~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Remembering my Corgi pal


"Watson" 1998 - 2009

This post has nothing to do with motorcycles.

I am heartbroken. My pal Watson, a redoubtable Pembroke Welsh Corgi, left us on Tuesday, the 17th. He was not himself on Monday night and Tuesday morning he collapsed. We rushed him to the vet. The vet said there appeared to be no specific cause based on the blood tests. We had few positive options, none within reason.

Watson had not been at his best for a while, his Welsh temper was starting to get the best of him and the week before we'd had to separate him from the other dogs and into his own enclosure in the back yard. That in itself was hard enough to do. His sister Tinsel has severe back problems and is going down hill. I'd steeled myself against her impending loss and when Watson collapsed it caught us completely off guard. He and his sister were just ten in December.

He was quite a dog, the son of a multi-time champion and was slated to be a show dog like his dad. He was a bit small as a pup so the breeder sold him to me instead. A year later when she saw him she exclaimed "Watson, you GREW! I never should have sold you!" Watson's dad sired no less than 40 AKC championship Corgis. I guess Watson "coulda been a contender!"himself but he got to be my pal instead. As his breeder told me once "Watson is too nice anyway to be a show dog."

I always felt honored to have both he and his sister for my pals. He and Tinsel would sit in front of me and I'd explain to them that only the most most fortunate humans got to have ONE Corgi as a friend and I had TWO Corgis. "Can you imagine having TWO Corgis as friends?" I'd say. They of course looked at me and no doubt were thinking "Yeah, yeah, give us the biscuit now."

Watson was in PetSmart ads three times, pretty good at our backyard agility course, amazingly obedient (when he wanted to be or if there was a biscuit to be had), and was generally too smart for his own good. He was absolutely the typical "big dog in a little dog suit." There were some dark times in the last eight or night years of my life and even on the worst days Watson and his sister could get a smile out of me, a bit of cheer, something for which I am greatly in their debt.


I'm really going to miss you, pal. You were a real pain the butt sometimes but your were still my buddy right to the end. I think that's how it often is with real friends.

(If you're "a dog person" there's a few more pictures here.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Upcoming: 25th Annual Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show

click to see the full size version

You Arizona folks should mark your calendars and plan on attending. I attend every year and have never come away disappointed. It's not the biggest vintage bike show in the world but it's probably the biggest and best in Arizona and with some good support from the non-vintage motorcycle community it could grow nicely. Heck, if you ride in it's even FREE, no parking fee. If you ride in on something cool you might even win a parking lot award from the event organizers who's website is here.



Look for me. I'll be the old guy wearing motorcycle t-shirt and carrying a camera...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mixed Feelings


I like steak and I like chocolate but I don't necessarily like chocolate on my steak. I was browsing the web page for Hugh's Bultaco (now known as Bultaco Motorcycles) and ran across a photo that intrigued me but left me with oddly mixed feelings. I'm an old Bultaco rider and fan of the marque and also a bit of an Indian Motorcycle fan 'cause my dear old dad was an Indian dealer waaay back when. Absolutely nothing beats a late model Indian Chief for classic motorcycle style. When I saw Dave Stands' Bultaco/Indian whatever-it-is I was really conflicted. I like both brands; the bike Dave built looks sort of cool and the workmanship appears first rate but I'm not sure about mixing the two utterly opposite brands or the wailing 2-stroke Bultaco engine with the classic Indian look. I'll say one thing for sure though, I'll bet it's fast and a hoot to ride so maybe that's all that counts.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

28 Years In The Fast Lane You Cannot See

I was the fourth person to watch this clock count down for the last two years or so of their career. I've handed it off to a worthy No. 5

As noted in the previous entry, for me retirement from my position at the VW Arizona Proving Grounds arrived this past Friday and not a moment too soon. When I was younger I was into road bicycling for a while and once did a 100 mile bike ride called a "century" in 5 hours and 42 minutes. You cannot imagine how much the last 5 miles of that ride hurt.

A career with a multi-national automobile company is much like a 100 mile bike ride. It all seemed like a good idea when I started. After the pain is forgotten it will be seen once again as a good idea. I'm not going to go into a lot of stuff right now about my career, maybe later as there were plenty of good things that happened and even some minor stuff involving motorcycles.

The title of the post in in reference to the fact that where I worked for 28 years secrecy was and is a big deal. There isn't even a sign out front of the site that tells you what the place is about and if you drive up to the guard shack and ask they will not tell you. It's not hard to guess, of course, especially if you're a local or a car nut. You can even find it and many others like it on Google Earth. An automotive proving grounds is not Area 51 but it's as close to being the car world's equivalent as you can get. Years ago (pre 9/11) I once had a vendor tell me our security was tighter than the security at a nuclear plant he on which he also called.

Below, my career in summation: My colleagues presented me with a model of one my my thermocamera test set ups with and with the model the car signed by everyone in the department. Thank you, "Dr. Tom," you're the best.


Oh yes, and along the way it wasn't all just murderously hot sun, stultifying meetings, and tedious reports. I had to work with and drive some very boring cars but also got to work with and drive some very cool cars:
Bentley Continental Flying Spur: 560 hp never gets boring.
The 1001 horsepower Bugatti Veyron: It is everything it is said to be and much more.
It seemed like 28 years took forever and now at the end it seems like it all went by so quickly.  I think tomorrow I'll hop on the little Yamaha and go for a ride. It's a Monday. Amazing!

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence



An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison