Monday, February 29, 2016

BBBC #29

This post is the last of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. The final topic is:

29. The first song that comes into your head and why.

If I Had a Hammer

The only version I ever remember hearing was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and released in August 1962. I'm not sure why but I remember having to learn this song in the 5th grade. Maybe it was for some sort of school program. And the class would listen from a vinyl record to learn the music and the lyrics. No YouTube, iTunes, CD, Spotify, Pandora, cassettes, 8-track or Google back then.

Now, after owning a Ural, I now know why a hammer is such an important tool...


If I had a hammer,
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land

I'd hammer out danger,
I'd hammer out a warning,
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a bell,
I'd ring it in the morning,
I'd ring it in the evening,
All over this land

I'd ring out danger,
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a song,
I'd sing it in the morning,
I'd sing it in the evening,
All over this land

I'd sing out danger,
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Well I got a hammer,
And I got a bell,
And I got a song to sing, all over this land.

It's the hammer of Justice,
It's the bell of Freedom,
It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

It's the hammer of Justice,
It's the bell of Freedom,
It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

(Seeger/Hayes- Ludlow Music Corp. - BMI)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

BBBC #28 and Another Ural Update

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

28. Childhood photo

I'll pick one that has my brother as well. It's pretty easy to figure out who is who. This is one of the few photos that I have from way back then. I suspect that there may be others but have no idea where to find them.

Ural Update

This afternoon, I spent some time cleaning up some of the engine pieces and parts including the block. It sort of fit into my small solvent tank and with the solvent pump, I flushed out the oil passages to make sure that there wasn't any aluminum chips (there weren't) as well as cleaning out some of the caked on oil and dirt. I then started to scrape off any leftover gasket material still stuck to the block. I still need to blow any solvent from the passages with compressed air but the block, timing cover, right cylinder and oil pan look nice and clean now.

Maybe I should put in some effort to clean the frame, transmission and final drive. The only caked on oil was around the pushrod seals from last year when the crankcase vent was freezing. No oil leaks from the rear main seal into the bell housing. The only task before reassembly is to press out the rear main bearing from the bearing retainer. A hydraulic press would sure be nice for this task.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

BBBC #27

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

27. Selfie, captured specifically for your post

A beautiful spring day in interior Alaska. It's reported to be almost +40°F so no heated gear, no heated grips and no heated visor needed. This picture was taken in the parking lot of the dog mushers hall where I had started many of the PBC videos. I think I had said in an earlier post that I don't take selfies so this may be the one and only. And taken just to satisfy the requirements of this challenge as I don't think my being in the frame adds anything to the picture except block the view. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

BBBC #26 and a Brief Ural Update

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

26. How you make made a living.

Since I am now retired, my commute is from home to the College Coffeehouse to meet with a bunch of other regulars. Then run any other errands before heading back home.

Before retiring, I was employed by (notice that I didn't say "worked for") the University of Alaska as a regular employee since 1984. That's in addition to a couple of years as a teaching/research assistant. Until somewhere around 2006, I was part of the Fairbanks campus. After that I sort of became part of the Statewide Administration which is located on the Fairbanks campus. I have also been part of a project to provide Internet and other IT support for NSF funded research in Barrow and that is continuing even after I have officially retired from the university. It has been the best part of my job working with the dedicated researchers and the logistics support organizations in Barrow and I'm hoping that I can continue with that aspect of the job.

It may have been a good time to retire as today's headline had mentioned huge cuts at the university as a result of low oil prices. But it is only February. Things could change by the time the budget needs to be finalized.

Brief Ural Update - The parts have been ordered from Ural and they are expected to be shipped tomorrow.

  • Full gasket and seal set
  • Crankshaft
  • Left cylinder/piston/rings/wrist pin
  • Right piston/rings/wrist pin
  • Both main bearings
  • Rear main retainer snap ring
  • Camshaft
  • Front cam bearing
  • Four new style pushrods
  • Valve stem seals
And I ordered the deep sump and oil pump extension from Crawford Sales and Service.

Now time to start getting things cleaned up. The estimated delivery is sometime mid to late next week.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

BBBC #25

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

25. Spice.

Hmmm, not sure what was the intent here. If you google "spice", the initial page of hits was a surprise to me. Not at all what I expected…

Or maybe this...

I haven't heard of either of these references before. When I hear the word "spice", this is what comes to mind. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

BBBC #24

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

24. Photo of your handwriting (use longhand/cursive!)

Not really a photo but a screen capture of writing on the iPad. I don't think I've used cursive since elementary school. For me, printing was easier to write, faster and easier to read so I included samples of both. This was done using the standard Note app and a stylus.

For writing on the iPad, I've been using a stylus made by Adonit called the JotPro. It was marketed as a "precision stylus" and though it's better than writing with your finger, the iPad just doesn't have very good resolution for writing or drawing. I hear that the new iPad Pro does but I think that it's way too big and heavy to haul around. But since I'm not an artist, this does just fine for the little bit of writing and annotation that I do. There is a newer version of the stylus but I'm not really sure of the differences.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

BBBC #23

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

23. Meaning behind your blog name.

My blog has the unimaginative name of Richard's Page because I have no imagination. At least I am in good company. I originally started a blog somewhere back in 2004 or 2005 on a platform hosted by the university as part of a wellness program. It was moved to another platform hosted by the Juneau campus then the program continued but they didn't want these personal blogs hosted on university resources. I just started on Blogger because it was available, the price was right (free) and they supported custom domains. Blogger requires you to come up with a blog name and that's about all I could think of.

At the time, I was also running several WordPress instances including one on my home server,, for several years and thought about just moving the blog to one of those hosts. But decided that there were too many security issues not just with WordPress but just having the home server. I was logging about 10k login attempts/day and didn't like that they were just consuming bandwidth. Since then, I've shut down all of the WordPress instances and haven't looked back.

Monday, February 22, 2016

BBBC #22

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

22. Map or GPS

I think that someone is trying to start a fight. The only thing that may start more arguments is "what's better synthetic or dino oil?".  I, personally, like to use both paper maps and a gps. It's not "or". Nothing beats a map while planning even it it's just one day at a time. Also, nothing beats a GPS to get you through a crowded city that you aren't familiar with. On my trip last summer, I would plan my route and probable destination using whatever maps that were available and would set the destination for the day (or several days out) and enter it on the GPS. That way I would generally know how much ground I need to cover for the day. And, if I choose to deviate from the route, I would know how much additional time/distance that change means.

I also switch the GPS to metric when crossing into Canada so I don't have to do any speed conversions. And, the GPS is much easier to read than the bouncing needle on the Ural speedo. In Alaska, you really don't need a GPS for directions as it is a pretty simple state. Not very many roads.

The GPS is a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx that I've had for about nine years. It has a micro-SD card with street maps for the North America so I get turn by turn directions. I have it wired to the bike but even standalone, It'll run about 25 hours on 2xAA batteries. Completely waterproof and the buttons are usable with gloves.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

BBBC #21

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

21. Best book ever (or at least a really good one!)

I don't know about being the best book ever but it definitely is the best book I've read in the last couple of years. While the movie is also good (assuming you watch it in 4K!) the book goes into much more detail and explains a lot of things in the movie. For example, the movie just shows the Chinese space agency cooperation but the book goes into detail on why it was such a huge sacrifice on their part. I also like that Andy Weir put in quite a bit of effort to try and get the science right. Examples being oxygen generation, water recovery and the ion propulsion of the spacecraft.

Sometimes things get a bit repetitive in the book as in problem after problem after problem but that may be the way it would be if you are the only resource around. It doesn't matter what planet you're on...

And no Ural update for a while until I get some parts. I'll just be cleaning things up such as the engine block, transmission and final drive. Probably even the frame. Today, I am in the process of changing out the front brake lines on the BMW. Stainless replacements have been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years. So far the two lines to the calipers are done.

