11 January 2019

Our Carbon Footprint

Five years ago I bought a Yamaha "Super Tenere" adventure bike to leave behind here in Phoenix for my son to use, and for us to use while we're here during Winter. Until now the bike has given us 30,00 trouble-free miles and has been a pleasure to ride.
When our son went out to ride just before Christmas, the bike failed to start. The starter would spin the motor and the bike would cough as if a cylinder was firing now and then, but that was as close as it would come to running. Holidays approaching, we postponed taking the bike to the shop thinking they'd probably be working with a skeleton crew 'til after New Year's. Still, we delivered the bike to them on the 30th of December.

Nearly two weeks later we hadn't heard from them. We called.
"We'd like you to come see this!"

In the shop, the bike looks like a bomb hit it...
Side covers off. Gas tank off. Air cleaner system off. Radiators (two of 'em) detached and laid off and out of the way. Both throttle bodies- ditto.
It looks sad.

But all this work exposes the intake system, and allows us to look at the intake valves.
And they are a MESS. There's a half inch of carbon caked around the stem, extending outward almost a quarter inch. An accumulation of gunk like this HAD to have had an effect on the gas/fuel mixture entering the bike's combustion chamber!
What would cause such a phenomenon?

"How do you ride this bike?"

My son has used to bike mostly to commute to/from work. He rides city streets 10 minutes to the freeway, then spends another 20 minutes riding 65+- mph there. At this speed the bike is turning about 2,000 RPM.
And there, apparently, is the problem-
He should be putting more stress on this engine!

Our parents used to talk about "blowing the engine out" now and then by taking the car onto the open road and "opening her up".
Turns out that's true.

And this is why it was a good idea for Granny to take her "Brand-new, shiny red, Super Stock Dodge" to the drags. (Thanks, Jan and Dean!)

And our behavior on the bike will have to change.

24 December 2018

A Baby Is Born!

I've always been one to listen to lyrics. If you suffer from this same affliction and, like me, enjoy a "seasonal boost", I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did: 

23 December 2018

Shade-Tree Mechanics, R.I.P.

Points. Plugs. Condensor.
Change the oil and filter.
I grew up twisting wrenches on my own car and these were tasks I did myself, with SOME frequency.
I lift the hood on our Ford Taurus and the entire engine is covered with a big piece of plastic.
You cannot SEE the engine. (And even if ya could, there are no points and condensor... They've been replaced by electronic ignition.)

There is no carburetor to adjust...
Instead, fuel injection feeds the engine and the whole shebang is controlled by something called the "Engine Control Module".
There ARE still sparkplugs buried under that cover somewhere... 

and I DO mean buried, with their own individual "coils"... another thing that once sat on top of the engine in plain sight and also needed changing "back when", if only once in a Blue Moon.

The Yamaha Super Tenere I left here in Phoenix for my son to ride now has 25,000+ miles on its bones. Last week it failed to start when called upon. We were three days away from arriving in Phoenix for Winter, so I advised him I'd have a look when I got here.
Like the Taurus, the bike is fuel-injected and has electronic ignition. So I knew there'd be precious little I could check in hopes of making it spring to life.
But I did figure maybe the spark plugs were the problem, and since it only has a two-cylinder engine how hard could it possibly be to remove and replace the spark plugs on the beast?

First, you must remove the plastic covers that inevitably hide all the workings of all machines these days.
Having done that, I found you CANNOT see the spark plugs. 

So I resorted to "YouTube" for an education.
Remove the plastics. Remove the 6-gallon gas tank and the big air cleaner it covers. Then, there beneath lots of wiring and plumbing reside the plugs, (FOUR of 'em!)  with their special whats-it attachments (?) on top, (and don't those 'cause they're VERY expensive.)

I surrendered.
The bike is at the Yamaha dealership for repair.
Of course, since I can't do it myself, the bill will be $$$$$$$$$$.

22 December 2018

Entertainment Overload

Growing up in the mesozoic era we were forced to adjust the "Rabbit Ears" antenna to receive channels 4, 6, 8, and 13. 
I can remember turning on the TV early in the morning when the only signal being broadcast was a "test pattern". If we weren't particularly interested in programming being offered at a certain time we'd watch anyway... something was better than nothing, right?

Fast forward to today.
Here in our Winter quarters we have "Dish Network" satellite TV.
We get 40 or so channels snatched from the air via our attached  "Terk" antenna, (although about 18 of 'em speak in a tongue I no habla.)
Via our Roku, we get Hulu, Sling, Newsmax, CRTV, Blaze TV, (those last two have merged now), Netflix, Prime Video, and a number of others.
It's overwhelming.

And the most ironic thing of all?
Sometimes I flip through all of it and can't find anything I'm really interested in watching.
So I read a book or magazine.

20 December 2018

Obama Legacy

Losing the Black Panther polling place case by default.
World apology tour.
"The cops acted stupidly."
IRS/Lois Lerner scandal.
Using govt. assets to pursue the Associated Press and James Rosen.
Withdrawing troops from Iraq against the advice of military leadership, then having to return.
"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin."
"Al Qaeda is dead."
"ISIS is the Junior Varsity."
Ft. Hood massacre- "Workplace violence", not terrorism.
The idea of a "Calliphate" coming to fruition is ridiculous.
"Our Southern border is more secure than it has ever been."
"Russia is no threat."
"Tell Vladimir I'll have more flexibility after the election."
"You didn't build that!"

I'm sure my list is incomplete.
Can you add to it?

26 November 2018

The Jaguar

It was so beautiful, I was thunderstruck the first time I saw one...
The Jaguar XKE.
Compared to this rolling work of art, everything else looked like a cardboard box.
Of course, I couldn't afford it.

Years pass.
In early 1968 I'm in primary flight school at Ft. Wolters, TX. One of my classmates owns a '66 Corvette convertible. He likes his car but itches for a change. That's when, in a parking lot, we saw the '64 Jaguar XKE.
Then we saw the owner...
A cute secretary working on the base. The Jag gave him a perfect way to approach her.
"How do you like your Jag?"

She liked the car just fine, but the maintenance and parts situation for the car were a constant hassle.
"I own a Corvette. Would you be interested in working a trade?"
She was. They did.
During the negotiations he started dating her.
Before we departed Ft. Wolters, they married.
And he got his 'Vette back.

Have you looked at the price of XKE's lately?

09 November 2018


In my mid-teens my best friend's Dad had a '53 Ford F-100 pickup truck. It was all black and had a 239 cubic inch Flathead V-8 engine and a "three on the tree" standard transmission. It was simple and sorta elegantly classic.
I lusted after it.

We are in Destin. A couple we have met here for several years showed up again last week in their new Chevy Silverado pickup. It's beautiful. It's all bling and chrome.
It is NOT simple, or elegantly classic. What it IS, is HUGE.

My mind went back to friend Steve's Dad's sweet '53 F-100...
Parked next to this Silverado it would look like a compact.
And, I think, in most circumstances it would draw more admirers.
Is bigger ALWAYS better?

31 October 2018


Several months back I made the mistake of completely resetting my computer.
In doing so, I lost many of the tools I use because I didn't record passwords. I was able to recover many of them, but my old Juno email account wanted $$$$ to send me my password, and I had been toying with the idea of letting that account die anyway because they charged an annual fee.
IF you were someone I used to correspond with via email, I have lost your address.
Please establish a new pathway with me by emailing me at Olddad65athotmail.com.
I'll delete this post after a short period of time.

