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The AV Memorial Wall at Lancaster HS

I got a chance to get down to the AV Wall today. There are two names I know on the wall. Both from the little town of Scobey, MT. I played junior high basketball with the kid brothers of Reid Grayson and Darryl Juel.


This is despicable. Naming a ship for Cesar Chavez.

Congressman Prefers Fallen Marine as Name on Navy Cargo Vessel

Read more:

Tim to light up your congress critters on this one. Demand the CNO, Chairman of The Joint Chiefs and SecNav stand down and enter the private sector.
A rabble rousing commie should not have a ship named for him. Who cares if he did two years in the Navy. I did more for the republic than this scumbag chavez ever thought of.


14 May 2011 – The V-Star is HOME!!!

So today was the big day :D  Dara (the bike’s soon to be former owner) picked me up at my place and gave me a lift up to the bike so I wouldn’t have to worry about the car sitting in the gated community etc.  The bike fired right up with full choke and we shot the breeze while we waited for it to warm up.

14 May 2011 - Warming up the bike before riding it home

14 May 2011 - Warming up the bike before riding it home

Dara was kind enough to take a couple of pics before leaving for work :)  After that, I geared up and got on the bike. I rode it around the complex a few times to get used to the clutch, throttle, brakes, shifting, and just riding again in general.  Aside from just a bit last night I hadn’t been on a bike since the MSF course, so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive about taking this bike out on the road in traffic.

14 May 2011 - I stopped by work for a quick break

14 May 2011 - I stopped by work for a quick break

Once I was a bit settled I headed out on the roads.   The first road was about five or six miles of very light traffic with two lanes each way and a center/turn lane.  It also had plenty of stop signs.  I decided to stop by work to see if anyone was outside, but nobody was.   I still took a quick break before heading on home :wink:

14 May 2011 - HOME SAFE :cool:

14 May 2011 - HOME SAFE :cool:

The fastest I had the bike was about 45 MPH on a major street with three lanes each way and a center median.  There were traffic lights, cars, and all the rest all around me.  I just kept the throttle twisted, kept my head on a swivel looking all around me and in the mirrors to make sure all was OK and I had absolutely no problems at all :cool:

14 May 2011 - It had .8 mile on the trip meter before I got going :wink:

14 May 2011 - It had .8 mile on the trip meter before I got going :wink:

Right before I got home, the bike was backfiring a bit. It was only about 1/4 of a mile from home, so I rode it in and parked it in my space. At least now it’s got shade! I can’t begin to describe just how much fun this was even on the roads I was on. Getting a motorcycle on the road for the first time was a blast and I can’t wait to get everything fixed so I can ride it everywhere :thumb:

I called up one of the independent mechanic shops that has good reviews and got a couple of quotes. $250 to clean the carbs, $150 + parts to service the drive while mounting tires if I buy the tires there. Don’t know just how much the tires will cost, but they’re supposed to be a good shop with low prices so I’m not too worried. I’m guessing about $250 for the tires. It’s a good thing I’m working all three days of the last weekend of the month! I’ll get 16 hours worth of overtime on Saturday and Sunday before I get another 8 hours of time and a half for working on the holiday. That should pay for all of the above repairs and I should be on the road :D  Have fun and ride safe everyone :mrgreen:

And before I forget, thanks again Dara :cheers:

So today was the big day.  Dara (the bike’s soon to be former owner) picked me up at my place and gave me a lift up to the bike so I wouldn’t have to worry about the car sitting in the gated community etc.  The bike fired right up with full choke and we shot the breeze while we waited for it to warm up.

My First Motorcycle – 2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic!!!

Folks, I’ve got to keep this fairly short due to this post having been delayed by a few things including computer issues, but I wanted to get it published tonight :wink:

I finally got to go see what will very likely be my first motorcycle :cool:

Soon to be mine - 2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic!

Soon to be mine - 2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic!

What you see here is a 2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic :)  That’s a 40 cubic inch V-twin engine in the frame and those are cool looking chrome exhausts on the right side.  This bike has a lot of the cruiser style points that I like from the spoked wheels to the fat forks and the big, fat gas tank :thumb:  I’ve never ridden a motorcycle with floorboards or a heel and toe shifter (more pics and explanation of those and other things later), but right now it all looks awesome :cool:

You can also see racks for saddle bags and brackets for a windshield.  Yes, those do come with the bike!

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Low miles!

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Low miles!

