Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bird Watching

A lot of miscellany this week.  First, just to conclude our little diversion into the scatological,  here’s something.  Until I was 7 years old, I didn’t know that girl’s pooped.  I don’t know why I thought this, but I distinctly remember learning the horrible truth while sitting up in the tree house of a kid down the street.  I’m going to blame this lack of knowledge on the fact that I grew up with two brothers, both of whom were just as gross as me, so I must have figured, girls can’t be that gross.  To paraphrase a line from the movie Moonstruck, “What I didn’t know about girls was a lot!”  I suppose The Princess will say I shouldn’t be using the past tense there.

Speaking of girls, well women, what would you think happens in a place called The Tubal Reversal Center?  While sitting in the dentist’s chair over in Chapel Hill my view out the window is of the building with that sign on it.  One day I asked the hygienist what goes on in there.  Well, I know when you think of Chapel Hill you think of UNC and world-class basketball, but would you have guessed it was the home of the world’s leading center for women to get their tubes “untied?”  Yup, according to the hygienist, they watch hotel shuttle vans pull up to the doors of that place all day long, five days a week.   Leaving no stones unturned in my never-ending quest to keep my readers informed, I went to the Center’s website and got a few facts.  The two docs there do more of these procedures than anyone else in the world!  And it’s cheap, well kind of…it’s $6000 a pop.  I guess to a doctor that sounds cheap.  A testimonial on the web site comes from a woman who said she had her tubes tied 20 years ago, had them untied, and two years later she had a baby girl, and she’s “ecstatic.”  Well, I guess The Princess is right, there’s still a lot about women that I don’t know, let alone understand.  Moving on.

Major cartoon guys are now stealing stuff from ThatIdioticTractor.   The photo and text (in italics) below was from a post I did last spring.

“Huh?  What you see in this photo is about a fourth of the books offered in this category.  Am I just really old, or incredibly out of touch, or does it say something about kids when books on Teen Paranormal Romance take up an entire row in a major bookstore.  Is normal no longer good enough for romance, it’s got to be paranormal?  This was the scariest thing I saw on my entire Minnesota trip.” 
Now here’s a recent Sunday cartoon done by Stephan Pastis, author of Pearls Before Swine, previously one of my favorite cartoons.
Robber!  You owe me one, Pastis.

A favorite spot of mine is the Haw River bridge in Bynum, NC.  The bridge dates to the 1920’s and has been closed to traffic now for sometime due to the fact that it was built for the much narrower cars of the time.  But the bridge is open to bikers and pedestrians, so I cross it once a week when I do the “morning 40” down to Pittsboro.  The bridge is also a favorite of bird watchers, as it’s along a stretch of the river that provides home and cover to a lot of wildlife, in particular, birds. 

On a recent ride, I noticed several people standing on the east end of the bridge with binoculars looking up into the trees.  I rolled up to them and inquired as to whether they’d spotted anything interesting.  I got negative answers from the entire group, so said, “Have fun,” and rolled off to cross the bridge.  I reached the center of the bridge and noticed an Osprey (a fish-eating member of the eagle family) plunge into the water and come out with a fish in his talons.  Pretty cool, I thought, and then noticed a bald eagle come out to the woods to chase the Osprey.  This continued long enough that I was able to alert the “birders” at the other end of the bridge to what was unfolding, so they got to see the “tail-end” (literally) of the chase up river.  I’ve thought of this little tableau several times over the ensuing weeks, and various truisms came to mind.
*  First, before you narrow your view, get the big picture first.
*  Keep your eyes open; you just might see something special.
*  Being in the right place (even by just a little) at the right time is sure important.
*  People are a lot like eagles.  If you work hard you might get the prize.  But as the Osprey found out, it’s even harder work to hold onto your prize.  Like the Bald Eagle, if you’re really good-looking, even if you’re lazy, you might attract some followers, but you’ve still got to eat.
And as to the “birders,” what do you want to bet that they start out in the middle of the bridge next time.  As to the eagles, well, I didn’t see what happened after they disappeared into the woods, but I’m putting my money on the Osprey, not the pretty boy.

