Week 23 - Hadley, Graham

Things I Did

  • Got a waterproof motorcycle jacket and boots just in time for a bunch of freezing rain. Stayed warm and dry; everything works as advertised.
  • Admired the old minibike that RM fixed up for his wife ML. It was made in the 60s and belonged to her sister, and the cute thing is it's red with white trim just like Punkin but less than half the size. I guess that color scheme was just the bees knees in those days. RM put a 160cc engine into it (as compared to Punkin's 125cc engine), so it's what motorcycle people call a "wheelie machine", i.e. it doesn't take much throttle to make it take off so fast the front wheel pops up.
  • Did more upgrades on Punkin. I installed some little devices on the tire valves that constantly send the tire pressure to my phone and alert me if it drops. In general I'm not a fan of "smart" things, but I also know I should check the tire pressure before every ride for safety and the fact is that I rarely do. I installed a skid plate to protect the engine from rocks, and was pleasantly surprised that no welding was required, just a little piece of scrap metal from behind the shop and some drilling of holes. Then I swapped in a larger front sprocket so I can go a little faster. The good news is it got me up to 42mph, but the bad news is it's now clear that the engine really isn't producing as much power as it should. I tried some adjustments on the carburetor and tested them by zooming up and down the straightaway on Lutterloh, being watched by an audience of cows, but I think I just need a bigger and better carb, so I ordered one. The sprocket also turned out not to be entirely round, which caused the chain to loosen and tighten with every revolution and make funny noises. Luckily they're very cheap so I managed to get a good one from a different supplier.
  • Finished reading Motorcycle Engineering by P.E. Irving, in which I've found all sorts of little helpful tidbits. He mentions a British motorcycle company called Villiers, which made me wonder if the character Diana Villiers from the Aubrey-Maturin series was named after it. I mean, there's no question in my mind that if Diana lived a hundred years later she would totally have driven motorcycles and probably fast cars too, because she was such a badass on a horse and she had a thing for speed. Another interesting tidbit from the book is that the part of an engine we call the "choke" is known in England as the "strangler". Both accurate, because its purpose is to cut off air to the engine, but their word feels a bit more graphic.

Things I Learned

  • Platonic co-parenting is an emerging trend. It's kind of like having the benefits of divorced parents (e.g. more diverse home environments) without any of the mess of a divorce.
  • While walking in the graveyard I'd been seeing a bunch of tattered flags with some dates on them and finally bothered to look up the dates, which were May 20, 1775 and May 20, 1861. Which is when NC declared independence and when it seceded from the Union (the secessionists made the date match on purpose). So... turns out it's the flag of the North-Carolina American Republic, a group of people claiming the rightful state government was usurped by a military occupation. They have citizenship (requires cancelling your voter registration), elections (by email!), and even taxes (paid in either silver dollars or, somewhat ironically, federal reserve notes). They mention a "Counter-Revolution which we intend to implement" but thankfully it seems like they're attempting it through the courts at the moment. The constitution they're trying to revive has some interesting clauses (you can't hold political office and be a pastor at the same time), some extremely conservative clauses (only Protestants can hold political office), and some oddly progressive clauses (any foreigner can swear an oath of allegiance, buy real estate, be a resident for a year, and then is automatically a citizen). Of course the unspoken but palpable issue is what it doesn't prohibit; while they claim not to support secession or re-establishment of the Confederacy, they say the 14th amendment is unconstitutional while making no mention of the 13th. Is it a dog whistle? Probably. Whelp, I guess it shouldn't be surprising considering that cop cars are constantly parked in front of the courthouse downtown, guarding the statue of a Confederate soldier. Also city officials decided not to rename a local park after Wyatt Outlaw, which is how I thought it would go.
  • It's illegal in the US to trade in onion futures. The story of how this came about is one of those things you cannot make up.
  • Being in a commercial bathroom when the power is off feels pretty creepy.
  • Offroading with a carton of eggs in the saddlebags is not the best idea.

Wonderful Things

  • Finding just the right bolt in the jar of random bolts.
  • Getting Punkin's engine to run after nearly half an hour of kicking the starter and fiddling with the choke in the freezing rain. And then it turned out the pharmacy I was going to was closed due to a power outage. But I felt very alive!
  • Hot chamomile tea, a cozy couch, and a good book.
  • Long winter sunset / barbecue smoke on the wind / I outrun the pines.

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