I saw a bizarre and somewhat disturbing product advertised today, the VibeRider Motorcycle Seat Vibrator. It is a vibration device meant for sexual pleasure that one can install discreetly in the rear seat of a motorcycle. The device varies its vibration in concert with the bikes RPM, as well as inputs the driver makes to a control box.
I'm sure the vast majority of people who buy this device are right minded souls who will only use this with their informed and consenting partners. But as I read comments from potential purchasers on a few different sites I realized that this device could be used to diabolically, insidiously sexually abuse a lot of women. Someone with this device could invite a non-partner to get on the back of the bike and could then subject the passenger to vibrations which the passenger may not even know were being generated for their non-consenting sexual pleasure, rather than simply vibrations caused by the bike as part of its normal operations. And that makes this product potentially scary, and somewhat unique in the danger it poses.
Someone walking up to a non-partner and without consent putting a vibrator against the other person's genitals would pretty roundly be recognized as sexual assault. But I can imagine many people claiming not to understand that this is the same thing. Maybe the offender would claim "It was just a joke." or "But the bike is already vibrating, what's the difference?" And well, there's a quite profound difference: intent.
I decorated my motorcycle's sidecar, helmets, and dogs in a Christmas motif and Francine, Osita, Lupa, and I piled on and went for a ride around Venice today to spread glad tidings on this merry Christmas. We brought along a Christmas sack full of candy canes and handed them to people we met along the way.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Finally had a chance to finish up and paint the sidecar cage. I'm very pleased with how it came out. I learned a lot of lessons which would lead me to do some things differently were I to do it again, but I doubt I would do it again because most of those lessons related to my cutting lots of corners knowing my attention span was limited and I just needed to push through and get it done as quickly as possible. And fortunately nobody else will know what I know about the corners I cut, so it hardly matters. I think the entire project took me about 35 hours, from idea to completion.
The dogs have yet to ride in the completed version. On what was to be the first test ride, with dogs all loaded up and in their goggles, the spark advance cable snapped as I tried to start the engine. I replaced that part within a day or two only to have the December rains descend on Southern California. Hopefully by Wednesday they clouds will part and the dogs and I can show it off.
And here's the link to all the pictures of it.
I've been performing sea trials of the custom dog cage I built for my sidecar rig. Below are the photos and video of Osita and Lupa in their new three wheeled conveyance. Fortunately the dogs seems to love it, despite the tight quarters.
Everything seems to be working well, so all I need to do is reinforce, redo, and temper a few welds and then give it a paint job (black). I will also make a removable dog bowl holder so they can travel in style with a bowl of water and food. You can see some earlier photos of the cage.
The Griffith Park Sidecar Rally was this past Sunday and the day before I got the bright idea of making a custom fit cage / crate to fit in the sidecar bucket for the easy and safe transportation of pets. I had the idea about 4 years ago but never got beyond a few sketches. Eventually Osita just started joining me without a cage (instead held in with a padded harness). That system worked brilliantly, but Osita has recently begun palling around with another smaller dog and I'd like to occasionally take them both in the sidecar and the harness system just wouldn't cut it. Sadly, as so often happens, I discovered I was overly ambitious and started way too late, so there was no way I was going to finish it in time for the rally... but that's ok, it was the impetus I needed to get started, and it's now about 85% done. The only tricky part which still remains will be the door, and that will only be tricky because it'll take a bit of planning, measuring, cutting, etc. The rest of the cage I made on the fly without any drawings, rulers, notes, or anything; I just added every new piece of metal where I thought I wanted it (I knew if I started by planning I'd never actually make it). Hopefully I'll be done by next weekend, painting (black) and all. (It's been nice to get back to oxy-acetylene welding... though my hands are killing from all the many burns.)
The scooter group I'm in took great these photos of this year's rally; I didn't make their ride, sadly, I was still working on building this when they left. Among those photos are two of sidecars for dogs, apparently my idea wasn't so unique:
Still, I like my design better.
Follow Up: A few weeks later I finished the job! You can check out the final pictures and the photos of the dogs in it.
A few weeks ago I started "working" at my friend's vintage BMW motorcycle shop. Rick Monahan, owner of Black Kat Motorwerks, needed some help and I wanted to learn how to fix old motorcycles. I think this particular sort of manual labor is good for me, a useful contrast to the more cerebral stuff I do in the dotcom space.
I split my time between helping him with the bikes and helping hi on the business side. I re-launched his website (redid the one I originally made for him 3-4 years ago). I also have been promoting his shop and getting him out to promote it himself, such as at the recent Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally.
