Ma Blog‎ > ‎2008‎ > ‎


May 31st Do you realise that 10 years ago, I left the UK for California? Time files when you're in a coma...

I caught up on some stuff the TiVo had recorded. Finally, an episode of Battlestar Galactica without mysticism. Needs more space battles though. Lee as president? Who'd have seen that coming?

As it was still too gusty to do anything aviation-wise, I decided to take the DRZ for a ride, but first dropped it on the driveway. At least it's light - I managed to pick it up with Vic standing by in case I threw it over on the other side or anything equally stupid. There's a scuff on the aftermarket mirror and the front mudguard that I was going to replace, the footpeg and the end of the stand. I figured I'd got off easy, and went out for a longish ride... 50 miles, and my bum was hurting quite a lot. I need to look into that. I went by Jeff's shop, but it was all closed up - he's probably at Hangtown. I also stopped in to see Scott and the KLX, which he's still having fun on.

May 30th The front turn signals for the DRZ finally arrived, so I spent a little less than an hour fitting them - my soldering is getting better the more I practice. Of course, I have nothing else to do now, so it'll proceed to forget everything I've learned.

Tilly is still limping a little, but not enough to stop her running around the garden like a mad thing, so I'm figuring it's just a sprain. I can't see anything wrong with her foot or her leg, and it's obviously not bothering her that much, or she'd slow down a little, right?

May 26th Today was Memorial Day, when Americans remember their military dead by going shopping.

It was annoying to see all these extra people using my exercise equipment at the gym - this is why I don't go there at the weekend.

We just hung around and watched stuff that the TiVo had recorded, and pottered around the house. I took the DRZ for a longer (10 miles!) run, and got it up to 60mph or so. It's very light, and feels a little twitchy after the bigger and much heavier KLX and the Hawk. I'm sure I'll get used to that with a little more time.

May 25th It was too windy to do anything, so we ended up at a nursery buying a big pot for a small tree in the garden. Lucky we had the van back, as the sliding door makes loading big, relatively heavy stuff like this easy.

When we were home, Vince came over to see the DRZ, and to bug me to get it run in so we can go for some rides in the hills.

May 24th It rained during the night, and was fairly gray when I started out the day doing a little work on the DRZ, I now have a front brake light switch and I fitted the variable load relay for the indicators - as they draw next to no current, so the stock relay thinks there's a bulb blown. When the front LED indicators show up and get fitted, I doubt the stock relay will be able to cope, so this is preparatory work, more than anything.

Tilly has been limping a bit, so we're trying to get her to take things a little easier while whatever sprain she's inflicted on herself sorts itself out.

In the evening, I rode the DRZ around a little. I need to tweak the mirrors and the clutch biting point, but other than that, it's pretty much there now. I totally freaked Tilly out by taking off my helmet infront of her :o)

May 23rd As the side cases still weren't dry on the DRZ, I pried them off and cleaned them up, and reapplied them with red RTV. While I was out there, I soldered up the taillight fittings, and put it all back together. I have a few other things I want to do while I wait for other parts to arrive, but I'm now just waiting for the weather to clear up so I can get used to riding it... it's supposed to rain this weekend :o(

May 22nd We went over and picked up the van from Stephan's Autohaus. It seems that the torque converter gave up (again), and the gearbox rebuilder has now had 5 of this batch fail. We believe that this new batch - a year later - is OK.
I split the labour with Stephan, as I don't want him to have to carry the whole can for this... it's not his fault that the rebuilder's supplier sucks.

When I got home, Tilly didn't realise that I was in the van, so was overjoyed to see it when we went out to do a little work on the DRZ.

I got most of the tail light fitting done, it's just wiring now.

May 21st It's been blowing a gale here, so I haven't felt like taking the DRZ out for a test ride. Just as well, really, as the case savers I glued on are still wet, so it looks like I'll have to pry them off and redo that.

