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Archive for June, 2013

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the H-D 105th Anniversary Parade.

Next week we will celebrate the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

It happens on July 4th and sure we’re in the middle of what seems like a “J. Edgar” moment with this PRISM gig – Big Government infringing on civil liberties – but, the mysterious man did some great things and it seems we’re always preoccupied with those items that divide us versus the things that pull us together.

Here is an interesting video about the American Experience that reminds us to celebrate this occasion.  It’s from the Bicentennial anniversary and a nice retro look back.

I think we live in a great country, the only one in the world founded on the power of ideas, freedom, equality and the notion that you can come from nothing and become something through hard work and determination.  And like many of you I lack grandeur in my heritage and was raised by hard working, middle class parents who provided all the essentials necessary to raise an educated, healthy, motivated family with a sound ethical background.

And as a member of the motorcycle riding community I know there are a lot of individualists out there who follow their own path and beat the drum to their own song.  So whether celebrating the day with a BBQ, family picnic or solo with the wind in your face… enjoy your freedom and independence!

Flags courtesy of MKEimages.com at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary parade.  The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary Parade. 

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Gypsy’ed up ride...

Gypsy’ed up ride…

Are you all about bagger bling?

The “bling” refers to any unnecessary accumulation of shiny and glimmering metal.

There is a place for those who can’t stop called the chrome asylum because of bagger bling gone wrong!  Like the rider in this photo…

In my view it’s an example of too much chrome swag.  Some might even think it’s hideous and wholly unnecessary, but as we know there is no accounting for good taste with all the riders out there.

We know that straight off the shop floor most Harleys shine more than your average foreign made motorcycle, and for those that like their ride to blind the onlookers, there’s a seriously fat accessory catalogue full of go-fast bits, chrome doo-dads and custom add-on’s.  Not to mention all the 3rd party catalogs and online part suppliers.

Is it possible to have too much chrome swag?

Clearly!  You’ll know it when kids point, dogs bark and other riders do a double-take.  It’s often described as: “They sure Gypsy’ed up that ride”…

A reference to the bright and flashy which is often associated with folks exoticising voyeruism or wearing Esmeralda-like headscarves, or running psychic healing parlors.  I realize that’s a less than positive cliché, and mean no disrespect.  The Gypsies are fascinating people with an incredible story.

But, creative enhancements and all that chrome is so addictive.  Rainy weekends can be spent pouring over the parts book, matching gas tanks with seats and sissy bars, and tossing up whether to splurge on the chrome rocker covers to match the new floor boards or save up for the titanium lifters.  For those with both a hunger for lots of shiny things and the means to satiate that need, Harley-Davidson is there for you and the endless fun.  They are single-handedly responsible for promoting, propagating, passively approving and ironically being amused by all aspects of the ‘bling’ culture.

I suffer from what’s called the chrome cooling effect – most often called “Bling Delete” and has only increased the flat black or black anodized popularity.  It used to be done by ‘rattle can’, but now manufactures have combined billet aluminum with black anodized finishes to provide riders the perfect mix of function and aesthetics.  There are as many if not more flat-black or deep-cut, black anodized billet accessories as chrome, so if you’re into the less is more glamour, you have lots of choices.

Clearly motorcycle enthusiasts have become “creators”, in which motorcycles are the canvas.

Stay shiny my friends.

Photo courtesy of HOG Asia. Gypsy’ed term courtesy of Hal.

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2013 Ride to Work Day

2013 Ride to Work Day

Back in the day when a cowboy joined an outfit he threw down his bedroll in a chuck wagon.  When he does that, he gives his loyalty 100% to the outfit.  It’s a cowboy thing.  If you don’t like the way an outfit is run, you grab your bedroll, pony and ride on down the trail.

It was a code established by the rugged pioneers and is just as relevant in today’s world as back then, but I’ve gotten off topic.

I’m talking about riding for the “motorcycle” brand.

Huh?

Yesterday marked the 21st Annual Ride to Work Day—it’s a day when thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S. ride their motorcycles to work in a show of mutual support and solidarity. Originally created by Motorcycle Consumer News columnist Bob Carpenter in 1992, the event has served as a way to promote motorcycles and rider safety; combining the ride with numerous activities around the country, including charitable events.

Many riders don’t need another incentive to ride, but the Ride to Work Day is not just something to talk about, but to participate in.  I count myself as one of the thousands of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts across the U.S., so I was up early and headed to the ‘plant’ which in of itself is a rare occurrence since I work remote most days.

Sure, I exposed myself to the situation where someone doesn’t obey the rules of the road… like that beat up Toyota mini-van which made an abrupt 2-lane change as they entered onto Highway 217.  The cars were slamming on brakes which was a little concerning, but not nearly as bad as the dude in the well-worn Ford Escape that cut me off on Highway 26.  His NO SIGNAL lane-change was so close that I thought about asking if he’d check my front tire pressure!  Or how about on the way home the lady in the Red Mazda – yeah you – with heavily tinted windows so preoccupied with her cell phone texting that she nearly rear-ended the car in front of her.

I’ve blogged at length about distracted driving in Oregon and how it’s the norm rather than exception and can honestly say that after being on the road in rush hour traffic I was not inspired, but if nothing else I was there in a “show of force” saying I rode to work today!  It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness about motorcycles, but it also provided me a chance to talk about road safety.

And speaking of transportation, one disappointment from yesterday’s Ride To Work event is the seemingly lack of visible support or promotion of two-wheel transportation by John Kitzhaber, Oregon Governor or the legislators.  You might recall that Governor Kitzhaber met recently with and challenged the Oregon Transportation Commission to create a 21st century transportation system that best serves Oregonians.  And, I’m quoting here… “A transportation system that will attract and grow business, provide mobility, reduce the carbon impacts of transportation and transition into a truly multimodal and efficient transportation system for the state of Oregon.”

I would think that two-wheel transportation is part of that “system” and the absence of visible support is odd given Oregon’s home-grown, Brammo that manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland, and it’s perplexing given that Senators Ron Wyden and Representative Greg Walden worked to get a tax credit extension for Brammo.

One has to ask if we have the right group of individuals at the transportation table at the beginning of the process to define the problem and solution together?

Photo of author.

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Hat-On-High“A little piece of you,
The little piece in me
Will Die
For this is not America”

It’s a song (HERE) by jazz fusion band Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays and rock singer David Bowie.

The song is profound and meaningful – and absolutely perfect for today’s circumstances.  But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

I’m an avid HDTV watcher.  The last few days I’ve spent time on the RETRO (RetroPlex) channel.  Interestingly there’s been an increase of movies about disillusioned civilian contractors working in the U.S. Government on the line-up.  Covert operations complete with code names, spy camera’s that even Bond would be envious.

someone-talkedIn the 1970’s it was called the “black vault” (classified communications center).  Move forward 30+ years and it’s a data center called PRISM which serves as a communication facility to vacuum up information on millions of private citizens in contradiction to the 4th amendment.

And while we’re on the topic, I was under the impression that the NSA hired Ph.D’s with military service, but now we learn that Edward Snowden, a low-level IT technician making $200K a year – only in America could a civilian contractor who didn’t graduate high school or complete college make $200K – used a banned USB thumb drive to smuggle documents.

I just don’t understand the lack of outrage about his salary, but I’m off point.

Mr. Snowden stated that he justified smuggling documents because the intelligence community had become the United Stasi of America – a reference of the surveillance powers over their own citizens that the East German Stasi – the secret police in the former Democratic Republic of East Germany.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Is this déjà vu all over again?

You might recall that back in 1979, journalist Robert Lindsey chronicled the true story of Andrew Daulton Lee and Christopher John Boyce.  Two high school buddies from good families who were tried and convicted of espionage.  Boyce’s FBI agent father landed the floundering 21-year-old a job at TRW who developed and manufactured satellites for the CIA.  Boyce became disillusioned after learning about the CIA activity to remove Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam because he wanted to close U.S. military bases.  With Lee’s help, Boyce set out to sell government secrets to the Soviets.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) - Radar

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Radar – “Prairie Pyramid”

In 1985, the book was turned into a film called The Falcon and the Snowman.

As I watched the movie on RETRO, I was reminded of my employment at ITT/Federal Electric Corporation.  I worked at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) or as the locals called it, the “prairie pyramid.”  It was the only operational ABM (Anti-ballistic Missile) defense system.  It’s mission was to defend the continental U.S. from a ballistic missile attack from the USSR or China.  And similar to the movie, security requirements of any installation housing nuclear weapons are specific and extensive.  There were 30 Spartans (long-range intercepts) and 70 Sprint (close-in intercepts) missiles on the complex.  I initially worked at the MSR (Missile Site Radar) facility for about a year prior to receiving a restricted access clearance.  I was then moved to the RSL (Remote Site Launch) facilities which housed the close-in intercept missiles and on many occasions had access to “exclusion areas” (nuclear missile field) in the facility.  The RSL’s were hardened against nuclear blast and were capable of operating autonomously while “buttoned up” during an attack.

RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex – RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

After all these years the Edward Snowden story speaks to me, both at a national level and from the mundane working world.

Christopher Boyce justified his actions by claiming he was selling information in the hopes of fostering peace between the Soviet Union and the U.S.  Or there was Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971, as a leading Vietnam War strategist concluded that America’s role in the war was based on decades of lies so he leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to the New York Times.  It was a daring act that ultimately helped lead to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation and the end of the war.  Do you recall when Nixon stated: “Quit making national hero’s out of those who steal secrets and publish them in the newspaper.”

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Unfortunately in 2013 this all sounds similar.

Then in Oregon we have the “slippery slimy” Senator Ron Wyden who tried to cast himself in a positive light.  Being on the Intelligence Committee, he had been briefed and knew the answer, but ask the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, “do you collect telephone data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  Mr. Clapper should have duck the question – neither confirm or deny here in open session – but instead he provided the least “untruthful answer” – or LIED.

Hey, I want to defeat the terrorists as much as the next guy, but harvesting data on millions of innocent American’s…  I don’t recall signing up for that or empowering a despotic government here in the U.S.

And long before PRISM there was Good Will Hunting.  Why shouldn’t I join the NSA?  It’s a classic!

You might wonder where Christopher Boyce is now?  In 1977 he was convicted of espionage and spent time in various federal prisons.  In 1980, he made headlines when he escaped from Lompoc, CA., and remained on the run for 19 months while supporting himself by robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest.  In 1997, he was released from the medium-security prison in Sheridan, OR., and sent to a halfway house in San Francisco.  He married Cait Boyce, the woman who helped him fight for parole.  In 2003 at the age of 50 years old, he was released from the halfway house.  He remains free, but on parole until 2046, his original release date.  Mr. Lee was paroled in 1998.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Army, some taken by author at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) – near Nekoma, and Langdon, N.D.   Note: On the Falcon & the Snowman soundtrack the name of the song – This Is Not America is “Chris.”

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Mark Hans-Richer presents leather jacket to Pope Francis

Mark-Hans Richer (H-D CMO) presents a leather jacket to Pope Francis

Getting “rubbed” by the pickpockets is common and expected in the city of “amore” where looking up at an artist masterpiece means your wallet just got lifted.  In fact, the Vatican tourist guides recently threatened to strike due to the inundation of pickpockets.

But, I’m talking about the Harley-Davidson 110th  Anniversary Celebration in Rome.  Unlike the U.S. celebration – where ticket prices range from $95 to over $500 for the unobtanium “Chrome” package – the entry fee in Rome is FREE of charge!  Free is a very good price and unexpected.

Information is starting to flow in about Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from across Europe who are flocking to the heart of Rome this week.   The celebration is occupying multiple sites in Central Rome, Vatican City and the Port of Ostia.  The entire length of Via Della Conciliazione, leading from St Peter’s Basilica to the River Tiber has been turned into a giant Harley-Davidson motorcycle park.  Yesterday’s start of the four-day event includes celebrations from the touristic Port of Ostia to a special motorcycle blessing inside St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

David Uhl's, Pope Francis and the Chance Encounter painting

David Uhl, Pope Francis and the “Chance Encounter” painting

Event photos are starting to appear on the web.  One is of David Uhl who painted the “Chance Encounter” canvas which depicts a 1948 Harley-Davidson FL Panhead bike parked in the San Pietro square, with a priest admiring it.  David Uhl presented it to Pope Francis during the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 12, 2013.  According to a number of reports, the “Chance Encounter” will be available in postcard format, printed in a limited run of copies (in various sizes) and for collectors, three hand-signed and numbered canvas Fine Art sizes.

In addition, Harley Davidson has given Pope Francis two of its current motorcycles to mark the brand’s 110th anniversary.  On Sunday June 16th, hundreds will be allowed to park along the road leading to St Peter’s Square while the pontiff recites the Angelus prayer.  Between 1-2 thousand motorcyclists are expected to fill St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s blessing.

Just beware of Rome’s tiny thieves.

Photos taken at Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 12, 2013 and courtesy of REUTERS/Osservatore Romano.

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Mabel's Rage - Bud Clarke (L)

The Band Mabel’s Rage – Bud Clarke (L)

In a remote part of the country sits a nondescript hangar… I’m not talking about the NSA facility in Utah where “The Company” is so paranoid about outsiders catching a glimpse of its e-snooping gear, that server cages are kept in complete darkness and service tech’s are outfitted with lights on their head like coal miners.

An impressive operation, but NSA it’s not.

I’m referring to the Helena Montana Regional Airport where an Alberta native, Bud Clarke, builds airplanes when not riding his Harley.  The firm, Air-Ryder primarily works on “builder assisted” aircraft.  Finishing the final touches on planes built by Lancair, based here in Oregon who manufacture several “high performance” airplane kits that seat from two to four people and can cost upwards to six-figures.

The OilBud™

The OilBud™

But the tinkering didn’t stop with the sophisticated planes, Clarke also invented a unique motorcycle oil cooler called the OilBud™.  The device fits between the motorcycle frame rails and is hidden from view beneath the motor.  It’s built from aircraft quality materials, braided stainless hoses and 6061-T6 aluminum extrusion and a welded in header tank assembly.

Last month Clarke announced an updated design which provides Harley-Davidson owners who’ve added modifications to their motorcycle (i.e. Baker Oil Pans, True-Track, Center Stands and Softails outfitted with ABS) the ability to install an OilBud™ and will keep the oil temperature 30 degrees cooler or more than an engine without the device.

In Helena, Clarke is better known as a guitar player in Mabel’s Rage.  The band’s name is a reference to a scene in the comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” in which Mabel, a tomboy pirate, is getting cinched up in a corset and is quite begrudged.  Clarke for the most part writes the music and lead singer Gina Satterfield writes the lyrics.  I especially like the fact that they are supporting a benefit concert later this summer for Wounded Warriors.

I’ve had the opportunity to ride some great roads in Montana; Route 12, Lolo Pass, Highway 200, Highway 86 and 89 from Bozeman, but I’ve not traveled much in the Helena area.  I hope to do so one of these days.  And when I do I’ll be thinking about Clarke and Mabel’s Rage.

I encourage you to check out the music and if you’re experiencing oil temperature issues to read up on the OilBud™ and investigate the various reviews at Baggers Magazine or Hot Bike.

Photos courtesy of OilBud™ and Mabel’s Rage.

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Harley-Davidson Advertisement

Harley-Davidson Faux Advertisement

It makes a lasting impression in only seconds.   It’s provocative.

I’m talking about ads.

We see them every day, everywhere we go, whatever we do… advertisements for products and services plastered in front of our faces.

Good advertising “tricks” the average person into believing that they need a product or service even when they don’t, and the tricks are usually well-constructed.

This advertisement came to me via the Northwest Harley Blog Daily.  It is sublime and will have many motorcyclists wondering if they’ve gone too far.  After clicking on the “play” button my immediate thought was… “What am I watching?”  “Should I look away before something happens that I won’t be able to forget?”  Then you’re left wondering.

I can’t recommend watching it, but if you must the video advertisement is HERE.  The ad seems to focus less on particular features of the company’s products and more on the way these products are used.  Maybe it’s different in your part of the world, but I’m not exactly sure the message or what product is being “evangelized”…  it’s likely I missed the point, but some of the choices might be:

  1. A Harley will make a man out of you!
  2. Even a cross dresser wants a Harley?
  3. Someone who adopts the dress of the opposite sex wants a man or woman on a Harley?
  4. A new stylish dress and Clothing line launch for Ladies of Harley®?

There are times when I can be influenced by advertising techniques.  Although creative, this is not one of them!

Photo courtesy of Jung Chantme.  Harley-Davidson has stated they are targeting all demographics, but the odds of this being an officially sponsored deal is remote.

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