Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Motorcyclist


by Martin Eden

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.

--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I HAD JUST ORDERED A CUP of steaming coffee at the counter inside the old roadhouse, a relic from the stagecoach days, and had sauntered up to pair of riders conversing near two machines parked not far from my own. The two bikes couldn't have been more different. One was a brand new sports-bike, gleaming lazily in the pale early morning sun. The machine was fairly dazzling, its sleek, rakish lines and arresting colors clearly betraying its purpose. The other was patently nondescript.

It may have been black I can't clearly recall now. It was certainly European: BMW and Moto Guzzi come to mind. It might have been an early Harley-Davidson or Indian, though, now that I think back; or perhaps an Excelsior, or Brough-Superior. The actual brand was of no consequence regardless of the marque, it exuded the classic and unmistakable aura of the quintessential motor-cycle. I regarded the newer machine for only a fleeting instant before fixing my gaze on the elder of the two. There was something about it, something indefinable, yet tangible to a fault and then I noticed its rider.

He was much older than his mount; that was certain. He was not particularly tall, nor stout, but as I recall now, seemed inordinately substantial. There was something about him that was singular and rare, much like the motorcycle he had ridden there. His face was an unusual blend of features: symmetrical, yet wrought with character; indistinct, yet unforgettable. It was a countenance at once confident and curious, sagacious and naive, courageous and circumspect, placid and mettlesome. His eyes, set wide under a deep and craggy brow, sparkled as he talked. One moment they would glitter with the wonder of a babe, and the next glint with flames of passion and certitude. I stood quietly by and listened to his disquisition unfold. I recount it here in the way I remember it: august, wise, and eminently powerful, couched in words and phrases rarely heard and far from fashionable, yet fraught with a power and substance that is timeless.
* * *

"I SEE you want to be a motorcyclist," the old man instanced to the younger. "Are you prepared to suffer through all which that entails?"

The younger man looked askance at this question, which was clearly misdirected, as far as he could see.

"You scoff, the old one smiled as a Cheshire Cat" and the unmistakable curl of your lips and shallow sea of words that seeks to issue from them reveals as much. After all," he continued expansively, eyes a-twinkle, "you do appear the part. Clad in a skillfully-crafted suit fashioned of the finest materials, cut in the latest style, and bursting with color, you stand athwart a mighty machine, sleek in form, replete with power. It is the latest thing. The technology and features found in this machine no doubt surpass all others."

"It's the fastest bike made," the young fellow affirmed. "I can take anyone on the hill with this bike."

The old man gave a barely perceptible nod and continued. "Certainly," he offered, "you have attended all the important schools: this one, that one, the other one. 'See,' you point out; 'I've worn away the footrests, the exhaust pipes, and worn the tires to their very edges. Isn't that proof of my prowess?' Still concerned that we may not be convinced, you name several illustrious "motorcyclists" with whom you keep company, and who are regarded as "fast." You convey no equivocation when asserting you are faster than Tom, quicker than Dick, and more skillful than Harry. 'So you see,' you proclaim in deed if not in word, I am most certainly a motorcyclist, because I have reached the pinnacle of that which defines "motorcyclist." That is to say, I am the fastest; or at least, I am as fast as the fastest.' "

The young man appeared defiant, yet confused, not knowing how to respond to this unusual characterization.

"You have, mayhap, acquired great skill," the old man acknowledged, "and have impressive accoutrements. But skill alone is merely the beginning. Skill and equipment, by themselves, are ephemeral and contribute nothing of value to becoming a motorcyclist. These can be had, in varying measure, by anyone with a modicum of physical ability and modest financial means. But a true motorcyclist is a philosopher of the highest order he seeks to understand the substance of life itself. The motorcycle is but a means to that end."

"Understanding life?" the young man retorted, summarily rejecting this new-age discourse. "Motorcycles are about having fun, and camaraderie, and skirting the law. What could motorcycling possibly have to do with understanding life?"

