Archive for July, 2003


I was inspired by a _Good Eats_ (featuring Alton Brown) on beans to make my own batch of baked beans.

I think I tried octopus before I ate my first serving of baked beans. I've always avoided them… sure they smelled good and generally involved bacon, but I never worked up the desire to eat them. A year or two ago I finally had some with a pulled-pork (heh) sandwich I got at Manny Sanguillen's BBQ stand (in PNC park.) You know what they are pretty damn good.

I started soaking the beans last night, prepared the bacon, onions and whatnot this morning and loaded up the dutch oven (heh) and popped it into the oven. I came home to a heavenly smell, and some very good baked beans. I think the recipe is a good starting point… I think I'll try to get a little more BBQ and smokey flavor out of the next batch.

How not to ride, instructional video

Lesson #1: Target Fixation

Tax Cut Calculator, I'm actually getting a cut?

So I've got no dividends and no kids… I'm definately not a [b,m]illionaire either. I expected to see no part of the tax cut. I didn't realize most of the “marriage penalty” had been removed, plus some additional changes in the rate schedule.

I used this Tax Cut Calulator to see what the difference works out to based on ballpark figures (I think I forgot to backup last years tax file when I changed laptops _sigh_ )

Works out to be around $1700 or so.

I still think Bush is an ass.

Alfa Cruelty

So I'm home happy and refreshed, but with an empty refridgerator. I grab the keys for the AlfaRomeoMilano and head outside. “Gee, the driver's side window seems clear…”, I think as I pass my hand through the opening where the glass should be. That's when I started swearing.

The whole time I was away, my driver's side window and sunroof were open. And of course it was Indian Monsoon season here in Pittsburgh. I didn't see a drop the whole trip, but my car practically a swamp.

It's not like the damn thing needs any help rusting. *sigh*. I also got a call from the guy who's storing my AlfaRomeoSpider. Good news: I'll be getting my spider back soon. Bad news: My storage bill was negotiated down to $2000. Fuck me.

So there will be even more car work for me to do, more competition for the garage, and another month or two extra till we pay off the vacation & related expenses.

Shipping a motorcycle

My bike's here. I used Forwardair to ship it home from California. Total cost was about $425 + $12 for tie-downs, +$6 for 2 combination locks + $18 for a quick-release fuel fitting I broke while draining the gas tank.

Draining the gas tank was the biggest pain in the process. I siphoned most of the gas out (into my friend's Subaru WRX) and removed the tank. Once I figured out how the quick-release fittings work (slick!) I was left with a tank that still had about 2l of gas inside. It took me about 2 hours shaking the gas out, using some rags to soak up the rest. I didn't want to remove the fuel pump access panel and deal with replacing the gasket.

Of course, no one even bothered to check when I dropped off my bike. I probably could have shipped a 100 kilos of dope while I was at it. I appreciate that I didn't have any hassles, as the website seemed to suggest a pretty rigorous inspection.

The ship date was supposed to be the 22nd, but since I dropped it off early they apparently shipped it early. I got a call yesterday saying “Hi, did anyone let you know your bike is here…” It apparently beat me home (SFO and CMH are hubs which probably made for a quick trans-US shipment.) My mother happened to be in town, so she drove me to the airport to pick it up. It was easy to unload, and in the same condition as when I shipped it. I rolled it out, reattached mirrors & windscreen, and added some gas. I was very pleased when it started right up. (I love fuel injection.)

So it's home, I'm home and we're all happy.

I feel barely a day over 29

I turned 30 years old today. Woo hoo… Old enough to have had dangerous toys, young enough to have had video games too. Old enough to see all the Bugs Bunnys before they edited out the Indians, Mexicans, and Hitler/Hirohito caricatures. Saw Star Wars in the theater (multiple times) including a drive-in double feature with _Attack of the Killer Ants_. I remember when crappy stuff was made in Japan… and later when it was all made in Taiwan… now China and India. Just old enough to have brought a cannon to school without going to jail. Those were the days…

Motorcycle Roadtrip Pictures


5 days to the valley

5 days and 3200 miles later I'm here in Sunnvale, CA… way ahead of schedule. I mostly stuck to the plan, only deleting the hotter parts of UT. I also logged way more miles per day than I had originally budgeted, most days spending 12 hours in the saddle or more. I've got some decent pictures but they'll have to wait till I pick up a card reader so I can download them. I'll post a more detailed trip log over the next few days or so but here's the long enough summary:

The Triumph was amazing. I beat the hell out of it. High speeds, high heat, high elevation (over 12,000' multiple times), questionable gas and dirt roads… No complaints. It was very comfortable too. Only my ass really hurt and that was more due to the heat than the seat. I am now a liter-bike convert. For long trips the power is really nice.

