Monday, June 30, 2008

Bawk! Bawk, Bawk, Bawk!

I'm a chicken. A six-foot-one, two-hundred-mumble-mumble pound, chicken. Really and truly a chicken. Trust me, I have the data, I can prove it.

This weekend I was at the track. I brought both bikes. The Daytona has a camera system so I have some decent pictures of me pretending not to be a chicken. Unfortunately the Daytona had some troubles and I switched to the Ducati. The Ducati has a data collection system. And, apparently, one of the data points it captures is "Is Rider a Chicken? (Yes/No)". And it came back a definite yes.

Here's about 2 1/2 minutes of data:

The top graph is speed. The middle graph is RPM. The bottom graph is the chicken-o-meter. It shows throttle position. See that pink-highlighted sliver? That shows how long I had the throttle at 100%. It's 1.3 seconds long.

1.3 seconds.

I figured pink was the right color for highlighting.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Forward Thinking

I get it, I really do. I'm an engineer and sometimes I'm guilty of it myself. You're in a rush, you just want it to work, maybe it's a prototype and you'll fix it in the final version. But it never happens. The final version is just the prototype with a liberal coating of Spackle.

Life would be so much easier if people planned their products to be maintainable. That's all I want. Nothing dramatic. Just spend a little time up front so when things don't go quite right your customers have a chance to figure it out.

For instance, don't follow the lead of the 2000 Monte Carlo SS. Lifting the engine to change a spark plug? Did Chevy not think a spark plug would need to be replaced? Odd, it's listed in the manual as regular maintenance.

I'll admit that my current context isn't nearly as egregious as that. I am dealing with a car that's 35 years old. And it's British. And it was built in a factory made famous for labor strife. But things shouldn't be this hard. I shouldn't have to spend an hour (plus a trip to Sears for tools) to remount one interior door handle.

On the plus side, I did take it out for a very short spin and it's quite nice.

(A little online research shows that the MC SS isn't alone in requiring major work to get at all the plugs. What is this world coming to?)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day 2008

It's possible that my dad is a superhero. I know that's not an unusual thing to hear from a son, but bear in mind I'm 37 years old, not 7. (... ohhhh, how I wish I was 7 ... [insert daydream about climbing trees, playing in dirt, and trying to decide how to spend the princely sum of $1/week here] ...)

My dad is a fix-it guy. You don't need to buy a new one, just fix the old one. I like to think I have the same philosophy. The big difference: dad can actually fix the item in question. It didn't seem to matter what it was. The car, the TV, the porch swing, the inflamed appendix, he could fix them all. (Okay, maybe not the appendix, but good for you for paying attention.) Me? I take the widget apart, lose 4 pieces, break another 2, spend 4 hours cursing myself and end up buying a new widget anyway.

I don't know how he did it. We hire people to do much of our house and yard projects and I still can't keep up with the stuff I need to do in the garage. Clearly a superhero.

Happy Fathers Day.

BTW: Anyone want a semi-functional bread maker? Couldn't fix it, got a new one. At least I didn't lose any pieces.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Track Days

I signed up for more local track days. June 28th, June 29th, and July 28th. All are with NESBA. The July date should be interesting. It's marketed as "Skills Enhancement I" which means all the riders will be from the I or "intermediate" group and the track will be open to come and go as you choose. (Instead of scheduled 20-minute sessions.) Some classroom sessions will also be available to teach body position, etc.

I'm still considering another out-of-state trip this year but I haven't signed up yet. Right now the leading option is a trip to Thunderhill October 11-14. The first two days with Keigwins, the last two days with STAR. It would be another week-long trip like the one to Miller.

It's been in the low 50s and raining the last few days. I turned the furnace back on last weekend. Not what I had in mind for June. (I guess it's been the coldest start of June on record.) I'm trying to keep my spirits up by at least *thinking* about riding.