Monday, October 30, 2006

Pterosail™ Trike Systems

Pterosail™ Trike Systems

Wow, I've said before that I think one of the problems with "alternative vehicles" and EVs is that designers only step outside of the box enough to change the vehicles propulsion system. All the other design descions seem based on, "Well, now how do we make it look like a car/motorcycle/steam locomotive and still work with this new dilithium crystal drive?"
Well here's a vehicle that really jumps outside the box. A wind/electric/human powered trike. Yeah, you read that right. Wind! There is also an option for a small rollable solar panel canopy, mostly intended for charging small personal electronics, like cell phones and ipods. They have also integrated regenerative braking into this baby.
It looks like it's still in production, because there is no purchase information on the site. Let's hope they make it to market, 'cause this might just make the mid-West fun again!

Via TreeHugger

Hitch50 - Hitchhiking to 50 state capitals in 50 days or less

Hitch50 - Hitchhiking to 50 state capitals in 50 days or less

I just love this! This is why God, or Al Gore, invented the internets... (and really, if you think about it, if there was a patriarchal gendered Diety, wouldn't he be more like Al Gore, than Charleton Heston in the 10 commandments? You know, kinda square, wholesome, good intentioned, telling you to eat your veggies, and drive an electric PEV instead of an SUV?)

Anyway, Scotty and Fiddy have thus far logged 25 states in 21 days. Not too shabby. The Dragon has logged a few thousand miles on his thumb-talon in his day, and is glad to see what was once a grand tradition of American youth reclaimed from the mostly urban-legend fueled terror it has come to be seen as. And when you think about it, wireless technology really does open up the potential for hitching to become a hip and safe means of opening up new adventures and new friends.

From their site:

The rules of Hitch50 are simple. We can't pay for ANY transportation. And we must get a photo in front of every state capitol building in 50 days or less. Most importantly, we must provide reader of our website with original content at least once every day and at least once every state. ...
Why are we doing this? We both just graduated college and didn't exactly pursue the typical business jobs our classmates were chasing, so we needed something to do. Something fun to do, which involved traveling and meeting people and sharing experiences with them. So... we decided to hitchhike to every state capital, in 50 days or less. This gives us the opportunity to meet fun people and see fun places all over the USA. During the process we'll also get the opportunity to neglect sleep, nutrition and exercise for almost two months....which is awesome.
The map at the top of our home page shows our current location, with updates every few seconds. The map comes from the GPS chip in our cell phone, and links our location to this web site. If you zoom in you can see the exact building we're in, or the exact corner we just took on the's actually really creepy. Click the map to expand it and check out the other features we've added.

Ruining America

Ruining America

Some powerful words on Bush's recent press conference on Iraq. Of course in this day and age of partisan spin-doctoring, culture wars, and internet news where you can find a source to support any nut-job opinion one might hope to possess, well ya gotta ask yourself, "What kind of pinko, un-American, beatnik, granola-eatin', birkenstock-wearin', atheistic, pot-smokin', free-lovin', anarchistic, sexually deviant, conspiracy theorist, would post this kind of tripe?"

The president declared himself confident that Republicans would sweep to victory and maintain their stranglehold on both houses of a Congress that's done nothing but rubberstamp Bush's war policies and Republican efforts to enrich their fat-cat donors and themselves, of course.
If he's right and that's the result of the Nov. 7 elections, then the American people will finally have fulfilled H.L. Mencken's prophecy that we'd continue choosing the lowest common denominator until, in the end, we get precisely the government we deserve. ...
This unseemly circus and its clowns in Congress can't go away fast enough and with enough dishonor and disgrace to suit the circumstances. Their place in America's history is secure: They will go down as the worst administration and the worst Congress we've ever had. Period.
They deserve to lose both the House and the Senate on Nov. 7, and the White House in 2008. They bullied their way into a war that they thought would be a slam-dunk and then so bungled things that the only superpower left in the world has been humbled and hobbled in a world that they've made more dangerous for us.

Noam Chomsky? Amy Goodman? Micheal Moore? Jane Fonda? Hilary Clinton?


It's this guy:

Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and a nationally syndicated columnist. One of America's preeminent war correspondents, with more than four decades as a reporter and writer, he recently concluded an assignment as a special consultant to Gen. Colin Powell at the State Department. Galloway, a native of Refugio, Texas, spent 22 years as a foreign and war correspondent and bureau chief for United Press International, and nearly 20 years as a senior editor and senior writer for U.S. News & World Report magazine. In 1990-1991 Galloway covered Desert Shield/Desert Storm, riding with the 24th Infantry Division (Mech) in the assault into Iraq. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf has called Galloway "The finest combat correspondent of our generation -- a soldier's reporter and a soldier's friend."

And where was it posted? Democracy Now? Indy Media? Socialist Worker?


None other than that hallowed web portal to leftist dissent,

Folks, I urge you to support our troops. Sticking a magnetic yellow ribbon on your SUV, just ain't gonna do it. Vote the rubber-stamping Neo-cons out this November.

Cthulhu License Plate on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Cthulhu License Plate on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

More Halloween Hilarity.

Yes, that is indeed very scary...

Yes, that is indeed very scary...

Foxtrot is not always my favorite comicstrip. But when Bill Amend aims his sights at the geeky side of life, he is rarely off-target. If you missed yesterdays strip, check the link for the nightmare that is probably most making geek and nerd hearts rev up to "humming-bird on crack" levels this Halloween.


I just discovered that Mark David Gottsegen, author of the one art reference book every painter should own, The Painter's Handbook, has a website, . It looks pretty good, though in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I've only looked at about 5 of the many pages on the site. Of course I've spent about an hour and a half looking at 2 of those pages...
This is my favorite so far, being a sucker for road tales, and road tales involving paint being only second to the unwritten road tale involving paint and scooters which the Norns dangle before me like a carrot...
Mark starts this entry with (indeed the bulk of it consists of) a list. Now, the Dragon has very little interest in accounting, or listmaking. My "to-do" lists rarely get beyond an entry stating "prioritize action items" before I give up and either dive willy-nilly into the things that must be done, or fix another cuppa and start looking for cool old scooters on the intarweb. But this list hooked me. Check it:

Net Vehicle Weight: 8728 lbs
Average number of miles traveled daily: 50
Greatest number of miles traveled in one day: 347
Fewest number of miles traveled in one day: 0.1
Number of days on the road: 396
Longest time spend in one location: 27 days
Shortest time spent in one location, other than for fuel: 43 minutes
Number of campgrounds visited: 32
Number of motels stayed in: 15

[b]Other camping facilities:
Municipal parking lots with permission: 56
Town parks with permission: 75
Mall parking lots with permission: 22
Mall parking lots without permission: 7
Bar/saloon/tavern parking lots with permission: 74
Bar/saloon/tavern parking lots without permission 21
Public lands (no permission required) 18
Private lands with permission 52
Private lands without permission 1
Other (driveways, city streets, alleys, and so on) 23
Number of times required to move late at night
Once by the harbor Police in Crescent City CA, who pointed out a free camping spot 100 yards down the road
Once by the County Sheriff in Carrabelle FL, who pointed out a free spot 20 feet away in another parking lot
Once by an irate and drunken farmer in Skaneateles NY
Number of times arrested for trespassing 0

Number of miles traveled: 18569.2
Interstate highways: 1220.6
US highways: 6573.9
state highways: 7857.8
county roads: 1825.1
town roads: 923.6
unmarked roads: 72.3
private roads: 120.9

Yes, this is an anal, quantitative analysis of a purely qualitative experience. Yet somehow, rather than stifling the experiment into dead, dissected data, it gives the informationroom to play, to breathe, to live. Somehow it transcends being a beancounter inventory, and instead becomes an Impressionistic masterpiece, like Monet riffing on Kerouac.

And did you look at the van he did it in?

1957 International Harvester Metro A120: "Cennino Cennini." BD200 straight six, 90 hp at 600 rpm (third rebuild, with thanks to master mechanic Charles Sams and engine builder extraordinaire Robert Stanley). Three-on-the-tree converted to three-on-the-floor, with a replacement HD higher gear ratio tranny. Now 27' long: front deck is 3' long, back covered porch is 4' long. That cast iron eagle on the front deck weighs 50 lbs and is from a 1912 boiler at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Eight feet wide, with surround bumpers. 9' high. GVW now at ~10,000 lbs., including added steel, 3/4" deck, improved interior cabinetry, chemical toilet, water supply, kitchen equipment, tools, painting gear. Roof deck is accessible through the skylight. Two 3' x 5' Lexan windows. 3 DO a/c. Top speed: 50 mph, downhill, with a tail wind. Mileage: 10 mpg empty. (Never empty. Mileage: 8 mpg.) The odometer reads ~130,000, but it's on its second go-round, so it's more like 1,130,000 miles traveled.

