Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sunday School

Last November I wrote about my Sunday routine, walking over to the swap meet at Cypress College.

Over the last few months I have watched as the school yard where there was always youth futbol going on has been converted to classrooms. The start of the project seemed pretty slow as they prepped the site. The classrooms were pre-fab, so they laid foundation and support and the the trucks rolled in and a crane dropped them into place.

I suppose they are scheduled to have it up and running before school starts in late August or early September.

Sunday School


Friday, April 30, 2010

Wobbling Down The Road

After I finished the alternator, I hooked up a battery/alternator monitor and took a test drive around the block. Almost immediately I noticed the wiggling handlebars. It really increased to about 40MPH: If I let go of the handlebars, they would start shaking badly. But, the situation improved with speed.

When the bike stopped running during my trip, I didn't notice anything like that. Of course, I had been riding for a few hours and the tires were warm and that may have been a factor.

The front tire was scalloped, the likely cause, but I jacked the front end and checked the steering head and wheel bearings, anyway. Everything looked good there, so it was off to Wheel Works in Garden Grove, to price a new tire and see when they could change it. Removing the wheel myself would put the price at about $200.

centerstand raised on boardOn Monday I pulled the wheel. One of the problems doing Goldwing maintenance is the amount of plastic that needs to be removed and reinstalled. The front wheel isn't too bad, but, to slide the wheel out, the front end needs to be jacked high, or the front fender removed. I don't like either option, so I put the bike on the centerstand on a 1X8 board.

front end jackedThat gets the rear wheel high enough that I can put a jack under the engine and raise the front until the rear tire hits the ground. It is much more stable than doing the same thing with the centerstand on the ground and there is more than enough space to pull the wheel out.

I headed down to the shop to get a tire on order, but found they had one in stock. An hour or so (just enough time to find a bank with an ATM) and I was on my way home. It took about a half-hour to get the tire on and the plastic buttoned up. Of course, I waited till Tuesday - I had already done enough for one day.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Goldwing Breakdown

Thursday was the longest trip I've taken on the Goldwing for a long time. From Anaheim to El Centro is about 400 miles round-trip.

I didn't have a plan – I was just checking the area out. Departure from home was uneventful; I was able to get on the road at 6:30 AM or so. I was using the GPS and it said I-405 to I-5 to I-805 to I-8, a straight run. But, approaching Carlsbad, I decided to cross over on the CA-78 to I-15 to pick up the I-8.

It was a pretty easy trip and I ran into traffic in just a couple of spots, but nothing serious. The I-5 is on the coast, so the early parts were cool. I had to cross the mountains with a peak of about 4,000 feet, so even though the day was warming up, it stayed comfortable most of the trip. Of course, as I made it to the east side and started down to the desert it warmed up quickly, but even as I approached El Centro at 11:00 it wasn't too hot.

There wasn't much going on in El Centro. I did see some damage that was probably caused by the recent earthquakes. I didn't have a plan, so I could have stayed overnight, but, after lookig around for a while, I decided to head north on the CA-86, through Imperial and Brawley. After that is the Salton Sea and up to the I-10, and home.

As I headed westbound on the I-10, I was surprised to see how many of the wind mills were idle, but didn't slow down to see what the wind was doing. Even the change to the CA-60 was a little strange. The transition is from the left lane, and, in the old days, when about five miles out, traffic sped up to 80 or more. But, on Thursday it was moving more in the 65 - 70 MPH range. Further on, the CA-60/CA-91 exchange has been greatly improved with a nice reduction in the congestion.

Everything was still going good as I left Corona behind, but I started having trouble with the cruise control. It wouldn't hold speed or accelerate. As I was wondering what was going on, the engine died. Fortunately, I wasn't in the left lane, so I eased over to the shoulder. That was pretty much the end of the trip. Fortunately, I have AAA RV & Motorcycle, so a call got a tow truck out.

goldwing alternator holeThe way that it was acting made me think the alternator had died, and some testing confirmed that. The Honda dealer wants $330 for an alternator, so I figured the complete job would be good for close to $1,000 and that means a little DIY.

I have the Honda maintenance manual, which usually provides very detailed instructions, but for some reason is pretty sketchy about the alternator. After a little wrestling, I got it out, and that allowed a closer examination of the wiring Then, time for eBay. For about half-price, I have an OEM on the way. Hopefully, I'll it will go in as easily as the old one came out.

I really can't complain (too much.) AAA got us the last 32 miles at no cost, and it's the first time in over 100,000 miles that the Goldwing has let me down.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


I walked out to my garage yesterday, and didn't notice anything unusual. On the way back, as I passed the laundry room, I noticed a dead hummingbird on the sidewalk. There's a nest in the tree outside my door, and I figured that couldn't be a good thing. I stopped by and took a peak and the nest was empty.

But, I stepped back a little and a bird made a couple of passes and then was in the nest.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Did You Feel It?

It was a good one — possibly the longest period of continuous shaking I have ever felt.

