Monday, April 30, 2012

Milestones & Phone Advice

This past week I passed 1662 on Bonnie's odometer. Why is that a milestone you wonder? Well that means that I've matched and surpassed the mileage that the previous owner had put on the bike. It may have legally belonged to me for several months, but somehow this feels like the trial-ownership period is over and the bike is more mine than anyone else's.

I took Sarah for her first motorcycle ride this past weekend.  First just around the neighborhood, then around town to Home Depot, then way across Belton Lake to the biker shindig at Grove Cycles.  It didn't take too long to get used to the extra inertia and I think it may have actually used a more natural roll on the throttle from a dead stop. I had fun and I'm looking forward to more ambitious trips with her.

Photo from
I've been contemplating turning in the old Samsung flip-phone for something than can run the Kindle app. There's a lot of downtime in the army, but whipping out a non-military book or regular Kindle is either frowned upon or impractical. But of course, carrying a phone is practically mandatory. I've invested a fair amount in a "digital bookshelf" managed through Amazon so I'd like to be able to access that. I don't really text or play games; any advice on making this 6-year leap forward in technology? So far I've got recommendations for the Iphone, Galaxy Nexus, and Sony Xperia...

Oddometer: 1940 miles.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Motorcycle Progress

Yesterday Sarah took some shots of the progress/improvements I've made to Bonnie.

First, the bad.
Small, but upsetting dent in my tank

Some scrapes low on the right side
The stock handlebar was bent up and the right side mirror was thrashed.  I got a new black handlebar in roughly the same shape (so I wouldn't need new cables) and I've been running with just the left mirror for now.

One of the front turn signals was cracked in the crash (though still functional). I decided to switch out the big stock signals for more tidy brushed aluminum ones. Since I was already paying shipping from this company, I opted for the chrome headlight visor too.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, putting the "tidy" turn signals where the old ones were interferes with turning the ignition. Ha; I've got to rotate the left side signal out of the way to turn the bike on and off for now. Simple fix, though.

Here's the big purchase: Hepco-Becker luggage racks.  This German company has quite the pedigree for touring and adventure luggage products and designed the stock luggage frames for a generation of BMW motorcycles. Not many companies make frames for the Bonneville, but there are lots of companies than make panniers to fit H-B frames, so I thought this gave me the most options.  I'm still exploring those options, though.

The red net is a cheap little bungee thing I came across
Here's what she looks like all together (for now): Before & After.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reflections on the Tattoo & Maredsous 8

It was almost exactly a year ago that I got my tattoo down in Austin. I haven't once regretted it, so that's a good sign.

This article came out well after I was inked for life, but it compiles a lot of the history of tattooing as well as the decision making process I'd come up with on my own.  The best advice he has by far is
If you’re going to get a tattoo, pick out your design, make sure it is original and has personal meaning, and then wait a year.
Following this rule is why Sarah has no tattoos yet. She has some ideas we've talked about, but nothing firm or lasting enough to make the permanent commitment. I had been working on some version of my design for over a year and I'd only gotten stronger in my conviction. Since then I've thought about getting additions in the same style.  Maybe knots or sprials or even text.  Perhaps I'll sketch them out one day, but for now I appreciate the timeliness of getting this tattoo. I had just started my family with Sarah and I was about to go to war; it was the right time for me to get some ink. I can say it's for my heritage and family and I "got it in the army" without fudging details. Those are the beginnings of conversations I'll always be comfortable having which is far more than I can say about some of the designs I've seen people sporting.

That distinction is fascinating to me and judging by the comments of the above article, many others as well. I've spent the past several years around city colleges and the military which are both rather pro-tattoo in their own ways. But a lot of people still fail to appreciate any artistic difference between different tattoos and styles consequently painting all tattoos as dumb/defiling or wonderful expression/art. I think it's an art and personal expression, but there is still such a thing as bad art and dumb expression; I'll do my best to promote good art and intelligent expression.

Sarah and I went to O'brien's Pub last night where I had the good fortune of trying a beer I'm reasonably certain was Maredsous 8.  The tap handle displaying the image of a monk and the name Maredsous. The first pint poured dark and red with a thick, creamy head. It was a bit on the sweet side with strong notes of plum and raisin that I really liked.  The second pint had less of a head, but tasted and smelled just as rich.  This is my first Belgian ale on-tap, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was pretty tasty.
Photo from