Beautiful, Mark, simply beautiful.
Really, folks, I've just given you a taste, if you have any fascination with roadtrips, you should check out the link.
Oh yeah, Mark just happens to be one of the foremost experts on artist materials alive today, as I hinted earlier. And coming in December his site will be moving to

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Schweet Mono-Wheel Online Museum

Motorwheels Monowheels

Doesn't this look like something Apple design savant John Ives would come up with, if he applied his talents to transport? (Speaking of which, John, should you ever decide to take on the challenge of transportation industrial design, the Dragon would like to officially throw his Stetson into the ring as a participant in that salon/skunkworks.)
But no, this amazingly elegant, modern design is a product from W. Jackson et Compagnie of Boulevard Malherbes 36, Paris, dated 1869.
Check out the link, there are some really mind-blowing examples of human ingenuity to be found here. This also happens to be a place to find more info on that sweet steam-punk motorized monowheel I featured a while back.

Well I'll be jiggered, with a very large jigger, indeed.

pjchmiel's Ramble 2006 Photo Gallery

Scooters and Cameras, they go together like PB and J. (Or as the Dragon prefers it PB, banana, and honey.)
You have probably figured out by now that long-distance scooter-touring is something of a fantasy of mine. I think I've even linked to PJ Chmiel's Ramble 2006 before (though I can't dig it up right now.) Well he's finished his wanderjahr and got a huge Flickr gallery of pics from the trip. These are worth checking out. As one of the design geniuses behind the hiply retro Genuine Scooters, and ScooterWorks websites, PJ has a great eye for the cool old signage and uniquely American architecture that once made touring the back country roads of this nation so cool. There are a few scooter shots in here, but much more of it is a reminder of a fading time before everywhere was Home Depot/Starbucks/ Wal-Mart strip malls.

(This photo is the legshield mural on PJ's Stella, "Ramblin' Man." Honky-Tonk Dragon, who can settle down and be doin' just fine til he hears an old train rollin' down the line, heartily approves.)

Bush grants self more power to declare Martial Law.

President Bush has signed into law a provision which,.. (revises) the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement.

Remember this when you vote in two weeks. Though Bush signed off on this thing, and we can't vote him out, we can sure do something about the losers in both houses who pushed this to his desk. And to those of you who say, "this isn't about Iraq, terrorism, or protesters, this is a response to the inability to deal with the aftermath of Katrina," I must, most respectfully declare Bullshit! If Bush and the Feds had been on the ball, and had not deployed Reserves and National Guard to Iraq in an underhanded attempt to avoid making the Iraq "police action" even more unpopular by instituting the draft.
Some of this is discussed on the "Wake up AMerica" podcast I linked to yesterday, but here are a lot more details. ( See I told you, it was worth your time to listen to the whole thing.)

Make no mistake about it: the de-facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA) is an ominous assault on American democratic tradition and jurisprudence. The 1878 Act, which reads, "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both," is the only U.S. criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American people under the cover of 'law enforcement.' As such, it has been the best protection we've had against the power-hungry intentions of an unscrupulous and reckless executive, an executive intent on using force to enforce its will.Unfortunately, this past week, the president dealt posse comitatus, along with American democracy, a near fatal blow. Consequently, it will take an aroused citizenry to undo the damage wrought by this horrendous act, part and parcel, as we have seen, of a long train of abuses and outrages perpetrated by this authoritarian administration.

via Slashdot

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Wake up America: Podcast Interview with Wes Clark

Wake up America, has an hour and 15 minute podcast with an interview with Wes Clark. These fine women have a great show, and I recommend you listen to the whole thing. But if you are a die-hard Clarkie the first part of Kathy's interview with Clark starts at 22:28 and ends at 25:13. He talks mostly about foreign policy, but thankfully he includes the Palestinian issue as one that must be faced dipolmatically, as must Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, to both secure world peace, and regain American respect abroad. There is a second part, which is far more personable, as Kathy as mother, asks for Clark's advice, as a military veteran, on how to talk to her son, also a West Point Graduate, who is currently stationed in Tikrit. The second part starts at 35:15 and ends 36:06. I couldn't hold back the tears, when afterwards Kathy attempts to announce the death of one of her son's friends and classmates in Iraq. And the political conversation of these women afterwards...

... I'm sorry... the Dragon may be a cold-blooded scooter-obsessed monster, but this just broke my hard reptilian heart. I can understand the testosterone-driven urge that causes one to want to fight and die for an honorable cause, for the greater good, but as a member of this Democratic society, I also understand that it is our duty to ensure that those fine, self-sacrificing individuals not be asked to risk all for causes that aren't honorable.
And that, my friends, is the true meaning of patriotism, and supporting our troops.

Really though, listen to the whole podcast, play it as you check your email, and surf your regular sites. It's worth your time.

The Ladies, after enumerating our losses of civil liberities, ask "where is the press?" Well, my fair ladies, I'm only a lowly drake, but I'll spread the word.
Anybody else feel like stepping up to plate?

When relying on viral marketing, don't mess with Typhoid Mary.

Universal relied heavily on the rapid Firefly fanbase to promote Serenity when it came out, and even encouraged the fans' guerilla marketing. Now I guess, they feel the aftermarket tie-in dollars are starting to trickle off. Where else to look for new income from these great pieces of intellectual property? Why sue those guerilla marketers for copyright infringement! A stroke of evil-genius that could only come from a Hollywood Super villain!

"Might not have been the winning side, still ain't convinced it was the wrong side," Indeed, Mal, indeed.

And in a stroke of plucky resourcefulness worthy of Mal and the Serenity's crew, the Browncoats have adopted the " a best defense is a good offense" strategy, pulled a Crazy-Ivan, and are now billing Universal for their "marketing and promotion" efforts.
Good on you, Browncoats.

Client Name: Universal Pictures
Services Rendered: Marketing & Promotion
Period: 2005/2006
Billable Fan-hours: 16,851
Amount Due: $1,263,825
Payment Due Upon Receipt
submit your timesheet, including your name and total billable hours for marketing and promotion activities.

via Slashdot

update 10:58 am PST

I just found this great excerpt from an interview with Joss Whedon, in the comments on Slashdot (which 75% of the reason to read the comments, geeks can argue the fine points of their chosen fields of interest like nobody's business... wait a second, I guess that's why they're called geeks.) I'd post the link to the interview, but, well... it's been slashdotted. (No, Mom, click the link... "slashdotted" is not geekspeek for editing slash fiction.)

Q. You've also done an absolutely smashing job of ignoring the massive amounts of bootleg "Firefly" fan merchandise. I'm thinking specifically of [now closed -gossi].
A. I'm a Deadhead, and where I come from, bootlegging's a good thing.
Q. If the movie's a hit, and more official merchandise starts coming out, do you think there's going to be a crackdown?
A. I have no idea. I never have a piece of merchandising; I haven't reached a place in the Hollywood DNA chain where I can actually ask for that. So it's not like I'm losing money. But even if I was? You know, I'm doin' fine. I have a job. I'm doing just fine. And the fact that people are making this stuff? You can call it "bootlegging" or you can call it "free advertising." Q. Let's hope they keep calling it the latter.
A. You can also call it "the fact that people are taking it to their hearts." It's no different than fan fiction or any of these online communities. It's important to them and they wear it -- and that makes me proud. And I don't give a good goddamn who's makin' money off it.
Q. Now, do you have a favorite piece of fan -- I'm sorry, "free advertising"?
A. [laughs] A favorite.... You know, I have to admit, when I first saw the Blue Sun t-shirts, I thought they were pretty cool -- because it didn't announce itself, and I think it had a really good logo.

Gallup: Only 1 in 4 Americans Very Confident Votes Will Be Counted Accurately

Gallup: Only 1 in 4 Americans Very Confident Votes Will Be Counted Accurately

Wish I could remember where I'd seen this recommended, but you can always do what the Dragon has been doing for six years, vote absentee, and then at least you get around the electronic voting debacle.

"Republicans and Democrats differ in their overall confidence in the country's voting system, with Republicans much more likely than Democrats to express confidence in the accuracy of the vote counts, in the workers at polling facilities, and in the trustworthiness of electronic ballots."


Nice, thoughtful analysis on the current state of the War on Terror and American foreign policy, in this interview.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What will Americans say in 10 years about Bushs "War on Terror"?
Suskind: They will say what I said: That the United States and its allies were winning this struggle up until around the end of 2002. Think back to September 12th. That arguably is the most important day, when we mustered ourselves to a response ...
SPIEGEL ONLINE: ... and most of the world stood in unity with the Americans.
Suskind: There were candellight vigils in Tehran -- a nice marker of where much of the world was. Even virulent radicalized Islamists were saying: "That is not my Islam." And virtually all were saying, in unanimity, "Well, the United States is certainly justified in doing whatever it sees fit in Afghanistan with the Taliban and al-Qaida. If any goal of foreign policy is to unite your allies and divide your enemies, it is fair to say that we were successful. Even countries that were not naturally inclined to be helpful were being helpful, especially in the Arab World. Our allies said, "How can I help?"
SPIEGEL ONLINE: During that time there were also defections from al-Qaida.
Suskind: Yes, dissent (inside al-Qaida) helped to provide the seabed for human intelligence that the United States harvested, including Ali. He provided important tips right up until early 2005. And the Emir of Qatar gave us intelligence that helped us to catch Binalshibh, and Mohammed was turned over by another source. He got a $25 million reward and is now living somewhere in America with his family. These are human intelligence assets and they are the how you win these wars.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So things were going well ... at least until the Iraq war?
Suskind: You can almost mark by the day how our human intelligence assets have withered. The chances of someone coming to the US authorities in this period are slim to none and that will blind us at a time when the terrorist threat has metastasized into what I call the franchise model. It is particulary difficult to discover prior to the operational moment.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: That has been a source deep frustration for the intelligence community.
Suskind: And that is why people in the counter-terrorism community in the United States are terrified at this point and why many cooperated with this book. They wanted to send out a signal and say: "We need to have a real strategy here that is not only tactically forceful, but where the left hand of the US foreign policy doesn't undermine what the right hand is doing." Right now we often run like a headless chicken. We need a strategy. And we need it immediately because, in some ways, we are less safe then we were on Sept. 12.

"Use the phone while practising mindfulness – don’t let it use you."

TreeHugger has a post on a Thai Cellphone provider (or as we in the business refer to them "carrier") who has started offering chanted mantras and Buddhist sayings as ringtones.

Dhamma (or dharma) is the Buddhist term for enlightened or authoritative teachings. The force behind these unique ringtones is the monk Phra Phayom Kalayano, who has recorded the dhamma doctrines and offered them free of charge to the mobile phone networks in Thailand. The Thai newspaper "The National" reports that several internet sites are now offering ring tones such as:

  • Anger is stupidity, fury is madness – if you don’t succumb to anger, you won’t succumb to stupidity and madness.
  • It is better to sweat from hard work than cry from laziness, which encourages poverty.
  • Compose yourself before answering this call. Avoid being irascible and causing disputes.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Scooter in the Sticks: Lessons from 100 Posts

Steve Williams, over at Scooter in the Sticks (the thinking person's scooter blog) has posted this great video in cahoots with a reflection on a year of scooter-blogging. Folks I can't recommend his site enough, even if (perhaps ESPECIALLY if) you ain't a scooterist. Steve isn't blogging about 2-strokes vs. 4-strokes, or what's the best aftermarket exhaust. He's blogging about the seemingly small descions we can all make to our lives and the planet more livable. More philosophical than radically environmental, his meditations stem from slowly letting the thing at hand reveal itself, rather than forcing it to fit a particular paradigm. Whether or not he convinces you to trade the SUV for a scoot, I think he might just encourage you to approach your life, or even just some small aspect of it, more consciously.

And his writing style's pretty dang good, too.

The process of riding unwinds me. I can feel the tension, noise, and chaos of a day dissipate as the scooter gains momentum. The scooter asks me to be patient and accept the world around me. It allows me to actually do what has often been suggested. I made the video below before I bought the scooter. I had identified a connection between the photographic work I was doing and the daily work that I was engaged in. Looking at it now I can see the Vespa is a mirror of photography. Both processes do the same thing for me.

Congratulations, Steve. The Dragon anxiously awaits the next year.

Get Rid of Your Clutter! -

Get Rid of Your Clutter! -

This is just a reminder to myself, more than anything. Though I have a feeling that of those who are drawn to check out the Dragon on occasion, there are probably a few fellow procrastinators.

One way of avoiding this situation and the dreary task of sifting through reams of paper is to take five seconds off the daily schedule and ensure that you put the right paper in the right place and junk mailers and papers that is not required as soon as it arrives. This means that you do not have to create space for unnecessary storage of useless material that you may ultimately never need. This immediate process of purge and merge should include throwing away any junk mail, filing bills and receipts in a file, organizing the folders into various categories and so on. Once the basic framework in which you structure your paper is ready, the rest is easy. All you have to do is ensure that the right paper gets into the right place. It could be the dustbin for some and a particular file for another.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Klintron’s Brain » » Why blog?

Klintron’s Brain » » Why blog?

Nice post from everybody's favorite soon to be post-human, Klintron about his various motivations for blogging. This is something I have been thinking about for awhile now. I won't go too indepth, right now, Klint has been blogging a lot longer than I, and to a certain degree, he is my blogger mentor. He also links to a good rumination by bOINGbOING's Cory Doctrow, on the same topic, which touches on some of my motivations as well.
Originally, this blog was meant as a storing house/creative journal, for a comics project that has really been moved to the back burner. Overtime it has developed into a much more free form entity, yet in ways it still sticks to some of the original motivations. It is a storing house of links for my various researches and obsessions, and (though this aspect is still the most embryonic) a promotional platform for my creative work (more on that in the coming months.) But it is also a soapbox for other ideas and opinions, and a kind of open letter to friends and family who are too far away, a way of sharing with them the various directions my thinking is taking, without forcing them to sign up for myspace.
Oh, and yes, scooters...
I am very resistent to defining this blog too much. I'd like for people who are familar with it to think of Honky-Tonk Dragon as it's own adjective, as it's own category. Rather than being something that can be easily described, I'd rather it be an aesthetic that is felt. A kind of organic online entity.

Or you can just think of it as a web-portal from an alternative universe, where Zen-Punk-Cowboys trade scooter repair tips and graphic novels with Gourmet-Hermetic-Drag-King-Poets, and Anarchistic-Librarian-Juggler-Pirates. It really is just an exercise to jump-start my creativity, to remind me of all the kooky neat stuff out there just on the edge of the mainstream. It's a place to get serious about your silliness, and silly about your seriousness.

From Klintron's Brain:

I’m not a disciplined writer. I don’t write every day. I’ve had some articles published here and there, but I’m far from being a professional writer. Sometimes I think about quitting writing forever. Sometimes I’ll go months without writing. But somehow it always creeps back in, something will creep into my head and I’ll have to write it down. It may be a few paragraphs or a few pages, but every so often it happens and I can’t really help it.
I suppose, ultimately, the same is true of blogging. There are a number of reasons to blog, but probably an equal number of reasons not to. Sometimes I think about shutting ‘em all down, selling my domain names, and finding a more productive hobby. I did sell one of my blogs, but I don’t have any intention of giving up any of the others, and even if I did, I’d probably just keep blogging somewhere else.

The Dragon and his favorite lady take a mini-vacation

You might have noticed it's been a couple of days since my last post. I've been in Seattle for the last couple days, spoiling my favorite human rotten, and driving myself to the poorhouse!
It was Jes's b-day Sunday, so I took her to Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle, for an excellent dinner and a show all rolled into one. We wanted to stay at the Ace Hotel, but it was booked up, so instead we spent Sunday night at the Hotel Max, which was probably a little swankier, (the price certainly was...)
After check-out yesterday, we hooked up with Mage and Gretchen for Irish coffees overlooking the bay. Then we went back to their lovely crib, to sample their wonderful wine collection, eat Indian food, and waste away an afternoon and evening in relaxed pleasant conversation.
We would both like to thank Gretchen and Mage for their hospitality, open access to their wine cellar, and use of their couches. We both also extend hear-felt apologies to Sawny, our Siamese, for leaving him unattended for so long.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

New Hampshire Presidential Watch: Clark: Bush is blind to reality

New Hampshire Presidential Watch
A site that tracks all potential presidential candidates in the Granite State during the months leading up to the First-In-The-Nation Primary... is tracking Wes Clark.

Clark made the following comments:

"This is some new fabrication of American policy that we won't talk to people we disagree with. Are we too weak to talk to them? Are we afraid that we might not prevail with our principles? It's time for the United States of America to show leadership."

"This administration is blind to the realities of the world we live in."

"The greatest gift we could have given Osama bin Laden was to invade Iraq ... It helped him recruit and train a new generation of fanatics. The number of terrorists has increased by two and a half times since 9/11. There is no terrorist gene. People are not born as terrorists. They become that way and we don't want to feed the recruiting process."

Yamaha Fuel Cell Prototype Scooter

This is a sweet little concept scoot, equivalent to a 125cc

This time refers exhibits FC-AQEL to apply electromotive technology than past and control technology and the environmental corresponding technology etc which are cultivated, hydrogen fuel cell Yamaha hydrogen fuel cell system of this corporation individual development was loaded, it is the fuel cell bicycle which is suitable to the 125cc class whose is widely used in the bicycle market of the world.  While being proud of high efficiency and output where it is by the hybrid system of the accumulator, actualizing small size light weight conversion by adopting the metal separator for the fuel cell. You have aimed toward sufficient range by loading high pressure hydrogen tank 2 of 35MPa onto the fuel. In addition, the drive section the super thin-shaped power unit which is cultivated with the electric commuter (YIPU) applies technology, (1) the super flat brush less DC motor, (2) collects the microminiature controller and (3) the planetary reduction gear etc to the rear wheel hub, furthermore the rear arm assures compact conversion by the fact that you design just, handiness of the bicycle has been compatible that way power efficiency and miniaturization.

via The Scooter Scoop

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Getting run off the road is nothing unusual, say moped and scooter riders.

Hazard Lights
Getting run off the road is nothing unusual, say moped and scooter riders.

Great Seattle Weekly article on the primary hazard to riders of mopeds and lower displacement scooters... Cagers. Of course they call Vespas mopeds, but otherwise their heart is in the right place. And granted they are using the Washingston State legal definition of moped as anything under 50cc which has a top-speed of 30-35 mph.

Let's say, like Doty, you're young, educated, and urban. You're starting a career, probably have student loans, and the cost of housing in marquee cities like Seattle is exorbitant. Owning a car is also expensive; not to mention the hassle of finding a parking space on, say, Capitol Hill. You don't commute on the freeway from the suburbs or shuttle the kids to soccer practice, so what's the ideal solo vehicle for congested streets? Mopeds and scooters.
Yet Seattle streets haven't been so friendly to the Mosquitoes, according to Kevin Barrans, the group's co-founder and proprietor of Seattle Mopeds in Wallingford. "I've been hit about three to four times in the last four years," he says. "We're forced by law to ride out in traffic." (Bicyclists tend to hug the curb and let cars pass.) "It's not unheard of for someone to ride us off the road. It happens all the time." ...

But deaths for motorized bikes under 500 cc (a classification that includes all mopeds and scooters) were 31 percent less in 2004 than in 1994, NHTSA says. For larger bikes, deaths were up 57 percent in the 501–1,000 cc category, and 143 percent for bikes 1,001 cc and above. Thus, smaller means slower, and slower means safer.
NHTSA data also show the number of motorized bike deaths is up 10 percent for riders age 30 and younger, while 40-and-over fatalities have spiked a shocking 241 percent in 2004 versus 1994. Which is not to say there's no danger in being young, broke, and reckless; it's just apparently safer than being older and affluent enough to buy the chopper of your dreams. (Much has been written about baby boomers treating themselves to a Harley, then crashing the overpowered hog when they find their reaction time isn't what it used to be.)
Voris advocates a bold, confident style of riding that not all entry-level types may possess: "You will get no respect from the cars. You need to think of yourself as a car."
The same sentiment prevails over beers with Barrans, Brett Walker, and other members of the Mosquito Fleet during a recent Monday meet-up at the Mars Bar. As a Mosquito member spins vinyl (no iPods here), Brendan Barrans, brother of Kevin, describes being hit head-on by a left- turning car that didn't see him. His moped was crushed, but he somewhat miraculously barrel-rolled over the hood and landed on his feet, unscathed. "It's nerve-racking," says Walker of the constant traffic vigilance required on city streets.
Outside the bar, a row of some 20 mopeds adorns the curb, ranging in era from the mid-'60s to '70s. Club members, mostly male and mid-20s, regularly adjourn for smokes and to kick one another's tires. It's like a well-mannered junior varsity gathering of Hells Angels (many Mosquitoes attend Ballard's Mars Hill Church), where everyone has a day job in information systems rather than dealing meth to make ends meet.

via 2StrokeBuzz

Friday, October 20, 2006

Vectrix Electric Maxi-Scooter nearing release

Ladies and Gentledragons, we have reached critical mass! (OK, well maybe this only applies to those of us obsessed with the obvious potential superiority of cool two-wheeled forms of personal transport.)
Pretty soon we are going to have to stop bitching about how the rest of the world gets all the cool scoots, and we get Honda Metros and moutain bikes that cost even more. Not only are we gonna see the sweet return of the Vespa fenderlight, and the cutting edge handling of the Piaggio MP3, but Vectrix's 62 mph 68mile range electric maxi-scoot is due to be unvieled soon, and they have already promised a stateside release not too long after those crafty Europeans get theirs.
Of course the Dragon does'nt have mixed feelings about this all, considering he just got a 25 year old Vespa, that after months of waiting and work is just about to be leagal and functional... no, not at all.
(Grumble, grumble, grumble... I'll show them, once I'm done painting it all sweet and custom, everyone will jealous of me...grumble, grumble, grumble.)

from Vectrix's email:
VECTRIX is proud to announce the worldwide launch of its revolutionary high-powered electric maxi-scooter at:
The 64th International Motorcycle ExhibitionEICMAMilan, ItalyNovember 14-19, 2006
Maximum Performance:
Breathtaking Acceleration (0-50 mph in 6.8 sec.)
Long Range (68 miles on a single charge)
Lightning Fast (top speed 62 mph)
Zero Emissions:
Clean (emission free)
Silent (100% electric)
Free (from oil dependency and urban congestion)
Stay tuned for details on how to confirm your reservation for one of the first Vectrix maxi-scooters.
Confirmations accepted beginning November 1st.
Countdown to Launch...
Visit today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Last Word Blog: Two Gallants Update

Last Word Blog: Two Gallants Get Fucked With By Houston Piggies

Sky over at Last Word Books, (where the Gallants have actually played) has a much better post than mine on the recent incident at a Houston venue. Click over to it for links to a lot more info on the incident.

...singer/guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel sounded tired, angry, and slightly bewildered. And they have every right to be."It's been a confusing few days," Stephens said. "I guess I'm getting over feeling absolutely powerless in a so-called free and democratic society. It's a sobering feeling to have the law be completely lawless, and feel like there's absolutely nothing I could do. I think everyone there that night felt the same."

ABC News: Behind the Secrets of 'Lost'

ABC News: Behind the Secrets of 'Lost'

Klintron, over at Technoccult turned me on to this very long interview with the creators of "Lost", wherein they discuss lessons learned from the "failures" of "Twin Peaks" and "The X-Files," and the "success" of the "Star Wars Holiday Special." Confused? Well if you care enough about the show and geek culture to be confused you should check out the interview. Both entertaining and educational.

LINDELOF: ...But it's a very organic process. We feed off of what we see so you see a character like Desmond all of a sudden he becomes a regular in Season 3 as does Michael Emerson who played Henry Gale because they were both so incredible and so wonderful that we ended up deciding that we were going to tell more stories with them than we had originally planned. We always are listening to what the show is telling us it wants us to do. We are not the masters. We are in concert with all these other forces in trying to guide the show. But the show has its own ideas about where it wants to go.

TAPPER: Does the show talk to you?

CUSE: The show does, it talks to me often but I'm medicating and that helps a lot.

ABRAMS: It's been talking to me this entire time and it's telling me to kill you.

2strokebuzz » Blog Archive » VCOA announces Seattle Amerivespa date

2strokebuzz » Blog Archive » VCOA announces Seattle Amerivespa date

The Dragon will see you there!

The date has been set for Amerivespa 2007. The VCOA’s annual national rally will be held in Seattle, Washington on July 12–15, 2007.

Two Gallants incident in Houston

Two Gallants (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Ok, I just found out about this.

"On Friday October 13, 2006, Adam and Tyson got into a dispute with the Houston Police. A policeman came into the venue and immediately got on stage. The policeman then started to confront Adam and after a short while, threw him down on the stage. The policeman then got up and immediately called for backup. The policeman also started thrashing around and destroying musical equipment. Afterwards, members from the crowd and the opening bands started confronting the police officer. The police officer then proceeded to harass and taze members of the crowd, including one 14-year old teenager. Adam then ran out of the venue and disappeared into the streets. Tyson was handcuffed and peacefully entered the police car. Soon, helicopters and police cars flooded into the venue parking lot. Arrests were made of members of the opening bands and dissenting crowd members. Reports say that a total of six people were arrested.
Not much of the reasons for the occurrence of this event are clear. The rumored reason of the initial dispute was because of a noise complaint. This seems highly unlikely since the venue seems to have multiple shows a week. Also, when members of the crowd asked the police officers what the real problem was, the police were extremely vague. One police officer replied, 'You don't need to know.' Members of the crowd intially searched for the officer's badge but none was seen. After some time a crowd member yelled out the badge number 7854. The officer's name is rumored to be Gabriel Rodriguez. At least one Houston local media station ran the story according to official police reports. These reports say that the band members initiated the confrontation. This is clearly untrue since there are multiple accounts of the police officer first throwing Adam to the ground. "

Monday, October 16, 2006

Scene from an Imaginary Spaghetti Western

A little pen and ink, a little photoshop, a lot of playing around.
I'm pretty happy with this, first picture of the Honky-Tonk Dragon that's fit what's in my head.
What do you think? Love it? Hate it? Ambivilent?
Would this character entice you to visit the Dragon more often? Or scare you away?
Thinking about this for my next stage of the redesign, and if feedback warrants, maybe even as a T-shirt to raise funds for server space and a domain.

I know, I know, many of you will think he should lose the cigarette... I'm thinking about it.

another zit on the arse of the universe from warrenelliscom

another zit on the arse of the universe from warrenelliscom
Warren Ellis's long-running gag "Edison Hate Future," (Which the Dragon in his pronoiac way interprets as being a back-handed compliment to every right-thinking-lizards favorite mad-scientist Nikolai Tesla) frequently steals the show on Ellis's witty, perverse, and downright heretical website.

Who Killed the Electric Car? (Whole Movie)

That's right, the whole 1 hour 32 minutes. (so you might wanna let it buffer a bit.)

The Device Proceess Indicator

The Device, a totally superfluous, totally gorgeous, geegaw for your information processing machine, that is all over the gadget-obsessed regions of Blogistan lately. Two analog dials, an "etheral glowing tube" which luminesces at five different intensities, and one red indicator which can be set to on, off, or flashing. The whole thing plugs into your 'puter via USB, and all four indicators are totally configurable. One of my favorite features in OS X is the floating graphic display of CPU usage, this is an over-the-top steampunk version of that, and so much more. Luckily, I have no room currently for something this steampunk-otaku. No MSRP or release date as of this time.

From the FAQ:

Q: What do you mean by "configured to display", exaclty?
A: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Here is a screenshot of the control software for an example of how it all works. The configuration screen shows dial #1 being set to monitor stock prices over the web.

Q: But nothing else I have plugged into my computer looks like this? Are there any electrodes to attach to my temples or something?
A: Please refer to the first question. The Device 's foremost purpose is to give you the satisfaction of owning a beautiful, handcrafted piece of invented history. If Nikola Tesla were alive today, he would most likely be our first customer. As for electrodes...we'll look into it.

Q: The Ethereal Glowing Tube (EGT) looks like it might be radioactive or something. Is it?
A: No, it's not radioactive!

Q: How integral a role can the Device play in my secret plans to take over the world?
A: The Device can be used for good or evil. Please only use the Device for good.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Scooter Snoop » Blog Archive » A Scooter Life - A Slow Life

Scooter Snoop » Blog Archive » A Scooter Life - A Slow Life

Heavens! So many cool folks out there blogging about the simple joys a scooter can open you up to. Sometimes they wax downright philosophical.

Scott, who scoots "down-under," meditates on how a scooter can slow you down, get you where you are going, while still retaining the pleasure of the journey. It's a long piece for a blog post, but it barely touches the ironies of speed and slowness as a scooter rider comes to know them. And I don't mean that to be nearly as dismissive as it sounds. Scott explores one aspect of the issue quite well, and plants an intellectual seed that leaves a scooterist pondering how big an issue their relationship with speed really is.

In his fantastic book “In Praise of Slowness“, Carl Honore believes that we are living on the edge of exhaustion. He says our pace of life is spinning out of control & that most of us live in an accelerated culture of our own creation. Honore recommends we consider the facts—we spend 40% less time with our children than we did in 1960s; the average American spends 72 minutes every day behind the wheel of a car, & that adults across the west currently devote a meager half hour per week to making love. If we’re honest, most of us are caught in the same vortex. Honore says, these days the whole world is time sick. In a survey of five thousand UK workers, 60% said they would not be using their full vacation entitlement in 2003. In Japan they even have a word for ‘death by overwork’—karoshi. In 2001 the Japanese government officially reported 143 karoshi victims.

For me, my time on the scooter is play. It doesn't matter if I'm commuting, running errands, or just exploring new back roads. When my scoot is sick, even if all the logistics of my commute are resolved, I'm still operating at higher stress levels. Getting to work, getting things done, without the scoot, IS work. With the scoot, no matter how tedious my wage slavery, I'm reminded for a half hour, an hour, everyday that I'm free. That's what "cagers" don't understand. You drive a car because you HAVE to. You ride a scoot because you can. » Staying warm » Staying warm

Now here's a blog after the Dragon's scaly little heart, scooters and photography!
There's a great post over there about windchill and roadspeed. Required reading, if like the Dragon, you are a foul weather scooterists for whom the season never ends.

Even with the weather turning colder, I’m still determined to ride! The problem is keeping warm, though. Wind chill really makes a huge difference, and hypothermia is a genuine threat when you are riding. For instance, if it is 40 degrees F outside, and I’m riding along at 40 mph, it’s going to feel like 27 degrees F. If the temperature is 30, and I’m riding at 40mph, it will feel like 13. (Actually there appear to be old and new windchill charts. On the old chart the numbers would have been 10 and -5 degrees, respectively. I’m inclined to believe the older chart!)



Sweet site for a Kustom Kulture Kraftsperson who will make custom badges for your scoot or hot rod.
How cool is that?

This site has a short Q & A with the proprietress, Moira.

What Is The Process of Getting A Custom Emblem Made?
The client can give me idea of what they would like for their badge and where it might go on their vehicle. Perhaps they may give me just the vehicles' nik name or some sort of rough sketch or idea and I take that and design an insignia that reflects the characteristics of the vehicle and its owner. I have vintage style fonts available and I am full of ideas for insignias and graphics. Though generally the badges start as a two dimensional design I add 3 dimensional aspects to add depth to the design. For example tear drops, flames or starbursts can be used to enhance a design. I can also work from artwork provided by the client. Once a design is finalized then i begin the fabrication process. Kustom badges are hand cut from brass sheet, hand finished and then chrome plated. I offer either an adhesive or screws for mounting the badge on the vehicle.


The Dragon, in his current quest to to rekindle his creative fires, and divert those energies into areas besides this blog, and the Vespas on the front porch, thinks he has finally found a nice online artist's community.
Concept Art may not be the most accurrate name for this community/forum, but that's what it is. There are a range of styles, but most seem to be in the realms of figurative realism, and fantasy SF illustration. There are newbies just starting out, professional graphic artists and designers, professional comics artists, and conceptual artists for video games. Maybe that's where the name comes from...
Anyway, worth checking out if you are a visual artist or aspire to be one.

Touring on a Burgman 400

LA to Vegas on a Scooter. Actually I think this done all the time, but it's a nice little article, even though it's heavy on the "beat the high price of gas" angle.

From the looks I got, you’d think I was riding a unicorn. I was riding a scooter, breezing along at a brisk 80 mph on the sort of in-the-sticks highway with two sorts of signs: the ones that give the speed limit and the ones that say, "Next gas 36 miles."
Think you can’t tour on a scooter? Suzuki’s Burgman 400 has been proving it’s possible since 2003, when the manufacturer brought its Burgman maxiscooters to the U.S. Now, for its ’07 model, Suzuki has upped the ante, with power, handling and emissions improvements that show it isn’t just possible to scoot this four-stroke single across town or country; it’s a kick.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pirate Papa: A Journal of Anarcho-Green D(o).I(t).Y(ourself). Parenting

Pirate Papa: A Journal of Anarcho-Green D(o).I(t).Y(ourself). Parenting

Yes the Buccaneer Patriarch is a buddy of mine, but damn you don't find writing like this just anywhere:

Musing on the oddities emanating from my own mouth these days:
"kitty doesn't go in the oven"
"go be patient somewhere else"
"you can have more food the next time you eat sweety"
"run with scissors after you clean your room"
"did you just say 'coochie time time'?"
"please abstain from hugging papa's leg until you have successfully removed all the applesauce from your person." [yeah, I really talk to my kids this way]

Scooter Militia, Indeed!

For the scooterist who has been cut off in traffic by an SUV, one time too many.

The Duke

So the next time some dweeb on a Harley or a an 8mpg SUV tries to imply anything about your manliness for riding a scooter, you just send him to talk to the Duke, ya hear, pilgrim?

The Credible Hulk

"Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm... oh, nevermind..."