Lowlights: With the high heat, and high speeds (close to 100mph for 4 hours) I burned up the last of my Dunlop in Nebraska. Luckily I found a dealer that was open, and got a new BT010… $276 installed (ouch.) By the time I got to CA, I burned off a significant amount of it too.

In Leadville, CO (elevation 11,000') I stepped in an unseen puddle of oil at a stoplight, and hit the ground before I knew what happened. Cracked right fairing, cracked belly pan, smashed turnsignal, and scuffed front fairing & mirror. A $1000 puddle of oil. I didn't realize I banged up my shin too until I made camp that evening in Nevada.

I-70 Utah: Hottest part of the trip… 103F. Over 100 miles between exits with any services. The scenery was equally hellish… it was like a slag heap in any direction you looked.

Highlights: CO twisties! The road up and over Independance pass (highest coninuously paved roadway in the US at over 12,000') was amazing. Riding through the Rockies at night to Leadville was incredible too… Seeing outlines of giant peaks on either side, and so many stars. Wow. Camping at Mt. Wheeler (higest peak in NV @ 13,000') was the best. The campgrounds were beautiful, complete with burbling stream, and the view was just hard to describe. The number of stars visible was just unbelievable. Yosemite was very cool, but I was so burned out by then it was hard to appreciate.

Speed: I ran through nearly two tanks of gas at over 115mph in NV. Even over a small range, I was slowing down only to 100 or so for the well constructed turns. Wild. My speed sensors were completely reprogramed. 100mph felt slow.

Close call: My radar detector detected nothing, and I saw only 3 cops (all involved with other duties) in the entire trip… except for Nevada. On US 6, there is a 25mi long straight-away. Near it's end, at an indicated 125mph, I crested a small hill to see a Nevada Highway Patrol car coming in the other direction. My radar detector spazzed as we passed each other. I didn't know what to do, so I just kept going waiting for him to chase me down. About 4 miles later I passed another NHP car which had pulled over 2 other sportbikes. I never saw the cop I passed again.

Summary: Fun but grueling. Adding up the costs of yet another new tire, gas, wear-n-tear, and untold damage to my ass, I've decided to ship the bike back. For about $420 I can fly it back, and for about $200 I can too. That's worth it for me.

The Plan

So I'm leaving tomorrow, and will return on the 28th. It should be about 7-8 days to get to CA, where I'll be spending two weeks, and about the same amount of time to return. From here to CO is all interstate riding, but from there to CA, it's all US & State routes. I'm hoping the traffic won't be too horrible over this holiday weekend. Maybe I can avoid the worst, by getting to Iowa by tomorrow night.

Here are the interesting bits of the map for the way out:

Anyway this should be the last update for at least a week or so… hopefully from CA.

The Pain of Planning

So I've been planning my motorcycle trip for more than a month. The problem with a plan, is that starting one is like opening Pandora's Box. Every plan, has contingencies, and contingencies are rarely fun. On a 6-7k mile solo motorcycle trip, there seems to be no end of grizzly contingencies to worry about. Dealing with all these concerns is rapidly draining the fun out of the trip.

7 years ago when I went on my last trip, I think I planned for maybe 4 days. I left with few concerns, and had a blast. I couldn't wait to leave. I'm hoping that once I'm on the road I'll be able to shed most of my concerns, but it will be tough. One of the problems of the internet, is that “news”-worthy anecdotes are rarely positive. I've been exposed to more motorcycle/traveling/general horror stories in 2 months than anyone 20 years ago would ever have heard. Not because the world is any more dangerous… now we just have a (posssibly inflated) idea of how dangerous it really is.

So I went and got more life insurance, better motorcycle insurance, AAA PlusRV coverage incase I break down, AMA memebership, etc. etc… Nothing like placing a wager on a bad outcome… Best case scenario, I spent the money on nothing. *sigh*

So much still to do…

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