the same only wetter

The big story this week was that after (large quantity) years, I finally got my scuba certification.

Now my ears hurt.

However; since I just got back a little while ago from the lake and I’m that tired that I don’t even fully know myself how tired I am, a full post on this will have to wait.  Not long though!  I’ll also see if I can get some photos and maybe even video out of Paul.

Off for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

very well said

The wonderful thing about art is that it is always new.  This is because a work of art is not merely the sculpture in marble, the print on paper, the notes on the staff; the truth and essence of it is in the interaction between the artist and the audience.  And while seeing something for the first time is perhaps the strongest experience one can have with it, with a really good work one can appreciate new nuances and a fuller flavour over years and years of familiarity.  Perhaps the trick of it is simply to see it for the first time every time you look at it.

Mike Johnston, as usual, says it better than I can.


12:05, I’m late!

I was going to post some pictures from today’s expedition to Bird’s Hill Park, but I got home latish and have not had an opportunity to process them.  Sometime this week that should happen.  I do think I’m starting to get the hang of photography again.  It’s 95% seeing and 5% technique, and the seeing gets rusty just as much as the technique does.  At any rate shooting with a DSLR for the first time now, my technique is experiencing a steep learning curve again, so that bit of rust is almost irrelevant.  But the seeing – yes, that will take a little time to come back.  I don’t really expect great results this year, maybe a few lucky shots but nothing consistent.  Next year perhaps, all depending on how regularly I get out there of course.  Anyway it was a good little stroll through the woods today, and the mosquitos got fed nicely as well so everyone was happy (?).

This next week will be a tad nuts as I am at long last taking my scuba training.   So that’ll be two evenings in Winnipeg and the weekend at West Hawk Lake.  Sleep is for the weak!

It’s odd, as much as I feel this summer has largely been a failure, with serious lack of guitar study, very irregular Japanese study, and an exercise regime best described as “sporadic”, by the time it’ll be over I will have acheived two goals that I’ve had in my sights for most of my life – namely, scuba and motorcycling.

Well then, past my bedtime so I’ll zip it for now.  Look forward to a big photo post soon.

so for next year –

Despite the fact that I will still be very, very far from the limits of my current motobike, I will most likely sell it and buy another. Here’s the general train of thought I keep looping over.

What I need and what I want have uncomfortably large differences.  What I need is determined by what I want to do – namely sport-touring.  But what I want … mmm red …


In my opinion, the greatest design ever executed in two-wheeled form.  Also high maintenance, expensive parts, only one shop in Manitoba that works on them, way too much bike for me (in fairness that applies to most of these), laughably unsuitable for anything other than track riding or twisty backroad blasting.  Touring? that’s where you fly to a trackday in Italy right?  Oh, it’s expensive too.

A bit more realistic:


The last generation of the supersport series is a classic design too, all curves and swoops and perfect proportions.  The half-faired version looks if anything even better, where the mechanicals are a much more prominent feature of the design:


Of all the bikes listed here this is actually the one most suited to my limited skills.  Not too much power, but plenty of torque from the two-valve twin, and excellent handling.  In fact it has a bit of a reputation as a bike that will help a rider improve.  Maintenance is a lot lower than the 999/749, and it’s simple enough a machine that I could work on it myself.  Plus you can get them for pretty cheap, although finding the right one might be a bit of a task as they are not that common (why buy a 70hp bike for $12k when you can get a 110hp Japanese 600 for $9k … or something like that).  The only real downside is that they are famously uncomfortable.  Bar risers and a good aftermarket seat would help.  Enough to cross Canada on?  I don’t know …

One of these would cross Canada without anything so uncivilized as breaking a sweat though:


I’ve always liked these.  The first generation of the Daytona doesn’t look that great, but the second does and this third generation is classically handsome.  The sound of the triple engine is wonderful too.  And they’re all-day comfortable in spite of being a very capable sportbike.  It’s a big bike though.  Similar power and weight to the 999.  The biggest problem with it is that the nearest Triumph dealer is in Saskatoon.  Still, a contender.

Back to a big thumping V-twin with the advantage of Japanese reliability and easy parts sourcing:


and with the aftermarket fairing lowers:


This bike pushes a lot of the right buttons for me.  Almost all of them in fact.  Styling is more anime-robot and less classically sculptural than the Ducati Supersports, but it fits and I like it.  Otherwise it’s much of a Japanese analogue to those Ducatis.  The 650 version is a bit famous as a do-it-all bike that can tour or race or commute or anything else you please (I even saw a guy running supermoto on one!) but oddly this very similar 1000 is usually ignored, despite having more power and higher-spec suspension.   Unfortunately the Supersport comparison carries over to the uncomfortable riding position.  That can be fixed though.

