Tuesday, April 26, 2005

the keys to your restroom

I have recently relocated to South Carolina, land of yellow barbeque sauce. Needing to stow some of my gear I have rented a storage building. It is disquieting to realize that it takes so much gear for me to exist. At the same time, I am pleased. It's less than I thought it would be.

While renting the storage, the call of nature struck. I excused myself to the exterior boy's room and locked the door. There is a sort of common ritual to using a public restroom that is familar yet strange. The deadbolt goes this way. The sink handles work that way. As I turned the deadbolt I twisted the doorknob and pulled. Perhaps I didn't get the deadbolt out of the way entirely for the door doesn't open. Pull again. It won't budge. I notice that the fan is very loud and there is only one switch for bot the fan and the light. Perhaps I didn't actually lock the deadbolt when I came in and locked it when trying to leave. Actuate the deadbolt, pull. No. Still locked. Turn the deadbolt back. Perhaps I didn't turn the handle far enough to the right. I give it a little oomph and it is still locked. I noticed that the handle did turn a little further than the first time so I try it again. Harder. The knob spins all the way around.

At this point I shake the door and hope that I'll jar something loose. The Storage facility is rightly concerned with security. The door has no interior hinges. When the lady comes to see what the door shaking is about, I find that it has no exterior hinges either. I was worried about her thinking I had dodged out and locked up going home leaving me the cool solitude of the restroom for the evening. Because of the loud fan I must turn the lights off to converse. She asks what's wrong and I explain. I laugh thinking how odd it is to be talking to a complete stranger while stuck inside an unfamiliar restroom. My laughing seemed to unnerve her. You could hear the panic rise in her voice when she says, "I'm going to call the manager." I start working with my little Gerber knife I bought back in 1988. The screw closest to the hinges comes out pretty easy and I start to work on the screw next to the jamb. The knife must be held vertically oriented with the screw and I don't have much torque. After five minutes or so I get the other screw out and the knob falls in my hand as does a small cracked piece of plastic. The latch retracts and I am on my way again. I take the doorknob to the attendant. Funny how, after being confined for even a few minutes, freedom feels...

Friday, April 22, 2005

speed and loads of it

The Suzuki TL1000S is a fast bike. So fast I don't like to think about it. A buddy of mine had bought one and I wanted to go for a ride. I thought we'd pull a quick loop and come back. 60-70 MPH tops. Sure.

My buddy is a bit on the adrenaline junkie side. As we are riding out of the parking lot I'm sitting upright and holding onto his sides. The way he says "You might want to hold on," makes me wrap my arms around him like a lovesick little girl. I had my head turned slightly to one side looking forward. At 100 at had to stop looking because my eyes were watering so badly. I probably looked like a skull I was grinning so wildly. I felt something slide on my cheek and realized I had drooled on myself and it was sliding rapidly back toward my ear. At 125 the wind felt like someone clapping their hands over your ears. The bike was still pulling and I had to close my eyes. Not squint them, mind you, close them entirely. Eyes closed, deafened, I felt like an infant cozily cuddled by a shrieking wind demon. He throttled back and down shifted. Three times. This bike has a six speed transmission. We still had three more gears to go. after turning around, he wound it back up. The return trip was equally unpleasant. Not to say that I didn't have fun but it was physically painful being buffetted by that much wind. Stepping off the bike my buddy said the speedometer had hit 135-140. He couldn't tell exactly because, well, he couldn't see either.  

Sunday, April 10, 2005


I just had an epiphany concerning windchimes. They bring outside in. As you lay snuggled in your bed, they sound and you know that something is happening out there. I used to detest windchimes. When I was a teen they drove me insane to the point I thought I needed to tear my neighbors down. My grandmother had a set of incredibly dissonant tinklers. I wanted to tear those down and run over them with the Farmall conveniently located down the hill. During that same time period I also wanted the sun blotted out of the sky and the entire Earth paved. Thank you Teenage Dementia. How pissed off can one person be? I guess that is why teens get short shrifted. They are, for the most part, all pissed off.

As I aged, the anger left and I was filled with a longing for green things and the sun. And windchimes. For my wife's first birthday after we were married I bought her a set of the most beautiful chimes I had heard (mp3). When we bought our third house there was a set of chimes hanging on the front porch. I'll be taking those when we leave.

Recently I read an article about using windchimes to determine the weather. Chimes are hung on all sides of a home. Here, our weather develops from the South or the SouthWest. So were we to hear our South side or both South and West chimes, we'd know that weather was coming. Nice idea and one that I had intuited but never verbalized.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Indian motorcycles

Suman Das

Amitava Gosh

In India most motorcycles are relatively small displacement. Traffic is such that 350cc is a rather large bike. My friends were fascinated by this 1100cc Yamaha V-Star and insisted on going for a ride. Truth is, we all really wanted to ride. The weather was poor (cold and rainy). We shivered afterwards. Fun was had by all. That is what counts, isn't it? My buddies flew back to Kolkata a couple of days after these pictures were taken. It would be fun to visit them and tour India via motorbike.

While looking at the touring site, I found this beautiful bike. Wow! Royal Enfields are all gorgeous. I had no idea they even existed. Here's a rundown of a test drive. Having briefly owned a 1977 MGB I'm not sure I could handle the maintenance but wow! I'd love to be able to throw my leg over one of these or these or these... Oh, but for a little money!