November 28, 2004

The Price & Naming of the Bike

Posted by DaveSmith

Financial Crud: My Low Standard of Living plus The Price of the Bike equals Tropical Holiday

Written late October to middle November. Not posted until whatever day today is. Lots of bitching and whining here, but I'm in a much better mood now.

There are worse places to be trapped then the tropics (Tropic of Capricorn, I believe). I sit and wait for my tank to be fixed. A replacement tank should show up any day -- I've been here for 10 days. Getting trapped at a nice house, with internet access, a friendly cat, hospital host, and drunk parrots is one of the benefits about trying this trip on a 40 year old bike. Thanks Bob, by the way. Bob and Jenny Dumma, are in Brisbane at a softball event. The way things are going, as Bob said today, by the time they return I'll still be here waiting for my tank. Bob is another Bevelhead who offered to put me up (and put up with me). Their son Brock is 22, and is putting up with dragging around a 34 year old American around. Thanks Brock by the way.

I'll once again try posting this bit about the price of my bike. Lots of small problems FUBAR me again and again with posting this bit. It was typed and should've been up about a month ago. But still, I can go out and watch drunk parrot shenanigans.

First off, I know the bike is expensive even with the currency exchange. And I'm not made of money by any means. My Office Job almost paid living expenses. It would've covered it, but I like old cars and motorcycles, plus I'm a horrible cook so I ate out every day. But I live low budget and even living my modest ways, I was digging myself into debt. Even if I won the lottery, I'd live in an old crappy house with a yard full of old cars and the house filled with old motorcycles. One of which would actually run at any given point. That's "one" as in "cars and bikes" combined.

I worked Office Job 1996 to 2004 (with a one year break that might be explained later during a slow period on this trip). I made $9.20/hour on salary.

Like most people, I'm lazy, so I kept working Office Job even at the embarrasingly low pay. Went from data entry, to research, to putting together detailed rosters on the computer for publication (nothing like working 18 hours a day laying out graphic laden pages), and finally over to programming.

I bitched about no pay, but working somewhere that was an 8 minute walk from my apartment, with people I liked and a shift that ran from whenever I showed up to whenever I left kept me there. I played bass in a few punk rock bands, so if I left for tour (either going along for a ride or playing), it wasn't a problem. And, right before I got moved to programming, I had my head wacked open which should've killed me.

It was charity work in programming for several months where I'd sit at a desk with nothing to do except learn how to speak again. Nouns still like to hide from me. A common occurance with the dead parts of my brain as I understand from perusing neuroscience textbooks.

I had to end salary when I got a second job hosing monkey shit to pay off my debts and to save money. Hosing monkey shit and being weekend night security was $13.55/hour. I like monkeys more than programming, but I liked the people at Office Job better.

When I first started at the Office Job, I'd work 18 hours a day when it got busy. They won't pay overtime but it worked itself out in the long run because I did a lot of planning for this trip at work. Plus I read a lot of email lists. It sounds like a lot, but most are low content so it wasn't like I was only reading lists 8 hours a day. Only Bevelheads and Brit Iron had a lot of posts. The main ones are: Bevelheads (old Ducati motorcycles), various thumper lists (single cylinder motorcycles), Brit-Iron (British bikes), GB500 (a Honda thumper that looks like an old Brit cafe racer), old Italian motorcyle lists, a sidecar list, Moto Melee (group who rides old motorcycles around Northern California once a year), Lawrence of Arabia, and Sacramento Indie List (mostly people in their 20s and 30s involved in local music). As The Man says, you get what you paid for and at $9.20 an hour after 8 years, that's not paying for much.

If they hired real programmers instead of teaching random employees, they'd have everything done right and fast. The bad part of that is, they would be able to lay off most of the work force because most work could be automated. But the last few years have been walking up and saying, "hey, the doors aren't padlocked shut, that's great" so it might keep them in business.

So yeah, a nice place to work so my laziness kept me there. The $9.20/hour bothered someone in personal, so I got bumped up to $9.50/hour for my 25 hour work week when I switched salary to hourly. At 25 hours a week at hourly, I made $100 less a month than when I worked there 40 hours salary by not paying into health benefits. Medical insurance is expensive in the US.

Minimum wage in California is $6.75 to give people a point of view, and California isn't the cheapest place to live. But by working both jobs, 7 days a week, day, swing and graveyard shifts, for 18 months, plus selling off most of my stuff, and donations from friends when I left, I should have enough to get me around Australia, New Zealand and into Japan. Although Japan will be living on my credit card again for a month or so.

Okay, back to the bike. It's Italian, so it costs money. And it's 40 years old, so some parts are hard to find and expensive to buy in any condition (the tank). I'm guessing most people never worked at a place that rebuilds old vehicles. It's expensive. Getting neat stuff rebuilt costs the same as a buying a cheap new car. Even something rare like a Vincent Black Shadow or a Green Frame Ducati Super Sport in great shape costs less than a brand spanking new Chevy Suburban (around $30,000 American dollars). Even most "expensive" old bikes and cars costs the same as getting a new Hyundai or Ford Focus ($12,000 American). But now I just sound paranoid about the price of the bike with all my excuses so I'll go to the list.