I spoke to Sarah at Stephan's Autohaus about the van, and it's ready. I said I'd pick it up tomorrow, then got a call from some poor technician who was waiting there for me to come in and get it, as he'd been told I was going to get it tonight. Doh.

May 20th I spent a little quality time in the garage fiddling with the DRZ. The side cases are made of magnesium, and apparently they break really easily if you knock the bike over. I bought some stick on aluminium case savers, and stuck them on, so hopefully it'll never fall over now. I also fiddled with the conversion so that the levers are where I want them, and the little mirrors I had on the Hawk are there. Of course, I bet I'll be fiddling with it a lot more in the near future.

May 18th Vic was teaching a critter class at the SPCA, so we scooted out early and got the brake hose I needed for the DRZ. I fiddled about with the bike on and off throughout the day, as the mood took me, and by the evening, it was in a state where I could ride it around the block. I want to fiddle with things a big more, as I'm not happy with lever angles and suchlike, but I've at least ridden it :o)

I watched Battlestar Galactica , and it's getting yet more mystical. There had better be some space battles soon.

When Vic got back from the shelter, we watched the MotoGP race from France. Go Valentino! It was excellent to see an all-Yamaha podium, extending Fiat Yamaha's lead in the team championship, Yamaha's lead in the manufacturer championship, and putting Vale at the top of the rider championship. He's now won 90 GPs, putting him level with Angel Nieto, who rode Vale's M1 for the cooldown lap :o)

Playing with Tilly in the garden, I've managed to throw her into her paddling pool a couple of times, which she's none too impressed with. Chloe lived for the hot weather, Tilly seems less impressed.

May 17th I got up early, and used my hose connection on the roof to rinse off the solar panels, then headed into the garage and installed the lowering links on the DRZ. Before I started completely screwing about with it, Vic rode it round the block a few times and pronounced it acceptable.

We took Tilly for a romp at the Bear dog park, then we headed over to Good Times Motorcycles to pick up my owner's manual, eat a hotdog and drool over the Ducati Monster 696. It's a truly gorgeous piece of equipment, but I'm not sure that I'd be happy riding around on a $10,000 motorcycle.

When we got home, I started work on the DRZ. I disconnected the clutch safety switch that would have stopped me from ever starting it (you have to hold the switch in while pressing the starter button, even when it's in neutral), swapped the throttle over and found out that the 48" brake hose I'd bought was actually 63"... too bloody long.

While we were out, we picked up a kiddy paddling pool for Tilly, and she happily cools her feet as she drinks from it.

It's been bloody hot recently, and the poor solar panels can't keep up with the demand from the air conditioner, but they seem to be OK with the hot tub, now it's at temperature.

May 16th Finally, it's Friday, and that means the DRZ was delivered. It was quite funny being run through all the stupid stuff like "this is the clutch" and "read the owner's manual" like I've never seen a motorcycle before, but I guess they do this for liability reasons.
I got the insurance sorted out - $174, fully comp. Getting old sucks on so many levels, but this wasn't too painful.

I left the top open on the hot tub while adding more chemicals to the mix, and turned my back for long enough for Tilly to get front shoulder deep in the nice, clean water. She got out when I told her to, but I can tell she'll need to be watched :o)

In the evening, we went to dinner with Fred (who's not too well - he has a cyst pushing against a nerve in his spine) and Marsha, and when we got home, Jim came over and took some pictures of the bike before I start hacking stuff off it, and adding stuff to it.

May 15th As today was the hottest day of the year (102F, seriously), I decided to fill the tub. I was thinking I'd leave it open and let the sun try and heat the water up a bit, but stuff kept getting blown into it. I closed the lid and let the wonders of electricity heat it up. It'll probably take a while to get to temperature, and it was really sad to see the speed that the electrickery meter was turning forwards. Still, I was more that 100KWh below my last billing point, thanks to the solar panels, so I'm sure we can cope.
Tilly was a bit upset at not being allowed to play in the tub as it filled, as I put the chemicals in, or as I left it running the pumps while it heated up. It's a dog's life, it really is.