I’d been told this motorcycle has low miles, but I didn’t realize it would have this few :shock:  Yes, that’s only 8436 miles on a 2002 model motorcycle :D

I don’t know about you, but I really like the clean look of the speedometer and indicator lights on the tank :)

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Left handlebar

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Left handlebar

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Right handlebar

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Right handlebar

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Missing a few conchos

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Missing a few conchos

The current owner (who’s also only the second owner) hasn’t had much of a chance to ride this motorcycle due to a number of factors.  You might have guessed that from the low miles on the odometer.  Still, the bike isn’t perfect as it’s been sitting in the sun for a while now.  There’s a few missing conchos and some fading on the seat and some of the metal has oxidized a bit.  I’ll do my best to buff out the metal and get the seats looking good again, but either way it still looks great to me :mrgreen:

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Drive shaft going into the rear hub

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Drive shaft going into the rear hub

2002 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Left side of the rear hub

2004 Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - Left side of the rear hub

I’m going to have the bike checked over by a mechanic before I commit to buying it, but as I said it looks pretty good to me.  The only part of it that gives me a little bit of worry is what you see in the two pictures above.  Being a shaft drive, it does have oil in the rear hub like you’d have in a rear wheel car’s differential.  It looks like there’s a bit of seepage, but I don’t know if this is really bad or expensive to fix.  I’m going to hope and pray and leave it up to a mechanic to determine.

I did throw a leg over and have a seat on this magnificent machine and I’ve come to a simple conclusion.  I love it :thumb:


Exciting Motorcycle News!!!

I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I wanted to let everyone know that it looks like I’ll be getting a motorcycle much sooner than planned :D  Much sooner as in probably this week :mrgreen:  I know I’ve been drooling over dual sports for a while, but that Kawasaki Eliminator I rode at the MSF class really got to me and I’ve been bitten by the cruiser bug :)

The bike I’m probably getting is often referred to as a “metric cruiser” due to its Japanese origin.  It’s got a V-twin engine and looks a whole lot like a Harley Davidson, but it’s lighter and doesn’t burn as much gas :cool:  If the transaction goes through, I’ll be buying it from a trusted friend and co-worker after a mechanic has had the chance to go through it to make sure it’s OK.  The terms of the transaction haven’t been completely finalized, but I think we’ll be able to come to an agreement :wink:

I’ll let everyone know what’s up after tomorrow, but until then wish me luck :thumb:



Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

Kath found a pic that seemed perfect for this occasion :cool:

From Kath, Glenn, and yours truly, Happy Mother’s Day :mrgreen:


A letter to your congress critter on the debt ceiling.

dear dipshits (congress)

I’m faxing/emailing you today to let you know that I strongly oppose Congress’ plan to raise the debt ceiling. Doing so would only enable lawmakers like you to consider spending our nation into oblivion!

I have lost patience with you, and demand that you champion a tough, no nonsense approach to curbing this reckless economic spending spree that simply is not sustainable.

Americans like myself want real fiscal responsibility, and we are holding YOU accountable. Your very job depends on how you address this debt crisis. I urge you to oppose the raising of the debt ceiling, and will be watching how you vote when the time comes.


Weekend Outrage: Courtesy of Exile in Portales

That would be our good buddy, Buck. Along with Jeff, he was there at the beginning of Old Retired Petty Officer and my first tentative steps here at PHJ and F.

So click the link and enjoy the unique view point of one Buck Pennington, MSGT, USAF, RETIRED.




I’m gonna keep this short and sweet.  My congratulations go out to the U.S. forces who tracked down and then eliminated a blight on the face of the planet.  Bravo Zulu!!!

I don’t think I could say it any better than Lex:

1) Rot in hell, motherfucker. Too many people here and and in other places have suffered and died for your toxic vision. Three thousand New Yorkers and God knows how many Arabs and Afghans.

2) Max props to those patriots who signed on, fought, died or came back wounded because of 1). Heroes forever.

3) Pakistan: Thanks for nothing.


MSF Beginning Rider’s Class – Final Day and Test!

My MSF class actually started on Friday evening with classroom discussion and reading.  Yesterday we got on the bikes and learned the basics.

Today we put it all together, practiced, and took the skills test :thumb:

Cockpit view of my Kawasaki Eliminator 125

Cockpit view of my Kawasaki Eliminator 125

As I wrote yesterday, the motorcycles we had available were the Honda Rebel 250 and the Kawasaki Eliminator 125.  I got my hands on the screaming fury of the Eliminator and the 12 horse power that engine produces :D  Actually, the Eliminator was just perfect for our purposes – taking someone like me who’d never been on a motorcycle and showing them how to ride.  The lack of power is a very good thing here as it helps to keep speeds down and the engine will just stall if the clutch is mishandled while in gear.  It’s also nice that the bike won’t flip out from under a new rider who doesn’t have perfect throttle control :wink:

As you can see above, the Eliminator is a fairly basic bike.  Indicator lights are mounted on the tank and you get three of ’em.  From left to right you see the turn signal indicator, neutral indicator to show you’re not in gear, and the high beam indicator for the headlight.  The controls on the handlebars are likewise basic but all that you’d need.  On the left side you find the clutch lever, high beam switch, turn signal switch, and horn button.  The front brake, engine kill switch, starter switch, and throttle are all on the right side.  What you can’t see in this picture are the shifter (left side lever operated by your foot), rear brake (right side lever operated by your foot), fuel control petcock (just below the tank on the left side), choke (just behind the fuel petcock), and ignition switch (just below the tank on the right side).  This bike is easy to operate, easy to ride, and an absolute ball to learn on :)

Yours truly in my gloves jacket and helmet on the Eliminator just after the test

Yours truly in my gloves jacket and helmet on the Eliminator just after the test

Our instructor, Rose, was kind enough to get a picture of me on the bike I rode during the class :cool:  This was after the skills test and after we’d already put the bikes away so it wouldn’t distract anyone :wink:  This is all the gear I was riding in – My HJC CL-16 helmet, Tourmaster Intake Air 2 jacket (more on that in a future post), and my Fox gloves.  With the exception of the fingers on the gloves being a bit long (I have very short fingers), everything I purchased was just about perfect and I was very glad to have spent the money on the gear.  I’m really glad I didn’t crash test it during the class :P

MSF Motorcycles - The Eliminator I rode during the class is closest

MSF Motorcycles - The Eliminator I rode during the class is closest

The bikes we rode have had a hard life with student riders.  There are dents in the gas tanks, the fork seals on a few were leaking, and quite a few had scratches on the speedometer :shock:  And yes, all that was there before we got our hands on them :wink:  But none of that mattered where we were concerned.  We needed something forgiving, easy to ride, and low to the ground.  They all excelled in those respects.  If I have a bit of extra money laying around some day, I might just have to buy and Eliminator 125 or Rebel 250 for riding around town and such.  They really are a whole lot more fun than you’d think :wink:

By now I’m sure there are a few readers who are wondering just what we did and how it all turned out.  Well, we did starting, stopping, quick stopping, quick stopping in a corner, cornering, weaving, swerving, riding over obstacles (planks of wood on the ground), and U-turns.  We only made it into third gear a few times (at least intentionally) and the speeds seldom reached 25 MPH.

Our test consisted of consecutive U-turns in a rather small box followed by accelerating to between 12 and 18 MPH while going toward a simulated obstacle marked by painted lines on the ground.  Once we reached the “obstacle” we were to swerve around it and come to a smooth, controlled stop.  The next task was a quick stop where we accelerated in a straight line to between 15 and 20 MPH and stopped as quickly as possible.  Our final challenge was to accelerate into second gear, negotiate a non-graded 90° right hand corner before accelerating to between 15 and 20 MPH down a straight.  At the end of the straight, we were to brake to slow, look through the turn, and either hold a steady speed or accelerate through a 130° corner before coming to a smooth, controlled stop.

We could lose points for several things during the evaluation and we weren’t told how many points each infraction would cost nor were we informed how many points we could lose and still pass the test.  We would only fail if we acted in an unsafe manner or dropped the bike.  One thing would remain constant in all tasks – points would be subtracted if we failed to use both brakes, failed to downshift from second to first, or put our feet down too early when stopping.  Points would be lost in the U-turns for crossing the boundary lines of the box or for putting a foot down.  During the swerve we would lose points for going too slowly, hitting the “obstacle”, or swerving the wrong direction.  Our ideal stopping distance was found by timing our approach to the cue cones which told us where to begin our braking and we’d lose one point for each foot over that distance.  Last, but not least we would lose points in the 130° corner for coming in too fast, looking down during the corner, braking or slowing during the corner, or crossing over the painted lines defining our turn.

I’ll admit it was all quite a bit nerve racking – right until I actually started the first task.  At that point I just somehow relaxed and everything came together naturally.  I knew that I’d lost a few points during the U-turns for crossing a painted line, but other than that I had no clue how badly I might have goofed the other tasks.  When we finished the final trial, we shut the bikes down, parked them in a neat row, and headed back to the class where we all chatted and waited for our final results to be tallied.

After about fifteen minutes, we got the results.  A passing score could be had by losing no more than 20 points across all the tasks.  In the end we all passed :thumb:  I had three points deducted for crossing that line in the double U-turn box and lost one more point for stopping one foot too long in the quick stop.  And those were the only points I lost – I passed with only having lost FOUR points across all the tasks :mrgreen:

I’m going to head on over to the DMV either tomorrow or Tuesday after work to actually have the motorcycle endorsement added to my license.  It’s going to be a while until I manage to get my motorcycle, but I’m thrilled to have passed the course and I can’t wait to actually get my bike :thumb: