Comfortable. Competent. We ran something over 2800 miles on the trip…over 1200 of that in one 21 hour period…but that’s another story.

Anyway, at the end of this summer, Henry decided that it was time to add a couple wheels to his “zoom zoom” time, and he was going to “hang it up” on the two-wheeled derring-do. So one of the things we were picking up was his Valkyrie. It’s an ’01 Standard…identical to mine…well…identical other than a few accessories and the fact that it has about 200,000 less miles on it than mine.

He wanted me to have it…saying, “I know you’ll know what to do with it.”

Henry’s extra wheels come in the form of fun little MR2 he purchased and has proceeded to fix it up including paint. Definitely some “zoom zoomige” there!

Father-in-law's new "zoom zoom"!

Father-in-law’s new “zoom zoom”!

All of that is to say this…there’s another machine in my garage. She ain’t visiting.

Valk...the sequel.

Valk…the sequel.

I now have two Valks.

I now have two Valks.

Bike’s gotta have a name…she’s given me a couple ideas already. Confirmation will no doubt come very soon.

I’ll see you on the road.
CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Let there be…

One of the cool things about owning a gen 2 Dodge Truck…I mean besides the 7000 pounds of steel, horsepower, and “not a shit given”…is that they made, literally millions of the things…many of the parts are common for the entire run from 1993-2001 (also includes the ’02 3/4 tons).

The other thing is that they tend to last…despite the plastic used anywhere on the things falling apart at random intervals for no apparent reason.

Millions of units…and folks tend to keep ’em…thus, the parts are readily available and since there’s a robust aftermarket, they are generally not terribly expensive.

Note that this does NOT apply to engine parts if you happen to run…like I do…the massive 8.0 liter V-10. Ah well. Prices to be paid and all that…

One of the things that fail on 20 year old cars/trucks nowadays are the plastic headlights. The tend to turn yellow, blocking as much as 30% of your headlight’s output.

Since, on the occasions I task “Big Iron” for something, it’s typically critical, intense, and many times, at night, I decided I needed to do something about my yellowed headlights.

Choices are to polish or replace. Places that “do” the polishing tend to charge about $30 per side. There are kits available for the consumer to do it for about $30 (for both lights). The reviews on the polishing are mixed…they have to remove the “yellow”…but often it’s more than just on the surface, and then, they have to coat the thing with a clear UV sealant. Lots of folks report only marginal improvement and 1 or 2 years of service before it’s needed again.

In my case the decision was made easier when I closely examined my lights. “Big Iron” has been through the wringer lately…enduring a severe hailstorm ($10,000 worth of dents in a $4000 truck) and many, many recent miles in “difficult” conditions. Turns out one light was clearly broken (on the blinker) and the other is cracked in several places. Well…hail. New ones it is.

The decision is also made MUCH easier by the aftermarket. Quality, new, replacement light assemblies for gen 2 Dodge trucks can be found “on the cheap”. I got a set (both sides) for under $70 including shipping and tax. I could not have gotten them polished for that.

The new parts ARE DOT approved and indistinguishable from OEM (there are other styles available, often cheaper construction and not DOT approved). The new assemblies also came with a new headlight bulb and the locking ring that holds it in…that’s a heck of a deal…

New vs Old. Note the break in the blinker.

New vs Old. Note the break in the blinker.

First one installed:

One down, one to go.

One down, one to go.


Y’all might note that I “buffed” the oxidation off my plastic bumper cover working on the new light (passenger’s side)…this is because, really, that plastic needs to be removed for enough space to remove/install these lights. Unfortunately it’s that famous Dodge plastic and can’t be removed and replaced again as all the clips that hold it on will break attempting to remove it.

So I left the bumper cover in place and…uh…finessed the light in there.

I may replace the bumper covers…that cheap aftermarket again. It’s a $30 part. For now though, I’ve got the light in. I’ll put the other in tomorrow. (I had about 15 minutes of daylight before I had to leave for work).

On the other hand…I may just spray paint the bumper covers black…

I’ll see you on the road…and now…even if it’s night time!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Weary…

wearyA balmy Texas fall morning…one of those that stirs the soul…and summons the demons…the predawn light and racing clouds adding an atmosphere of adventure…or perhaps menace…depending on my interpretation of it. It’s difficult…this morning….that my perception won’t settle for one or the other.

Warm, humid, almost tropical breezes wash over my skin, punctuated by the occasional pocket of cool, crisp air to remind me I’m still alive…or perhaps living is the better word.

Living. Not just surviving. That’s almost my mantra.

There are occasional days that is in question. They seem to come more often lately.

Both feet down, sitting lightly in the saddle…the big Valkyrie cruiser grumbling beneath me, I’ve stopped at the end of the street out of my neighborhood to survey the beginnings of rush-hour traffic.

Or so I tell myself. Something deeper is troubling me.

The cages pump along the arteries leading to the main-lines into the heart of the city. Streams of high-speed steel and plastic, piloted by sleep-deprived, distracted, and occasional malevolent drivers…and I have to make my way through all of it…right to the very core of the entity…so I can do my day’s work at an arbitrary location decreed by the people that believe I’m their chattel.

The world has progressed to the point where I can do my job…and do it well…from anywhere I can get a solid internet connection…but still…egos and empires and the requirement to demonstrate authority all combine to compel me to be at a particular location…at a particular time…on particular days…to do critical things that require neither the location or the time to be controlled.

Arbitrary people…doing arbitrary things…to render their arbitrary existence relevant.

I wonder if I’m one of them.

A moment of doubt. I don’t like doubt. It’s the destroyer of men…and the killer of souls.

What I do used to be important.

Is it still? Was it ever? Has the task become inconsequential? Or have I?

I used to know those answers.

I used to be sure.

***

There is a rhythm to this city…even in the chaos. Distinct and pervasive, yet masked by the seeming frenzy on the surface. Intricate…with a subtle back-beat, so subtle that few can sense it. Fewer still can grasp it. Most don’t realize it’s there at all.

The rider damn well better. High-speed annihilation stalks those that don’t.

I’ve paused because today…I’m just not feeling it. The why. The what. The where. They’re important…not just about the city but about my role here…and today I don’t KNOW.

They are related. Those rhythms. Mine and the city’s. One can’t be comprehended while the other remains unclear. They have to mesh…to work together…or the resulting composition is discord. Confusion.

Chaos and destruction reign where there’s confusion.

***

The rhythm breaks. Changes. A beat I’ve not heard before…and I wonder what it means. It matters…or it should…but there’s no more time for me to ponder it today. Understanding will have to come later…assuming there IS a later. Now I’ve reached the arbitrary time set by arbitrary people to strive to reach a place to do what I do…for reasons I can’t recall at just this moment.

I slap the motorcycle on the tank. “You ready babe?” and bang the battered machine into gear as I ramp up the throttle and wait for a gap in the stream.

Today she doesn’t answer. I find that disturbing.

Finally I shrug. The rythm will come later. Maybe.

As a break in the cages approaches I grin wickedly and yell at the cars, “How many of you bastards are gonna try to kill me today?”

As I pull out into traffic I try to ignore the quiet voice in my head that wonders, “And is today the day you’ll succeed?”

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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The Light-Side of the Dark

Fuel management…it’s a thing…especially when your range before reserve maxes out at 140 miles or so…

My normally aggressive throttle habits and the “not conservative” speed limits found here can radically shorten that range. In a state where I can run near a 1000 miles in a straight line without hitting the border means pusholine, and my current supply and/or access to more, is a frequent concern.

Suffice it to say…I stop for gas a lot. I’m pretty sure my record inside of one day is 13 stops…but I’m not sure the last one counted as I didn’t continue on. The wolf, ya see…was a bit rude. More than a bit in fact. I’m pretty sure we made up and I bought him a pizza…but that’s another story. To be fair…I DID get out of the state on that run.

Anyway…stops for fuel…lots of them…are often the most adventurous part of my trips. A battered and grizzled lone rider, on a distinct machine, sipping a drink or checking maps in a busy crossroads station, inevitably attracts the attention of the bored, curious, adventurous, or otherwise interesting folks.

Sometimes this isn’t a good thing. Sometimes it is. Sometimes I don’t know which it was until much later. Regardless, I often learn something new…or at least learn that occasionally, my assumptions about this wide world and the people moving around in it aren’t based on anything concrete.