"Just this," the old one replied. And when he spoke thus, his voice changed in timbre and hue, taking on a depth and power that was utterly enthralling:

When you have crossed the most rugged and daunting peaks in utter darkness, while the heavens pour out their fury upon you and you grapple for control, the feeble ray of light before you barely visible;

When you have traversed the endless tracks of blistering deserts, the sands a roaring furnace all around, and the sun a burning torch above;

When you have prevailed upon the tortuous traces left by those who came before you, seeking to tame a wild land and forge a better life;

When you have stood alone in the vast and terrible chasms hewn and rent from living rock by the immutable forces of nature, and felt yourself so small as to disappear;

When you have merged in perfect union with a stunning, cloudless sky fueled by the fragrant wind alone, to follow the sinuous course of a thundering river to the mighty cataracts that form its source;

When you have felt the sublime and awesome hand of God in your every move, and in your soul a communion with the ineffable;

When you have clasped in desperation the hand of a comrade who has fallen, his machine a twisted, steaming wreck, as the very life flows from his bosom and he becomes still in your arms, never again to draw breath;

When you have done all this, not once but again, and still again, and can yet gaze with wonder in the quiescence of deepest night upon the machine that was your accomplice, partner, and associate in all this;

When you have come to regard it in your inmost reflections as sinister and seductive, soulless and transcendent, ordinary and ennobled;

When you have done this, and yet thrill to the promise of the unrisen sun that will soon shine upon the hook and crook of a gnarled mountain trace, fully apprehending the machines propensity to deal death or exalt life -- then will you have become a motorcyclist.

* * *

I was stunned and near-breathless. I had never before conceived of motorcycling to be such, and yet could not deny the truth of his words.

"There is one more thing," the man said, his eyes alight with an inner flame. "When you have done all these things, and can yet stand unmoved in the shallow, weltering storm of words which issue from small minds, with the quiet humility and certitude borne of hard-won experience, while those about you crow and caw of their accomplishments and credentials, then you will not only have become a motorcyclist you will have become a man."

There was no single thought in my mind. The utter truth of his words had prevailed upon me like the blow of a mighty hammer. I felt as though a boundless vista of experience had been laid before me, and I would never again look at motorcycling in the same way. I finished the last swallow of the now-cold coffee, fired the engine in my own nondescript machine, and rode away, all the while pondering the old mans words and knowing I could scarce live up to his exhortations; and in that moment I resolved to spend the remainder of my days in a sincere quest to become not just a motorcyclist, but also a man.

* * *

Author's note: In 1903, 24-year-old George Wyman became the first man to make an intercontinental crossing on a motorized vehicle -- he chose a 1.25 horsepower motor-bicycle weighing 90 pounds. Wyman packed and pushed the machine as often as he rode it, completing the trip in just 50 days. To my way of thinking, Wyman is perhaps the first true motorcyclist. The Motorcyclist is dedicated to George Wyman and all those who share his spirit.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brendan was appointed the Night Manager's position at Three Bird's Tavern yesterday. More money, more responsibility and maybe he can hire his old man to wash dishes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lunch at Biff's

There is an open air restaurant here in St. Pete that specializes in barbecue. They have old car cruise-ins Fridays and bike shows on Wednesdays and its a neat, car-oriented place. Lots of food, good and reasonably priced.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipe for Microwave Salmon Steak

This will be one the easiest and fastest meals you'll ever run across. Juicy, delicious salmon on a bed of asparagus tips and only takes 6 minutes to cook. here is the recipe.

What is needed:

1. One nice salmon steak
2. A bunch of asparagus
3. butter or margarine
4. 1 lemon
5. Parchment paper

Cut your asparagus to make tips about an inch and a half long. Place on parchment paper about and foot and a half long. Place the salmon (silver side down) on the asparagus tips. Put a pat of butter on the paper at 2 or 3 places at the edge of the salmon. Cut the lemon in half and with one half squeeze all the juice onto the salmon, then cut 2 or three slices of the other half and place on the steak. Salt and pepper and then fold the paper and crimp. Place in the microwave for 6 minutes on high.

Serve and think of me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


(The above is the website.)

My boss at Knox County Academy is running for Superintendent of Schools. She is a great educator and I sure wish her well. She would make a great RSS and, oh, yes, I wrote and endorsement for her. I mean every word of it.

The fellow in the lower right hand side in this commercial also worked with me at KCA, and who is the former Mayor of Galesburg, Bob Sheehan. We were the two best lunch ladies that school ever had.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Memento Mori

Click on picture to enlarge.

This bizarre but compelling figure, displayed in the Saint-Étienne church in the city Bar-le-Duc in France, once held the heart of its subject-- René de Chalon, Prince of Orange--in its raised hand, like a reliquary. The prince died at age 25 in battle following which his widow requested that Chalon portray him in his tomb figure as "not a standard figure but a life-size skeleton with strips of dried skin flapping over a hollow carcass", whose right hand clutches at the empty rib cage while the left hand holds high his heart as if giving it to God. Apparenlty, the sculpture no longer contains Chalon's heart; it is rumored to have gone missing sometime around the French revolution. It is also somewhat noteworthy that even in death, René still had the need for modesty.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Fun Looking Tractor - The Armstead Snow Motor,213971.0/topicseen.html


In the 1920s the Armstead Snow Motor was developed. When this was used to convert a Fordson tractor into a screw-propelled vehicle with a single pair of cylinders, the combination became known as the Fordson Snow Devil. A film was made to show the capabilities of the vehicle as well as a Chevrolet car fitted with an Armstead Snow Motor.[6] The film clearly shows that the vehicle copes well in snow. Steering was effected by having each cylinder receive power from a separate clutch which, depending on the position of the steering gear, engages and disengages; this results in a vehicle that is relatively maneuverable. The promotional film shows the Armstead snow motor hauling 20 tons of logs.

In January 1926, Time magazine reported:

“ Having used the motor car for almost every other conceivable purpose, leading Detroit automobile makers have now organized a company entitled "Snow Motors Inc.," to put out a machine which will negotiate the deepest snowdrifts at six to eight miles an hour. The new car will consist of a Ford tractor power-plant mounted on two revolving cylinders instead of wheels—something on the order of a steam roller. The machine has already proved its usefulness in deep snow previously unnavigable. One such machine has done the work which formerly required three teams. In Oregon a stage line uses a snow motor in its two daily round trips over the Mackenzie Pass between Eugene and Bend. Orders are already in hand from Canada, Norway, Sweden, and Alaska. The Hudson Bay Co. has ordered a supply to maintain communications with its most northern fur-trading stations. The Royal Northwest Mounted Police have also gone into the market for snow motors, and may cease to be horsemen and become chauffeurs, to the deep regret of cinema people. A number of prominent motor makers have also been interested in the proposition from the angle of adapting the snow motors equipment to their ordinary models. Hudson, Dodge and Chevrolet are mentioned especially as interested in practical possibilities along this line.[7] ”

An extant example is in the collection of the Hays Antique Truck Museum in Woodland, California. This particular vehicle is said to have been used to haul mail from Truckee to North Lake Tahoe.[8]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Secret Jesus Bible Codes on U.S. Military Weapons

Secret Jesus Bible Codes on U.S. Military Weapons

In talking to Brendan about this controversy, he acknowledged he had the ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight)scope. He explained its abilities and admired its function. He also said, "....I didn't (expletive deleted) care if it had "Allah Akbar" on it, as long as it helped me do my work." Amen

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Dear Pat Robertson, I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract. Best, Satan

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Imagine Doing This

Sorry I'm Late from Tomas Mankovsky on Vimeo.

This is all stop action from a camera looking down on a gym floor. Imagine the time, effort and choreography necessary to pull it off.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010


This is a very poorly shot video of a plane taking off. I was amazed at how it vanished. I was standing in the parking area forever waiting for a plane take off, and then as I give up and head to the car, here comes the plane.

A plane landing last Friday at Tampa International. Still a fun thing to witness.

I used to go to Stapleton International airport in Denver when I was in grad school to see the planes land and take off. It was great entertainment and except for the gas, it was free. A kid from a town of 250 was and still is amazed by it all.

We took Brendan to the airport in Tampa so he could head over to England for a 10 day trip to see Karen. Karen informed us the next day the kid had a bit of a hassle upon arriving. Seems they had some questions regarding why he was back so soon, why he didn't have a job, and other things. After an hour interrogation the authorities let him go and, we hope, is having a great time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Radio-Controlled Plane Dodging Fireworks

Now this looks like fun. With my helmet cam and a cheapo plane, I bet we could get some really cool shots. I'm doing this!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Frost on the roof of the apartment complex.
Frost on the tops of cars.
Yep, Charlotte County FL decided to close the schools for tomorrow due to weather. There has been such a drain on the power system here with people trying to keep warm that it was decided to close the schools for a day. It is supposed to get down to 28 tonight and has a good start, it's 33 now. BRRRR!!!
We've been running the heat here for the past couple of days, and probably should have run it earlier, but dang it, you just don't expect freezing weather down here. It's supposed to warm up toward the end of the week for a while and then another dip the end of the month.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Coast Guard Is Great

YouTube Direkt
Everyday, Guardians are involved in amazing rescues, national security operations and drug interdictions. Whenever possible, Guardians capture those Coast Guard operations on video. The videos truly highlight the missions and stories of America’s Guardians. Sometimes you see them on the evening news, but often you don’t.