Briefly, in Pony  News, last week I got the governor and throttle rods hooked up and pumped some air in the tires.  I recorded the PSI’s, and when I go out today I’ll check to see how they’re holding.  With those rods now hooked up, Gene and I will be testing today whether we can keep the engine going by using the throttle on the dashboard, rather than monkeying with the carburetor up by the engine.  I’m also taking some gear oil out to the Pony, so that after we drain the rear axles, we can refill them.

The Pony told me that for Christmas he wants to cruise down Gene’s drive and up and down the street.  I sure hope we can give him that.  Thanks for reading!

Readers Demeaned as Unsuffistikated!

Well, for crying out loud, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) won that case where they were trying to get us North Carolinians to stop dropping a live possum (in a nice, safe, plexiglass box) on New Year’s Eve.  If you want to review the background material on this important issue, you can view my prior post, “Fall, 2012.

“The judge in the case, I think trying to get his own little piece of notoriety out of the matter, compared Americans and possums by quoting Patrick Henry.  Recognizing that it’s ok to shoot a possum, but not cage him up, he clarified the possum situation by saying it’s “Give me liberty, or give me death.”  There’s no in between for the ugly little buggers.  I noticed in the first 3 miles of the morning 40 yesterday, that two of them right away chose the second option and committed suicide in the roadway.  You think they’re ugly, but “road kill” ugly is a whole nuther thing.

Another matter that needs review, the “battle” of the “O-Meter’s.  You’ll see on the home page today that the Guinea Pig-O-Meter has climbed to $2100, while the Cost-O-Meter hovers at $2180.  In that as of Thursday I completed the Ozone Study, I will just miss getting the two meters in sync.  But a valiant effort wouldn’t you say?  The folks over at UNC where the study was conducted asked if they could keep my name and call me with other “opportunities,” and I told them that was fine.  So I’m keeping the GP-O-Meter active, just in case something else comes up.

Next, I need to back-up again and just mention the last post and the Pony’s “Cliff Notes” explaining the fiscal cliff.  First, a number of times now since my last post came out, I’ve heard others using the Pony’s clever (copyrighted) phrase “Cliff Notes” when  discussing the fiscal cliff.  Robbers!  Second, it was suggested to me by someone who shall remain nameless, that my readers are not suffistikated enough to understand the Pony’s explanation.  I hope you all take offense at that.  Just because you all enjoyed the “pooping post” more than just about anything else I’ve done, doesn’t mean you’re unsuffwhatever.  Hell, I know for a fact that there are at least a few Ph.D’s in my reader pool.  Nevermind that, that degree stands for Pile it high and Deep (another poop reference?).  If any of you take particular offense at being put down, send me a comment in your defense.

With all my guinea pig activity this week, I don’t have any real Pony news.  Related, however, is the fact that Gene decided to have his cataracts fixed this week.  Hope I’m not divulging any state secrets there, Gene Boy, but jeez, think if you’d had  your eyes fixed two years ago, we wouldn’t have lost all that stuff on the garage floor and would have saved the hours we spent looking for it.  For now, lay low and focus on recovery.  I’ll worry about our other patient.

And there should be plenty of time for rest and relaxation over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.  Wow, I just went back and reviewed old posts, and figured out that this is the Pony’s third Thanksgiving in custody.  As a little reminder of how far we’ve come, following is a short slide show including shots at approximately each Thanksgiving.