May 14th With a clean(er) bill of health, I struggled to the gym again, and managed to do my normal set, even the chest press. It was a struggle, and I'm down a few reps, but I'm sure that'll catch up as I start to get a bit fitter again.

I managed to run out to the bank, then to Good Times Motorcycles before they closed to pay for the Suzuki DRZ400SM. They were really busy, so I just got a receipt and headed home - I can do all the other paperwork when they deliver the bike :o)

While waiting, I poked around out the back, and found a yellow DRZ400SM with a "Sold" tag on it - hopefully that's mine then :o)
Are you excited about the new bike? I know I am, but that might just be because I've been bikeless since March, and Scott's been raving about how much fun he's been having on the KLX :o)

May 13th I checked the solar panel inverter, to see that I've now generated more than 1KW per hour of usage - there was a long time where the average generation was well under 1KW per hour, so this is cool. We're up to almost 1400KWh now, and currently I've generated almost 100KWh more than I've used since the last bill. I'm aiming to get the hot tub all sorted out and running again this week, as it's going to be very hot. Hopefully that'll help heat up the 480 gallons of water, so I don't have the meter running forwards too far - I'd still love a 0 usage month :o)

I finally got a message from the quack to say that they can't see a rib fracture on my X-rays, so I'm assuming it's just a bruised bone - there is some localised swelling on the ribs themselves, after all. See? I didn't think it hurt enough to be a fracture :o)

I watched Battlestar Galactica , and I swear I'm losing interest. Not enough space battles, I suppose.

May 12th Vic took Tilly to the Bear dog park while I stayed at home and worked to pay for the dog treats. As my ribs are now more of an annoyance than painful, I struggled to the gym for the first time since crashing my mountain bike. I could do most of my usual set without too much pain, with the obvious exception of the chest press. Cool, I'm on the mend :o)

May 11th Tilly woke me up at around 5am, so we got up to avoid keeping Vic awake. After a quick trip outside, she went to sleep on the sofa, and I started working on yesterday's problem. I could see what the problem was, but couldn't figure out how to undo it - they're setting up a new server, so I just reinstalled my two, and followed the instructions that they were sent a while back. Bingo - everything works. I updated them, and sent them the list of commands I'd used, then we went out to breakfast :o)

Vic and I talked about my search for a new bike, and we ended up at Good Times Motorcycles, where I've agreed the purchase of a new, currently in the box, 2007 Suzuki DRZ400SM. The list price is $6199, and I'm paying less than that with all the dealer fees, DMV fees, taxes and with it delivered to the house. Hopefully it can be here at the end of next week, and hopefully I'll have had time to get to the bank and get the money to pay for it (they'd rather not put it on my credit card :o)). I'm pretty excited - I haven't had a new bike since the TZR250 in 1992!!

May 10th Vic and I went to see a used Suzuki DRZ400SM, but despite being only 6 months old, it's had the crap beaten out of it. As the guy wheeled it out of the garage, I got a bad feeling, which turned out to be true.

"So, what's this scuff on the side case here by the gear change? Has it been dropped?"
"That's an aftermarket gear shifter..."
"Yes, but it still won't touch the case..."
"Oh yeah, I dropped it... but it was on the dirt..."

Basically after 4,900 miles, it needed new tyres, new levers and a new front disc... it's just had a new chain. Every panel was scuffed, so I'm thinking Jokerboy here has been stunting it. I'm sure he'll get what he's asking for for it (it was a decent enough price, after all), it's just I didn't want something that's had the crap kicked out of it. I didn't even look at it very closely, and we departed for home.

We took Tilly to the Bear dog park so I could try out the new ball flinging tool. It's funny, you have to put a chair in the shade, so Tilly'll come back to you, but you can have her running around the park pretty well. Poor thing has a blister on one of her front pads, but it hasn't slowed her down any.

We were pottering around when I got paged for work... 11 pages all at once, which would suggest that the phone wasn't calling home on the network as well as you'd hope. We finished up and went home, so I could call somebody who wasn't really sure what he was doing, but it had to be done by Monday morning, and the fate of civilisation would appear to rest on it. I said I'd look at it, but his boss wanted everybody in the company working on this... I suggested that that wasn't going to happen. It was late by the time I got off the phone, and I started setting up a configuration to let me test what he'd done. I then had a hard disc failure, adding to my irritation. Still, I had everything (not) working the same as their server by the time I went to bed.

May 9th One of the volunteers from the SPCA came over to help Vic with the foster guinea pigs. I just worked.

While I was still slaving away, Vic took Tilly to the Bear dog park, and tried out the new ball flinging tool - it seems that it's a success, as Tilly can be worn out so much quicker :o)

May 8th I called the quack to see what had shown up in my x-rays. The imaging centre took 2 sets - one was a full chest set to make sure I didn't have fluid in my lungs from not breathing deep enough, and the other one was a set of just the ribs to see if there's a fracture. They'd just sent over the chest set, so while we know I don't have pneumonia, we still don't know if I have a proper injury. They're going to chase up the other set. Jeez... who knew getting injured could be so tricky.
It does, however show that you can't fix a medical system by just throwing money at it. These are all beautiful facilities, staffed by what seem to be competent people, but they're just as dumbly inefficient as the good old "wait over there, and if it doesn't kill you by the time we get to you, it wasn't life-threatening" NHS.

May 6th Vince dropped in to show me his new KLR650. Apparently he couldn't remember where exactly I lived, so he'd flown over in his weight shift trike looking for the solar panels :o)

I need to get myself sorted out with a new bike, now my ribs seem to be hurting a bit less.

May 5th Having finally figured out my medical stuff, I went to see the quack about my ribs from last month's mountain bike crash. After an hour's wait, she spent 5 minutes filling out the paperwork to send me for an x-ray. I trooped over there and was quoted another hour to wait, but was seen after about 20 minutes. Lots of x-rays taken, and I get to wait 3-5 days to hear about what damage I've done. Freaky - when Chloe had her pleural effusion, I had the x-rays to take to the vet on a CD that evening. Technology, it truly is a wondrous thing.

May 4th We had an exciting morning, taking Tilly to breakfast (we ate outside), then to get her nails trimmed (she wasn't happy about this, so I got her a new squeaky toy and some tennis balls). We then went to the REI sale so Vic could get another pair of the shoes she so loves. I sat outside with the Mook while she got everything sorted out. We went home and played with the new toy until the excellent MotoGP race from China - it was good to see Rossi win one after so long. He's still 9 points from the poison dwarf, but it looks like they've finally figured out how to set the bike up quickly :o)

May 3nd It was the Petfest at the SPCA, so Vic went in to display cage and feeding information for the critters, and to generally help out. As I'm still in my "brought to you by ibuprofen" stage, I decided to stay home and take it easy.
Tilly and I spent the morning playing World of Warcraft and watching TV, then went out in the garden and played ball for a couple of hours while I tried to pull up weeds in the lawn.

When Vic got home, she had the new foster guinea pigs with her - they were in a dreadful state, so she spent a couple of hours getting them settled in.

May 2nd Got the electrickery bill for April, and we used 43KWh for the month. Damn, the voltage problems from the solar panel inverter caused me to miss out on my 0 electricity month. Oh well... we're generating about 20KWh most days now, so maybe the panels can keep up with the hot tub after all.

May 1st Simon, Anne-Louise and Ben dropped in on their way to live in New Zealand. It was nice to see them, but Tilly spent a lot of time barking at Ben, who giggled back at her. Eventually they seemed to sort it out though.

I briefly spoke to Tim at Stephan's Autohaus about the van. They have the gearbox back, and they're hoping to get it fitted soon... we'll talk about what's happened in detail when that's all done, and it's ready to pick up.