15 September 2018

Getting Home, 2018

We boarded the taxi at Ciampino airport to make our way to our evening quarters near the "Leonardo Da Vinci" airport without first insuring the driver accepted credit cards. She had informed us the ride would take about 45 minutes and would cost us about 80 Euros (!).
Ten minutes into the ride we realized we should first have asked about the payment options.
She wanted cash. We had 20 Euros between us.
"I can take you to an ATM" she said. Sara Jean had never used an ATM. And ME? That's me sitting just behind the driver, pained look on my face, with the cast on my right leg and crutches at my side.
I was proud of my wife when she emerged from the strange location with enough cash in hand to get us to our destination.

The Bed and Breakfast was clean, more than adequate, and the lady running it was wonderful. We paused for a moment to drink a bottle of water, then Big Bubba wanted to show us a place he had eaten at before during an earlier visit to Rome. He called an Uber and we soon found ourselves eating REAL Italian food in the shadow of the Coliseum. We returned to the B&B tired to the bone, chatted for a few minutes, then went to bed knowing we had to be up and headed to the airport by 0400.

Having a broken ankle when flying is amazing.
They bring you a wheelchair. You go to the head of the line for boarding passes; to go through security, and then they load you onto a "lift truck" to get you aboard the airplane.
We felt like Royalty... with a broken leg.
Rome to Copenhagen... Copenhagen to Reykavik.
A three hour layover for our flight home gave us time to get a bite and be entertained, watching Icelanders and tourists scurry around. From Iceland we flew with "WOW" Airlines... never heard of 'em, but the flight was comfortable and the crew was attentive to my special needs. The flight on WOW got us home in 7 hours... exhausted again.

So, wrapping up, what can we share with ya?
When we booked the cruise I was hesitant to buy the travel insurance. $532 seemed pretty steep for something I'd probably not need. My agent cautioned me... "You'll be a long way from home, dealing with many things you can't imagine." I told her to add it to the bill. That 5 hundred dollar expenditure has now saved us almost $25,000. Buy the insurance!

Greece is exotic. The food and people are wonderful. But in Athens, there is graffiti on every available surface. In places there is graffiti on graffiti.
There are almost as many mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles as there are cars. Traffic can be heart-stopping.
When I fell in Santorini and realized I'd need medical care I was naturally concerned. I should not have been... my care there was "top drawer". Only after I thought about it a while did I remember that Hippocrates was Greek.

We want to go back.
But I hate the idea of being trapped on a piece of pipe with attached wings for more than five hours.
We may take a boat next time.
And I'll not hesitate to buy the travel insurance.

07 September 2018

When in Rome-

Our cruise of the Greek islands was interrupted when I compound-fractured my right ankle.
Because of this, I spent a week in a hospital in Athens, and got WONDERFUL care there. But we were instantly kicked off the cruise ship when I was injured, halfway through the planned cruise.
Our son, once the dust settled and he realized I was gonna be okay, figured, "I'm in Europe. I'm gonna go see some stuff I've always wanted to see here." So off he went to Malta, then to Zurich where he rented a car and toured the Alps.
Before I broke my ankle our plan was to disembark the boat in Rome, spend a few days in Italy, then fly home from there. My hospital stay used up all the time Sara Jean and I had hoped to spend in Northern Italy. But we still needed to get to Rome to use the flight reservations we had made to use after the cruise ended.

We landed at Rome's Ciampino airport two hours before our son's pending arrival, so with me still hobbling awkwardly on crutches when I wasn't being pushed around in an airport wheelchair, we went to the restaurant to get a bite to eat while we waited on his arrival.

When Big Bubba called to say he had arrived we gave him instructions to meet us in the restaurant and waited. And waited. And waited.
He called again to make sure he had gotten correct directions.
And we waited to see him. And waited.

It turns out, Rome has TWO airports...
Ciampino and Leonardo Da Vinci.
We were separated by an hour's drive.

While we hired a taxi to meet him, Big Bubba went to the Bed and Breakfast he had reserved for us near the Leonardo Da Vinci airport.

And I found out being on crutches makes ALL movement a pain in the butt.