Friday, July 29, 2011

Highway Pegs

I know it has been hot all over the country. I understand when people want to go for a little motorcycle ride and wear less clothing to stay cool. Now these are just gratuitous sexy girl photos from the Internet designed to get your attention. The website above was in a language that looked eastern European, but the sign and the printing on her top are in English, so....

Megan Fox in a professionally shot setup. Yes, she is wearing shorts and that is a motorcycle and she is very nice to look at, but it's not quite what I'm looking for to illustrate my story.

This is a little formal, but it is starting to get close.

My thanks to iron momma for this photo that is about as close as I'm likely to get.

So, I'm driving down the road on a hot day and coming the other way is a guy on a cruiser bike, wearing big leg shorts and a t-shirt and riding down the highway with his feet on the highway pegs. He doesn't have any windshield or fairing and he has his legs spread a little to keep away from the hot engine. The wind is doing a nice job of ballooning the legs of his shorts with lots of air blowing straight into his crotch. My first thought is, "Boy, I'll bet that feels nice and cool." Then, "Oohh. I would want to accidentally hit a bee."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cell Photos

Watch that first step.... Uvalde, Texas

I have recently joined the masses of people carrying around a cell phone. Naturally, it has a camera, but based on the size and quality of the lens, I didn't expect much in picture quality.

Downtown Sabinal, Texas.

Recently, I made a short trip to Texas and, as usual, found myself taking pictures of old buildings along the way. This time, I had only brought the cell phone, so the first 4 pictures are from the cell phone camera.

The old Ford dealer in Sabinal, Texas.

This is probably my best effort, helped along by a bluer sky and nice sunlight.

This is the Armstrong Theater in Hondo, Texas.

The pictures from here down are from a 2006 trip to the same San Antonio area, but taken with my little Panasonic camera. I think the difference is significant. The colors are more vibrant and deeper. The image is sharper and has a greater depth of field. The bright areas show more detail and the dark areas are clearer as well. All that in a cheap little point and shoot camera.

Old San Antonio downriver neighborhood.

Wrought fence for depth of field.

Shooting toward downtown on a canal.

The Alamo at night. I haven't tried the cell camera at night, so this isn't a fair comparison.

It was Christmas 2006 and the city was decked out in lights.

Downtown out my hotel window.

It might be nice to have a camera that fits in your pocket along all the time, but the idea that one gadget is going to replace all your others is simply dreaming. I'll continue to bring along my camera when I can and use each tool to do its job. The same goes for my watch.

River walk.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Great Eastern Quicksilver Mine

Going through some photos from spring, I ran across this little side trip in Northern California. The road is a narrow local road coming back from Guerneville and through the coastal range on the shoulder of Mount Jackson. The first surprise was this neat old truck. I don't recognize it and couldn't find any id on the truck, but it has a nice style and certainly looks like it belongs.

Farther up the mountain, I came across this wreck of a mine. Later research online let me know that it was the "Great Eastern Quicksilver" mine. Quicksilver is Mercury (CR2 Hg). The mine started in the 1860's and ran through the early 1900's. It was said to be a 400 to 600 feet deep shaft mine with more than 1000 feet of tunnels.

Of course, the problem is that this mine is in a very active earthquake zone. The oral history I could find suggested that there were many tunnel cave-ins and several miners died in this mine.

These days the building are falling down and the whole site looks like some wooden and galvanized steel version of a castle ruin.

I love old wood like this.

Anybody need an old Ranchero? There are two of these parked behind the mineshaft that look like they have been there a long time.

After snooping around the mine and a drive up over the mountain, it's back to valley and the end of the road. And what should greet me there but an old Ford providing symmetry to this little side trip. Truck to truck, a nice little exploration for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Helmet Paint - A Project Delayed

I bought my Shoei X11 helmet almost 2 years ago. I had been planning on buying it in yellow, but at the time, they were closing out the X11 and there weren't any yellow ones to be had.

So I ended up trying a red one and hoping it was bright enough to be seen. It's a nice helmet and I enjoyed it all last season as a red helmet, but the red just didn't stand out visually enough to suit me.

Even before I chose the red, I played around on the computer on how I might paint it,if needed.

My original plan was to put the helmet away for the year at Halloween and have it finished by the new year. I guess that didn't happen.

After my experience with the "egg yolk" helmet paint job, I decided that I wanted to avoid painting the vents and switches, so that they wouldn't get stuck with the paint. That was the starting point of my graphics design.

I went fluorescent yellow to match my air bag vest and to maximize my visibility. The graphics try to be interesting while providing enough bright color to be seen from any angle. I like the contrast of red against the yellow.

Originally, I expected that some thin black accents would make the color transition "pop", but as you can see, I should have saved the effort. It's amazing how hard the black and red are to tell apart.

Overall, a far from perfect execution, but I'm happy to have it back on the road, even if it's 6 months later than I expected. By the way, the fluorescent yellow really does glow in low light.

You will notice that I had to use a neutral background color to photograph the finished helmet. Even with the neutral beige carpet, the yellow reflects light into the carpet and I had to crop the photos pretty tight to avoid the carpet looking too green in the pictures.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Women, the Couch, and a classic Fiat

As of last weekend, Jac's inconveniently out in the country, family storage, opened for business. In this case, my niece is going on a 3 month assignment to Brazil and I offered to store her stuff while she was gone.

Most of the stuff went into the basement and a spare bedroom. But my niece decided that I needed a couch, so her couch ended up in my living room.

The philisophical question here is why women are so in love with couches? Apparently, I'm too dense or too long a bachelor to understand it. This is, however, a universal truth. Women love a good couch. They appear to feel that a room is incomplete without one. Further proof of this theorem came a few days after the couch moved in. The lady that cleans my house wrote me a note. "Next time is August .... I love the new couch."

Any of my friends with greater understanding, please explain this to me. What is so wonderful about a couch, especially to women?

Another interesting part of this move is the smell. I had to call up my niece and let her know that my house now smelled of girl. Of course, I mean the sweet and nice smells that women are famous for.

My niece gave me the nice car picture that is sitting on the couch. Yes, that is the best use I can think of for the couch so far. The car in the picture is a 1954 Fiat Supersonic, also shown in 3/4 view below. In addition to being a nice looking Fiat from the 50's, it has an interesting engine.

Fiat was competing in 2 liter racing in the 50's. They decided to design a light weight, compact engine for their racing and other cars. The Supersonic had the 8V engine, an aluminum, 2 liter V8 with a 70 degree bank angle (to keep it compact), it had a short stroke design with a single camshaft in the valley, pushrod operated valves, and exhaust ports that came out of the top of the heads. All this in 1952. Although Cadillac and Oldsmobile had an overhead valve V8 in 1949, theirs was a 5.4 liter, all iron hulk.