Okay, okay, I admit it…

I was posting about my motorcycle in an effort to MAN UP my blog some. You know, because of all the needlepoint posts and the “ZOMG look at this fabulous JACKET!!!” (squeal!)

So now that I’ve filled up my Flickr photostream with photos of greasy, inscrutable metal shards, I’m going to tell myself that I’ve got enough yang on the dial to continue talking about my hand work. Because, you know, the next step in finishing my stuff involves rabbit-skin glue, which involves dead animals. So there’s that.

Okay, okay, I admit it…

To-do list for the Guerilla Drive-In:

First, get the bike fixed. Something’s wrong with the clutch: the adjustment bolt on the release lever has to go in farther than the locknut will allow it, before the clutch will disengage. After reading up in the Clymer manual, I think I have to THRUST BEARING PUSHROD LA LA LA not really sure what I’m doing, except I think some of the pushy bits in there have worn shorter than they should be. So far, the bike has rewarded intrepid foolhardy investigation and poking. I hope my luck holds.
Chapter Five: Clutch

Second, figure out how to get the sound out of the 16MM projector and into the Emergency Backup Sound System. The sound coming out of the front of the projector isn’t line-level, it’s too “hot” for a line in, and so I need to get some kind RESISTOR OR DIODE LA LA LA definitely don’t know what I’m doing here. I stopped by the local TV repair shop, but told me to try Radio shack. No luck at Radio shack either. I really REALLY need to find a local electronics guru.
Impedance Selector

Musicians wanted for short, inconvenient gigs

Third, post these flyers around West Chester, so I can find some musicians to play three-minute gigs between reels. Or variety acts; fire jugglers would be good. Or someone to play Lady of Spain on the Muppaphone. Anyhow, if you know someone whose ideal gig consists of three minutes outdoors, maybe in the rain, with the added possibility of getting lost in the woods, then please make sure they know to go to:

http://www.guerilladrivein.com/music

…before I get the clutch fixed and the impedance figured out on the projector! The first movie is coming up in April.

Hmm, do you suppose there are any variety booking agents in the area that also do soldering and clutch repair?

To-do list for the Guerilla Drive-In:

Help, O Internet!

The photo, with comments, on Flickr

Kate has had some good luck asking a question into the wind, so I thought I’d try it here to see what happens.

My big, black, and greasy 1977 BMW R100/7 sidecar rig won’t start. Turning the headlight switch all the way on results in a high-pitched whining noise from the headlight relay located on the right side of the headlight bucket pictured above; turning the turn signals on SOMETIMES results in a lower-pitched buzzing noise from the turn-signal realay in the left side.

Clicking on the picture above will take you to this Flickr photo page, which is annotated with notes and the steps I can take to reproduce the problem. Anyone reading this that could help, do you think you could follow the link, read the steps, and leave a comment with any helpful advice?

I’m hoping to prepare a lean, mean, hierarchical list of things to do when I get out there next time. Any suggestions, O Internet? I should mention that I have a multitester and know how to use it (kind of), but my grasp of “check connection” is pretty much limited to “wiggle the wire and see if it makes crunchy noises.” Any tips about how to check if a wire is doing its job?

Kieran, do you know any Buckaroo Banzai types at MIT that could help?

Help, O Internet!

Gardening! Motorcycles! Knitting! Baphomet!

I’ve been really busy at work, Lydia is getting adjusted to her new play school, and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with my “getting ready for the Portland Marathon” program, because now my Amtrak train leaves Exton at 6:11 AM, and that doesn’t really leave any time for working out before I have to get on the train. At least I’ll try to get back on the “don’t eat large amounts of food” part of the program; luckily for me, my sister broke her ankle while training, and so I have a little bit of leeway to catch up to her now. Phew! Thank goodness for that aggravating and painful injury. I owe you one, sis!

Honey, why do the beans spell Baphomet?
Kate and I marked out and staked down some planters’ paper mulch in the back yard. Which, now that there’s four five-foot by five-foot squares of black paper staked down on the grass, I will switch to calling “the garden.” Next, we put two inches of compost on all four squares. By spring, this will have killed the turf, and all we’ll have to do is dig (goes the theory). We have exactly 100 square feet of garden, which makes the math fairly easy in determining that we need approximately EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS of compost. Actually, it’s two-thirds of a cubic yard, or 666 pounds of manure. I have to be careful; if you carefully spread 666 pounds of shit in the right pattern, Very Bad Things probably happen. Fortunately, our garden is not laid out in a pentacle.

