Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Motorcycle Dreaming

I'm dreaming about riding a motorcycle.  I've had my license for almost 6 years now, and I've had 41 (that's not a typo) motorcycles to date.  The issue is my frugal tendencies leading to the purchase of some less than stellar machinery.  After amassing as many derelict bikes as possible, I then attempt to fix them all at the same time, which inevitably ends in a tragic case of "too many projects" syndrome.  I then sometimes sell off bikes as projects, part them out on eBay, or set them aside until I can make time to fix them properly.

Right now, I only have 3 motorcycles, which is much less than I've had in prior years (up to 20 at one point).  All three are complete and titled, but all are in need of varying degrees of work.  My persisting problem is lack of focus, in many ways.  I want them all to be fixed, but I need to concentrate on and finish them one by one.  I'm already failing, as I've pulled the carbs off of my '72 CB350f while my '86 VF 700c only needs a new clutch and a rebuilt front caliper.  All the while, my most recent acquisition, a '75 XS650B, glares at me from the corner of the shed, knowing full well its fate as "the last bike in line.  Basically, my focus should be on the bike nearest to completion, to fulfill my dreamy first sentence.

The lesson I've learned many times, but only now take to heart:  if I have no bike to ride, fix the one that's easiest to fix and ride it, regardless of what it is.  I'm picky.  Very, very picky.  I've daily ridden a ton of bikes (short list:  Honda Trail 90, CL 350, CB 450, '83 Yamaha XS 650, '79 Suzuki GS 750e.  There were a few others, but I didn't put too many miles on them.), but I'm wary of riding the VF for some reason.  I think it's the built in padded sissy bar, stepped seat, teardrop tank, and square headlight.  Of course, the bike has been dumped many times, and has many gouges in the frame and gas tank, and many parts have been replaced with junkyard units, complete with the yellow grease pen writing.  Basically, it's super ugly and representative of a styling period in motorcycles that I don't much appreciate.

But, it runs great.  After I replaced one of the coils, it runs perfectly on all 4 cylinders.  It doesn't run hot, and fires right up with a touch of the electric starter button.  I've never even taken the battery out before.  All the lights work, to some degree, and it has decent tires.  Basically, after the burnt clutch and sticky caliper are fixed, I'll have a perfectly functioning motorcycle.  Yes, it is a beater, but at this point, I'd rather have reliability over looks.

The 350f, for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Signs of Spring

Yesterday, it was 84 degrees outside.  Not a completely abnormal temperature, but some factors must be included:

-I live in Whitewater, Wisconsin
-It's April.  In fact, yesterday was April 10th

These contributing factors make yesterday's weather an oddity.  It was also very, very humid (somewhere in the 90% region).

These conditions reminded me of where the Wisconsin summer is leading, and where I would like to be.  I'm moving to Madison in less than 2 months, but where will I work when the temperature is regularly in the 80's?  I haven't given it much thought, and time is running out.  Also, what will my daily routine look like?  Currently, it is completely random, as my class and work schedule is pretty random right now.  I dunno, the looming future brings me more anguish than happiness.  Sure, I'll be happy to get out of Whitewater, but beyond that happiness, I simply don't know what to expect.  And it's great.

Unrelated picture:  My bus getting ready for summer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The infinite beauty of sleeping in

Yeah, sounds like a typical college student talking about typical college student stuff.  I'd like to take the discussion further than just sleeping in on a Thursday.

So, I woke up at 11 am today.  In all honesty, it's not something I'm super proud of.  I'd have rather gotten up, fixed the flat tire on my bicycle, and gone for a ride.  Maybe I could have considered looking into my taxes (which I haven't done yet) or my research paper (due next week).  Hell, I could have even had breakfast AND lunch before class at 12:30.  But I missed all those opportunities.  Or were they really missed?

Opportunities such as this are not something to get used to.  Normally, I would be up early doing homework and surfing reddit, but where will I be once I've moved from Whitewater and the whole undergraduate thing?  Will I be in bed by 11 and up by 6?  5?  I have no idea where I'll be in 2 months, so should I squander these last few weeks of "freedom" from an actual schedule?  The way I look at it, I'll spend the rest of my life waking up early.  I'll see plenty of sunrises, enjoy plenty of coffee early in the morning, and I'll be to work on time, every day.  For now, I'll enjoy my irresponsibility, as it seems my irresponsible days are limited.