However here’s one that needs no fixing of any kind:



The last generation of the Interceptor is very highly regarded as a sport tourer, but it remains enough of a sportbike that one well-known school even uses them for their race training.  Very comfortable, reliable, sounds great (with aftermarket exhaust), factory hard bags available, some of the best styling out of Japan.  Downsides: it’s extremely complex, with a unique VTEC variable valve system which is of course doubled since it’s a V4.  No way on earth I’d work on this engine myself.  Valve checks and adjustments are very expensive too.  Also, fuel mileage is not the best.  Still, this one is at the top of the list.  Ask me tomorrow though and this order could be completely different!

This is of course all aside the cafe racer project, of which more anon (perhaps).

Oh and on a note of actually doing stuff:  today I rode out west with the intention of visiting St. Lupicin, the art gallery and the old brick kiln.  I was rather dissappointed though in that as far as I can tell none of the roads there are paved.  So I didn’t get there after all.  Maybe I should be looking at a dual-sport instead!  Also yesterday went to Winnipeg mostly just to go for a ride but also to pick up what’s most likely the last roll of slides I’ll ever shoot.  They actually seem to have turned out okay too.  So this weekend I’ve put on almost 400km.  Not bad for a noob I think!

fitness report (a.k.a. “lack thereof”)

Dan Empfield at Slowtwitch has it figured that at age 45 the average man should be able to run his age for a 10k, minus 20 seconds for every year under 45.  So I should be able to do it in 41:40 (no prizes for guessing my age, now).

By comparison, the last time I timed a 5k I did it in 42:40.  I’ve never even run 10k at once.  Ouch.

This summer, for one reason and another, has been pretty bad as far as training goes.  Cycling has been minimal, running has been a bit more but rather irregular, swimming nonexistent.  At present I am in the throes of a full-on push to get back in shape, for two reasons: firstly, after I hit 35 my metabolism hit a brick wall and I gained over 20lb since; and secondly, X-C ski season is approaching (yeah, yeah, I know) and I wish for it not to suck.

September, I have a goal to run every weekday.  As long as my feet don’t give me trouble – which they might – I see no issues following through on this and it should drastically improve my running, which goes to pot very quickly when untrained but also improves at a reasonable rate when working hard at it.

Then after that I mean to get a set of rollerblades which should prepare the legs nicely for skiing.

No more fat & lazy, that’s the motto!  And now off to the gym.

old -> new

So yesterday I finally got the WRX out of my garage, although certainly not in the way I would have liked.

Here is what I gave:


and here is what I got:


+ a bit of cash.

So as you know I’m used to a bit of refinement in my machinery.  The bike of course is a precision instrument by nature.  The WRX was laser-accurate, pulled like a train once the boost came on, and felt generally hewn from solid.  The Q45 is heavy, silky smooth in every detail, and has a revvy V8 that sounds glorious at 6500rpm.

This thing … feels like Dad’s ’49 Ferguson tractor by comparison.

Guy at work was trying to convince me that once I’d tried some serious off-roading I’d be completely sold on the idea, but, I just don’t know.  I think driving a tractor at a steep angle is still driving a tractor.

I guess it’s a nice enough truck though?  The only truck I’d had was the rusted-out ’87 Nissan 2WD that I bought in an emergency (and ended up driving for nearly two years, after which I sold the remains of it for $500.  The wheelarches had considerable additional clearance versus the factory spec.  Yay all-natural free mods) and you can’t really compare.  This one is a four-cylinder with a manual.  I think it’ll feel a whole lot better once I get that nasty squeaky cap off there (anyone want to buy a cap?  It’s a very nice cap!).  That is causing a lot of unnecessary noise.  On the other hand it would be nice in winter, to keep the box clear of snow and ice.

Anyway it’s already got for sale signs on it.  Should be easy to sell.  Lots of people seem to like these things.  But I’m not one of them.

power velocipede!

How can you handle the flood of updates on this blog???  I’m sure I don’t know how I manage.

Anyway, things have been happening.  Among these things is the acquisition of a power velocipede, as follows:



This was a long process, starting with buying the bike in June and then waiting for half of Manitoba to get their act together.  First I had to wait for the bike to be convinced to actually run, since it had been sitting for three years.  Then after we got it I had to wait for the new rider’s course because the one I had wanted to go to was full up so I had to schedule it later.  Then when that was done and I officially had my learner’s license, I had to wait for Morden Motorsports to find time to bring it in.  That took a few days, so then I brought it in and commenced waiting for a rear tire which was on back order.  They’re good guys at Morden Motorsports, but they don’t seem to talk to each other at all, so it was a bit hard to pin down what was happening, but eventually it transpired that the tire might eventually show up but certainly not right away and no-one knew just when.  So I got tires via mail-order, which entailed – yep, more waiting.  As soon as they showed up I brought them to the shop and they had them on the same day.

At first I limited myself to cruising slowly around town (yes, it is in fact possible to ride a bike like this slowly), and lately I’ve been out on the highways more.  Today was the first time that I did something approaching “sport touring”, which in this case consisted of only about a hundred kilometers, out to the valley south of Darlingford and back.  I took some pictures.





Not very good pictures, as you can see.

Oh, that’s another subject.  I’ve done virtually no photography since last year sometime.  Not sure why – just wasn’t in the mood for it.  I guess I’ve been a bit down much of the time.  Lately though I thought that surely it seemed a great waste to throw this away, and resolved to pick things up where I left off.  However the other decision I came to was that I was completely fed up with waiting two or three weeks to see what I’d actually taken.  Processing film is a serious nuisance these days.  So I’ve been selling off my manual gear and have purchased a Pentax K20D.  No lenses yet but I have a 17-70 f/4 Pentax on order.  So you may soon expect to see my name under most of the pictures that are actually worth seeing.  (right …)

And one more thing: set your sundials to remind you of the weekends (what, you don’t have sundials with multiple alarms? you really should upgrade.) because for the foreseeable there will be an update here every weekend.  Maybe more, but not less.  I also have a new road bike (Campy!) to natter on about, among other updates, and various existential angst and other rubbish.  So look forward to a fine post every Sunday night to help you start a good night’s sleep.

new kittehs

Went to the shelter to adopt one and ended up with two … more details and pics later, here’s a couple snapshots (in low light, not terribly good) to give you the general idea.


Taffimai “Taffy” Quickpaw II


Lucille “Lucky” Whiskerflash

and a couple of them together:



music, change, frustration

Just taking a break here from working on a Barrios study.  Now, this piece was I thought making reasonable progress.  That was until my lesson, where my teacher changed nearly half the left hand fingerings and also added a bunch of right hand fingerings that were quite different to what I normally do.

And I found that it has pretty much set me back to the very beginning.  Seriously, it’s almost exactly like learning a whole new piece.  Very little of the work I did on it before applies now.  It’s frustrating to say the least.  The new fingerings will definitely be an improvement in the long run, but it feels like – no, it isn’t just a feeling – that my whole effort at first was essentially wasted.

It’s a little disturbing to be honest, because it calls into question how much of the music is really in my head, how well do I understand the music itself, and how much of it is simply my fingers making the same movements that they have been accustomed to, in the nature of trained mice navigating a maze.

Well, lesson is on Tuesday and there’s no way I can get it to sound better than the last time we looked at it.  I’m going to start a new piece entirely, and with luck we can get it all sorted out and ready to learn with no changes so that I don’t have to go through this two steps forward, one-point-nine steps back annoyance again.

new road bike on the way

As is my usual procedure, it being the coldest part of winter, I am planning a summer sport.  (Same goes for summer.  I’m all about the cross-country skiiing then.)  Not only does this provide a nice distraction from the current weather … well, in all honesty, I have to say that I think part of why I’m building a bike now has to do with direction, or the lack of it.  Cycling has always been my “thing”, albeit I’ve never been terribly good at it, and after Dad passed away I found myself rather adrift.  No excuse really, there’s the guitar that ought to be commanding my full attention (but which hasn’t been touched in two weeks), and there’s plenty of other important things I ought to be doing, but I think unconsciously I felt that to really get back on track I needed to get back to my roots and that’s on two wheels.

So with that ramble out of the way, now it’s time for a new road bike.  The best road bike I’ve ever had was a $350 Diamondback with Exage on it, and for the last few years I’ve been making do with a 1970-ish Bottechia that is a nice enough ride but weighs the best part of 25 pounds.  Clearly it was time for something light and quick, and now I had a bit of funds to use for it as well.  Not too much otherwise I would have just bought a nice Rocky Mountain from the boys at Tinker Creek.  But the high end Rockys were too much money and the entry level ones just didn’t appeal.  All I wanted was a nice simple aluminum frame, cos I like aluminum, and I don’t like frames with all kinds of weird curves and oddities just for the sake of having them.  When this GT GTR Series 2 frame came up, it seemed to be just the ideal thing.  Only cost me about $275, too.

Then the next thing was the components.  I like Shimano stuff a lot, but I’ve never had a fully Campagnolo bike and I really, really dislike the looks of the Shimano brifters.  So it was settled that I should build it up with Campy and so that I didn’t change my mind I quickly bought these Vento wheels.  The Ventos are reasonably light, not featherweight but not bad, and they’re very strong and look good.  I like that they’re silver, too.  I want to go with a mostly silver build on this bike, so that I get a nice classic look.  Never been that fond of black parts.  I feel a bike is already enough form-follows-function that a little gleam on the parts is a nice touch, more so than drab black bits.

So here’s a couple pictures of the frame and the wheels.