Later - I just replaced the one from the master cylinder to the splitter and bled the front brakes. I've had this hand vacuum pump for over thirty years and it still works! Everytime I use it I end up shortening the plastic lines so it'll make a tight seal. After bleeding both calipers, I buttoned up the fairing and hope that these lines last for another thirty years.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

BBBC #20

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

20. Your best friend.

Another really challenging one. Like some others (David) have mentioned, your spouse is in a different category and. I suspect, imaginary ones don't count. I don't think I've ever had a "best friend" as defined on the Urban Dictionary.

Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you. In most cases they would take a bullet for you, coz it would be too painful to watch you get hurt. 
Not something I'm very concerned about.

Ural Update

This morning, BruceW came into Fairbanks and we packed up the engine bits and pieces into his wife's brand new Forester and took them for Mickey to see. That's Mickey on the left and BruceW on the right in the shop that Mickey's working out of in Delta Junction. In the photo, he's posing with a paper cutout that is travelling around the country.

The left rod bearing is shot as suspected as is the front cam bearing. The wrist pins were both stuck in the pistons and even though the left cylinder assembly was just replaced last July, Mickey recommended that since the crank is being replaced, I may as well replace both sides. Relatively cheap on a Ural.

If you take a close look at the right-most lobe on the cam, you can see that it is worn unevenly. This is the lobe that had the failed lifter last year. If I had known how easy it was to pull the cam, I would've pulled it at that time. Anyway, the cam has lost it's hardened surface and would be failing sometime in the future. This was one unexpected part. The other is the clutch plates. I knew that the friction plates needed to be replaced but the metal surfaces had quite a few areas where they overheated at some point in time. Also, the square hole that holds the release rod was wearing out. So, a new clutch pack which includes springs and screws. Then just gaskets and rear main seal and snap ring.

Friday, February 19, 2016

BBBC #19

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

19. Favorite snack food.

I think I can chalk this up to another silly thing as well. Since I didn't have any of my favorite snack food lying around, I felt compelled to make up a batch just so I have a picture to post. Doesn't that qualify as silly? Right now, I'm waiting for the butter to soften a bit before starting. Maybe I should make some oatmeal cookies as well just to give the illusion of "healthy"...

In case it isn't obvious from the ingredients, my favorite snack food is homemade chocolate chip cookies with nuts. In this case, made with Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips and walnuts. In case you're on a diet, they taste like reconstituted cardboard.

Ural Update  

On Friday morning, BruceW and I are taking the engine parts down to Delta to get Mickey's opinion and make up a parts list. So until then, nothing new. I will be pulling the timing gear off of the camshaft and try to pull the bearing as well but I may need to pick up a bearing splitter to get behind the cam bearing to use with the puller. Actually, the bearing splitter may be a good idea to use to remove the timing gear as well. To me, it looks a little fragile and I'd rather be pulling from near the hub rather than the edge.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

BBBC #18 and Another Ural Update

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

18. Fruit

I have been accused of being an iFruit fanatic by others within the university IT organization and this is the type of fruit they were referring to. Back in the late 90s, the only Apple products that I used on a regular basis was a Newton 130 and a Macintosh IIci. It wasn't until OS X was introduced in 1999 that Macs started to replace Dell. I was regularly running Linux on the Dells but with OS X, I was able to run MS Office with all of the reliability and flexibility of a unix back end. I've had numerous iPods, iPhones and iPads over the years and never felt a need to try anything else. The mobile with a local Barrow phone number is a Nexus 4 running Android and it's fine but I've never felt a need to switch from iOS or OS X.

Ural Update

Jed came by this morning and in a couple of hours we completely disassembled the engine. The clutch tool was nice to have but I believe that the method of using either 2 or 3 bolts, nuts and washers would have worked fine. I used my 1/2" impact wrench to remove the flywheel bolt. We could not get it to budge with just the breaker bar. Even with the impact wrench, I needed to remove the regulator from the compressor to maximize air pressure to the wrench. Bruce's flywheel puller worked great for removing the flywheel and rear bearing retainer but it took much more effort than I would've thought.

Once the rear bearing retainer and rear main bearing were removed, I just needed to pull the crank and front bearing out. I ended up calling Mickey as it didn't seem to want to move even though I thought I was using enough force. Mickey said to put the engine on the bell housing, put a 2x4 on the end of the crank and hit it hard. We did that and it popped out after a couple of blows with a splitting maul (blunt end). The crank was removed and examined. To me, one rod bearing is shot, the main bearings don't run smoothly and the front cam bearing is noisy. But none of them exhibit any play beyond that.

Notice all of the aluminum on the right of the picture. A whole lot more that I saw in the drained oil. The source of all of the aluminum? I'm thinking that one rod bearing cage has disintegrated. I can't find any other source for all of that aluminum.

On Friday, I'll be driving down to Delta with the engine parts to get a second opinion and make up a parts list and order. Meanwhile, time to clean some of this stuff up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

BBBC #17 and a Ural Update

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

17. Share an animal image and explain the rationale behind your choice.

  1. 1.
    a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.

From this definition on Google, I will assume that a photo of a real animal is not what was desired. This particular photo was taken near the beginning of my road trip last summer in the beautiful metropolis of Chicken, AK, on the Taylor Highway. A good place to stop for a snack as well as filling up the bike. From here to the Canadian border it's mostly gravel with lots of dust if you happen to get stuck behind an RV or worse yet, a tour bus. Most of the RVs will pull over and let you pass but not the tour buses. This was my first time riding on the Taylor and Top of the World highways but have driven it numerous times. Riding is definitely more entertaining especially on a nice day like this. I'm told that it is miserable if muddy.

Here is a favorite photo of a real, live animal (white Bengal tiger) that I took at the night zoo in Singapore back in 2013. The zoo opened up at 7:00pm so that you can see the animals when they are most active. It was a bit worrisome as they were not in cages or pits like in western zoos but something more closely resembling pens. There wasn't anything but a 3' wall separating the pen from the open tram we were riding in. The photo challenge is that no flash is permitted so this photo is ambient light, hand held. Fortunately, it was moving very slowly.

Ural Update

I picked up some Mapp gas to melt the threadlock in the clutch screws and, I suspected, on the timing cover screws. The Mapp gas burns hotter than propane to soften the red Loctite used during assembly. One of the screws on the timing cover had to be drilled out and there was one that was broken by one of the previous owners or during assembly or servicing. Raceway said that they were going to fix it but they didn't. They are small screws and it is broken inside of the case. So two of the 10 screws are broken.

I then used a three jaw puller to remove the timing gear off of the crank and then simply pulled the cam out with the timing gear still attached. The ball bearing behind the gear on the cam felt a little rough and when you spin the cam, you get one of the rotational sounds I was hearing resonating through the engine case.

The box of specialized Ural tools from Bruce in Ketchikan arrived in today's mail so I fitted the clutch tool onto the back of the engine. It fastens on with two of the transmission bolts and you screw down the center to slightly compress the clutch. This allows you to remove the six screws holding the clutch onto the flywheel. Jed was planning to come by Wednesday morning but I did use heat to melt the threadlock on two of the screws and removed them just to make sure that the procedure worked. So tomorrow (Wednesday), the clutch, flywheel, bearing retainer and crank will be removed.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

BBBC #16

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

16. Stupid, weird, or silly thing you did today, on purpose or accidentally.

Today, I attached a camera to the front of the sidecar, pushed the BMW out of the garage and rode 51 miles. And the only reason was to make a 4 minute video to post on the Polar Bear Challenge website. Pretty silly if you ask me. And possibly stupid and weird depending on who you ask. Not only that, I went through the same routine 60 other times since December 1st. But today (02-15-2016) is the last day that videos can be submitted so you don't have to put up with any more for quite a while.

Monday, February 15, 2016

BBBC #15

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

15. Describe your dinner (you can share a pic, too).

Today (Sunday), it's breakfast for dinner. Not an uncommon thing around this house though it is not a favorite of everyone. But, since I'm making it and cleaning up, I get to choose. Isn't that the way it works?