ZAP! (Zero Air Pollution) is celebrating their 12th anniversary with a new look to their website. If you haven't checked them out lately, or (GASP!) ever, you should surf over that way, they've really got some exciting things brewing.
They currently have seven offerings in their ZAP cars category. Four of these are electric, and the other three are hybrids or highly fuel efficient Smart cars. The Smart cars, which are made in Europe by Daimler Chrysler, seem to have become an entangled mess of legalities and broken promises.
Luckily for ZAP! they are about to start importing an several models of the way cooler Obvio from Brazil. This move has gotten some major press lately, getting written up by Newsweek and Bloomberg. The 828, pictured above, has the following stats:

• No more parallel parking, fits lengthwise into the width of most parking spots
• Runs on 100 percent ethanol, 100 percent gasoline, or any combination of the two
· Achieves a fuel economy of 12.5 Km/Liter (29.40 MPG) in urban driving and 17.3 Km/Liter (40.69 MPG) during highway driving when equipped with ZAP Eco-Flexible SUPER ULTRA LOW EMISSION VEHICLE (SULEV) - 1.6 Liter/115Hp high fuel efficiency Tritec power train coupled with ZF´s Ecotronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
AND a top speed of 100 mph
Retail is expected to be $14k.

The Dragon likes the 828, and expects that those in the scooter community (especially those in love with modern automatic scooters) will like it as well. Why? Well, there is some kind of strange synergy between the Modern Vespa crowd, and the micro-car crowd. A lot of people who own a newer Vespa, own a Mini Cooper as their four wheeler, or a VW Bug (old or new.) But also that CVT transmission, well that's the same style of automatic transmission that auto scooters have been using for years, and it's a pretty slick and elegant technology, supposedly much more worry free than a geared transmission. If you scroll down on the 828 linked page, you will find one of the better explanations of CVT trannies I've seen.

But hey, maybe you don't like micro cars. Maybe you don't like scooters. Maybe you want something sportier...

Well then, maybe you should check out the 012, which is pictured below. A little more James Bond, and a little less Mr. Bean, right? It has very similar specs to the 828, uses the same types of fuel, but has a top speed of 160 mph! That's not a geeky little penny-pincher car, that's a real slick sports car, baby! Oh yeah, retail on this one is suspposed to be $28K, so you're paying for sportiness.

"But Dragon", you whine," even these aren't slick and cutting edge enough for me. Engine noise interferes with crystal clear sound of my Manhiem Steamroller Fresh Aire CDs." Well have no fear, for those of you who just have to be on the bleeding edge, and/or can't stand the stink and thunder of internal combustion engines, both of these obvio bodies will be released with alternative models featuring ELECTRIC DRIVES! SCHWEET!

Electric version - both model 828E and 012E - preliminary specifications
Range 200 – 240 miles
Acceleration 0 to 60 < 4.5 secs with 200HP’s and CVT transmission system
Top Speed 120 mph
Charge rate 30 minutes for 20 – 50 miles
Full Charge 2 hrs (fast), 5 hrs (normal)
Electric Propulsion
Drive system 120 kW, 220 Nm, 13,000 rpm
Regenerative braking
Battery Li Ion, 39 kWh, 580 lb
Charger Onboard, plug in anywhere - up to 20 kW
Vehicle to grid (V2G) Bi-directional grid interface

The 828E should retail for $49k, while the 012E will be $59K.

OK, I've ranted and raved enough. But, also check out the "carputer" that will be available as an option on these.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wes Clark on the Neo Con's Goals in the Middle East

I know I've posted a lot of Retired General Wesley Clark in the last month. I'm going to keep doing it. Because it's one thing for some leftist hipster intellectual to criticize the Bush regime. It's a totally different thing for a decorated General to offer up those critiques. If I were to say the things that Clark says here, no matter how well documented and footnoted, many of you would write me off as a paranoid conspiracy theorist. And there is a certain legitimatcy to that. I don't know. I'd picking my sources and data to fit with my biases. It would all be second hand information, secondary sources, hearsay.

When General Wes Clark says the Bushites were planning to attack Iraq ten days after 9/11. I believe him. A great deal more than I would believe Micheal Moore, Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn, or even (Heaven forbid it should happen) Dan Rather. You don't have to watch this video now. Wait awhile. Wait until you can REALLY watch it, really LISTEN to what this man is saying. Wait until right before you vote this year. But PLEASE watch it. And please VOTE! I won't even urge you to vote along any certain party lines. But I will urge you to vote for courageous individuals of integrity who will not be bullied and cowed into rubber stamping whatever hatefilled, fear-mongering policies this administration throws at them.

Friends, we do not have to let this country go down the tubes. The historical pattern of transition from Republic to Empire is NOT a foregone concluscion. We still have enough democracy in this country to fight, to work to have a nation we can once more be proud of. But we have to use those remaining freedoms and liberties we have left. Vote! Campaign against electronic voting platforms that more easily hacked than they verified! But most important of all, DO NOT BE AFRAID! Speak your mind. Engage your friends, families, strangers in conversation about where this country is going, and where you want it to go. Because ultimately, that's how Democracy works, that's how Freedom works. And if it doesn't work that way, then it doesn't work at all.

Nice New Honda Scooter

John Smith, over on Modern Vespa, discovered this beauty on Honda's European website. The Honda SH300i, looks like a nice mid-size scooter. 279cc, it looks like it might be a little cramped for the more long-legged of us. Don't know if they'll ever bring it to the states, but it's available in Europe with the following features:

- Slimmest, most compact body proportions in class.
- High-stability 35mm telescopic front forks.
- Newly developed, high-rigidity underbone-style scooter frame.
- Flat floorboard provides ample legroom and easy manoeuvrability.
- Water-resistant glove box features DC socket for charging mobile phones and other accessories.
- Comfortably contoured seat with 785mm seat height for ideal balance of rider eye level and riding ease.
- Ample underseat luggage capacity.
- All-new liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 280cc SOHC 4-valve engine offers fastest acceleration in its class.
- Sealed crankcase separates crank cavity from oil reservoir for improved performance and a smaller engine design.
- HECS3 oxygen-sensing catalytic converter system minimises exhaust emissions.
- Large-diameter 16" wheels for smooth handling and comfortable high-speed control.
- Large-diameter 256mm front and rear Combined disc brakes. ABS-equipped version also available.
- Innovative ‘floating link’ unit swingarm pivot system enhances high-speed control while reducing vibration.
- SH-exclusive rear carrier easily mounts optional 35-litre top box.
- HISS immobiliser security system.- New sleekly designed instrument panel.
- Powerful headlight for high visibility and presence.

Stella Speed Forum

I don't know why it took me so long to get on the Stella Speed Forum. Regardless, I've been exploring it some lately, and find it to be a nice middle-ground between the Old-school scooterists on Scooterbbs and the newer school folks on Modern Vespa and Modern Buddy. I'm not dissing on any of these forums, they all have their place, and I frequent all of them. But due to the model I'm working on (1980 Vespa P200E) Stella Speed seems to be the most relevant. (As it is concerned with what I can the classic "universal" manual scoots, the p-series, Stellas, and Bajajs.)

My first post over there was related to my restoration project on the P200E. I'm trying to plan out what accessories I want to trick it out with, and been having some problems figuring out what is compatible with what. The responses to my inquiry were quick and thorough, if you are in a similar quandary about vespa accessory compatibility, I suggest you check it out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006



YES! YES! Sometimes it's gratifying to know that one of your crazy ideas has been done. Makes you feel less crazy. Well, it looks like someone in Germany built a Teardrop Camper specifically to be hauled by a motorcycle, oh I'd say at least 60 years ago. At 58 kg (almost 128 lbs) I think even a 30 year old 150cc scooter would be able to haul it semi-respectably.

I knew somewhere, sometime someone had to have made one... Now if I can only get the plans...

(Insert Evil Genius Laugh)

Well, I've just copied and pasted the whole messy babelfish translation of this German page, as halfway legible fodder for feverish scooter dreams...

The dream the motorradfahrers as well as the owner of small car is it already for a long time to live the vacation or the weekend with a camper in wonderful nature. This dream is by the "vagabond", who becomes "smallest camper of the world", now reality.

Where you also come, everywhere the "vagabond" accompanies you. As soon as you lived your weekend or your vacation with the camping car, you would like on this cars with its many advantages any longer do not do without. It is a travel to the sea, in the mountains or to other beautiful pi-corrodes, always feels you like at home. By this life in wonderful nature you keep to health and joy of life. And as this recovery is cheap, particularly since you are dependent on no hotel room or hotel. At the desired location, particularly on the camping sites, table and stools are constructed and already are you in the Ferienparadies in few minutes sun oh as well as.

They do not have it necessarily, to unpack as an owner of tent only everything and/or pack up a wet tent, while it pours possibly still; in the "vagabond" each thing has its place. In the evening you switch the electrical interior lighting and can read, so for a long time it for you on please. And you want to make smaller travels into the environment, let you go away for the locked car on the camping site and to drive calmly.

