Philosophy and Motorcycles

Philosophy and motorcycles are two of my favorite things in life. This blog will be bits of wisdom gleaned from a misspent youth and an adventurous dotage. People who like/love wisdom or motorcycles, classic or modern versions of either, are welcome to visit and comment.

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Location: Wisconsin, United States

I have been married to the same lovely woman for decades. We have one son, two cats, and live in rural Wisconsin, USA. I ride and rebuild motorcycles, and I am semi-retired. Favorite bikes are Yamaha XS650, FJ1200 and Ducati 900SS. My wife is a home care nurse. I am a Myers-Briggs INTP. She is ESFJ. Our son works at the Apple store in downtown SF and is teaching English as a second language in San Francisco, no grandchildren.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Big Hands

We forget how much work was done by hand in the "good old days." People who remember those days fondly generally didn't work on a farm or in a factory. I remember the sheer number of people who had lost fingers or hands working with unguarded machines. Our local blacksmith had a steam engine to run a shaft and belt system to power each machine. Nothing was guarded. I soon learned to give those belts a wide space. Getting caught in a belt could ruin or kill a kid. Steam is silent and a lot of folk had no idea how unstoppable those pulleys were. We learned safety at an early age. I liked hanging in the blacksmith shop. Orvill Zigler was the blacksmith and a distant relative of mine. He was also one of several town drunks. A perfect happy curmudgeon to shape a young mind. I remember watching the men shear sheep. That was work. Extreme, bent over, hot and heavy work. And the men would brag about how many sheep they could shear in an hour. For one not physical, and I was not, there was an induced shame. Strength and a combination of cunning and confidence were the only make characteristics of real value in rural America in the 40s and 50s. I didn't have either but I remember well the men with big hands. They are gone now, those old German and Dutch, Norsk and Swede men who started milking cows at grade school age. Whatever their physical stature they had big hands, hard and knurled. As old men one could always spot them in church. As age mellowed them they became wise and their strength became strength of character and not of muscle. I do not miss the old days but sometimes I miss the old men and old women those days produced. Other news: I am getting the bugs out of the Gold Wing sidecar rig. The '77 Wing and the Velorex car look good together. I converted the wing to a single VW carb and am happy with the results. Never did get those damn four carbs sorted. Today I will take some photos of the rig. I want it a brighter color but haven't decided what color(s) to paint it. I've seen some interesting combinations. I like the classic look and don't want to deviate from that but I want it brighter. Classic look is why I chose the '77 Wing as it still has wire spoke wheels. The XS650 I had used to power the car before just didn't have the muscle to pull the car at road speed without running the engine up to a speed that made riding uncomfortable with both vibrations and noise. Re-reading the Song of the Sausage Creature made me nostalgic for my Ducati SS/CR. It is now in the hands of someone age appropriate for it. Riding that torque brute at WFO was a frightening experience. Beveling the toes off my boots down a winding road, blasting into decreasing radius corners at Good Morning Your Honor speeds and surviving the experience is exhilarating. It's a form of alive unknown to more timid souls. Sure it's dangerous, that's part of the allure. But it isn't just the danger. It's the sheer physical effect of the body being subjected to forces it was not designed to accommodate. We have an inborn fear of falling and falling at speed is fearsome beyond the norm. If you are on a sport bike it will scare the whining shit out of you the first time a bike gets far enough over to hear hard parts grind or to feel the toe of your boot being ground into leather dust. I quit excess speed when I turned 60, having outlived experiences with war, whiskey, women and fast vehicles that should have ended my life at half that age. Ah, there are some experiences I regret fondly. LN

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