Yesterday's dinner was a little different. I just made spaghetti. My way. So the pasta was whole wheat and there were green beans, cauliflower and carrots in the red sauce. I've gotten complaints about both the whole wheat pasta and the evil vegetables from my son. This time I made a spaghetti pie. I mixed an egg with some of the pasta and layered the bottom and sides of a baking dish with it. Baked it for a bit to make the "crust". I then mixed the rest of the pasta with the sauce and layered it onto the "crust" with ricotta and parmesan cheese kind of like lasagna. Baked it in the oven topping it with mozzarella for the last five minutes. Now all of the evil veggies are buried and the whole wheat pasta is somewhat hidden. No comments from my son but he ate quite a bit of it and has some in labeled containers in the fridge for his lunch this week.

And just to add a bit of moto content, here is PBC #60! Apparently, I can submit another one tomorrow this is the next to the last one (Really!),

Sunday, February 14, 2016

BBBC #14

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

14. Image of someone that you love (pets count as people, but I promise not to share a dog pic!)

Happy Valentine's Day!

The next to the last PBC video.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

BBBC #13

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

13. Share a photo of your motorcycle (or car) taken on the same day you write your post.

Given the current state of the Ural (in pieces), the spare bike is what I'm using these days. The picture was taken at the Large Animal Research Station aka LARS, located on Yankovich Rd north of the university. I was just wandering around enjoying the beautiful, sunny day and remembered that I needed to take a picture of the bike somewhere. LARS happened to be just ahead. No muskox were hanging around along the fence to be included in the picture.

This is the current state of the "other bike" and you may notice that one critical component seems to be missing. This may be a good time to actually clean the bike. I hope it doesn't fall apart when the additional structural integrity provided by hardened mud is removed. It's also a good time to finally get some things actually working like the horn. I installed the air horn before I left for my long trip and couldn't get it to work reliably. I figured that I'd just mess with it later. Maybe now qualifies as "later".

Here is the next PBC video. After this, only two more to go...

PBC #58

Friday, February 12, 2016

BBBC #12

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

12. What event are you currently looking most forward to?

Oh, this is easy. I'm looking forward to all of these pieces to be back on the Ural and no longer on the workbench. The "event" will be the Ural leaving the garage under its own power. Thursday morning, Jed came by to give me a hand removing the engine and transmission. Starting with the battery cables we disconnected all of the wiring, removed the air cleaner, carbs, starter, alternator, rear wheel, final drive, shift levers, rear brake switch, clutch cable, crash bar and possibly a few more things.

We then managed to wiggle the engine from the frame. All of this was done without removing the sidecar like I had done last winter while replacing the bad lifter. We then started engine disassembly. The transmission came off easily with only one bolt and a couple of nuts.
The left head and cylinder came off easily though the use of very poor quality snap rings, the piston had a ridge built up preventing the wrist pins from easily sliding out. The right cylinder wouldn't easily break loose from the engine. I had to get a "dead blow" mallet which is a plastic hammer with a couple of pounds of steel BB's that move inside of the head. With a pry bar to provide some preload, it came free.

Here is the view of the clutch. Bruce from Ketchikan is bringing up some specialized Ural tools to remove the clutch and flywheel. I need to pick up some metric allen wrenches for the 3/8" ratchet to break some of these bolts free. I believe that thread lock was used on the clutch bolts and Raceway used some on the front timing cover. None of the bolts would budge. I'll get some Mapp gas to provide heat on the bolts to melt the thread lock compound.

So, not strictly an "event" but close enough in my book.

We are having some wonderful weather. Here I'm stopped at the Ballaine Lake turnout. I have to be careful of where I'm stopped as the Beemer has neither reverse or a parking brake. It seems to be running okay but it needs some maintenance. But pretty reliable for a 33 year old motorcycle. Now time for some Ibuprofen...

And here are a couple more PBC videos. Only three more days before the PBC is over.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

BBBC #11

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

11. What are you thankful for today?

This shouldn't be as difficult as the last couple of topics. I'm thankful for many things such as family and friends. Having the ability to enjoy life without worrying about where the next meal is coming from. I have freedom in this country without the worry about political or religious persecution. There are so many places in this world where this isn't true. The content of this blog doesn't have to be approved by agents of the government nor do they have the ability to tell me what to write.