But first, I set up camp after taking the wrong turn. Found a
nice spot, near a lake, and ate pepperoni and bread. Typed up how
much the bike cost here.

Prices are in Australian dollars.

Basic bike (1965 Ducati Monza 250cc) 2,000.00
Building it 3,000.00

All bearings
RH coule bush 6.00
Big End Assembly 300.00
74.4 Piston and rebore 300.00
gaskets, seals 30.00
2 valves 110.00
2 guides 80.00
circlips 6.00
lock tags 20.00
rewound magneto 120.00
exhause flange nut 42.50
oil 18.00
spark plug 4.00

PAGE TOTAL 6036.50

Handlebars and levers 90.00
universal muffler 95.00
Honda toolbox 50.00
Sprocket Brg Used 10.00
Air pod filter 18.00
Horn 25.00
2 throttle cables 20.00
Clutch/brake cables 26.00
Handlebar weights 15.00
Low maintenance battery 140.00
wire, connectors, fuseholder 15.00
fuel hose 4.00
Front/Rear brake shoes 80.00
Pr Exchange Fn legs 250.00
Lower tapered roller kit 110.00
Swing arm pt 50.00


SH Bags 50.00
Rear sprocket 35.00
4 wheel brgs 20.00
2 sets heavy duty spokes 160.00
2 rechrome rims 220.00
F seals and oil 35.00
Pair Heavy Duty rear shocks 195.00
Powder coating glass black 200.00
Chrome pipe fittings 60.00
Paintwork and repairs 750.00
2 swing arm caps 20.00
solo seat 120.00
Tank badges 36.00

PAGE TOTAL 1961.00

Invoice 01 6,036.50
Invoice 02 998.00
Invoice 03 1961.00
Registration/Basic Insurance 352.00
GRAND TOTAL 9,347.50

Basically, $6,000.00 American dollars, although the bike isn't paid off and the US dollar has been sinking. I thought the bike was paid for, but got another bill when I showed up.

And yes, a few teething problems. Sort of like buying a brand new Ducati in the 1980s and early 90s. The fuel hose was vacuum hose. Oil leaks. The headlight, even including the upgraded electronics to 12v, doesn't work very long.

The upgraded alternator puts out 12.68 volts which I don't think is enough to trickle charge the battery to keep the headlight lasting long. I'm running 35/35 halogen bulb, and I'm not riding at night (much) but it's no good. Once I get back around Australia, I'll get Phil to put the old Aprilia headlight assembly put back in, and go back down to 6 volt. So if someone is thinking of upgrading a Duc to 12volt, it'll probably be fine for around town riding, but don't try any long trips on it.

The lead up for the next part is, I'm at Sexie Coffee (great coffee by the way -- the best I've had in OZ so far) and one of the barristas (fancy pants word for "coffee server") says, "You smell like fuel". I say, "My tank is leaking" meaning out of the cap. Gav and I doubled up gaskets at the cap hoping to keep it from leaking. Two gaskets are almost as bad as the old gasket. Almost.

A few hours later, I notice the tank is leaking after I stop to call Bob Dumma to let him know where I'm at and to give him a rough idea when I'd show up at his house. Actually, I noticed the oil leak is acting up again, then I notice the fuel dripping from the tank. I tried to make it to Miriam Vale but it starts raining. I enjoy riding in the rain, but it means the headlight won't last and I don't know how much further Miriam Vale is, if I'd make it there before dark, and if so, would the headlight make it? I had close to a full tank when I noticed the leak, and I should've stayed in Gin Gin but what fun is that? I rolled the dice to see what happens.

I made it to a rest area. Luckily, they're all over OZ. I check all the trash cans looking for an empty bottle to save what fuel is left. No bottles, so I drink what's left of my water adn fill up the 1.5 liter bottle. I pop off the tank to put it on it's side to save what's left. Have to put it in a weird spot so the fuel doesn't pour out the leaky gas cap and doesn't pour out the hole in the tank. There's a couple here and the guy looks like my old slumlord The Colonel. The Colonel is an okay guy, is in the US Marines and doesn't have enough time to look after my apartment building, so it's a slum. Or maybe, as others have said, he just doesn't give a damn because it was a slum before he re-enlisted to go fight The A-rabs.

So the Australian version of The Colonel gives me a bit of Army Tape that's should hold up long enough to take it to a garage in Miriam Vale tomorrow. I'm just a few kays out of town. "Kays" is the same as "klicks" which is short for kilometers. Learn something new every day.

Oh yeah, one good thing about riding up in the rain is it put out the brush fires. No big deal about the smoke from the smouldering fires -- I'm from California -- Land Of Smog.

Tonight, I'll sleep on a picnic table. I'll take a picture and maybe the smoke will show up. I don't see a sign that says "don't drink the water" at the rainwater barrel, so I won't have to suck my anti-seizure drug down dry.

