Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I did pre-basic training workouts in front of the Pennsylvania Military Museum, but I've never been inside. I've never been to the Memorial Day parade in Boalsburg either, but I've seen the statue and know the general story.

Photo from
 “[I]n the summer or fall of 1864, Miss Emma Hunter of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, is said to have decorated the tomb of her father, Colonel James Hunter, who commanded the 49th Pennsylvania Regiment in the Battle of Gettysburg. Together with a Mrs. Meyer, mother of a son killed in the war, Miss Hunter conceived the idea of decorating all the graves."
Robert J. Meyers, Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays. Quoted here.
On this Memorial day remember those who died in the service of our country. They deserve your respect regardless of your feelings about current or past policies. No one from my unit died during my tour in Iraq. Maybe if one of the IEDs or rockets fired into the base had found someone, my perspective would be hardened or changed. I don't know. But I do know that there is an important difference between acts of service and content of policy and that the efforts by interests on either side to conflate the two is both disingenuous and harmful to our memory and future.

In Motorcycle news, the waterproof saddlebag/cases I ordered are finally cut and mounted. It really is much nicer to ride without a backpack and I can actually lock my sensitive army stuff in them instead of friends' cars and barracks rooms.  Unfortunately I've run into a perplexing electrical problem.  The size of the cases required smaller turn signals in the rear but fortunately, I thought, I had smaller turn signals in the front I could switch in. If all four bulbs work, all draw the same power, location shouldn't matter, right? Apparently not. After some initial buzzing and irregular blinking, I get no response from the blinkers and the 10-amp fuse pops whenever I try the turn signal toggle.  All other electrical systems (horn, headlight, starter, etc) are fine and there's no visible short. I'm going to try replacing the relay, but in the meantime it's quite confounding.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Helmet & Phantom Thunder

While the full-face helmet is my go-to option for freeway commuting, sometimes you just want the wind in your face.  At about 60 mph and slower, I definitely prefer the open-face (3/4) style helmet I got with my leather jacket. Stylistically the glossy-white helmet was a little too bright and a lot too plain so I decided that I would eventually paint it with some sort of custom design. I like the black-and-white work done at Old School Helmets, but in order to be able to ride on-post I needed to preseverve the DOT sticker on the back.

After looking through their work, I developed a design for myself but neither Home Depot, Michael's crafts, or Office Max carry contact paper here. It's a pretty standard material for all sort of crafts and projects, right? Oh well; I ended up going with Avery printable shipping labels. It removes a step because you can print your design directly instead of by trace or transfer, but the adhesive much stronger than contact paper.

I used one coat of gray Krylon primer and two coats of their flat black "camouflage" paint. I had to use rubbing alcohol to get the stencils off, but I think it turned out pretty good. The logo is a mixture of the modern and classic Triumph logos. The #07 is because my Bonnie is a 2007 model, and the question I get most often at gas stations and such is some variation of "What year is your bike?"

Thursday was the 6th Phantom Thunder motorcycle ride; everyone on Fort Hood with a running motorcycle and accompanying paperwork was supposed to ride and there were about 1000 bikes assembled. There were copious safety measures and pontifications by folks with far more rank than I, but I did get out of a day of work to ride my bike in civilian clothes. We went on a 82-mile loop at a pretty slow pace, but all of the stoplights and intersections were blocked for us by the local police departments.

The coolest part of the ride was the close air support we had from two helicopters during most of the ride. Riding through the rotor wash of a low-hovering Huey is definitely a thrill, but unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures.
This doesn't begin to capture what 1000 bikes looks like