The car is largely enough, in order to give to 2 persons a sleep possibility. The "vagabond" was tested dealing with several large travels with a DKW blank 200. It was again and again a benefit of visiting a new area and always of finding the car wohnlich. The cabinet in the car offers place enough, in order to carry all table-ware as well as gasoline digester; fast then a meal is prepared and the table covered and the meal tastes as with nuts/mothers.

If it weekdaya load trailer need, can be dismounted the body "vagabond" by release fewer screws and a box for load transport be developed, so that the car can serve also as general-purpose vehicle. In all other respects the trailer for motorcycle, for small cars is taxfree amounts to the control item in the year DM 18, -.

Technical data:

Unloaded weight of the car: 58 kg. Tyre: 20 x 2,25. Car mass without pole (body mass): Length: 2.20 m, width: 1.20 m, height: 1.38 m.
Chassis is provided with drehstabfederung, whereby calm driving is ensured. Body consists all edges of water resistantly glued plywood (4 mm), is strengthened by light alloy angles. Door and windows are set in of polished cover strips with Alum., in addition Laengszierstaebe with filler.

In the basic price are einbegriffen:

Interior equipment: Wandschrank, baggage net, electrical interior lighting, clothes hook, ashtray.
Other equipment: Back lighting after regulation, door safety lock, number sign and triangle reflector, kugelkupplung with safety quick-locking mechanism, tyre kpl. 20 x of 2.25, 2 stands.

In addition can be supplied against special computation:

2 luftmatratzen, 1 folding table with attachment eyes, 2 folding stools, 1 sun oh with supports, 1 gasoline compressed gas burner, 1 wind protection in addition, 1 cook boiler set, 1 picknick suit-case with contents for 2 persons.

Special thanks go out to Angib at the Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers Forum.

Mini-Mate.Motorcycle Camper

No it's not a teardrop, it's a "pop-up camper", so it weighs in lighter than most of the "full" campers, for around the same price as one of less expensive teardrops. At 260 lbs it should be legal for most Vespas in most jurisdictions.

DIY Bicycle Trailer

Just so all you non-motorized two-wheelers out there don't feel left out.

I'd always wanted some sort of utility trailer for my bike, but it took getting rid of my car to really get the project in gear. The idea was to find a Rubbermaid container big enough in which to fit all of my Hand drums, and build the trailer around that. (What great fun I had in the store, pulling all the large containers to the floor and measuring them!) I got the design idea from a neat book called "The Cart Book, with Plans and Projects" by William L. Sullivan (which I believe is out of print, but I discovered it at the local library). The design calls for using electrical conduit (EMT) pipe for the frame, and electrical box covers (with slots cut into them) are used as axle plates (by bending them around the tube). EMT pipe is not expensive (five bucks for a ten foot length), but I wanted to recycle where possible, so I got mine for two bucks per from a local scrap metal place.

"Third Wheels"

Pictured above, a teardrop trailer designed to be pulled by a motorcycle, by East Coast Trailer Worx.

Australian site, Aussie Teardrops (which is a nicely informative site, even for cocky yanks) explicitly details the history of the teardrop design, and implicitly communicates how this "open-sourced" design has become a world-wild phenomena amongst do-it-yourselfers. Sure the teardrop disappeared from the public eye for a while, but now the construction of these elegant little trailers seems to be becoming something of a cottage industry.

The March/April, 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft ran a story and plans for a teardrop designed and built by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California in the 1930's for his honeymoon coach. The 8'x4' floor plan was on tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis. Rogers used a Chevrolet front axle with 28" wheels and 1926 Chevrolet rear fenders. Sides and top were enclosed with 1/8" hard pressed board sealed with varnish.
This teardrop slept two and had the raise-up deck lid for the rear kitchenette with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosed dressing room outside the starboard entry door provided privacy while dressing.
The February, 1940 issue of Popular Mechanics ran a story and plans for a egg-shaped teardrop trailer. It was built on a 1924 Chevrolet Superior front axle with disk wheels from a 1930 Chevrolet.

TinyTears has plans for sale, including what they call the " '36 uni-wheel," a seventy year old design, which you guessed it, has only a single wheel. A uni-wheel design can be more stable for something trailered behind two in-line wheels, particularly if the hitch allows the trailer to mimic the handling of the bike. It might seem like it's pushing it, but I bet you could design a very streamlined version that would handle (and look) like it was made to be following a Vespa.

There is also a good forum for folks interested in building teardrops, Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers. There are some plans posted there, as well as a lot of knowledge and experience with this craft.

OK, wow, I've spent like three hours compiling this post. And that's not including the the four hours I spent researchng it before I started. I guess this is a compelling topic, which you can hope to see more about in future days...
For now though, I'm going to leave you with some links to some commericially available teardrops. And because this is the Dragon, there will be a basis to lighter weight campers that can be hauled on a motorcycle or larger scooter...

Hunter Outdoor Products
PT Snoozer (styled and marketed to complement the PT Cruiser.)
East Coast Trailer Worx
Retro Tear Drops (at 350lbs, a nice home away from home for bikers.)
Adventure Tear Drops
Lassenview Customs
Dakkan Mountain Tear Drops

and of course the company that started me on this line of inquiry, British manufacturer Pod Caravans.

A good place to start looking at these quirky, cute campers is which is just bursting with links to get you going.

Scooter Sidecars

Scooter Sidecars

Just what it sounds like, a site devoted to sidecars for scoots. And you thought a Cozy was your only choice...

Chaney's Home Page

Chaney's Home Page

Chaney is a pleasant enough Brit, with a lot of nice scooter pictures on his home page. Doesn't look like he's updated in awhile, though.

eBay Motors: HONDA METROPOLITAN CARGO TRAILER (item 170037774084 end time Oct-16-06 18:13:48 PDT)

eBay Motors: HONDA METROPOLITAN CARGO TRAILER (item 170037774084 end time Oct-16-06 18:13:48 PDT)

Now this is just cute. A one-of-a-kind, custom made trailer for a Honda Metropolitan. Somebody out there in the scooter-obsessed regions of the blogosphere needs/wants this. Just be sure to check your local laws on licensing and insuring trailers.

Though, I haven't posted a lot on it, I'm kinda obsessing on "third-wheels" right now, that is scooter trailers and sidecars. Particularly trailers. Particularly, as the mods would say "caravans." Of course more on that to follow...

Scooter Rider Magazine's Ad Museum

Scooter Rider Magazine - For People That Are Serous About Scooters

For your daily dose of retro-scooter goodness.

(That's right Rocker, Harley made a scooter, once upon atime...)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Leif Erikson Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leif Erikson Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leif Erikson Day? Ya, shure, you betcha!

A tip of the helm to Americans of Nordic descent across this great land. So if everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's day, can we all be Vikings on Leif Erikson Day?

Advice for Artists

This is a really good essay for artists on how to talk to laypeople about your art. Really it's about selling art, but selling art is different than selling cheeseburgers or life insurance. And a lot of artists are very insulated, they either clam up and can't talk about it at all, or they spew like a seven year old discussing dinosaurs. Either way, they aren't speaking from a common ground, and thus no real communication takes place. There is some great advice here on how to talk about your art without causing the listener's eyes to glaze over...

All you have to do is suggest, plant the seeds. The viewers will do the rest. They come to their own conclusions, and most importantly, feel confident that they understand the art (and they do, in their own unique ways). One thing to avoid is being vague, saying stuff like "different people respond to my art in different ways." Of course they do, but so what? Far too many artists use this copout, which does nobody any good-- it leaves viewers wondering whether or not their responses are "right" and it leaves the artists with no sales.

Scooter Trailers

While this site, Singlewheel, covers single-wheeled trailers from the 40's 50's and 60's, so there are all sorts here, there is a section dedicated to trailers for scoots and motorcycles. With all the streamlined, space-age styling you could hope for. Look at this beautiful Campi trailer above.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Local inventor’s ‘bike’ can do 35 mph, but what exactly is it? |

Local inventor’s ‘bike’ can do 35 mph, but what exactly is it?

A newspaper does a story on a local inventor of electric bikes, with an emphasis on the shady legal area this form of transportation resides in. I'm glad that people are really begining to realize that we need to expand our thinking both in the realm of legal issues, and in urban planning to include "alternative transportation." This is an issue that the Dragon has harped on before, and will certainly harp on again.

City prosecutor Jerry Little said it’s a common thing these days for him to come across a hard-to-classify vehicle. The other day, he said, he took a case to trial in which a KU employee received a ticket for riding a “Gator”-style utility vehicle on the streets on campus. The judge found it had to be registered, he said.
As for the kinds of bikes Christensen is building, Little said he couldn’t make a call on them immediately.
“It’s a complex issue. We have to look at the standard traffic ordinance, all the various definitions and figure out if it falls into one of those categories,” he said. “My guess is it’s going to fall within the definition of a vehicle, and as a vehicle they have to be registered. That’s subject to interpretation by a court, I guess.”

Christensen said he hasn’t researched the laws in detail, but that a love of speed and the spirit of innovation are what drives him.
“I’m coming from a little bit of a hot-rod, farm-boy and inventor viewpoint, and just sort of going for it,” said Christensen, who also has a master’s degree in sculpture. “At some point, the state is going to have to start dealing with alternative formats in a vehicle. They’re not going to do that if nobody ever makes use of what we have.”

Well, there goes the trailer park...

The "scooter trash" are rolling in...
Seriously though, these are freakin' schweet!
The one pictured above seems to be the standard model, but I couldn't find weight specs on it. The price is in the range of 2,500 pounds to 4,700 pounds depending on options (some of these come finished with real wood veneers and KITCHENS!)
There is also a model called the Sleeper, that is smaller and more basic (though oak lining is standard) that is only 950 pounds sterling, and weighs in at a svelte 100 Kgs (about 220 lbs to us yanks.) The standard Vespa/Stella sidecar weighs 200 lbs, so the Sleeper should be no problem for a well tuned 150cc scoot.

So I guess this is your chance to beat the inflated housing market, and high gas prices at the same time!

But really, this could be a lot of fun for a cross-country scooter trip.

Micronauts Role Playing Game

Just came across this...

Micronauts is a role-playing game of Space Opera heroics, machiavellian archvillany and tenacious sidekicks who just wont die. It is designed to be adapted to any Space Opera background from Battle Star Galactica to Flash Gordan, but the basic rules contain templates for the Micronauts universe, as depicted by the 1970's Mego Corporation toy line and the series of licensed Micronauts comics, written primarily by comic guru Bill Mantlo and drawn initially by master artist Michael Golden. Background material on this universe can also be found in the bargain bins of every comic shop in the Western world, and is excellent inspiration for Space Opera games.
Space Opera is always over the top. It combines the unfettered fantasy of a pulp science fiction background with the episodic melodrama of a daytime Soap Opera, and features heroic rescues, diabolical betrayals and implausible surprises, along with wildly unrealistic battles between implausibly competent heroes and hordes of apparently ill-trained cannon fodder.

1.2 Leave Your Realism at the Door: The One RuleAn important aspect of Space Opera is that it is not even remotely realistic. A giant in heavy armour can fly with just a small backpack with wings; melee weapons are just as useful as blasters in almost all situations, and a villain will never kill the heroes outright when they could imprison them and place them in an implausible life or death situation.
There is only one rule in Micronauts:
The most dramatically appropriate outcome is always preferred.
Everything else is just a suggestion.

Vespa Rear Rack Hack

Got a classic manual scooter with a spring-loaded folding rear rack? Having a hard time loading it, because it keeps springing back up? Check out Jeremy's hack (towards the bottom of the linked page.)

Piaggo MP3 Desktops

A veritable treasure-trove of wallpapers for your 'puter featuring the MP3. Or just a storehouse of large sized pics. In other news apparently there will be a 400cc iteration of the MP3 in Europe, no news yet on if it will be coming to the states.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Oregon Wild Hair Enterprises

Oregon Wild Hair Enterprises

Ah yes, mustache wax!
I've been contemplating this for awhile, and even stopped trimming the 'stache almost a month ago. Today, I bit the bullet and ordered some wax and a brush. So you can expect a review of this stuff to perhaps pop up here soon...

Part of that new life was the search for a natural moustache wax to tame Mark's wild hairs. Every wax he had sampled was heavily perfumed and tasted bitter, ruining the flavor of hot drinks. Finally, dissatisfied with commercial moustache waxes, Mark decided to make his own. Using beeswax, petroleum jelly, lanolin, and natural musk oil, Mark created Oregon Wild Hair Moustache Wax. It is lightly, pleasantly scented and does not spoil the enjoyment of tea and coffee. Mark continues to create his moustache wax at home in small, handmade batches and Susan manages the distribution of the one-ounce tins. Their daughter, Shaula, maintains the web site and handles publicity while their son-in-law Brandon acts as their marketing consultant.

The Latest Fashion Trends on

The Latest Fashion Trends on

The "New Frontiersman" style. I'd like to write this off as silliness (as I would most fashion), but some of this has a really nice blend of Honky-tonk and Steampunk.
Plus they feature Mustache Wax!

The Nietzsche Family Circus

Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.

This is great! Nice bite size pieces of bitterly life-affirming Fritz, with that all-American sacharrine spoonfull of family circus/values to make it go down. YUM!

Via Wired News' Table of Malcontents

Friday, October 06, 2006

BBC NEWS | Americas | Wicca veterans seek grave symbols

BBC NEWS Americas Wicca veterans seek grave symbols

The Dragon is not a Wiccan. In fact I think that any organized religion is kinda silly. A person's, or reptile's relationship (or lack thereof) with the Divine is an entirely personal thing, and adding mediators and community to it only waters it down and makes it less meaningful. But that's just me...

Anyway, if these kids are praying to the Goddess before IED's return them in itty-bitty pieces to the earth, I say it's their right, and the right of their families to proudly display the Goddess's symbol on their graves. I mean these kids are fighting and dieing for Democracy and the right to worship as your conscience dictates against intolerant theocratic fanatics abroad. Let's not make a mockery of their sacrifice, by saying the dictates of their conscience are any less valid than ours, OK. They, and their families paid their dues, in spades, we shouldn't make them fight against intolerant theocratic fanatics at home.

Wiccans in the US are taking the government to court over its refusal to allow their symbol on gravestones in military cemeteries.
Relatives of dead soldiers, including one killed in Iraq, are demanding that Wicca symbols be permitted.
Some 38 other religious symbols, including the Jewish star of David and the Buddhist wheel, are allowed.
The Pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, is one of the most important symbols in Wicca.

Thanks to the most holy, and debauched Mr. Warren Ellis

Electric Motorcycle Video

I know I've featured Todd Kollin's bikes on here before, but he's doing such cool stuff, and this vid really does show the bike from a new perspective.

Via Treehugger

also on Treehugger today organic booze! Not to be mixed with electric motorcycles, you freaking hippy!

Trash It

Trash It

Penn Jillette ( of the illustrious Penn and Teller) rants about motorcycles, airbrushing, and ....

wait for it....


So here's what I say and here's what I do. Make that computer yours. Make it belong to you. Make it look right to you. Dominate it. Rule it. Violate it. Posses it. Trash the mother. I'm not going to tell you exactly what to do with it, I've already stuck my nose too far into your business. I don't care if you put on backstage stickers to Lou Reed and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You could peel the warning sticker off your 2 Live Crew CD and decoupage it right above the screen and change your prompt to (C:\)Oh, me so horny>Put on scuba stickers and pretend you aren't just a nerd like the rest of us. Or - be practical - no one can remember those WP commands so why not take a Sharpie and write "Just Kidding" right above the F1 key and "where the hell am I?" above F3. I haven't tried a wood-burning tool or a soldering iron (they're the same tool with different packaging, right?) But I bet it would look boss. Make it so if your computer was coming down the airline luggage carousel you wouldn't have to look at the claim check number to tell it was yours. "Many computers do look alike" - and that's a bad thing.
Let's talk about motorcycles. Maybe you waste a lot of time on your computer, your muscles atrophy and you consume too much diet cola beverage and dark chocolate. Maybe your computer is going to ruin your eyes or give you that disease in your wrists that you thought hypochondriac Californians just made up. But, no matter how bad the computer is for you, it's nothing compared to a motorcycle. You screw up on a computer you end up using a Leading Edge word processor for the rest of your life. You screw up on a motorcycle, you become part of America's highway system. But motorcycles are cooler. Why? It's not just because they're dangerous, removing asbestos is only considered cool in very limited circles. What have motorcycles got that computers haven't got? (I'm getting into my Wizard of Oz jag here.) What have motorcycles got that computers haven't got? - Airbrush - That's right, airbrush. You've seen motorcycle gas tanks. They have skulls, breasts and bulging biceps (sometimes on the same creature). They also have lots of bright colors that attract the kind of people you want to meet just like myna birds to a broken mirror.
Oh, yeah, give me all the logical arguments. Rationalize all you want. Tell me that you can't have naked people airbrushed on your computer because the paint fumes will seep into the disk drive and screw up it's innards. You think your computer is more delicate than a motorcycle? Go out to a biker bar, spit on the tip of your finger slide it along the first nicely painted bike you see. (But don't tell them I suggested it. Come to think of it, don't even mention my name.) Then, if you're still sentient, you tell me how careful you think these airbrush guys are. The airbrush guys that are alive today know how to be careful with the patron's property. It's a very quick evolution. In the airbrush business, the customer is not only right, the customer has colors and a buck knife. The airbrush guy or gal knows how to be careful.