A gas-stop can shift your world view…if you are, in fact, actually viewing the world…rather than surrounding yourself in your interpretation of how you think it works.

***

Pushing hard through the pitch-black…making time…high-speed running down the I-states, pondering the sheer loneliness to be found deep in the night, when, right on cue, what had been just on the edge of my awareness began to grow into a sea of light on the horizon.

Shortly I chuckled as it resolved itself into something identifiable. The massive sign blaring T&A in bright lights…a truck stop…yep, it’s the male in me that can’t help seeing their sign and thinking, “They’re not selling what they’re advertising”, except that’s not always true. Sometimes they are.

Don’t get the reference? Do a google image search for T&A.

Don’t do this at work.

The Dragon was demanding go-juice and the price looked good so I downshifted, grabbed the binders, and took the exit at over 80mph. I needed to drain some caffeine off and probably add some more too and the popular truck stops are usually reasonably clean and well lit. It also helps me to relax for a moment on something that’s NOT moving at high-speeds simply to get my perspective back. That damn Doppler shift tends to throw the universe completely out of focus.

Ya find interesting things…when the universe is out of focus.

All the parts of the big cruiser did as I asked them to so I arrived in the lot of the massive truck stop at a reasonable pace and more or less safe and sound. I grin as I briefly reflect that Valkyrie brakes…and the good maintenance of them…is rather high on my list of “Dragon parts that MUST work ALL the time”. I expect entering the bustling T&A parking lot at 80mph and sans binders would make for a fascinating and somewhat messy spectacle.

A splash of fuel and then, as is my custom, I pulled off the pumps to a space near the side of the store. After draining off a few cc’s of spent caffeine I grabbed a drink, exited the store, and leaned on the bike, pondering what remained of tonight’s journey.

This is usually when interesting things happen. I would not be the least surprised that if the universe came to an end, it would find me leaning on my bike at a gas stop, sipping a soft-drink, grinning, and pondering just what the hell that bright light in the sky was all about.

Interesting things. It didn’t take long.

“You looking for a date?”

Surprised, I looked up at the young, attractive woman that had suddenly appeared out of the night. I am usually quite aware of my surroundings and was not conscious of letting that slip. My immediate impression was that she must move like a cat to have gotten that close undetected. My second impression was that she was no danger to me. My third contained all kinds of assumptions.

Short, tight dress. Heels. A large purse/grab bag slung over her shoulder. “The look.”

As she took a few steps closer “one hip at a time” so to speak…those curves swinging in a universal language that will grab…and hold…the attention of most healthy males, my assumptions solidified. Other things did too.

Yep. A cat. Mmmmm.

I knew, before her next words, what she was about and where she “fit”…in my world. Or I thought I did anyway.

The truckers have a term for these women. It’s not a kind one, although it sometimes applies. “Lot Lizard” is the term. Prostitute. Hooker. Other, less kind descriptions filter down in the language. I’ve never been comfortable with most of the terms. I’ve seen enough and been enough places to know the drug-addled, teen-runaway, pimped out stereotype that “Lot Lizard” would apply to is not always the norm. It certainly didn’t seem to apply to this woman.

The assumptions are still there though. The world, pushed down into nice orderly compartments for my ease and convenience.

“No, thank you.” I reply. The young, rebellious male buried deep inside me screams, “Oh come ON!” into the depths of my brain. Yeah. That darkside. It’s always there.

“No problem.” she says, but makes no move to leave, eyeing the big machine I was leaning against. “Nice bike!”

“Thanks.” A moment or two passed. She smelled good. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure!”

“What do you…uh…you know…charge?” I’m sure I was blushing. The worldly biker…been everywhere, seen everything…spent near ten-thousand nights with my woman…fought my way to hell and back…biker…blushing like a school-boy.

“Depends. For you? Thirty for a hand job. Fifty for a blow. Hundred for half-and-half.”

“Half-and-half?”

“A blow, then a f@ck.”

“Ah.” I had been genuinely curious.

“If you’ll run me to Shreveport, I’ll do you for half.”

It was a gorgeous night. She was pretty. The darkside in me was earnestly explaining that that was a pretty good deal.

“No thanks.” For some reason I felt the need to add an excuse. “Not my direction.”

“Okay.”

I finished my drink, mounted the cruiser, and put on my helmet. “You be safe.”

“Thank you. I will.”

On a whim I grabbed a twenty out of my jacket pocket (my emergency gas money stash) and held it out to her. My assumptions said she needed help and that would go a ways toward…I dunno…saving? Is that a good term? Perhaps. I often play the hero. A damsel in distress. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going for the next drug fix…she wasn’t the type. So yeah. Saving.

On a reflex she reached out and took the bill. “What’s that for?”

“So you can get something to eat or…I don’t know…something.”

She laughed. A lighthearted, musical thing, and handed the bill back to me.

“Honey, I’m out here working, not begging.”

I blinked. Pondered. Smiled….and stabbed the darkside of the man with some shattered assumptions (he was still explaining how Shreveport was less than a couple hundred miles and this was a good deal).

Just like that. World view adjusted.

How’s yours?

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Big Damn Heroes

“Well look at this! Seems we got here just in the nick of time! What does that make us?”
“Big damn heroes sir.”
“Ain’t we just!”

That’s a clip from a favorite series…this clip in fact:

Big damn heroes. It’s ingrained in our culture. We like to see someone rush in to save the day at the last second…there’s even a trope about it.

I’ve been the hero. Even the big damn one. Multiple times. Little stuff. Big stuff. Insignificant stuff. Life and death stuff. Fought. Bled. Bought teddy bears and ice-cream.

I’m proud of my actions in most cases…and learn from the moments when I’m not…but I’ve never felt like a hero…big or damn or otherwise.

See…everything I’ve done on that front…EVERY time I’ve had to step up…EVERY LAST TIME…has been because somebody else that should have been there…or should have been paying attention…or should have been jailed (or killed) by society long ago, or should have done their job…or duty…or simply acted human…has failed. That or some program, law, or other intervention that’s specifically for that situation…has failed.

Failed.

Utterly. Completely. With a shrug of indifference and a vague hope that we might get it right the next time. The next life.

The toll is unthinkable. Without heroes it would be worse.

I’ve never been a hero. I’ve simply been at the right place. The right time. And I’ve stepped up. Other folks have too. Sometimes I’ve succeeded.

The failures give me nightmares.

So I wonder…deep in the dangerous night…about those that nobody was there for…the wrong place. The wrong day. The wrong second. I’ve seen…smelled…tasted…the aftermath…knowing that somebody…anybody…stepping up at the right time would have changed things.

Big Damn Heroes. Thousands more wouldn’t fill the void…

But it’s not more heroes we need. What we need is less opportunity to create them.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Casual things…or the end of the world.

eye22Dateline yesterday…I’m melting in the afternoon heat at the Old Vic…tinkering on various not-too-strenuous stuff…the wife has incomprehensible *wifely* things to attend to at the Suburban Blah House so we’ve divided our forces…miles…and hours…and a world apart.

And in her world…some dude rings the doorbell…

It takes the wife a bit to get to it but when she does, dude is walking away…turns and says something to her she didn’t understand, and left around the side of the house (there is a utility easement between us and the neighbors and it’s not unusual for folks to cut through there). She shrugs, and closes/locks the door.

Within a minute or so, wife hears the front storm door (which was locked the entire time) get jerked open and the dude tries to kick the front entry door in.

Score one for steel entry doors and reinforced hinges/deadbolt holes. Casual things…I never expected to need.

The assault on the door stops. Wife had headed for what would be a last-ditch, fall-back position. Then she hears crashing noises from the back/driveway side of the house. She pushes the panic button on her car-keys and sets the car-alarm off. In horror movie fashion, her phone is in another room.

More smashing from the rear pf the house and she took off out the front door, across the street, to the neighbor’s house (one we know well).

Alarms and cops and dogs and forensic teams and searches ensued. Guy was gone. At least there was no screaming and no blood.

Well…yet…

Noise from the back of the house was him smashing in the back gate. He also attempted entry through the sliding glass door…he got it off the track but the security bar kept the door from coming out/open. Those casual things again. The wife had made it out by then.

Concerning…very.

A “smash and grab” would have stopped when he discovered somebody was home…so we’re left with either, an opportunistic home invasion that includes a bonus attack on the wife…or some pissed off, drunk dude trying to get in the wrong house…we hope beyond hope it was the second. It is much less complicated…and not nearly as malevolent. It’s also much less likely to result in the destruction of the world…but that would be another tale.

Wife is a cool cookie…cops got a great description…she did the right thing scooting out when she had the chance…ventilating the dude full of whatever of several calibers could come to hand was not her first choice unless cornered…ladies often are more sensitive about these things…this can operate to their detriment at times but they are what they are…and the world is often better for it.

Note that I hold no such reservations. I am what I am as well.

It worked out okay…I’m unclear on exactly what I would do if somebody did something to Her…*ending* fucking civilization is not out of the question here…and probably just step #1…

Geronimo the big orange cat was not happy…especially about the police dog pronouncing the house an “all clear except this cat under the bed”. It took half the night to get him to come out.

Y’all be safe…and hug ’em if ya got ’em…

…and clean and oil those other things…

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Da Altima…

Y’all might recall we had some serious storm damage back in March (here) that damaged well…pretty much everything we own.

The wife’s ride…Da Altima…was one of the things…every panel on the car was damaged by hail. The only reason it wasn’t totaled is that it’s only a year old.

So, after nearly 8 weeks in the shop and 10 grand in repairs, we got Da Altima back Friday. What follows are some pictures of the very extensive process.

Before:

Da Altima Hood

Da Altima Hood

Da Altima's Roof

Da Altima’s Roof

The process:

Take it a little bit apart...

Take it a little bit apart…

...and a little more apart.

…and a little more apart.

Going topless!

Going topless!

In primer

In primer

Lots of conventional...

Lots of conventional…

They did a combination of PDR and conventional body work.

They did a combination of PDR and conventional body work.

...and a little more apart...

…and a little more apart…

Got doors?

Got doors?

...and finally...some paint and assembly

…and finally…some paint and assembly

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

...and done!

…and done!

It looks fantastic!

It looks fantastic!

The paint looks fantastic…everything appears to be fixed. Comes with a lifetime warranty so we should be good to go!

Woot! That’s the first thing fixed!

For those keeping score:
Da Altima: $10,000 in damages. 8 weeks in the shop. Fixed.
Big Iron: Totaled, but not insured for that so I’ll just keep driving it.
Little Rivet: Totaled, but not insured for that so I’ll just keep driving it.
Suburban Blah House: Totaled roof, gutters, south siding, garage door, and two windows. Repairs not started.
Old Vic: Totaled roof and three windows. Repairs not started yet.
Cupola Art: Destroyed roof and most of the windows. Repairs not started yet.

We have hopes roofage will begin soon, particularly to Cupola Art (the others aren’t leaking). More as it develops!

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The way is shut…

This is my very favorite picture of my nephew, Tyler.

Best selfie ever...

Best selfie ever…

His was a sensitive soul that endured a lot of setbacks and tragedy in this world.

Unfortunately his quest for peace and wearying battle with his demons led him to take his own life yesterday, leaving many of us behind wondering just what else we could have done to help.

It’s a haunting question…and one I know from experience…has no answer.

We can only hope and pray he found the peace he was seeking.

Rest well Tyler.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Posted in Blog, Family | 2 Comments

Exercising the Id

Savage, primal joy flows. Adrenaline pumps. Subtle inputs to the precision motorcycle generate decidedly unsubtle results. A thousand pounds of man and machine…bone, muscle, blood, and steel, negotiate the utter treachery that is the high-speed commute through this city.

My very life in my hands. My existence riding solely on my strength, skills, and perceptions.

It’s a heady feeling…that.

Eastbound to southbound over the 150-foot high steeply graded sweeping transitions, the speed climbs and the heart races.

Down, down, down…into the valley we fly…the cages around us simply fast moving and somewhat malevolent obstacles.

I’m not going to claim I didn’t howl.

the_id

It’s a need denied in polite society…exercising the id…tapping the instinct and the skill. We’re supposed to be neutered automatons.

No passion in work. No passion in our relationships. No fight. No joy. No way to die.

And no way to live.

A human being doesn’t work that way. Denying us the passion…removing all vestiges of the fight…doesn’t make us more civilized…it makes us less human.

And that’s a very dangerous thing.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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I am.

I_am_the_storm

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