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Noise levels. 5/31/2005

G., the so-called engineer, K. and P. share an office with me, along with Smiffy. The five of us sit in a room that’s 14 feet wide, and 26 feet long. And the 3 of them, G., K. and P., will chat the entire day. Non-stop. About things like office politics in the ministry, and what their neighbour’s maid did yesterday, and the price of tomatos in the market. Stupid, inconsequential things. And making personal phone calls all the time.

And they do it at the top of their voices, all of which make it difficult to concentrate. And they will inisit on playing ethnic Indian sitar music and chants on their computers. It was so bad in the office up on the hill, because we were widely spread out, but in this place, the noise is a fucking distraction. K. actually said to me once that she felt sad for me because I didn’t listen to music when working.

Well, I don’t. I appreciate music for what it is, not as a chewing gum for the ears.

Round 2. 5/29/2005

I spent the weekend at the track, helping Keith out again.

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The place is becoming much more glamourous, with professional pit bitches making their appearance.

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The girls were courtesy of one of the racing teams. I was approached, on an informal basis, the year before, to run this team. Things didn’t work out, but they’ve obviously decided to go into it in a big way. This game of gentlemen racers is no longer a game. People are spending real money now, and I can see our local race series becoming very serious, probably shoving out the smaller guys racing on a shoestring. Which is sad, because racing, in the previous 2 years, was ex[ensive enough as it was. Now you have to start playing with the big boys.

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The prettiest bike in the paddock yesterday was this one. The Eurocopter/Schenker Logistics 749R. It’s running in the Supersports series for 600s. Not fast, but lovely doing it. I’ll have to try and score a ride on it one of these days, just for the taste. A limited edition model, for homologation purposes, it comes with a slipper clutch, and race bodywork, with some titanium internals and other different parts.

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Very much down on power compared to Japanese machines, but you’ll never find anything this sexy with “Made in Japan” stamped on it. One of the reasons I like this particular Italian make. Like sex on wheels.

I was in conversation with Keith after Race 2, and he told me that he was thinking of giving up the game. He’s not getting podium finishes, because the level of committment by some of the other riders and teams has increased. He’s got to find a way of reaching the bar, or give up trying. It’s not that he’s slow, he regularly posts 1:10s. Unfortunately, the R1s are dipping into the 1:08s. That means Keith is 2 full seconds off the pace, which is a lifetime in racing terms. Good enough for fifth, but not good enough.

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He confided in me that he’s not confident of the bike’s braking prowess, and he’s a little gun shy of whacking the throttle open in turns 4 and 7. I don’t blame him. He was taken out by Armand in the previous round, and in this round, #90 ran straight into his exhaust, almost toppling him at the end of the straight. The racing this year is becoming even more cut throat. Assuming he turns up for the next track day session, I think I’ll go out with him on the spare bike. I think he just needs to build his confidence a little, and giving him an easy target to gun for, i.e. me, might be the restoration he needs. He’s definitely disheartened.

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And here’s another reason why racers like titanium so much, aside from it being light.

The Song of the Sausage Creature.

R.I.P Hunter S. Thompson (1937 - 2005)

Hunter S. Thompson shot himself yesterday in his Colorado home. The author of several famous books, and an advocate of the counter culture revolution was 67. He was most known for his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, as well as a book detailing the activities of the Hell’s Angels and several motorcycle related short stories.

Some articles here and here .

I first read Hunter S Thompson in the 80s, when I realised that the motorcycling culture in America had spawned a very serious under current of very good literature. Below is “The song of the sausage creature”, written by Thompson, detailing his experience with motorcycles, and specifically, a very fast Ducati 900ss cafe racer. Which also kind of explains why I like motorcycles so much.

There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright red,
hunchback, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them — but I want
one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is
why they are dangerous.

Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles
an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many
oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in
the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque
high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack — and even
there, they will scare the whimpering shit out of you…. There is,
after all, not a pig’s eye worth of difference between going head-on
into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get
what you want, and on other, you get what you need.


Closure. 5/27/2005

I’ve finally signed off on the very last of the medical gas testing. An exercise that started in October of last year has finally come to a close.

I’m going to celebrate.

The weekend.

The weekend is upon us, and I’m looking forward to it. Time for some much needed rest. I’m trying to wind down my work on this site, but it’s not going to be easy. I had another presentation today for the C.S.S.D. and during the presentation, I informed the users that I would be leaving on transfer to another project. And some of them, notably the matrons in charge of C.S.S.D. gave me a look of dismay. They asked me to provide training for their newer nurses, specifically those who are going to be posted to the facility. Gave me a solid ego boost, I’ll tell you that much.

I’m considering what to do with myself this weekend. I know some of it is going to involve the swimming pool and a gigantic blow up killer whale.

Girl Friday.

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Opening the toolbox.

Still no news, this morning, of the new project. I guess I really have to now start planning for the worst. I’m considering several options, some of which I discussed with various parties over the weekend. None of which actually involve living under a bridge.

I’ve done some research, and apparently one of my plans, while being good in theory, unfortunately means that I will be involved in a high competition, low margin industry. The servicing and repair of motor vehicles. I’ve been into engines for a long time, since my very first job, when I was a teenager. You can check “The Atomic Cockroach” for details. At the back of my mind, I had always wanted to run my own shop, using the setup James had, as a model.

But building a reputation for quality is not easy, and only comes after many years of effort. I was also informed that labour, specifically skilled labour, is either not easy to get, or not cheap. I was thinking of doing the wrenching myself, it being something I enjoy doing, but that would mean I could really only entertain one customer at a time, something like what W. is doing in his bike shop.

It means that, for certain types of customers who insist the gaffer does the work, you can charge premium prices, but the income level would be low. An old and good friend informed me that when he was running his workshop for 6 years, his monthly income never got above the $5,000 level. He told me that no one ever got rich from owning a workshop, unless you set up a chain of them. Then you have the advantage of bulk purchase discounts, and preferential treatment from suppliers.

The capital required isn’t too intensive, provided you don’t mind renting the premises. Basic tools, a hoist, a lift, various other bits and bobs, and you’re in business. I know that I can count on the support of many close friends, most of them bikers. Several have actually asked me to apply all the biking history and technical knowledge contained in my head and open a bike shop, but after some research, the big bike population in this city is not enough to support an operation like the one I envision.

If I wanted to confine myself to basic oil changing and servicing, it would be no problem, but the margins in that are very low indeed. The big money lies in modifications, and performance upgrades, something I happen to know a little about. But doing that means having lots of starting capital, because machines these days are very sophisticated, and if you don’t know how to use a dynanometer, and read the software on the laptop, you’re screwed. The old days of fixing bikes with a B.F.H. and a screwdriver are gone.

But I certainly will have to commit myself to something.

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