22 August 2014


Chicago felt more like home than Louisiana

getting a taste of home before heading back.

17 August 2014

big easy

2/3 of my business trips for the month are complete. After seeing Houston and St. Gabriel, I've never appreciated NJ so much.

 snapping turtle


 jambalaya capital of the world


New Yorker in New Jersey

09 August 2014

Welcome Home

Free service from BMW Group that cleared up the origins of my "mostly" unknown R60 Frame. Delivered on my Gretchen's birthday, welcome back to the East Coast.

      Ich gekauft was Ich denke ist eine 1957 R60. Ich habe nur die Rahmen und Kurbelgehäuse mit der Fahrzeugnummer 618---. Der Plan ist, das Motorrad in den ursprünglichen Zustand wieder herzustellen und natürlich würde Ich mag zu seiner Geschichte und Erstausrüster wenn möglich wissen. Jede Information würde sehr geschätzt werden.
Grüß aus die Vereinigte Staaten

D. Etzold

Dear Mr Etzold,

Thank you for your email.

The BMW R 60 VIN 618--- was manufactured on September 24th, 1957 and delivered on September 27th, 1957 to the BMW importer Butler & Smith in New York City. - Further details about the equipment are not stated in the delivery record.

We hope this information is helpful for you.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Oberndörfer
BMW Group Archiv

04 August 2014

More NJ History

Dennis' Shovelhead Sportster Chopper. I think it was a '70 or a '71. With his future wife at his parents' house in Perth Amboy.

The pic has everything going for it

Unrelated, but this is kinda neat. Google turns your videos into GIFs to preview. This was a start-up and walk around of the Macchi.

Very cool. Vintage Motorcycling in NJ

Via The Star Ledger

I added the captions from the paper for the more interesting ones. A LOT of cop ones, don't know if because Police Departments at the time could more easily afford bikes as opposed to the average citizen or if better records were kept so we're left with more police photos.

 Aaron Morris stands in his bicycle and motorcycle repair shop in Elizabeth in this photo from the early-1900s. Aaron Morris Bicycles went out of business in 2007 after 103 years. Courtesy of the Morris family

 Tom Quigley Sr. of Iselin straddles his Indian motorcycle in this circa 1940s photo. Quigley, who was known to be a dapper dresser, was said to ride the bike up the stairs and into his house on Bird Avenue. Courtesy of Allison Quigley Soltys

 Woodbridge PD, I'm old enough to remember the old town hall. Classy old building, miss it. 1928 Memorial Day
 Gloria Struck, at age 25 in this 1950 photo, was already a very experienced motorcyclist in Clifton. She joined the Motor Maids club in 1946, and rode to the Sturgis and Daytona motorcycle gatherings in 2013 at age 87. Courtesy of Rider Magazine

 Sayreville, wonder what buidling this was in front of.
 This photo, taken in 1918, shows members of a Plainfield motorcycle club known as the Queen City Motorcycle Club. Men and women are shown posing with their Harley-Davidson motorcycles in front of the stores of Randal Harness Co. and H.J. Pasch on Somerset Street in North Plainfield. Courtesy of the Plainfield Public Library

 Vineland's Motorcycle Club posed for this 1915 photo in front of J.U. DuBois and John Potts' Vineland Repair Shop on the 300 block of Landis Avenue. Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing

 Perth Amboy PD, talk about changes

 Earl Heyer, in the dark shirt at right, and a friend are shown at the corner of Bloomfield and Glen Ridge avenues in Montclair before leaving on a cross-country motorcycle trip in 1924. Their odyssey was covered by the Newark Star-Eagle. Courtesy of Charles Heyer

 The Millburn Police Department purchased its first motorcycle, this Indian, in 1911. From the photo, it's obvious that a different kind of 'horsepower' was still useful to the force. Courtesy of the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society

03 August 2014

reflections on workers

I can still remember the first physical product cut I've ever made like it was yesterday. I remember the anxiety of taking sole responsibility of ensuring product integrity, without the watchful eye of an experienced Receipt Controller. I remember triple checking the manifold, I can remember my heart beat with the barrels across the meter. The saying in the pipeline industry is that you learn more from your first night on your own than you do in months of training. Something going wrong that night is almost always a given, how you react to it determines how you'll be as an operator. In my case, I was bringing in a line of RBOB (reformulated gas) followed by a receipt of Jet A from HSS. I made the cut perfectly, only to find that 100-150 bbls deep into my beautiful, water-white, jet filled beaker, the product was beginning to turn pink. Without any hesitation, I swung to transmix, reset the meter, called into the pumphouse to create a new transmix ticket, and then once I had good jet again, went back to the jet tank. In my months of training for the delivery position I'd never actually seen something like that happen. You can talk about it, think how to react, but that's quite different from actually doing it. In my case, I reacted correctly, I saved the jet, I passed my first test as a Receipt Controller.

When I got back to the control room to test my samples and update my logs, I called HSS and found out that they had turned on an additional pump shortly after starting up and forgot to flush the #2-oil out of it. #2-oil is dyed red, and red color and jet fuel is no bueno. I sent off a quick email to inventory explaining why I had to create a transmix ticket and once everything was sampled and I had time to myself, I thought about what happened. I wasn't mad at HSS, these types of things happen all the time, in fact that's why humans make the cuts, even though penny pinchers think this could be achieved through automation. I wasn't really happy either. I realized that I did my job and what I did was nothing new or groundbreaking. Even though it was the first time I'd encountered an abnormal condition on a cut doesn't mean no other operator had, and I knew it wouldn't be the last time I did either. I covered my ass, learned a little from the experience, but it was time to move on.

As years went on, the situation repeated itself, when I qualified as a Pump Controller, new abnormal conditions arose. When I jumped ship from that pipeline company to a new pipeline/terminal company, new challenges arose, and I kept learning. Most importantly, I kept my nerves. The anxiety I felt during my first cut dulls with experience, but it's always there, just a little bit to remind you that fucking up in this job has dire consequences. Complacency kills. This week I'll be covering shifts for Controllers taking vacation and putting my supervisor job to the side for awhile. This is good, it keeps you grounded, it keeps you sharp. You can bet that every CPL cut I "control" will have the same sense of urgency as my first. There is a problem though... my case appears to be the exception, not the rule.

Over half the people that work at the Regional Control Center had no pipeline experience coming in. All except for one showed a strong desire to learn, and appeared to have that nerve that I referred to above. Two years into life in the Control Center the truth has revealed itself. The one Controller I had my doubts about has been fired, and all the inexperienced Controllers off the street have plateaued in their development. I find myself answering the same questions, fixing the same mistakes, and even disciplining people for the same shit two years in. They stopped thinking for themselves, the desire to keep learning disappeared, the got comfortable in their console, they got complacent. Last week two Controllers split an order between shifts and recorded a jet gravity while they were pumping diesel, neither batted an eyebrow. Today one of those Controllers didn't even bother to record a density through his whole shift. Discipline will follow, but I don't think it will do any good. I'm honestly at a loss as to how to correct this other than firing half the people and starting fresh. This is an abnormal condition I haven't been able to respond to in this industry.

All of my ex-girlfriends said I lacked empathy, oddly my wife hasn't brought it up, at least not yet. They were all right, I can read people's personalities and habits very well, responding to them in a manner that suits them, instead of the way I find communication effective, has proven quite elusive. I need to work on this, but all the same I wonder what happened to the old work ethic of forging ahead on your own, becoming an expert in what you do, personifying your vocation. Maybe this never existed, maybe it did but the unions killed it, I really don't know. I do know that no one expected the disaster that got our one Controller fired, no one except for myself and a few other Controllers that shared my background. We all new better, saw the dangerous road that person was travelling down by operating without knowledge, without any fear because of intense ignorance, complete complacency and trust in automation or that someone in the field would jump in at the last second and save the day.

The best operators remember their first cut, the best operators have retain that real fear of the consequences of fucking up. Given the crew I have to work with at the Control Center, I'm beginning to wonder if these operators will even exist anymore.

18 July 2014

back in sync

After mulling around what I was going to do with this bike for three days, I was convinced to just put it back together and use it. It's served me well in the 6 years of owning it, never having tracking issues or anything resembling having a bent frame.

So... I wound up putting in new steering head bearings and races, rebuilt the forks, and needed to send my front wheel out for new bearings and shims (I bent two pin wrenches trying to get the hub nuts off). It's all back together and working wonderfully. As expected, the steering and cornering is a bit better since the rebuild, and there are still definitely no signs of a bent frame. I tested the bike at speeds from 0-110mph and it tracks straight and stable. Took my hands off the bars doing 60mph, still straight and stable, whacked the bars to intentionally destabilize the front end, and corrected the wobble by gently grabbing the bars - in other words, there is nothing wrong with this frame.

The tweak is still there, but I immediately forget about it once I'm on the road.

I remember watching a Jesse James special many years ago, I forget what he was trying to make, but he said something along the lines of "when you're bikes not feeling well, you're not feeling well." It's simple, but it's so true, and I think it's difficult to convey these feelings to someone who hasn't built a bike or a car. Having this bike OOS drove me nuts, I couldn't sleep right, everyday I thought about the problem and was dying to fix it. Everyday I had to wait for a part or tool to come in (btw, the CycleWorks bearing puller/press made life really easy), was like anxiously awaiting Christmas as a kid. I stayed up till 0010 last night putting everything back together. Even though I got up at 0445 that morning, I got in the zone, and then immediately test rode it. Knowing that everything was together, fixed, and didn't need any adjustment, I went upstairs, washed, kissed my wife, and slept like a baby.

Everything in my world is back in sync

07 July 2014

not an optical illusion

Since I'll have to take everything apart to get the frame straightened and since the R60 engine build is nowhere close to being finished, I think I'm going to transplant the drivetrain to the R60 frame for a conversion

I don't know how I missed this for the 5+ years of owning this bike

01 July 2014

dice magazine

I have a very conflicted relationship with this magazine.

I haven't ever subscribed because I'll always get a copy and something will almost always piss me off and I'll swear off the magazine. Then months will go by, I'll get curious about new bikes, and then order some more, get pissed off, and then repeat the process.

I think the bottom line is that I'm just not cool enough to appreciate the magazine. 

For starters, I love old BMWs, although I don't fit that stereotype at all. I'm far too young, skinny, and without a neon Aerostich explosion-proof suit. That being said, with a house, wife, and 1 kid (+1 pending), I'm pretty much living the life of a 50 year old anyway. I don't buy jeans more expensive than $20, my boots are purpose built (i.e. industrial designed for the industry, not "artisan" designed for hipsters), and I prefer my old leather jacket than a vest, even in the summer. My skin, and tattoos on that skin, are too valuable to me.

But I still like custom vintage bikes, and excellent photography, both check marks in the Dice category. I find both the bikes and pictures inspiring, but sometimes I get the feeling I'm reading a fashion mag. On one page I'll be checking out the primary on a pre-unit Triumph, the next page I'll be reading about what clothes and accessories somebody is wearing. I almost wish the magazine would be published without text, that way I can just enjoy the pics. Once I start reading about how someone bought the bike built from somebody else and the various shout out to all the popular Cali builders that did this and that - at that point is about when I get ready to toss the mag into the garbage. But I don't, I finish reading and eyeing, and then file the mag away in the book shelf.

I think this is it though. I'll keep getting my fix from GKM, IMM, and BMWMM. I'm the kind of guy that thinks if you spend $250 on a denim vest you're an asshole, same with having someone else build your bike so you can pose on around it in clothing more than my mortgage payment. I'm unimpressed by cute girls with 2 weeks riding experience on a stock Honda that someone else works on. I'm unimpressed by motorcycles being used as fashion accessories. Unfortunately all of these things have been outnumbering the gems that I buy the magazine for in the first place. 

People seem to be into this though, a lot of them; so the real problem, I think, is my antiquated, BMW riding, self. 

25 June 2014

60 years apart and yet in my winter gear I'm indistinguishable from this guy