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So, Thanksgiving, let’s think about that.  Are there some things in particular that I should be grateful for this year?
*  Well, certainly I’m grateful that in the event times get really tough, here in North Carolina, we can still shoot possums.
*  I’m sure thankful that the election is over.  Man, that was torture, no matter what your political leanings.  By the way, have you noticed that important stuff generally only happens Monday through Friday.  It’s almost as if God said, “On the first five days of the week I’ll do stuff that matters, and on the weekend I’ll give the media a chance to comment on it.”
*  I’m relieved to hear that we’re still up on the cliff and not plummeting into God knows what.  Speaking of plummeting, I had a dream recently where I’m floating in a river, a big one, and approaching a gigantic (think Niagara Falls) water fall.  I’m in a freaking panic, but there’s no stopping me and over I go.  At first I’m incredibly scared and screaming like crazy, but then as the fall progresses I’m able to right myself and kind of surf down on my butt.  It’s an incredible rush and now its fun.  Toward the bottom the angle becomes less steep, I go around a curve, the water slows and I end up floating in calm water at the bottom.  Of course I went straight to the internet on this one.  Holy cow, the consensus view is, ok, here’s an example, “…you will secure your wildest desire.”  But that’s just if you dream of seeing a waterfall.  If you’re actually in the waterfall like I was, then essentially you’re a “nut case,” your feelings are out of control, and they’re getting the better of you.  Tell me something else I already know.
*  I’m real happy I no longer have to hear the word “Frankenstorm” every other minute.  On a serious note though, I am truly grateful that the idiotic son in NYC, even though enduring 5 days of no power or heat, came through that business all right.
*  Ooh, this just in, while on an afternoon walk today The Princess declared that this was going to be another mild winter.  I asked her if I could quote her on that, and she said, “No, I was just talking out my ___.”  So much for not quoting her.  You just can’t trust the press these days.  Anyway, I would be very thankful for another mild winter.
*  I’m real lucky and thankful that when I accidentally turned up an exit ramp a couple of weeks ago, there were no cars coming down the ramp.  Whew!  Don’t tell The Princess about that one!
*  Of course, and this should have been near the top of my list, there’s the Pony’s successful clutch test.  I know this is way out of line, but after figuring that whole thing out, and then actually fixing the problem, I felt for the first time in two years, well, like a mechanic.  I know, “even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.”

I could go on, but to do so would begin to reveal things you shouldn’t know.  I’ll just finish by saying I am truly thankful for health, happiness, friends and family and especially for all of you fine “Friends of the Pony.”  Suffistikated?  I love you just the way you are.  
Hold family dear,
friends close,
and give thanks for all that is good.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for reading!


Pony Explains Fiscal Cliff

I’ve got to lead off with PONY NEWS.  You may recall that after the Pony failed his first clutch test, Gene and I went to work to see if we could go in, find and fix the problem.  When we got inside, I noticed that the clutch release levers were we off spec in their adjustment.  The problem then was doing the adjustment and coming up with a reliable way to determine when proper adjustment was reached.  I determined that the top of the clutch mechanism  was exactly two inches from the fly-wheel, so we just needed a means of measuring the final 7/32 of an inch to reach the required spec adjustment of 2 7/32 inches.  Gene’s idea was to fashion a piece of scrap aluminum in such a manner that when the levers were raised they’d bump the new tool after 7/32 of an inch.  Here’s a picture of the new tool.

Friend Art came up with a name for the new tool, The in-Gene-yus Clutch Adjustment Tool, in honor of its inventor.  Here’s a photo of the new tool in use.

It was tight quarters, but all we had to do was raise each lever using the adjustment screw you see in the foreground, and then tighten down each lock nut.  We then pushed the engine back in place, replaced bolts, reinstalled the starter, and hooked up fuel, oil and electrical.  We did all the reinstallation yesterday, set up the camera and rolled tape.  Here’s the Continue reading

How Low Can He Go?

Remember that dance from the 60’s called the Limbo?  That’s not what I’m talking about with that headline.  I’m talking about the fact that after reading my last post, you people are probably thinking, well, he can’t go much lower than that.  Ohhhh, how wrong you all are.

Yesterday started out like a lot of other days.  Up early, check the weather app, if it’s decent, get the bike clothes on and head out.  Damn, it was cold.  It was supposed to be 41 degrees, but even with gloves on, my fingers were so cold it was hard to shift.  The sun was out though and after about the 10 mile mark I came out of the shade and things were better.  I remember even singing to myself, “I’m riding in sunshine,” to the tune of “I’m walkin in sunshine, and don’t it feel good!”  How dumb, right, from the Claritin commercial?

I arrived at my usual half-way break spot, the Cup 22 Coffee Shop and as I’d hoped they had some of their homemade donuts.  Man, they’re good; they’re so good that after the first one, I went for a second and topped that off with my second banana of the morning.  I felt really full, but figured I’d work it all off on the inbound leg of the ride.

The trouble started maybe 5 minutes out from the coffee shop.  I thought, “Hey, what’s that twinge in my stomach, ah nothin, it’ll probably go away as I ride.  No, the aching over the next few miles turned into that unmistakable cramping that signals TROUBLE DOWN BELOW!

Some years ago, The Princess and I noticed that whenever someone important, like say the President, gets diarrhea, it is referred to as “intestinal distress,” or worse “severe intestinal distress.”  So, The Princess (being someone important) no longer gets diarrhea, she gets severe intestinal distress.  I, on the other hand, still get diarrhea, and by the way, you’re going to remember how to spell it after reading this post, I promise.

But back to the ride.  Always the Pollyanna, I thought, well, maybe I can make it home.  I was also kicking myself for wolfing down that second donut.  Ride through the pain baby.  Mmmm, no, as the pain increased, I also felt nauseous and light-headed too.  Not so good for a guy trying to keep his balance on a bike.  I was now on the long 12 mile stretch of road that makes up the final leg of the ride.  I started watching for construction sites that might have a portapot, ‘cus I knew there were no gas stations or the like.  Nuthin. 

I started getting desperate, but finally conceded that I was going to have to do it the way God always intended… in the woods.  You know, there are just too dang many people in this world.  When a guy can’t even find a solitary place in the woods to poop, the world is way to crowded.  There are woods all along that road, but every time I thought I saw a good spot, there was some old, decrepit house tucked in there.  And shoot, most of the leaves are down that help add “cover.”

Even with a skinny bike seat wedged firmly, well you know, I couldn’t go any further.  I was off the bike, heading into the woods, and I mean in a hurry.  I’d gotten to the point where I just didn’t care who saw what.  As I crashed through the brush I saw I hadn’t picked my spot too well, not just one house but two!  I kind of maneuvered around and found a spot behind a bush that still had its leaves, which I hoped would serve as a shield from anyone looking out the windows of the two houses.  But there was no more time for reconnoitering.  I dropped em right there.  Lower than this I don’t go, but I’ll just say a YouTube video of that trip into the woods could have made a lot of folks sick.  I’ll also say that following a similar experience a couple of years ago, I always carry a small, mostly used-up role of toilet paper in my fanny (hmmm, interesting word) pack,  so I did have that going in my favor. 

I was thinking, well that could have been worse, when I realized that there was a third house across the highway that had had a clear view of the whole “business” right along…and from behind!  Aw, jeez.  I stumbled out of the woods, sweating profusely, but feeling momentarily better.  The key word there being momentarily.  I got on the bike with maybe 7 or 8 miles to go thinking surely I can make it back now without further misadventure.

I sincerely wish that had been the case.  My second time into the woods was different in a couple of ways.  First, and this is a good thing, no houses.  But that’s where the good stops, because I had to fight my way through some serious brambles just to get in there.  But, worst was the fact that during my first little trip into the woods, I’d accidentally left behind (hmm, another interesting word) the remaining toilet paper.

Ok, picking the story back up out on the road.  I’m now only about four miles from home and feeling pretty good.  I was climbing the biggest hill of the ride when three guys about half my age cruised by me fairly easily.  I thought, well by God if I could only tell them to try doing this hill after spending the last half an hour trekking in and out of the woods…but of course I couldn’t, so that’s just one more humiliation I suffered.

The Princess always asks as soon as I’m in the door, “How was the ride?”  I said, “Oh man, it was really cold out there at the start,” and went up to take my shower.  The truth eventually came out, ah umm, like everything else.  But you know The Princess, well she’s THE Princess, and its hard for her to let me win at anything.  And this time she caught up and passed me at about 9:30 last night when she had not only diarrhea, but vomiting too.  As the Idiotic Brother said after hearing this, “Ya know, sometimes it’s nice to come in second.”

What, all this and Pony news too?  I’ll just include a little slide show here of the work I’ve been doing to get the clutch fixed. 

You can click on each of the photos and make them larger.  Don’t know what happened to the typical slide show format.  Anyway, this sequence just shows how I’ve scootched the engine forward about 3 inches so that we can see what’s up with the clutch.  The photo of the little round shiny thing is the clutch throw-out bearing and the surrounding area.  Although Gene and I had suspected this area as being the problem, it all looks “ok.” I may be on to something though in that it appears the clutch release levers (circled in the next photo appear to be way out of adjustment.  We’ll be going in there in the next few days to see if I’m right.  It would be great if doing this adjustment could  get the clutch working without pulling the engine totally out of there.

People say never apologize for your work, but I truely feel I must.  If anyone has been offended by this post, that wasn’t the Idiotic Author’s intent.  It was just another one of those things where as I described it to the IB, we both laughed our butts (oops) off, so I had to share it with you.  Thanks for reading.