This week I fixed up my Chang Jiang motorcycle (and sidecar) and got it back on the road. And I got Osita, my dog, all set up to ride with me. I customized some open cockpit aviation goggles with new straps to fit a dog, and reworked a genuine Soviet-era tank commander's helmet to fit securely on her head. To ensure her safety she wears a harness which I clip to a mount attached to the inside of the sidcar bucket (she can sit or lie but otherwise stays put).
Tonight we went for a ride all around Venice, got chai by the beach, then went to Swinger's in Santa Monica for dinner. Everywhere we went people were highly amused.
The scooter group I help run is doing a ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco for the Amerivespa event over the July 4th weekend. Amerivespa is the event for Vespa owners. While I'm not a present or past Vespa owner (I'm into vintage and retro bikes), I am a scooterist at heart, and appreciate their unhurried, machismo-lite sensibilities; particularly in comparison with the tendencies of most bikers.
The ride up will avoid the highways and stick to the coast for most of the trip, stopping overnight in San Luis Obispo. We'll pass through some of California's best features, including Big Sur, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and finally I'll depart from the group to spend some time with my sister in San Francisco.
If you ever wanted to ride along coastal California, now's the time! If you don't own a scooter, rent one and join us! We've got 10-12 people already going, and at least one support vehicle.
The group will leave July 1st from NoHo Scooters at 9 AM, and return the evening of July 6th. The ride up will be 125cc friendly, but must do some freeway on the way back to save time.
Map And a link to the route in Google maps.
One Sunday a few weeks back I woke with a beautiful little idea. I would buy a bunch of flowerswhen I was at the farmer's market, and drive around the city of Los Angeles handing them out to those who seemed to be in need of a kind gesture; those whose smiles had fallen under the weight of an often unkinding world. (I'd discovered the wonders a stranger-proferred flower years before while in Argentina.) And so I set off on my Sunday quest. Ah, my selective naivety... if I didn't think this trait so god damn vital to being some kind of noble true, I'd have rid myself of it long ago... Because not unexpectedly, though most regrettably, people tend to view a stranger offering you a flower with suspicion; they assume hidden agendas. Too seldom are nice things done simply because they are nice things to do; at least out there in the world (as opposed to within the relative safety of churches, families, groups of all sorts). And so most of the flowers I gave required too much explanation, and the easy joy of the giving was lost in the complex work of their receiving.
I came up with various strategies and explanations to eliminate their suspicion, but the beauty was to be found in the naked truth, not the palatable lie. (An example of one white lie I used with easy success was that the flower was a promotion for a local florist. Suddenly the gift made sense; and they would readily accept.) I still think that perhaps with more practice, with a better understanding of people, perhaps I could craft the truth just so, smile just so, speak just so, and they might forget to be suspicious. But, that may be wishful thinking...
A few days after the ride I put the last remaining flower in the bunch inside a small water bottle, with some water, and FedExed it (with some other offerings), to a girl I hoped to know better. See my HelpMeGetTheGirl post elsewhere on the site. She responded gratefully, and genuinely, but we never managed a connection.
This ride began a little practice which I try and keep. Often when I'm headed out on a motorcycle ride I will pick a flower from the trellis outside my front gate and attach it to my instrument cluster (using an alligator clip I installed for this purpose). And that way if I do see someone in need, someone who seems like they will be receptive to an anonymous and kind gesture, I'll have one at the ready.
(Date on this post not the correct one, I am too lazy just now to find the real date when all this occurred.)
My friend Rick had been looking to get into motorcycles and had been looking for something with the beauty of a vintage bike, but the reliability of a modern one. I'd recommended he look into the Triumph Thruxton. He did, and subsequently bought one. After he had his for a few weeks and I got a chance to ride it and appreciate all that it could do, I got one, too.
I've done quite a few cosmetic mods to my bike, most of them coming from the New Thruxton store.
Cosmetic Modifications so far:
- Quinxy von Besiex's racing number: "09"
- Fender Elimination Kit (including new front and rear turn and tail lights)
- Dart Flyscreen
- White stripes (to cover the bike's gold stripes)
- HID headlight bulb
- Taillight flasher
- Turn signal canceling device
- Aluminum billet gas cap
- Oil temperature sensor
- Easy removal rear seat cover bolts
- Battery tender connector
- and more...
On my list of things to do next is replace the clutch springs with performance clutch springs, rejet the bike, and remove the airbox.