Picture, for fun.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Band Practice

Every Tuesday night, I head down to the basement of my friend Adam's house, and we jam.  Actually, Adam doesn't like it when I call it a "jam"; he'd prefer to "practice".  Regardless, every Tuesday, we play musical instruments together in a basement with ceilings 6" too low.  Crammed into the tiny room is our homemade PA system, comprising of a borrowed power mixer, a tiny solid state guitar amp head, and a Radio Shack 12" speaker, my Epiphone 5 watt tube amp and cab, Adam's drum set, and a bunch of mic stands and mics.  I suppose my Ibanez guitar hangs out down there a lot, too.

Anyway, so we're in this tiny room.  I would say it's about 12x15, with 5'10" ceilings (I'm about 6'1", Adam's even taller).  The walls are fieldstone and mortar, and the floor is cement with a rug that I destroyed one night after we stumbled home from the bars.  There's a bare light bulb on one side of the room, suspended from the ceiling.  The best part:  we have a mini fridge.  This means that we don't have to go far to get beer while we're "jamming". 

This is the only known photo of the basement, that I could find on facebook quickly, at least.  Observe the tiger towel door and Lost Lake can on top of the PA.

We do have a band, actually.  If you're curious, go to facebook and look up If These Trees Were Clouds.  We've got a few songs up there, along with some videos and pictures.  Check it out, although I won't feel bad if you think that we suck.  Our EP is due to be released before the end of the month...

I guess the real story I wanted to tell is of the jam (yes, jam) we had last night.  We recently added a bass player to our repertoire, so we've been rehearsing all of our songs to make sure he knows what to do.  His name is Charles (pronounced "Chah-lls"), and he's doing pretty well so far.  We also had our good friend Matt over.  Matt has his own project, The Gutsy Tumbler Band, and he's always fun to jam with. 

So, after we rehearsed, a little jam time was deemed necessary.  Now, I love to jam.  I love not knowing what I'll play next.  I love the spontaneous nature of playing music with other talented musicians.  I love getting into a "serious thing" and just playing my heart out.  This is a level of awesome that is rather hard to obtain, sadly, because finding that sweet spot where everyone connects can be difficult.  I can tell you that we most definitely got there last night.  The feeling is hard to describe; it's something of a euphoric blast of emotion mixed with tonal nirvana, with a little bit of pure joy to top it off.  To be playing a part, an awesome part, and to look around the tiny, stone-walled room, and to see your friends all doing their own parts, all connecting, everyone's on the same level, is just an experience that one has to...well, experience. 

The message of this post:  if you can play a musical instrument, go make friends who also play musical instruments, and make music with them.  It can be the simplest chord progression ever; it'll still feel nearly magical.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Remixes (and how they effect my life)

So, I listen to a lot of music.  Not your traditional "a lot", but seriously, a ton of music.  I listen to music while I'm delivering pizza at work, while I'm showering, while I'm doing homework, while I'm falling asleep, and even right now.  My collection is growing almost daily, and on all formats.  But I digress.

I listen to a bunch of weird "electronic" music.  Not any particular genre, just stuff made with synthesizers and computers.  This inevitably leads to listening to remixes of said music.  I mean, I've listened to LCD Soundsystem's "Sound of Silver" album enough times to know nearly all of the words, and yet I feel compelled to then listen to "Sounds like Silver", a completely remixed version of the album.  I love subtle changes to songs, moving verses around and changing key signatures and stuff.  I really enjoy listening to songs that I love, and then hearing other artists' interpretations of those songs.  Hot Chip covering Sexual Healing?  Sounds awesome to me.  Just some random thoughts, enjoy.

I'm currently listening to "We died, they remixed", a re-imagining of Architecture in Helsinki's album "In Case We Die".

Monday, April 4, 2011

The humble beginnings...

This marks my first foray into the blogosphere.  I'm more accustomed to making Facebook posts, but this should help me with my long-winded tendencies.  I guess I'll start off with a picture of me.

This picture was taken in Bellingham, Washington, at Larrabee State Park.  I learned that it takes 26 hours to drive from Whitewater, Wisconsin, to Spokane, Washington, on that trip.  More on that later.

Quick Bio:  I am a journalism student at UW Whitewater in Wisconsin.  I'm 22, I just got a hair cut, and I make sure and pay my credit card bill on time, every time.  That's it for the first post, I'll be back later for more.