Speaking of epileptics and faulty Italians, maybe my bike knew I was thinking of naming her Matilda. I've always liked that name and since I bought the bike in Australia, it gives a sort of Waltzing Matilda type of feeling (the national anthem of Australia -- really). But if it wants to be a beautiful red-haired Italian pain in the ass, I should name it after ex-fiance Number 1. Epileptic, just like her, because of it's starting problems. AFD dyed her hair red, but that's okay, this bike wasn't originally red headed either. AFD isn't bad because it's gives me the choice of meaning A Fun Ducati and A Fucking Ducati depending on her mood. Both usually at once (that's both as in the mood of the bike and the hit or miss moods of the ex).

But maybe I'll bastardize my nieces names: Emily and Sophie and come up with something there. Sophily. Somily. These decisions take up a lot of your time when you're riding a comfortatible 50-60 mph. I think I'll just name it Mach 5, after Speed Racer's car. To hell with crazy girls.

Dinner was leftover pepperoni and bread. Not too bad. Maybe I'll break out the banjo and bother The Colonel as I learn how to fingerpick.

Even better events.

A tow truck driver stops and The Colonel comes over and says, "Go bug that guy", so I do. He's got nothing to stop the leak but The Colonel finds some heavy duty glue that doesn't give a petrol warning.

The tow truck driver files off some of the bondo (bog in OZ) on the tank to uncover the leaking braze. He makes the first comment (out ofdozens) about what a shitty job was done on the tank. The braze and bog on a tank meant for a round the world run. It's also my first look at the JB Weld (not sure what the Australian term is for that, but it's kind of like a liquid metal glue).

And then he dumped fuel on his nuts from the leaky gas cap. So even doubling up gaskets won't work, so I'll try going back to one. He wasn't too thrilled with that, but he rides a thumper (KLR650). Not sure if the glue will work. Good thing I spent this morning typing out the cost of the bike, so I remember that I paid $750 on bodywork and repairs for the tank and two fenders. Nice to see some brazing, bondo and JB Weld.

Damn, if I'd known it was going to be a half-assed job like that, I would've had Phil mail me the tank in California and I would've had it done right. Robert, my brother in law, who is glad I'm out of the country because I'm not bothering him with repair work, would've replaced the crap bottom of the tank and would've worked out the dents. And the price would've been "here, leave the country and quit bothering me" although he would've gotten a case of beer or two.

One of the previous guys who commented on the oil leak works at a Ducati dealership and he said, "Nice oil leak. You should have Phil Hitchcock fix that for you". He was surprised that Phil built the bike and I had it less than a week at that time. I'm frustrated. A cane toad just jumped out of the rainwater barrel and onto on my head. The same barrel that I drank water from to take my medication with.

But as Ted Simon says, "The problems are the adventure" and I've only had to push this bike a quarter mile (starting problems).

Ted Simon rode a brand new Triumph 650cc round the world in 1974-78. His bike dumped a quart of oil blocks after he left the Triumph factory because the gasket wasn't in right. I don't think Phil is having labor problems like the Triumph factory before they went under, but there's some half-assed stuff on this bike that he had about 18 months to build. But long term stuff for customers always waits until the last minute, so I understand why it seems like it was thrown together at the end. Even though it sucks being on the receiving end, not that I liked having to do that on the renovation end either.



I know this is long. The price list was typed at a nice camping spot next to a lake. Then a bunch of problems that ends with me, at a rest area, sleeping on a picnic table during the rain.

I wake up in the mornings when parrots make noise. In Sacramento, I lived next to train tracks and I sleep through trains, but parrots I'm not used to. It makes me laugh that a million noisy pet store and zoo birds wake me up.

I got up and headed to tiny Miriam Vale. I had to wait outside the mechanics while he was picking a car up in his tow truck. He returns and says, "hell no, I'm not welding a tank" so I moved on. As I was packing up to leave, a bungee cord (octy cord in OZ) wacked me in the eye (Oct 30th around 9:30am for those keeping track). I've always wondered what that'd be like.

I'm standing there, blood is pouring out. I thought it just wacked me, but I notice blood on the sleeve of my jacket. I'm hoping I'd still have vision and wondering when I could open my eye. I was trying to get a look in the bike mirror but keeping my good eye open was still hard. The metal part cut me next to the eye and my eye was dotted by the force of the cord wacking me pretty good. It's hard for me to get a shiner -- this is the third time its happened in my life. At least I did it in front of the mechanic and the lady with her daughter. Making an ass out of yourself is always better with an audience.

On my 30th birthday, my grandfather gave me a card that read, "Bet you didn't think you'd live this long" and I didn't. I was pretty surprised that I made it to 30 and life after that is my "bonus level". Anything over 30 is gravy. Maybe because I've seen and done so many crazy and stupid things, that I'm immune to most stuff.

I don't know if the flow to the next part makes sense.

It's like going a year without watching television, then when you watch it again, you realize how insipid it is. Try it. Go a year without watching Prime Time (but whenever you cheat and watch The Simpsons you'll miss a lot of pop culture references). You can walk away from the dumb stuff that just fills your time or you start watching it again, and get sucked into it. Shows that would be challenging for a 13 year old, you say, "wow, this is a good show -- it doesn't dumb it down" because you've accustomed yourself to absolute crap.

As I was told by high traveling Jeff Darius, "Once you come back from this trip, you'll be an insufferable bore for a few months. Don't worry, it happens to everyone who goes on big trips but you'll get over it". I've been gone almost a month, someone will have to shoot me when I'm back.

Next on my reading list is: The Rites of Spring. It's a history of the political and social conditions around The Great War and how they led to The Modern Age. That's World War I if you're not up on your war names. You need to have a book when traveling and I can't afford the Oxford edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Don't worry, the next post will talk about a topless waitress showing her boobs for spare change at a pub, a guy who ratted out his best friend for drag racing on the streets, and throwing rocks at jelly fish.

Added when I posted this at end of November:

Rites of Spring is some art history student's thesis, I think. Man, it's full of itself. Lots of French and German phrases that aren't translated into English, so I don't know what they're saying. And it's always when he's making a point. C'est la vie. So I found a copy of Catch-22 which I've been reading instead.

Here's some pics of the bike problems.

Not too bad for a bike that I paid $9,000 Aussie dollars for about 2 weeks before this picture was taken. Can't hardly see any leaks from this point of view.

40 year old new bike doesn't take long to look 40 years old again.

Hardly any weeping from the clutch cover (that's the part that says Ducati) and the kickstarter

Not too bad here. You can see where I removed the fuel line to drain out some of the leaky gas. Didn't want to get trapped at this Rockhampton camp site and have to walk for petrol.

Ah, here's a leak that I expected. It's from the oil in the points and coil and it oozed out the cover. The oil that made it's way to the exhaust pipe will just keep it from getting rusty.

Not too bad up here.

Just a bit coming out of the forks. I'll have to keep an eye on the forks too.

Hardly anything out of here. Probably a normal amount for a bike this old.

You can't really see the smoke from the smoldering. I like riding in the rain, and riding in the rain, when there's fire on both sides of the road proved to be even nicer. That sounds sarcastic, but it's not meant to be. Fires aren't as active as the fires in California. Probably because they let fires burn out here instead of stopping them so the bush build-up gets really dangerous. Of course, the population of Australia is 20 million so letting them burn won't cause as much damage. The population of California is around 36 million.

This is a lovely bit of camping ground. You can see the rainwater tank that holds Cane Toads that hop onto your head when you're lying down. My tank is on the bench, next to a water bottle with fuel that I bled out of the tank. A few minutes before the tow truck driver showed up to pour gas on his nuts.

This is where I bought a 6 pack. I filled up my jerry tank (aka water bottle) and as I'd kill a beer, I'd fill the empty with fuel. A lovely spot to camp at. The girl camping next to me was a Norweigen who bought a station wagon (Ford Falcon) for $4,000 and was making her way south to Sydney to find a job as a physical therapist.

A lovely shot of the leak caused by the oil ring.

Posted by DaveSmith at 06:00 PM | Comments (19)

November 23, 2004

Mondo Photo

Posted by deeann or lurch

Dave sent a bunch of pics with descriptions (actually, a few days ago- I was being lame and checking the wrong email account, so they are a bit late) but here they are! Click on the thumbnails to see the larger version- DeeAnn

***** From Dave *****

The greater Brisbane Area, including Mt. Tamborine and Mt. Nee.

Here's where I made it after the first few days. Up to Brendan
Kelly's to help sort out the bike and over to Ian McPhees then over to

Ian and Col's 10 acres. It's a great lookout. The hills, mountains as the Aussies call 'em, in the background make for some great riding. You can see his pond (need to be able to put out fires on your property) and a horse. Can't see his
dog, or any of the crazy ducks and geese that hang out there.

Ian McPhee took me out to O'Reillys National
Park. A great ride with crazy roads. No run out here, often with one
side being mountain, and the other being a cliff. They rarely use
guardrails in Australia. Coming down the mountain both Ian and I were
on reserve. Ian coasted down the mountain and put in 20.2 liters of
fuel into a 20.1 liter tank (those numbers are wrong, but it was that
low and that much "overfilled"). I made it back on reserve. We
climbed up a giant tree that no liability lawyer would allow a
National Park to have in the US, and took a walk in the treetops.

Shot by Ian of me. I blew it and didn't
get a shot of Ian in the same spot.

An empty shot down one of the
ladders where Ian had just taken a picture of me.

A shot from the top of the tree we climbed.

A shot down the first section of the climbing tree.

Ian McPhee (MHR minus fairing for some reason),
Gav (Ducati 250cc scrambler) and me outside of Gavs.

After leaving Gavs, I took a wrong rode and ended up at
Mt Mee. The picture is called Mt. Nee, but that's because Mt. Nee is
close to Mt. Mee. After riding a mile or two on a dirt road, it ends
at the national park with a sign saying you need permission to drive
or ride through there, so I had to turn back.

A few hills or mountains in the background. I
need to find out what is the definition of hill and background because
a lot of the hills I've seen have been mountains.

This was outside a sugarcane refinery. Not sure
which one but it was outside of the general Brisbane area.