For the past several years, the Coast Guard has been recognizing the top videos of the year. We’ve narrowed it down to 11 finalists (a tribute to the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions), but we want your help in deciding which one is the “Coast Guard Video of the Year” for 2009.

The video compilation above is a first look at the 11 finalists for video of the year. Starting next Monday (December 21, 2009), the Compass blog will highlight one video per day together with audio from a member of the Coast Guard unit involved in the mission. You can then follow the link to the Coast Guard YouTube “Video of the Year 2009″ playlist to use the rating and comment feature to cast your vote.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ten Year Anniversary

Old Gold Cigarette Dancing Funny Exclusive Ads - The top video clips of the week are here

Ten years ago on the 1st I had my last puff of a cigarette. I had cut down a lot in the preceding years but had had enough and gave them all up. Cravings stopped years ago and you couldn't pay me to puff on one now, although I will have an occasional cigar. Many people I know have quit since then, many I would never have guessed could muster the will power. My impressions looking back: man I wish I could have kept the money I was throwing away, and how easy it really was to quit. Tough at times, but overall, just changing the habits is the key. Good luck to anyone with a New Year's resolution. You can do it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is Burgess Burning?

A holiday fire at the Burgess Beer and Brat Barn has devastated patrons from Alexis Illinois to St. Petersburg Florida. News of the blaze swept Brandywine Apartments and many shocked and thirsty patrons are hoping for a new structure to be in place quickly. Apparently the conflagration was well underway prohibiting the crack Burgess Fire Department, approximately 35 feet away, from dousing the flames. Gone are many items of sentimental value, indeed, priceless. And yet, the memories remain.

Here hoping the New Year gets the BBBB back better than ever.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Video Of Dog Walker

Remember the entry I had last week of a guy who takes his two dogs for a walk everyday? And one of the dogs is in a stroller? I took this video of him this weekend. OK, now the dog in the stroller must be old or handicapped, right? Right?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fantasy Football Champ

This weekend closed out our Yahoo Public League Fantasy football league I started last summer. It included an eclectic group of friends and I won it with a trouncing of Justin Willet for the Championship. Third place went to Stewart Nyi. I had a season record of 10-4 and was undefeated in the playoffs. We are doing it again next year with 3 keepers. Other participants included: Dan Kolbow, my frat pledge son, Jon Boone, fellow Blick employee, Matt Warnsing, teacher from my KCA days, Tom Harrison, Grove Street neighbor, Julie and Randy Storm, MDH days, Drew Shepherd, future S-I-L, Brian McGrath, MDH buddy, and Lori Nyi, Stewart's better in all things.

Thanks for a fun season, and I am the Greatest.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Avatar 3-D

We went to see Avatar 3-D on Friday. It was a packed house, and I can see why. Part Independence Day, a dollop of Myst, it isn't totally original. Think Dances With Aliens. But it is one Hell of a thrill ride. I had never seen anything in 3-D before and I must say, it was one amazing thing to watch. After a brief adjustment period I readily accepted it and truly felt transformed into a another world. Great CGI and if you have the chance see it in 3-D. I was under the impression that 3-D just incorporated a few scene to give you a thrill, so Avatar was a totally new experience for me. The 3-D effect was truly remarkable. I found myself reaching out for things.

I have never been a mass-market fan. Hated Star Wars when I saw it a hundred years ago. Same way with TV: top ten is usually moronic swill for the masses (except West Wing). I have always been an entertainment snob - Pan's Labyrinth is better than American Pie.

You will read that Avatar is banal, simplistic, cartoonish. Some of that is true, but go anyway. You will read that it is ushering in a new way to create movies. Go anyway. You will hear it called 'Dances With Aliens', go anyway. You will read that it has messages about Iraq/Afghanistan, terrorism and today's green movement. Go anyway.

There were four of us and it was unanimous. Fun, exciting, thrilling, with good guys you cared for and bad guys you rooted against. Go and be transported.

It was the first time I had ever heard loud applause from the audience when the movie was over.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Amazing Night At the Beach On Christmas

Enhanced pictures of the Gulf. Unbelievably loud and pounding on Christmas night.

I have no idea why the camera has specks. Ghosts?

It is a tradition with the family (yes, a short tradition) that one should go to the beach on Christmas. The water is a bit chilly but it is an awesome thing to experience at night. This Christmas it was a dynamic, roiling, high-tide, eerie, wave-crashing experience. Shadowed people walking along, some with others, some alone. My camera was unable to adequately record the surf-pounding except this dark video. Listen. Turn up the sound. I've never seen (or heard) it so angry.