I'm especially thankful for Bridget. It takes a really special person to put up with all of my idiosyncrasies. Including sidecars, road trips, and this blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

BBBC #10

This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

10. A story you love to tell.

And here I thought yesterday's topic was difficult.

Image from
That's kind of what my mind felt like with this topic. Then a thought came to me as I sat in the living room of our home. It's a very short story.

I moved to Alaska in 1982 and arrived mid-August. My brother had given me a phone number to call of some good friends. I called from Delta Junction and heard that my sister-in-law was there and my brother was flying in that evening. Not to welcome me to the Last Frontier but to see his new daughter. And to fly his plane back to their home in southwest Alaska. I was given directions with some aspects of the directions unlike what I was used to having grown up in Southern California. Back then, there were no house numbers and only the major streets seemed to have names. The directions were to go to 5.5 mile Farmers Loop Rd, turn and count houses. The way you knew you were at the right place was the color and what was in the driveway. The house I'm sitting in is the same one where I was welcomed to upon my arrival in Fairbanks.

Not very exciting but it's a story I enjoy telling.

Oh yeah, the next PBC video.

PBC #55

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

9. Favorite shoes.

Huh? There is such thing as "favorite shoes"? Who would've thunk? Not me. All I can think of are the motorcycle boots that I picked up in Salem, OR, last July while the Ural was in the shop. I can't think of anything else that would fit the BBBC topic.

I don't have a favorite brake shoe. Some refer to motorcycle tires as "shoes".  My favorite tire brand seems to be Heidenau. The K60 and K28 for the Beemer.  And K37 and K28 for the Ural. The K28 and K37 being made for sidecar use. The K60 is a great dual sport tire. I just put the studded K60 as the pusher on the Beemer and will be adding studs to the K60 front tire. Then I should be able to start riding the Beemer and the PBC rides may continue for a couple of days.

Speaking of Ural, this morning (Monday) Jed brought his truck and trailer by and we hauled the Ural to Delta to see Mickey (formerly of Mickey's Muffler in Anchorage). He listened to the bike and the new noise it was making and decided that it is internal, deep inside the engine and not knocking. Possibly the rear cam bearing. The only solution is to tear down the engine. He said that I should have no problem tearing it down and removing the crank and the cam.

The only specialized tools are the one to take apart the clutch, remove the flywheel and pull the timing gear off of the front of the crankshaft. BruceW from Ketchikan will be arriving in Fairbanks on Tuesday afternoon and will be bringing the tools to remove the clutch and flywheel. He needed them last year to replace the rear main seal and clutch on his Ural last year. The tool to pull the timing gear is readily available. So I will be removing the engine and tearing it down later this week.

This posted accidently for a couple of hours on the 8th until I fixed the scheduled post date.

And since I got the Beemer set up again for winter riding, here is another PBC video. Only a few more days to go...

PBC #54

Monday, February 8, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

8. The weather.

I think that folks in Alaska talk about the weather more than any other topic. Everyone has first hand experience with it and most have an opinion. Many have their favorite app. One of the guys who occasionally shows up at morning coffee is a long time employee of the National Weather Service. If you ask him what the weather is going to be, he usually pulls out his iPhone and checks several apps. And qualifies his forecast with a statement that he's off duty.

My new favorite weather app on the iPhone is Carrot5 due to the snarky comments, The weather being reported isn't any better or worse than any other app but it entertains.

We just had the driest January on record with only 0.01" of precipitation. And, I think I read somewhere, one of the warmest. Not a single -30°F day. I remember some years when we had weeks of -40° and even some stretches of -65°F. Remember, after Florida disappears due to rising sea levels, Alaska will be the new Florida. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

7. A daydream.

  1. 1.
    a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one's attention from the present.

Over the last few years I've read books (paper or audio) by moto-travellers such as Ted Simon, Sam Manicom, Lois Pryce, Carla King and a few others. And I had watched Long Way 'Round, Long Way Down, One Crazy Ride and Riding Solo to the Top of the World. But these stories and videos haven't turned into daydreams of moto adventures in far off lands. In fact, since I knew this topic was coming up, I made a point to try and log what kind of things I daydream about and I came up blank. It's not that my mind is like staring at a grey wall.