Some random cars and motorcycles.

Found a shop somewhere around Brisbane that makes GT40
kit cars. They're much thicker than the real car -- you can't see
through the fiberglass like you can on the original Gulf cars.

Here's the spot where they build them.

An early Valiant. Probably around 1961-62 range if it was
built in the US. I've seen a lot of these. They're not Plymouth
Valiants, just Valiants. The also made Valiant utes (trucks like an
El Camino or Ranchero). They still use utes in Australia instead of
pick-up trucks. There's plenty of stuff that we'd call pick-up
trucks, but there's lots of El Camino type trucks too.

Gav's beautiful MV 125cc. One day I'll own a bike like this.

Made it from Gavs and out to Mackay where I limped in on a very leaky
fuel tank. Spent 10 or 12 days mostly at Bob Dummas and a couple
nights at Ramon's trying to get the tank fixed.

At Ramon and Rosa's house in Mackay. There was a
huge tarantula spider that was on the ceiling above the bed. Just on
my left from my pillow. Their cat wanted it, and I didn't, so I
pushed it off the ceiling with a Classic Bike magazine. The cat
didn't catch it, so I Iied awake wondering if spiders hold a grudge.

Bob Dumma put me up in Mackay while I sent off my tank to
get fixed. This is Bob, his MHR mille (much nicer shape than Ian's
MHR that I dropped), and my bike. The chair were I'd drink Bundys
(straight from a mixed can or I'd mix my own out of a bottle of rum)
is right behind Bob. The chair were I'd sit and watch drunk parrots.
Jenny, his wife, and Brock, his son aren't in the picture. My

Brock Dumma took me on a tour of the coal dock that he
works security at. It's at Hays Point and is the biggest black coal
dock in the world. The road out to the ship loading points is 2 km
long. The bridge out is way off in the distance.

To get the special tour of the coal dock, usually
meant for Big Wigs and not slack-jawed yocals like myself, you have to
wear boots, a heavy work shirt, a Day Glo Orange vest, Safe-T glasses,
and a hardhat. Luckily, you can see one of my favorite shirts. Nope,
I don't know her. The shirt came with my old apartment. Coal dust
covers everything. Huge conveyer belts wheel it out where it's dumped
into ships.

They usually go to New Zealand and China,
if I remember correctly. The orange parts are the hatches where they
spread the coal out in. A giant tube is moved around to keep coal
from piling up in one spot and sinking the ship.

Me in front of most of the coal yard. It's friggin'
huge. Where the coal is loaded on the ships is about 2 km away from
the beach. The racks you see between the coal piles are the conveyer
belts that take it out to the ships.

On my way up from Bob Dumma's to Pat Hawke's house outside of Cairns,
so I could make it to the Bevels and Bullshit ride. I stopped at a
camp site (where my headlight rattled out) and met up with Jack Green
and his wife. Jack walked up with a cold beer for me and said,
"thought I heard a bevel". He used to race bevelhead Ducatis and
helped build the first (or maybe 2nd) monoshock bevel around 1984.

They fed me, and Brendan from Korea, beers and ravioli. I can't
remember Brendan's Korean name, but he's using Brendan while he's
here. He got DUI'ed and lost his license. And as I've heard, losing
your license in Australia happens to everyone.

Jack had video he took from the Isle of Man and showed me some
highlights of Stone, an Aussie bike movie made around 1974 by bikers
for bikers. I can't wait to see it. They gave me some good tips
about seeing the Isle of Man (it's on my schedule).

Jack and Noeline are driving around Australia in an Oka.

An Oka is a 4 wheel drive motorhome built in Australia. Sort of a
Unimog, or Humvee if that'll be more familiar, with a long body.
Great airconditioning I heard. Jack Green, the owner also told me
that they'll still drive even after being hit with an RPG -- the same
kind of rocket used against in the US seen in Blackhawk Down.

Another shot of the Oka.

Another shot of the Oka.

Here's my soon to be famous shot of Jack
Green and his TM. An Italian made 2-stroke dirt bike that I've never
seen before. With my amazing camera skills, I cut off his head.
Usually I check for this sort of stuff, but not this time. I'll email
Jack for a picture of him and his wife Noeline.

This is a picture back towards Cairns and the Pacific
Ocean. The same part of the trip where I figured I should skip doing
tourist stuff because it makes me lonely not being with someone.
Traveling is fine, but seeing neat stuff without a girlfriend present

(comments are closed for this entry)

Posted by deeann or lurch at 10:30 AM | Comments (14)

November 14, 2004

Short post from Cairns with almost no political comments

Posted by DaveSmith

Just a bit. I'm in Cairns. I left the CDr with my whining (whinging as the Aussies call it) about my tank splitting and getting a black eye at Mister Bob Dumma's house. I showed up at Bob's house with the black eye. Don't mean to be confusing.

I took Bob's son Brock's CDr by mistake. I'll mail it back tomorrow and see if I can get the bit I wrote (e)mailed back. It's a long post. I'll also try to get a bunch of photos up soon.