Over 24 hours later and there is still a lot of activity in the area – "697 earthquakes on this map."


Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Docking" The Boat

A couple of years ago I had a small sailboat. The Catalina 27 was about the perfect size for day-sailing around Los Angeles with an occasional over-night anchoring, usually off Isle White in Long Beach (an oil platform.)

Most of my activity was Monday through Friday — leaving the weekend to the warriors. I sailed in a wide range of conditions from drifters to gales and enjoyed every minute of it. There was nothing better than getting out there at 10:00 AM just as the sea breeze picked up and sailing down to Rainbow Harbor to have lunch at one of the restaurants at the Downtown Marina. And there were excitements; like the day I was inbound in LA's main channel, inside the breakwater, and a whale surfaced right in front of me. Or, the little races that occurred any time I met another boat. Or, the days that started out with a nice gentle breeze and ended with a gale.

My slip in San Pedro was on the weather side of the dock. During normal daytime wind conditions my stern faced the wind. That made it hard leaving my slip if I waited until too late in the morning. Getting the bow to swing into the fairway could be a challenge, and it was compounded by the outboard engine wanting to pull the stern straight back. There was a trick to getting enough momentum going, then shutting the power off and using the rudder to get the bow out.

I had some exciting returns when the wind was blowing hard. My approach, always under engine power, was with the wind on my starboard side and as I turned into the slip it came onto the stern. On really windy days it was very hard to keep the speed under control as the boat sailed itself across the wind. One particularly windy day I was controlling my speed very closely and was perfectly setup to get into my slip. Thirty yards out, I slipped the engine into neutral. As I slid up the fairway approaching my turn into the slip I realized I was going just a little too fast so I put it in reverse: I didn't realize the shift cable had slipped out of its bracket leaving me in forward. Since I was still fast I gave it a little gas to slow down. As I turned into my slip I was still too fast and gave it more gas to slow down. Now I was in the slip going way too fast (AKA ramming speed): I still didn't realize what the problem was. I hit the dock so hard that the bow slid up onto the dock.

There was enough keel showing that I could check for the Catalina smile. The maintenance guy was on my row, about thirty slips down, and, looked curiously for a minute then resumed his dock repair: I guess he figured I know what I was doing. In the mean time, I was trying to push the boat off the dock, but it wouldn't budge. The engine was still in forward: After a minute, I walked back to the cockpit and noticed the engine still thrusting so I reached over and put it into neutral, then was easily able to push off the dock. The boat seemed OK, I gave it a good look-over while it was on the dock, and other than breaking the dock's water line there was no other damage. When I told the maintenance guy about the line and resulting geyser he acted like it was a normal thing to have boats moored on the dock.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frosty February

A while back I mentioned how cold it was in early December. The thing I didn't to do that day was take my camera outside for a shot of the frost on the roof.

Well here it is, except this was taken a couple of months later and it was warmer by a few degrees.

frosty february


Sunday, January 24, 2010

January Rains

As far as I can tell, I've survived - at least for now. We had a rainy week, sometimes heavy. Since there are no rain gutters the rain pours off the roof. There is also very little dirt for the water to drain through and the patios aren't pitched for drainage, so the water pools.

I was watching it pretty closely to see if it was going to come in. It came up the floor level, but I didn't think it would make it in. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for the water flowing through the broken stucco into the bedroom.

It happened pretty quickly. I live on the end of a group of four apartments and there's a 10 - 12 ft. space to the next building. The end unit in that building has been flooding - more than once and I was outside surveying the situation. It started raining very heavily and when I checked the patio, it was flooded and my carpet was damp. Fortunately, I had already brought the Shop-Vac in and was ready to suck up the water, so there was minimum wetness.

Since the rain had stopped, and the tide went out, I took my time planning my next step, since rain was still forecast. The manager was out digging a trench between the buildings in an attempt to prevent another flooding episode, and I grabbed a few trash bags of wet dirt, and packed the bags real tight against the wall. I think that did the trick, as later rain didn't come in.

Rains of January 2010

You can see my handiwork, as well as some shoes drying on the line - everything I've worn this week is still wet. Since more rain is scheduled, I'll grab some more dirt and pack it by the other broken stucco.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back To Snow — Again

I arrived in Boston early this year, and didn't see any snow. That didn't last long. And, a few days in Maine meant a few snow storms. I wonder if flying rather than driving makes a difference? I've made the trip for years without seeing serious snow, including high altitude driving on Interstate 40. But, the last few years I've flown and it has snowed.

Here's the classic shot of a Salem street that is too narrow to start and is narrower in the snow. Is that car ahead parked? On the street? On the sidewalk?


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Blizzard 2009

As the storm approached, the weather channel repeated the blizzard definition over and over. I don't know who they were trying to convince, but as the storm was moving on they reported that only one place experienced conditions meeting the definition.

But here's how I tell if it was a blizzard - snow in the motel room.

The Blizzard 2009