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Dead poets. 11/30/2006

I first read this poem some 20 something years ago. I enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps the reason was because I was also busy devouring the works of Robert E. Howard at the time, and the imagery evoked by this poem fitted in well with the mental picture in my head. And yes, I do know there is a very cheesy and camp movie by the same name, starring Olivia Newton John and featuring music by the Electric Light Orchestra.

Xanadu.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

a stately pleasure-dome decree,

where Alph, the sacred river,

ran through caverns measureless to man

down to a sunless sea,

so twice five miles of fertile ground

with walls and towers were girdled round.

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

where blossom’d many an incense-bearing tree.

And here were forests as ancient as the hills,

enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But O! That deep romantic chasm which slanted,

down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover.

A savage place! As holy and enchanted as e’er beneath a waning moon

was haunted by woman wailing for her demon lover.

In from that chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

as if this Earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

a mighty fountain momently was forced,

amid whose swift half-intermitted burst,

huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail,

and ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever,

it flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,

through wood and dale the sacred river ran.

Then reach’d the caverns measureless to man,

and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.

And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from afar

ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure floated midway on the waves

Where was heard the mingled measure from the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device

a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice.

A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.

It was an Abyssinian maid,

and on her dulcimer she played,

singing of mount Abora.

Could I revive within me her symphony and song.

To such a deep delight ‘twould win me, that with music loud and long,

I would build that dome in air!

Thy sunny dome!

Those caves of ice!

and all who heard should see them there!

and all should cry, Beware! Beware!

his flashing eyes! his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

and close your eyes with holy dread!

for he on honey-dew hath fed,

and drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Touchdown. 11/29/2006

I used to spend a lot of time in flying machines, both fixed wing and rotary.  I probably have enough frequent flyer miles to go to the moon and back.  I done almost every sort of trip, in practically every type of aircraft you could think of.  In the worst kind of flying conditions.  Although of late, my air travel time has diminished.  I haven’t done any sort of serious flying for a while, but that will be changing shortly.

I certainly don’t do as much flying as someone.  I received an SMS the other day, about having to make a quick trip in a Cessna, or a puddle jumper, as they are commonly known.  I had sent a message saying “have fun”, and the reply said, “I hate small planes.”

My reply to that was, “At least you don’t have to jump out of them at 6,000 feet.”

Boys and their toys. 11/28/2006

I did a bit of spring cleaning recently, and sorted out some stuff that I had lying around, and throwing out a lot of junk. The nice thing is I now have my study/workspace back. The bad news is that I have a lot more stuff than I thought I had. Things that had been buried in boxes for years are now seeing the light of day. Bikerwannabe will know what I’m talking about. He saw the space before the clean-up, and wasn’t impressed. Things are a lot different now. I even found books I thought had gone forever. Along with six 80GB hard disks filled with pornography, mp3’s and music videos, and the most awesome collection of Japanese AV VCDs and DVDs next to Charger’s, Paul Tan’s and Dr. Liew’s. But maybe not Makaveli’s.

I was sitting down at the desk, staring into space, unlit cigarette dangling in my fingers. I looked up, reached for the camera, and took a picture.

The picture above is just a very, very small sample of the kits in the collection. I think if I showed you the rest, you’d think I was showing off. I’ve spent years in building models. It used to be a fairly serious hobby of mine, way back when. I’ve still got all the gear and tools and everything.

I think the height of my hobby came when someone commissioned me to build a kit of a Charlie 130, painted in R.M.A.F. colours. Since there were no decal kits made for that particular model of the C-130 Hercules, I had to airbrush the markings in. Along with colour matching the camoflage. After about a month of intensive work (I had a serious day job at the time) I finished the model and presented it to the person who commissioned it.

He took one look at it, and asked me if I could make a full set of these, with the appropriate airframe numbers, so that he could present it to his squadron pilots. I laughed, and said they probably couldn’t afford it. I had charged a four figure sum for the work I did, and I was still making a loss. He shrugged, opened a cheque book, and asked me to name my price.

Darkmare.

The human mind is a rather fragile thing.  It’s funny how a clumping of soft tissue, nerves, neurons and fluid can be capable of rational thought.  But that’s really a question only god can answer, and philosophers to guess at.  But, recently, I have started having visitors again.

I woke up last night, screaming.  With my arms extended, and my hands curled into claws.  Cold sweat on my body.

I thought I had laid some of these things to rest, locked them away for good.  But they have now returned.  I used to get visitors, late at night, for a long time.  But they went away.  Last night, the fangs and blood were there.

I think I need to go for a long ride on a motorbike.

Leaky. 11/27/2006

I just got Bikebike II back from the shop, where she’s had to spend the last 2 days. Somehow, I had managed to put a hole in the radiator. The first that I noticed was when I went to the mall down the road form my place, to get some movie tickets. When I returned, I noticed a puddle of flourescent green fluid under Bikebike.

Since there was only place that fluid could have come from, discretion dictated that I do something about it quickly. I rode her to ES’ shop, where I asked him to have a look at her. He peered closely at the radiator, and showed me a fluid trail where the fluid was leaking. I winced. This wasn’t going to be cheap.

A few phone calls later, ES confirmed my worst fears. A new radiator was going to cost a bomb. The literal arm and leg. I sighed, and told him to proceed. Only to be told that the radiator would only be available on Monday. I asked him exactly what a new radiator was going to cost me, and when he told me, I winced. This small little aluminium construction was more expensive than the radiator for the truck, which I had changed recently. Like four times as much.

I could only curse, and swallow the cost. Motorcycles are going to be the death of me yet.

Pretty in pink. 11/25/2006

In a certain racetrack, somewhere in the world, there is a particular corner which is very difficult. This corner, in the words of the many club racers who race there, is “a bastard.” It has claimed many racers, who, upon entering the said corner, suddenly find themselves running very quickly out of road, and mouthing the words, “oh shit!”, just before being catapaulted into the sky.

I have, in the course of my time racing motorcycles, made my acquitance with this corner. Rather more than that actually. Suffice it to say that I entered the corner upright, and left with my machine being ferried out in the back of a pick-up. I managed to get driven home by the then girlfriend. It was a rather tense and tight lipped journey home. She came out to the track to fetch, after getting a call from me saying that I had crashed, and the track medic had recommended that I don’t drive back. Not that I could drive back, since I had ridden the bike to the track, taken off the lights and slapped some numbers on it, and the said bike was now looking much the worse for wear after eating the kitty litter.

The guys at the track had made arrangements for the wreckage to be shipped back to me, and the remains were now sitting in the garage. All that I really wanted to do was to start work on the bike, to get her back into race worthy condition. I had spent a lot of time on the engine, and felt that it would be a shame to let all those man-hours and begging for machine shop time go to waste. She, on the other hand, had different ideas.

When she got to the track, she didn’t see me immediately. I was off in the back of the pits somewhere having a smoke. What she did see was the very scuffed and scraped piece of fibreglass that was my racing helmet. And since she was a Princess of the highest order, she never really got into the whole motorcycle racing thing. Especially not the fact that she would see me and my friends banged up from crashing one weekend, and then dropping the crutches or taking off the arm sling to go racing the next.

After a few tense days in the house, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to go work on the bike. My vision had cleared to the extent where I wasn’t really seeing double anymore. At least, not much, and the ringing in my ears had stopped. I walked into the garage, and started work. Much to my relief, I found that the damage was mainly cosmetic. Some of the fairing brackets needed straightening, which was quickly and efficiently done with judicious application of a B.F.H. I had spare levers, which I quickly bolted on.

Which left the bodywork. The left side fairing was scuffed all to hell, but still in one (reasonably big) piece. I set to work with pieces of aluminium plate, and a rivet gun, and soon had the fairing looking fit. I filled in the worst of the scrapes with body filler, and everything was ready to be painted up. It was now close to midnight. I needed to get the bike ready for race qualifying tomorrow morning. I stood there in garage, looking at the bike with a critical eye.

She was mechanically sound, and ready to race. The only thing was she looked a lot like a mangy dog, with large patches of body filler, and scraped decals and stickers. I thought that giving her a coat of paint might be the way to go. She wouldn’t look pretty, but she would at least look presentable. I looked around the garage, and found a boxful of spray paint cans. I picked them up one after the other, and most of them were empty. Except for one. I grabbed it, turned to the bike, and started spraying her up. And groaned.

The fairing was now a brilliant shade of shocking pink.

Girl Friday. 11/24/2006

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