Usually I'm thinking of things I need to do and how to do them. I've been thinking of what could be going on inside the Ural engine that would produce the new sound. I was thinking of what I need to do to get the Beemer ready to ride. And thousands of other things that I don't remember. Since they draw one's attention away from what is in front of your face (reality) maybe these thoughts are daydreams.

I remember having long, full color daydreams of traveling in far off places triggered by pictures and stories in books and magazines. I would imagine going through the streets, flying over vast jungles, African safaris and traveling by boat somewhere in the middle of nowhere. This was usually how I spent my time during school as I spent a lot of time wishing I was elsewhere. These days you don't have to imagine what it would be like to be somewhere else as you can just virtually visit on Netflix...

Saturday, February 6, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

6. Your age.

Photo from
One day when I was in Kindergarten, there was a visitor who had a special message for our class. He told us about the flight of Friendship 7 that had just launched and landed successfully that afternoon. I think much of the content was lost on his audience of 5 year olds but what did stick with me was his excitement of space exploration. I also liked his globe with the motorized capsule orbiting around the equator as I had never even considered the possibility of living away from the land. For me, this was the beginning of my fascination with science, engineering, astronomy and space flight which continues to this day.

I mention the flight of Friendship 7 was not only something very memorable to me but most people I run into these days weren't even born yet and is just some story from their history books.

Sunrise from our back deck
Since we are talking about age, specifically my age,  I've heard a number of reasons over the years explaining why school is much more difficult now than when I was their age. That would be way back in the ancient times. When I was in school:

  • There was no history, only current events
  • Numbers were only known up to 2
  • No written language yet
  • All knowledge could be covered in a week

I'm sure you can come up with a few more.

So, yes, I'm older than many other moto bloggers and my age is the 17th prime number.

Friday, February 5, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

5. Name a place you want to visit this year. Why?

Photo from
My interpretation of this sentence is "Name a place that you would like to visit this year and have a high probability of actually making it there." After all, I would certainly like to visit the ISS or the South Pole but the probability of actually making it there is so close to zero that it would only register as a positive number by definition not in displayed digits.

Photo from
One place that I've been to a couple of times in the past and would like to visit again is Kennecott Mine. It is located at the end of a gravel road inside of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It is located next to a glacier and the scenery enroute as well as at the mine site is spectacular. I haven't been out there since the advent of digital cameras so any pictures I have taken in the past are buried somewhere probably as slides.

To me, it sounds like a perfect Ural destination. Assuming it is running reliably by then. But then again, visiting the ISS would be incredible. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

4. Misused and/or mispronounced word or words that make you CRAZY.

Crazy is kind of a extreme emotion and I can't think of any mispronounced word or phrase used by anyone that would be so bothersome that I'd give it much thought at all. If I can figure out their intent, that's probably good enough for me. I can think of some derogatory or racial slurs that bother me but they are not in the misused or mispronounced category.

And now for my last PBC video, #53.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


This post is part of the blogger challenge titled BBBC. Today's topic is:

3. Today

I guess this is going to be "A Day In the Life Of" type post. Anything more would require someone with an imagination.

8:30am: The status of PBC video #52 switches from "private" to "public" which enables the "Share" option. This was originally recorded on Monday evening.

8:45am: I get the shortened URL off of the YouTube site for the PBC #52 video. I log into the PolarBearChallenge website to add a new video. I copy part of the YouTube description, the shortened URL and submit the video. I then do the same thing on the website under the forum category "Rides". After all, I may as well get some additional mileage out of the video.

Usually, I then get ready to leave the house and ride for about 45 minutes or so to record the next PBC video but I think I'm done riding for a while. The Ural is not doing well and will be trailered down to the dealer in Delta Junction next Monday so Mickey can have a look and a listen. I heard a new sound from the engine yesterday and drained the oil and pulled the valve covers to have a look. I buttoned it back up so I can try and make a recording of the sound. I think it sounds like something rubbing while rotating. Pulling the clutch doesn't change the sound and though it could be my imagination, but I think I can hear a knock.

In the picture of the valve cover, you can see some of the aluminum shavings. By itself, I wouldn't be too concerned as there aren't chunks and there was very little steel on the drain plug magnet. It's the noise that has me concerned.

9:00 am: Outside in the garage rotating the engine by hand to check for anything unusual. I recorded the sound and spent a couple of minutes making this short video for your enjoyment. I added the still photos of the aluminum shavings in the oil drain pan and valve covers as YouTube doesn't seem to accept audio only files.

10:00 am: Headed for College Coffeehouse at the intersection of University Ave and College Rd. This has become a more regular thing since retiring. Before, I would stop by a couple of times per week.

Today, the others there were George, Sandra and Paul. Not too many of the "regulars".

12:00 pm: Today, being Wednesday, it's time for #MotoChat on Twitter. Today's topic is "Winter Motorcycle Dreams". If you have a Twitter account, feel free to join in. I kept on forgetting until I set a calendar reminder.

1:00 pm: Ran multiple errands (after I took off the plow). Then worked on this post.

2:20 pm: Peeled potatoes for a salad to take to a potluck dinner this evening.

2:30 pm: Walked the dogs.

2:45: Posted this blog post. I'll update later in case anything actually interesting happens.

Exciting day...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


2. An everyday item in your house

I looked long and hard for an unusual item around the house. This is not the slide rule that I used through high school but one that I purchased in my first year of college. It got regular use until I broke down and purchased a HP scientific calculator in my second year of college.

I was originally looking for my abacus which has been in my office for the last 25 years or so and it got regular use. I think that it is packed in one of the boxes from my office at the university. Not regularly used for adding strings of numbers but keeping my fingers busy while thinking of another problem. The finger exercise that I have used since elementary school days is repeatedly adding 12345679 over and over again. Every nine times will have all of the columns showing the same number. This is a Japanese abacus or sorobon and I once used to know not only how to add and subtract but also multiply, divide and do square roots on it. Now, just add and subtract.

The slide rule, on the other hand, I can still use and know what most of the scales are for and how to use them. Does this qualify as an everyday item?

I guess I may as well include the other challenge as well. Here is PBC #51

Monday, February 1, 2016


Yesterday (actually today as I'm typing this on Sunday), a new blogger challenge appeared on The challenge is to do a post a day during February with the overall topic of each post predetermined. After agreeing, I realized that the Feb 1st is tomorrow (today?) and the first topic, for me, is a real challenge. Most of the pics on this blog are kind of like this one.

1. All About You (pics and/or words)

I had to look way back through my photo library to July, 2014 for a picture with me in it. I just don't do "selfies". This is right before my grandson left Alaska and I had promised him a ride in the sidecar, Bridget is holding on to him as we drove around the parking lot (in 1st gear). Photo taken by my son.

This one was taken back in November, 2013, taken by ChrisL from while we were in MN. (We go to the really warm and sunny spots for vacation) I prefer to be on the other side of the camera so not very many photos of me (thankfully!). With me is Bridget who's put up with me for the last 15 years.

I recently retired from the University of Alaska after working there for over 31 years having just about every computer job you can think of. I initially started as a physics graduate student back in fall of 1982 but after a year and a half, quit school and got a job, any job I could find, with the goal of making enough money to go somewhere else. I guess that never happened.

I enjoy traveling around. In the past it would've been backpacking, x-country ski touring, bicycle touring or just about any other human powered means but lately, things with engines seem to be the preferred. I guess this blog is kind of like a hobby. After all, this is post 1310. I initially started blogging in 2005 as part of a wellness program at the university. Back then, they hosted the blog, moved it to another platform hosted on the Juneau campus, then abandoned it in April 2007 after the wellness program was outsourced. By then, I was kind of hooked even though I was never sure what to write about and moved to blogger.

Well that's more than enough for topic #1.

Here are a couple of more PBC videos. Only two more weeks to go on the Polar Bear Challenge.

PBC #48

PBC #49

PBC #50