2006 Turkey Pro National
P1020417.JPG
Bob hosted the 21st annual running of the Turkey Pro National motorcycle rally yesterday. My sidecar rig has developed electrical problems, so I drove up with Kate, Barb, and Lydia in a silver Honda accord. Kate knitted me a pair of incredibly awesome red cabled socks to wear under my big ol’ Red Wing motorcycle boots, too, so it was especially disappointing to not ride the sidecar — on an old, black, and greasy bike, with new, handmade, blazing red scratchy socks, I would have been approaching a new level of “I’m coming over to eat your caviar and kick your ass” Cossack cool. Oh well.

P1020509
We arrived after the slow race had been run, and even after the trophy presentation (nuts!), but I still took a bunch of pictures, which you can see here. Or to read the full skinny on the Turkey Pro, you can read my 2001 writeup here. This has got to be the most mellow, diverse, and welcoming rally ever — when you mention that your bike isn’t running, murmurs of sympathy ripple through the crowd, and various people go and fetch North America’s pre-eminent experts on exactly your problem. They stand there with their hands in their pockets, listening attentively to exactly how the headlight relay makes that funny “BRRnnnn click” sound, and then they give you their motorcycle-garage card WITH ALL THE CORPORATE INFO CROSSED OUT to make it clear that this one is a personal favor, and they suggest some next steps to help. I swear to God, with this kind of support network, we could all be rocket scientists or neurosurgeons. Of course, most of the people there are rocket scientists or neurosurgeons, come to think of it.

I’m knitting a damn sweater!
My friend Michelle Stern is due in just a few weeks, and I have sworn a dark and bloody oath that I will knit a baby sweater for the new arrival. I have never knit before. But, as the husband of a badass knitter, I should know something about knitting besides just parroting the lingo. Plus (and more importantly), it’s going to be an awesome sweater for an awesome baby of a really good friend. So I’ve been checking the Alice Starmore patterns for a nice tiny aran in a twelve-color intarsia HA HA HA THAT WAS A KNITTING JOKE. SEE? NOW I’M A KNIT BLOGGER! I will be sure to post my progress.

Gardening! Motorcycles! Knitting! Baphomet!

You can never park in the same spot twice.

On Saturday, Kate went with her fiber posse to a yarn rally, which I think is one of the warm-up events to the big one coming up in May. I had some more “yarn rally::motorcycle rally” comparisons in here, but they weren’t coming across as clever — by now, it’s pretty obvious to me that these two hobbies and the social life that surrounds them are very similar except for some details (reek of: {lanolin | gasoline}, chromed: {exhaust pipes | thimbles }, use of: {GPS units | “ketcha-ketcha” row counters }.

Plus, I now know how much specialized knowledge, technology, skill, and expensive materials go towards making, say, a fisherman’s sweater. If you are a knitter or are married to one, you’ll know what I mean — making a fisherman’s sweater, in skill, duration, effort, and materials, is roughly equal to building your own canoe. I realized a while ago from looking over Kate’s shoulder at some of the history of this stuff that knitting, and other “women’s work” wasn’t about the comfort added after the menfolk had provided for everyone’s survival. Without a high-tech, high-materials, high-investment fisherman’s sweater, your 1700s fisherman’s ass would be frozen, drowned, dead, and washed up on the shore unidentified because the patterns sewed into the sweaters acted as dog tags, too. Even though my hobby has to do with hot things and loud noises, Kate has the more primeval hobby — I’d have to be in the back yard hunting squirrels with a fire-blackened spear if I wanted to keep up. So the existing state of affairs is good news for everybody, especially the squirrels, I guess.

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Anyhow, while Kate was off protecting the safety of the species, her dad and I were in the back alley on a beautiful, sunny day. Bob is re-fiberglassing my fender and my battery covers and I was rebuilding both my carburetors, a job which involves using caustic chemicals to transfer thirty years’ worth of oily grease from small brass objects to your own fingernails. Kate’s brother Matt and his friend Kristen showed up from NYC, and so we all walked into the center of town to have lunch — Bob with his flip-flops, Kristen in her red leather stiletto heels (she works for Dolce and Gabbana, and the ability to walk miles, on bricks, in stilettos, is apparently one of the super-powers you get), and Matt in red checkerboard Vans, with a chihuahua on a leash named Katherine that he’s fostering. And Lydia on her tricycle, which she’s incredibly proud of and twists the grips on when she climbs on it. This was a high point of the weekend, as it made me feel like possibly Lydia has been born into one of those entertainingly eccentric English families where the child is going to grow up and be Important and also Stylish.

On Sunday, Lydia had her very first Easter egg hunt. It has come to my attention, though hearing stories of many of my relatives’ and acquaintances’ approach to Easter egg hunts, that this ritual is an important indicator of developing personality, kind of like a toddler SAT or something. Lydia, I am delighted to report, ambled around the back yard expressing surprised delight when she saw each little stack of jellybeans sitting on a rock, and did not start demanding that we initiatiate a full perimeter search with grid lines.

Also on Sunday, Kate finished the hand quilting on a quilt she’s been working on for eight years. Eight years! Forget about a canoe, this is her DeLorean with a working flux capacitor in it. And just to continue that theme, I buttoned my bike back up and oh hallelujah it started and runs pretty well even before it’s been tuned, and so now I can start attaching the tripod mount to the sidecar in preparation for upcoming Guerilla Drive-In showings this summer.

The only fly in the ointment is that SEPTA has finally gotten wise to the three parking spots in the Exton train station that didn’t have a corresponding coin slot, so two years’ worth of free train parking is now over. They’ve repainted all the parking spots slightly smaller, with an especially bright, vehement yellow where magic spots 101, 102, and 103 used to be (now spots 59, 60, and 61.) SEPTA is unable to dampen my good spirits, though. Happy Easter, fare collector! Happy spring, SEPTA!

You can never park in the same spot twice.

The “before” picture of my volcano lair. I hope.

I want to line everything up and paint numbers on the floor under each vehicle, as if it were a Secret Underground Base of Operations.
One of the most wonderful things about living in West Chester is having an honest-to-goodness garage to keep stuff in. It’s actually a separate building, the garage, which of course gives me delusions of grandeur. Yesterday, I got a chance to hang two of an eventual six shoplights, which I hope will start the process of transformation from fairly ordinary frowzy cinderblock space into the gleaming Teutonic rocket lab from Moonraker.

The contents of the garage are a promising start. Besides a lawn mower, a broadcast lawn fertilizer spreader, and several rakes, the garage currently contains:

  • Various bits and pieces (the 1946 naval searchlight tripod, the 1986 Eiki 16MM projector) for the Guerilla Drive-In,
  • A framed Dr. Cube poster from Kaiju Big Battel in 2001,
  • Neoprene, glue, two-part foam, and other bits and pieces left over from the moribund Retropod project;
  • The Ultimate Water Gun (now guns) in winter storage.
  • Kate’s Mom’s Austin Healey, which classes up any garage. Also good for stylish getaways.
  • Kate’s awesome Honda CB360T.
  • A croquet set in a flash wooden box, a wedding present from Genevieve and Francesco. (Fifty additional bragging points if your croquet set is a gift from an actual British expat.)
  • My BMW 1977 R100/7 motorcycle/sidecar outfit, which is good for stylish entrances. Right now, the gas tank is getting re-lined in Maryland. Having the tank off makes the bike look absurdly dejected.
  • Enough camping gear to outfit a brigade (a nylon-clad hippy brigade), which hasn’t seen the light of day since I last aired it out in 2003.

Once all the lights are up, the next step will be to clean everything out briefly so I can wash and maybe paint the walls. I’d love to plan some kind of event that would use all the gear simultaneously, though it’s hard to imagine how to combine camping, croquet, and a bright red Austin Healey in a way that doesn’t involve heavy, heavy drinking. Any suggestions?

The “before” picture of my volcano lair. I hope.

The 20th Annual Turkey Pro National

http://www.turkeypronational.com
The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, Kate’s dad Bob “Snuffy” Smith holds the Turkey Pro National, a mellow motorcycle rally featuring “hot dogs on the buns and on the bikes.” His hand-drawn flyer is a hotly-requested item each year: it contains an average of two traditional motorcycle jokes (“Pray for rain, the sissies will stay home!”) and details the itinerary of the day: a cold breakfast ride, a gathering at a local venue, then the “slow race”, in which the rider who can travel the slowest around a twisty course has to take home a huge fifty-pound trophy with tiger tails. This sounds like a joke, but being able to inch along at one mile an hour without putting your foot down is one of those hard, unglamorous skills that really separates the sheep from the goats. I’ve only finished once, but I’ve got my eye on that trophy someday. Someday!

Anyhow, you can click on the image above to get the flyer for this year’s 20th annual Turkey Pro — available for the very first time in digital form — or you can see my writeups of the 2003 and 2001 runnings of the Turkey Pro!

The 20th Annual Turkey Pro National