Saturday, February 16, 2013

Warming the Bones - Physically and Metaphorically

Since early 2008 my employment has been less well defined than at any point since pre-college. I left a 19-year run with a company just before it did what it said it was not going to do (leave Madison). I opted then to open eyeDance Studio Photography (LINK - Not Safe For Work) and had a tenuous connection to income for the next three years as I built that business. In January of 2012 I stumbled into another day job, a contract ing, rent-to-own position doing software quality assurance for a company that closed its Madison office 8 months later. Three months later I chose a job that I think will be a good choice, though it too is a 3-month contract, try-before-you-buy and there is no guarantee of an actual job offer (though the outlook is favorable). Clearly the idea of permanent employment has gone the way of the dodo bird.

Warm the Bones (DS3_8361)

Living with intermittent income means minding the money much more carefully. We are in good shape financially, so there was never worry of missing a meal, but it did mean we pretty much ceased non-essential spending. No fun, new things. No new (or used) motorcycles came or went, magazine subscriptions were cancelled, books and movies came from the library instead of the bookstore or Blockbuster. No Netflix, no upgrades to the DSL line. Nothing non-essential.

Two weeks ago I said "Screw it!" and moved a half dozen ugly vendor-provided coffee cups out of the cupboard and went to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's gift shop and bought what they sell as a tea service that I use for coffee. I loved the stark simplicity and the clean lines. It is from PO: Collection The set appears to be discontinued, but can be seen here. (LINK)

It felt pretty good to splurge a little bit. I have never been very promising as a monk, and moderation was killing me. It is true there are still no plans to go wild and spend a bunch of money, at least not until this job is "permanent", but this little treat has been a sign of a financial springtime. A little celebration of imagined security.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Go Team Daffodil!

Back in mid-January I noticed, and commented on, a surprisingly early sprouting of the daffodils in my yard. The next day we got seven inches of snow, and it has been, well, wintery here ever since. We have had several more snowfalls and freezing rain. Today was one of those days were the temperature remained below freezing, but lots of insolation had the day feeling warmer than it was and warming up concrete and such. I wondered again about the daffys, so I grabbed my camera and went to take a look.


Yep, still there, raring to go!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Steampunk Motorcycle

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the state of the art of custom motorcycle design. I was disparaging of builds that resulted in trailer queens; bikes that would never be ridden, or were so unlikely that riding would be problematic. At the peak of the Orange County Choppers madness, I would look in amazement/amusement at the used bike ads and see 1-2 year old custom built motorcycles with original build costs of $40,000 and up, languish at $12-15,000. There is little market for custom built bikes. They are too much a personal vision, either of the builder or the owner.

But sometimes the art is more than a radicalization or naked-woman art on the tank. On this bike, the builder wanted a functional bike that had aspects of the steampunk genre about it.


I think the builder did a fine job. The bike is hugely custom and yet I can easily imagine throwing a leg over it and going for a ride. I loved the effort to incorporate the oil filter in a highly visible and truly thematic way!


While the seat is probably not something you would want to ride on for 500 miles id does seem like something you could ride on for more than a run to the store for smokes.


And not a naked woman in sight on the bike. Though to be in keeping, any such woman would have needed to be represented in neo-Victorian garb anyway. Better to stick with base metals, eh?

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Monday, February 11, 2013


Reena and I went to the International Motorcycle Expo in Chicago this weekend with a couple of other riding buddies. It is a fun way to spend a day, even if it does mean 4-1/2 hours in the car to spend 4-5 hours at the expo. It is an opportunity to see all the new makes and models, and find all the gear you might be looking for (or wanting to investigate to buy locally) in one place. Among the things on display are custom bikes, generally not in a defined class, but representative of what is going on in the custom scene in general. For a decade or so it was all about cruisers, Harley-ish sorts of bikes all stretched and slammed and completely useless for actual riding. They reached such a point where I just called such trailer queens (never, ever going to be ridden) "butt jewelry". Those days faded along with Orange County Choppers (thankfully), and now the focus seems to have shifted to making sport bikes impractical.


Nothing like taking a brilliant motorcycle like a Suzuki GSXR-1000 and working hard to turn it into an ill-handling beast that is only interesting to ride in straight lines!

The other up-and-coming trend seems to be cafe racers, and that one I am happy about. At least with that sort of custom, the goal is all about form and function. It also frequently involves small displacement engines making the whole thing more affordable. Here are a couple of fun examples.


A venerable Yamaha SR500, sold here from 1978-1982:


I have some more, and will make a detailed post about someone's steam punk inspired build tomorrow.

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