Right now I'm in Cairns on a temporary gas tank waiting for my new tank to show up. I'm also running low on Keppra (the anti-seizure drug) I'm on. I've got 12 days left on what I have. My brain doctor's secretary forgot to send in my prescription both times I bugged her about it when I was stateside, so my sister Cary started calling her about every 5 minutes until she faxed it in. Oddly enough, epilepsy can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But better epileptic than dead, I always say.

Today, I was in Cairns where I read A Swimming Monk by Malachy McCourt (drunken Irish guy who moved to New York City and drank up his marriage, an acting career and the bar he was part owner of). I'm sitting in the shade at a nice tropical beach, and what do I see? A fat gothic girl. What the hell does she have to be gothic about? She's in all black, trying to look pouty. Maybe her gothic depression is caused by too many coconut trees, tree kangaroos, and geckos. I don't know. She was writing, which had to be gothic poetry. Man, that's got to be some great reading. Ode to Eternal Sunshine That Haunts Me So. There's banana plantations all over. Maybe she's seen one too many "guy slipping on a banana peel" which sent her into the abyss.

And about the drunken political nonsense. It seemed like it was making sense at the time. Obviously I was bugged by police entrapment, but what the hell was I thinking? I've yet to meet someone that I haven't liked. Everyone is friendly. Soft drinks are made with sugar! The candy is good. Beer is good. The food is good. The girls are still so-so.

Ian will be my Transport Minister when my American sensibilities has me taking over a small local island (all Americans do that as a Rite of Passage). He'll be up for fighting after returning from his West African exploits. Ducatis for everyone! Although, I'll still have my own collection of thumpers from all over. One day I'll own some Brit bike singles.

Sober bad stuff about Australia: They drive like the USA (tailgating and hairy passing). And there's no sugar cereals. That's about it so far after a month, and the only "fault" is no sugar cereals. Well, there is one. It's a Cocoa Puffs type thing that's a store brand in the states (the one with the monkey on it).

Kids don't skate where there are signs saying "don't skate", people push bicycles across intersections, and graffiti is rare. But the rest areas are chock full of "want a blow job? meet me here at 4:30" type stuff. And Friday I saw my first Australian glory hole. I think they need gay bars here. So there, that's it for a sober post. They need gay bars is the only thing I can think of. Maybe there are gay bars, I haven't been looking. It'd be pretty funny going into an Australian gay bar and looking at the Australian fag hags. Not sure what they're called here. Fruit flies. It's the girls who mostly hang out with gays. Not sure why. Charlene? Any explanation?

Yesterday, Pat and I started off at the Bevels and Bullshit ride, but on 2 singles, we were way too slow and went off separately. Pat was on a nice 450 cafe racer he borrowed from a friend. The ride was mostly newer European bikes and Pat said they changed the Bevels part to Bikes (or something like that). We stopped by a Brit bike workshop aka museum. Lots of Rudge bikes including one said to have raced in the Isle of Man in 1928. The guy who runs the place has been putting old BSA engines into 1980s Japanese dirt bikes. Doug, I'm thinking of you. He also had a BSA scooter. He tried to sell me a bike, but I said I didn't have room because I'm trying to ride round the world on a 250cc single. He didn't care. Probably because it was Italian. I should've said Beezer.

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Posted by DaveSmith at 12:59 AM | Comments (12)

November 07, 2004

Random Political and Social Crap

Posted by DaveSmith

I'm up drinking cheap decent rum. I'm in The Tropics (officially). Please DO NOT READ this post if politics will offend you. Just skip this post and I'll put a better post up after this. I avoid political posts and this one should be the only one.

I avoid political posts and this one should be it. I know it's an early post on this site, but after many experienced years of my life, I mean it -- this should be the one and only POLITICAL post. Fuck. I'm sure since you're still reading this, you probably will get pissed off, but read the rest of my stuff and make up your decision of me from that. If you have any suggestions, please email them to me. I've got ears (although halfway deaf through loud music and motorcycles) -- I'll listen. I read the posts that Ted Simon (motorcycling world traveling author of Jupiter's Travels) got after 9/11 and I don't want those. I'm really easy going. I've got a thick skin. It's very hard to piss me off. So, just skip this post if you want to avoid a political rant. Okay, thanks.

I've been getting email and posts that say, "whoah, we're really in the soup now" since Shrub got elected. Yes, that's elected as in, The First Time, because as everyone knows, left and right wing, there were a bit of problems with the last election. Hey, don't blame the messenger -- everyone knows that one registered mighty high on the fraud scale.

As far as I know, the last president who made it in with such blatent fraud was John F. Kennedy. So many dead people voted for him in Illinois that it was his choice if he wanted to be president or not. No really, he was 2nd choice of his dad, John's older brother was the one conditioned to be president but he got croaked. Try looking this up, you've got google, don't you? In 1960, during the election, the quote was supposed to be: John F Kennedy, "I don't know if I want to be president" and Robert Kennedy answered, "The Illinois count isn't in yet, so it's your choice" which I think the idea is basically true. The union (aka mafia in the USA, not kidding again) had so many dead guys vote for JFK that it's the same as so many black Floridians not allowed to vote for Gore. I can say this because most of my friends think I'm a loony right wing guy anyway because I like guns. I'm also pro-choice and anti-death penalty so as an American, I don't have a party out of the 2 choices.

It's going to be a crazy next 4 years in the States. Good thing California voted in Arnie Schwartzenegger, because if we had a democrat as Gov, we'd be as fucked as I assume Massachuetts will be. Not kidding again there.

Bush has that weirdo Good Christian Thing around him. Probably because of getting his (DUI/DWI) Driving While Intoxicated violations (and wasn't there a cocaine bust that has been expunged from his record?). I'm not mentioning skipping out on Viet Nam because EVERYONE in the USA knows that Badge of Red Courage was written by Stephen Crane, a guy who WAS NOT even alive when the Civil War happened. Trust me, we know it because of Cliff's Notes and most people, I hope, have given up on this post and moved on. Anyhoo (skip up in the paragraph to figure out this next sentence) Bush is some sort of AA thing. Alcholics Anonymous for people in other nations. People who are addiction prone because they need to have something to Believe in, are show The Way To God instead of drinking or drug abuse.

I don't know how many countries use AA but it does an okay job in the USA. It's much easier for the general population to have some Crazy Addicted Nut be a Religious Nut instead of an Amphetamine Addict who's breaking into your house in a paranoid rage who might shoot you for a $50 television.

But as Bush enters the US into some sort of looney religious war with the Middle East, this should be an Interesting Time to live in. First time since The Crusades, I think. It's Christians vs Islams vs Moslems going at this again. Of course, there's also the benefits of Oil vs Euro/US Dollar thing going on as well (once again, try looking that up -- not the Crusades but euro vs. dollar). As more countries realize that the US has sunk itself, they'll move to the Euro instead of the American Dollar to base their currency on. But as the USA sinks itself into a dark hole economically, some of us notice it, but most won't, so don't worry about the Good Ol' USA invading your counry. We don't travel much, so no point (yet) in having to make anti-USA regulations, and besides, Bush has made this a religious war, and I assume that if you're reading this, you'll be on Our Good Christian Side.

Don't worry, some of the Americans might remember that we did the same thing to The Yellow Plague last century, but most won't remember that we passed laws against the Chinese and Japanese (don't let whitey think he's coming out ahead because the laws against Italians and the Irish were bad too). And by using the Chinese to make railroads to make property go up, and the Japanese to further build up property and business values (that we kicked them off) the Americans did themselves fine. We didn't go even half as far as The Roman Empire went, but we had a pretty good shot. A candle that burns on both ends burns twice as bright but only half as long.

I should explain that train of thought. One of the best, and worst, things about the USA is, we don't have memory. As an American, we don't get mad that Turkey slaughtered Armenians 100 years ago. Japanese slaughtered Chinese. English vs. Irish. Even American Jews these days buy German cars -- but that was 50 years ago. Short attention span. It works because we don't get mad over some sort of Hatfield vs. McCoy feud (trust me, I'm related to one side -- no really). Who the hell cares? But, in the opposite, because we don't remember, we get annoyed and pass laws like "all Asians can't breed and go to jail" (I'm not kidding on that one, that's 2 different laws in one short but true bit). But luckily, that doesn't last long, we forgive, and we forget. Unlike the Balkanization that occurs in Europe, I'm not going to slaughter Robert, my brother in law, because he likes old Fords and I prefer old Chrysler cars. Isn't that the same half-assed shit that people in Europe are killing themselves over?

The laws here are crazy. Some of us Unwashed Masses in America, like to pick on the phrase "America: Land of the Free" as there's not much real freedom left. It's way worse here in Australia. I try to present myself the other way because I always thought the USA was screwed. I am left leaning, but here in OZ, under years of Left thinking with the usual Conservative crap in the way, it's way worse than the US to live. People here are much nicer though, and living isn't bad (although Aussies have lower economic standards than the standard American). Entrapment is probably what bothers me most at the moment and I'm sure that's influencing me. Entrapment is a-okay here from the cop point of view.

An example, which might be too gear headed is, a cop can pull up next to you at a light in an unmarked race car, rev his engine trying to get you to race, and if you squeal your tires when the light turns green, your car can get impounded. He entrapped you into racing. Or what should make sense to my drug taking friends, if you like smoking pot, an undercover cop can come up and say, "hey, I want to smoke some weed" and then arrest you if you pull any out. Not sure if they call marijuana "weed" or "pot" here but that's how it goes and for such a half-assed "drug" such as marijuana who the hell cares?

Yes, that annoys my ever so delicate American sensibilities (there's sarcasm there, you betcha). It works the same way for other worse crimes, but Police and Government will Always take the worst way of getting somewhere. The USA is worse than Australia on most points, but on many important points, it's worse here in OZ. Which is to say, I don't have a valid opinion. 6 of one, half dozen of the other based on local bits of local events. I suppose I've just been wasting your time, but hey, don't say you weren't warned -- especially if you've sent stuff saying you'd like to move here to avoid Bush's regime.

A great thing about Australia is, it's mandatory to vote and most workers are in unions. I don't know if the mafia has destroyed unions here yet though, so I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but on the surface it sounds great. Of course, on the surface, socialism sounds great and Mussolini made the trains run on time. Just don't know how bastardized and evil it is here yet because I don't, and probably never will, work under Australian union regulations. But mandatory voting seems like a great idea.

And yup, I lost my ability to spell although drinking rum hasn't helped. I'll try to make up for this crappy political post in the next post, where I'll really try to explain The Cost of My Bike including my dotted eye.

I think I have a general anthropologist (try looking that up at point of view that humans are a virus and we've destroyed ourselves and the world. I bet, and this is a common belief among most of the Anthropoligists that I talked to at San Francisco State University when I graduated in 1996, that we've sucker punched ourselves hard enough that we've passed the High Point of human evolution and we're on the down turn now. Couldn't tell you how much longer we're going to last as a species, but hey, we had a great time and that's all that matters.

You can't invent the Winchester Model 97, Vincents, Ducati 750s, Dodge Darts, the Ramones, beer, or the Wild Bunch without a few problems. Gabba gabba hey, gabba hey, gabba one of us. We're all in this together, and whether you spend your spare time sniffing glue, designing bevelhead motorcycles, the almighty slant six, or writing "Chinese Rocks", in a short time, when we're all dead, what will matter?

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Posted by DaveSmith at 04:03 AM | Comments (18)

November 04, 2004

Life in Mackay

Posted by DaveSmith

I love Mackay so much, I've moved into Bevelhead Bob Dumma's house. Sort of.

My tank is pissing fuel to the point where Ramon looked at it and said in my paraphrasing way, "don't touch your horn and the bike shouldn't catch on fire". Not really a joke, small rivers of flamable liquid. I had it tapered off to where it was hardly leaking, but it opened up to a 2 inch crack in the brazing.

So Bob, his wife Jenny and Ramon picked me up off the side of the road and have been sheltering me since. Bob & Jenny's son Brock has been letting me tag along with him while Bob is away at work. Last night we went to an American Graffitti type of thing. People hanging out with their cars. Mostly new stuff, but in Australia people soup up 4 door cars and utes (pick-up trucks). A few old cars where there -- a pretty nice Ford Fairlane 500 maybe 1965, with the steering on the right side. Mostly people were around 20, but I've finally seen cute Australian girls. Only, since they're around 20 that's way too young for me. I like 'em roughly around my age. Give or take 10 years.

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We saw one guy almost get his ass kicked by about 50 people because he told a guy in a wheelchair to "get up and get your own damned drink" at a party earlier this week. He followed that up with a racial comment (not about the wheelchair guy) ensuring his Number 1 place at the local popularity party.

Speaking of things with big mouths, I spend a lot of time sitting out front reading old motorcycle books and watch drunk parrots bother the other birds. Lots of tiny green and red, small, drunk, cocky, mouthy birds annoying all the other birds, both big and small, until the other birds walk away in disgust. If only parrots could hold a bass, No Kill I wouldn't notice I was gone.

Pissed as a parrot, is a local cliche. Crazy drunk birds.

This is just a short note letting people know I'm still alive and that Bush winning should make it a fun next 4 years in the States. My next entry should detail the cost of the bike and assorted problems that this entry was supposed to cover. And how I got my eye dotted. I believe it was Oct. 30th at 9:30am so if anyone put money on that, collect.

Other bits: I really should try asking local cute girls if I can take nekkid pictures of them. That should go over quite wonderfully. I'll send pictures to be posted once I get a good internet connection.

They drink cans of rum and coke up here instead of beer (although there's still plenty of beer drinking). I've been trying to fit in, but I need to start adding some more rum. Drinking at the Mercantile spoiled me -- I like strong drinks, not strong men. For the 90% who don't know what I'm talking about, the Merc is a gay bar right by my apartment in Sacramento that serves the stiffest drinks of any bar I've been in (which is quite a few). When you go there with a girl and she needs to take a leak, the bathroom needs to be checked out to make sure guys aren't having sex in there.

Hey Lurch & DeeAnn, yup, it's a Ducati 250cc, so you got that right. Australia is pretty neat (although you can't buy booze after 11pm if I understand correctly). I don't know if they still let foreigners move here.

Doug, I can drop your bike only if you have any super rare ones. The MHR 1000cc was around 1 of 800. And I'm guessing your bikes would have rear drum brakes, so I shouldn't have any problems. I hope to get bits of info from the locals. I've gotten some but it's mostly "Bush is a nutcase" which doesn't help much. I'm supposed to hang out with Ramone tonight, so maybe he'll have neat stuff to say. He rides a green frame Ducati Super Sport 750 around like a tour bike. He bought it new. Maybe if I return to the US and start touring in a Jaguar D-type...

Thanks for the donations, Jay and Amy. I'll probably spend the money on fuel and food since I don't have much room on the bike for anything else. But I'll sing Convoy out loud. It's the best movie that hack Peckinpah ever made (joke, that's just a joke).

Posted by DaveSmith at 11:24 PM | Comments (5)