Sunday, November 30, 2008

Retro-Futurist Bikes

For your Gernsbackian delight, Well Medicated blog has a post up with 45 covers of classic pulp science magazines. Check out the title link for all kinds of groovy domed houses, jet-packs, and flying cars. I have of course selected all the cycle related covers, for your immediate edification.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Solving Motorcycle Parking Problems

A Kent County man who got fed up with the run-around his requests for two-wheeler specific parking received from the local council, took matters into his own hands and painted the lines for a cycle parking spot himself. This story just made my morning.

He painted a space for one motorcycle and carefully added the letters ‘MC’, only to realise there was no way he could park his bike in it. “It would be a bit obvious who did it,” he explained.

Full story and a photo on MCN

Monday, November 24, 2008

Marcus Dairy Prints

Since moving to Fairfield County, I've heard a lot about Marcus Dairy, a local diner which is something of a biker Mecca. "Will you be at the Dairy Sunday?" is the local motorcyclists' version of "See ya later." I hadn't really gotten a chance to go, until Oct. 12, which just happened to be the last "Bike Show" there. No scooters in attendance, but there was plenty of target practice for shooting with my new camera.

Something about the heavily customized Bonneville above, just begged for the Sepia treatment.
I don't know that I'd ever really want a Harley, (though the Nightster is a very attractive bike) but man all that chrome really photographs nicely.

Though there were some other brands presents, Harley Davidsons dominated the landscape.

I am really loving my new camera. It has really opened up a whole new of photography for me. Having studied photography and digital imaging in college, I know my way around an SLR and Photoshop. But having all the control of an SLR without having the hassle and expense of developing film is very liberating. And even though I have a decent amount of experience in a color darkroom, I've always preferred making prints digitally. Using RAW files, as well as some of the tools which have been added to Photoshop in the few years since I graduated, makes the whole experience much more rewarding. Though it still lacks the tactile sensuality, working on these images gave me much of the joy of manipulating values which I get from drawing, and the intoxicating play of color I find in painting.
I may eventually use some of these images as the basis for paintings, but many of them, like this bagger above, feel like solid works on their own. Strangely, I don't have much inclination to drawing and painting images of motorcycles or scooters. If I pick up a pencil or brush, I usually want to paint people. It just feels natural to me. But using a camera and computer feels natural for this subject matter. By the time I was in the final stages of editing these images, I almost felt like I was painting.

Prints in a variety of sizes are available of all these images in my Imagekind Gallery.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

3D CT Animation of Unhelmeted Rider's Head

Check the title link for the most compelling argument for wearing a helmet you'll see this week.

Nissan's EV Strategy

This article on Nissan's plans for moving towards electric vehicle and zero-emissions vehicle production, and their maneuvering for the creation of infrastructure necessary for such a proliferation, is pretty damn interesting:

  • Nissan is bringing the first of their electric cars to market by 2010 in many locations around the United States. According to Alan Buddendeck, Nissan’s VP for North American Corporate Communications, this car will be priced between $22-$25K and have at least a range of 100 miles.
  • By 2012, Nissan will be bringing an entire lineup of affordable electric cars (sedans, minivans, compact cars, and sports cars) to the world market. This isn’t just some limited roll-out, and they’re beyond serious about it. Their overarching business plan has been re-written to focus on zero emissions vehicles.
  • Nissan has rolled out a rather ingenious plan of collaboration with as many state, local and federal organizations that are willing to cooperate with them to develop the infrastructure needed for an electric car-based society.
  • They have taken much of their top-level engineering and marketing talent and fully diverted them into the electric car project. Besides allowing Nissan to reach their goals, this strategy seems to have energized and remoralized the company as a whole — you can see it in the way they present themselves.
  • In addition to diverting huge amounts of resources to the project, Nissan has made the conscious decision to open otherwise proprietary information to their partners. Essentially it seems that Nissan has gone mildly “open source” in their approach to Getting Things Done. Power to the people.
It's a good article, you should read the whole thing.

EDIT: Here's some more info on Nissan's partnership fo bringing charging station infrastucture to California and Oregon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chainless Bicycles

CNN has a story up about some new bikes coming to market, which utilize a belt, much like most scooters, instead of the traditional chain...
kind of interesting...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Dragon's Unexpectedly Cute Spawn

Yes, I know I promised to keep the baby blogging to a minimum, but I've got relatives crying for blood over the lack of baby pictures.
Besides, just look at this cutie! I know drag queens who would kill for those lashes.

Amongst the overwhelming flood baby shower gifts, and even enough hand-me-downs to cloth an Appalachian village of infants and toddlers, was a 10 mega pixel DSLR.

One of the other productive things I've been doing, is working on an actual website for my artwork and photography and such. It's still a little barebones, but there is a gallery of baby photos. All the other galleries are public, but I've decided to require a password for access to the baby photos. I mass emailed a bunch of folks with the password, but if I neglected to send it to you, or it got caught in your spam filter, let me know and I'll send it to you.

I just figured only friends and family needed access to a soon to be vast archive of baby photos. Plus, my buddy Sky caught some flack for posting an innocent photo of his twins naked in their wading pool, a while back.... and well, I guess a little online paranoia is not a bad thing.

So while is not fully functional at this time, there are some cool pictures up over there, mostly things I've posted here in the past, but collected all in one place. And there is more to come, of course. And if you have the misfortune to be one of the dragon's friends or family, and want to bask in the glory that is little miss Zoe, drop me a line, and I'll get you the access info.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

T C and Me: A Little Rockumentary

Yet another documentary on the coolest little music scene you've never heard of, this one about the Rockingest of the Little Rockers, TC.

I can't wait to see this one, TC is one of those characters that once you meet him, he's burned into your psyche. He changed the way I looked at Metal (the man is like a Man-O-War song made flesh) and the way I look at shoes. Plus in the above preview, there are some clips Vic Wiley... Bonus!

TC, here's hoping Odin's smiling upon you.

Thanks for the tip Bircho!

Monday, November 10, 2008

War of the Worlds II: The Steampunk Sequel

I just got a report on a new animated movie co-written by David Abramowitz, and using the voice talent of well, most of the cast of Highlander the Series, as well as Adam Baldwin, from Firefly. Sounds pretty cool.
The Dragon's Highlander correspondent reports:

War of the Worlds: Goliath that was co-written by David Abramowitz and is voiced by Adrian Paul, Adam Baldwin, Peter Wingfield, Elizabeth Gracen and Jim Byrnes. It's set in the very early 20th C. a few years after the events of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, around 1914.

Because of the source material (Wells) and the setting, it always sounded kind of steampunk to me. At Indianapolis I was chatting with David about the movie and said straight out that it sounded like a steampunk film to me. His answer was "Exactly." In scrounging around I found this site with a bunch of pre-production illustrations.

The Heavy Metal site has this to say:

Synopsis by Joe Pearson, "It's an R rated, retro-history, steam punk epic set in a 1914, fourteen years after the first failed Martian invasion. Mankind has rebuilt her cities and military adapting a lot of the abandoned Martian technology. They've created an international defense force, A.R.E.S., based on the lower end of Manhattan and under the command of Theaodore Roosevelt. They've built a formidable force centered around giant, steam powered battle tripods. Think of "Band of Brothers" meets "Star Wars", meets World WO. It will be cool-steam powered battle tripods, doomed Cossack cavalry charges, victorian decco, steam punk Manhattan, 1500 foot long armored battle zeppelins, Teddy Roosevelt, souped up Tri-planes, blood on steaming metal, sex in the cockpit. The usual." This story is not directly based on Heavy Metal, but it is a sequel to the classic War Of The Worlds novel by H.G. Wells. It will have a budget of around $3 million, and be produced by Tripod Entertainment Sdn Bhd (joint venture between Elemental Ventures Sdn Bhd and Epoch Ink Corp). It is uncertain how connected this movie is to Heavy Metal. It was originally indented on being part of a series of Heavy Metal Videos. And is being co-produced by Kevin Eastman (owner of Heavy Metal).

Sounds pretty promising, can't wait to see it.

Airbrushed Motorcycle Jacket

So, even though I haven't been blogging much since Zoe was born, I have found time to be a little productive. Take for instance the jacket pictured above.
I picked up the jacket cheap, it wasn't new, but it sure didn't look used, except for the fact that the design seems more late 80's than contemporary. The jacket was purchased with the intention painting it and selling it. Having a new baby is a great motivation for trying to find new sources of income.
The design was my attempt at something that fit into a traditional biker look, but with a little individual touch. You know, a portfolio piece. Skulls other assorted morbid images are ubiquitous in biker wear, and you can't get much more morbid than a deer. Riders face all kinds of threats and challenges on the road, but a deer, especially at night, is one of the most dangerous. Plus it was just a cool looking graphic which fit in with the lines of the jacket. Likewise, I'd been playing with Celtic knotwork lately,and designed that knot to fill the bottom panel.
So I'm testing the waters of Etsy with this one. It's for sale for $250.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Ride

So after the dust settled from my crash I was of course looking for a new ride. Like I mentioned in the post about the wreck, insurance paid off well. From that angle, the timing of the accident was good, prices for vintage scooters have been crazy this year. The flipside of that was that prices were higher on scoots I was looking at for a replacement. On top of everything else, some unexpected expenses came up, so I was looking at being bike-less for some time.
Work was becoming like the torture of Tantalus, being surrounded by beautiful bikes, all of which were out of reach.
A rider without a bike, looks at anything with two wheels like a single 19 year old boy looks at anything with two breasts. I should stop with that analogy before I get myself in trouble, but you get my point.
One day this 1985 Honda Magna 500 came in as a trade-in. I interrogated all the guys in the shop about it, and they all had good things to say. And perhaps most importantly, it has a big wide flat surface on the top of the tank, which will be a great place for some custom paint.
So for around $600, including tax, title, and increase in insurance, I made the shift from scooterist to biker. The change hasn't been all that easy, though. First off, after over two years of scooter blogging, it almost feels like I'm betraying somebody or some ideal, by moving to a motorcycle.
I'm liking it though. Jes's mom asked me early on if I was comfortable with the bike, and I had to say, "No." It's bigger, faster, and more powerful than anything I've ever ridden. That's intimidating but it is also making me a better rider. The Magna also a tachometer, and oil temperature gauge, and watching those as I develop a feel for the bikes gearing and torque is also improving my skills. I hadn't really considered it before, but I think I was getting complacent with the P200. There wasn't much I could do on it to push my skills, besides long distance riding and pushing crazy fast cornering, neither of which I'm going to be doing with a newborn at home.
I've got some thoughts along these lines, which I will share with you more in the future. In particular I want to ruminate on the endless debate of which is safer, a scooter or a motorcycle.
In a similar vein, last week I took the Magna on the I-84 for the first time. It was just for a couple miles, but I was able to shift into overdrive, or 6th gear, and cruise at 60 mph at only 3500 rpms. Heh, this beast doesn't even redline until 12000. Definitely a different creature altogether than the p200.

World's Coolest Moped?

Wired is calling the above pictured Chicara Art IV the world's coolest moped.

Perhaps, it is definitely pretty cool... but look at that riding position! It must also be the world's least comfortable moped, and that's saying something.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Radioactive Rat Bike

Now here we have a rat-bike of another color.

I had been thinking lately about the mainstreaming of the rat-bike aesthetic. The Bonneville Black is one of Triumph's best selling bikes (the 2009 blacks are already sold out in the US), Harley's Nightster is getting quasi-favorable reviews even in the usually rabidly anti-cruiser motorcycle press, and matte black helmets are on every powersport dealer's shelves. Matte black is the new black.
I'm not sure what is causing the virulence of this aesthetic, though I have some theories. The biker look as understood by the public and by bikers themselves, is fraught with a paradoxical search for authenticity as Sartre would have defined it. Or as a high school cynic might say, "everybody's trying to conform to the same image of non-conformity." It's hard to feel like a unique rebel in your black leather on your chromed steed, when your doctor, lawyer and accountant are all doing the same thing, and going to Sturgis for their vacation.
As the outlaw biker on "custom" ride becomes more and more institutionalized, more chrome doo-hickeys and airbrushed flames seem less like ways of expressing your individuality and setting yourself apart from the pack, and more like attempts to fit in. The ratbike aesthetic thumbs it's that these conventions. It's not about a cherry show bike that is trailered to rallys, but a functional daily rider...

OK, so I could rant and deconstruct these aesthetics for pages, but you get the point. What I like about ratbikes, is what I like about powered two-wheelers: They are a means to living on your own terms. They are everything you need, and nothing you don't. They have that Millenium Falcon appeal, a look that provokes intergalactic princesses to reassess you and say, "You came on that? You're braver than I thought!"
Blogger: Honky-Tonk Dragon - Create Post
So anyway, I found this picture while prowling As an added bonus, the owner of this gorgeous eye-sore, also has one of the most fantastic ride-reports ever posted over on ADVRider. It's titled Detroit to San Diego, Zen and the art of motorcycle negligence, and that title alone should be enough to let you know you are in for treat. The illustrious Mr. Vermin (as he is known on ADVRider, has as unique a way with words as he does with cycle customization. Here are just a few choice tidbits from the saga of his journey with his 13 year old son:

I abbreviated/eliminated my instrument cluster when my speedo broke. The logic being that I had not been pulled over for speeding since 1987 and even then I had a speedo so it didn't help. Bye Bye speedo. Tach who needs a tack it is a Honda twist the handle until the noise quits getting higher there is your redline. A side benefit of this arrangement was that without a temp. gauge it would not overheat. I would have liked to have kept the gas gauge but my mallot was not that precise.

I personally enjoy English guys they seem to have a reasonable level of contempt for all carbon based life forms.

As we where dismounting in the viewing area of delicate arch, amongst the rabble, a young guy struck up a conversation and pointed out how our trip was like Pirsigs in zen and the art of motorcycle maintainence. It made me wonder, what came first my desire to ramble and include my son or the book. I know that when I read the book originally as a teen it resonated deep in me. I reread the book this summer and it still makes me want to be a better person and focus on “quality” in everything I do.
I tell the guys girlfriend that the only difference between the books main character Phaedrus and myself is that I am neither brilliant, tortured or insane, she looks at my bike and there is an uncomfortable silence.

Before this trip my friend maryjane also noted the similarities between Phaedrus’s journey and mine, the only difference is his insurance covered electroshock therapy.

told Drifter, the worse a situation gets on the road the better it feels when it stops. I am afraid that this discomfort/relief cycle is missing in today’s children’s lives. The phrase “it’s all good “ cropped up recently and it bothered me. I think my main problem with that state of mind is that it robs the kids of the chance to grow through conquering adversity. It’s not all good, and in order to be great you have to understand how bad it can be. Having said that I have run Drifter through the paces and I haven’t heard one complaint yet, this boy is made of good stuff.

Drifter is the handle which Vermin's spawn goes by, and he has his rendition of the trip up on ADVRider. I highly recommend reading both.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ride to Vote

The folks who organize the annual "Ride to Work" event are pushing the idea of "Ride to Vote."

Sounds good to me. Democrat, Republican, Green, or Libertarian, hop on your scooter, cruiser, electric bicycle, sport bike, or moped and vote, gul-durnit!

Electric Interceptor Motorcycle

Though it looks red, this bike green in at least two ways. First it is an electric motorcycle, and second it was recycled from a 1984 Honda Interceptor.
Even better the owner/creator has posted an Instructable of his process.

Technoccult interviews Steampunk Artist Alex CF

Keeping with the Steampunk vibe of the last few posts, and catching up on some things I've been meaning to post is this great interview Alex CF.

(Above is Werewolf Anatomical Reasearch Case III)

T: You started doing your assemblage work in earnest after retiring your comic series Wilderemere. When exactly was that?

A: About three years ago. I had invested everything I had into my comic career, but I wasn’t happy and didn’t really enjoy what I was doing. I’d drawn and written 18 comics and released an action figure line, sunk everything into it - I remember throwing my pencil across the room and shouting out “I can’t be bothered anymore!” I swore that I would never draw another comic. I’d created assemblage pieces in the past, but I guess it all started with this little box, called “The Vampire Legacy Case” about a 14th century aristocratic vampire, the last rites and possessions of this vampiric lord. I had the idea of creating an alternative past, creating characters and species with which to fabricate my own world in which all these things existed. So I started making, and the rest is history!

I learn everything from scratch, and if I come up against some project or a goal which is not easy to reach, I’ll have a good think and reach that by trying lots of different things. From sculpting to soldering, they were all things I had to learn myself.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bruce Sterling looks at the Steampunk Sub-Culture

Just stumbled across this great essay by Bruce Sterling, who some would credit with birthing Steampunk, (though he is humble enough to credit earlier influences), on where Steampunk came from, and where it just might be going.

Ruskin wrote an extremely influential and important essay which changed the world. Everything Ruskin says in that essay is wrong. The ideas in there don't work, have never worked and are never going to work. If you try to do the things Ruskin described in the spirit that Ruskin suggested, you are doomed.

However. If you try to do those things in a steampunk spirit, you might get somewhere useful. Steampunks are equipped with a number of creative tools and approaches that John Ruskin never imagined, such as design software, fabricators, Instructables videos, websites, wikis, cellphones, search engines and Successful steampunks are not anti-industrial as Ruskin was. They are digital natives and therefore post-industrial. This means that they can make their own, brand-new, fresh mistakes -- if they understand the old mistakes well enough not to repeat them.

Steampunk's key lessons are not about the past. They are about the instability and obsolescence of our own times. A host of objects and services that we see each day all around us are not sustainable. They will surely vanish, just as "Gone With the Wind" like Scarlett O'Hara's evil slave-based economy. Once they're gone, they'll seem every bit as weird and archaic as top hats, crinolines, magic lanterns, clockwork automatons, absinthe, walking-sticks and paper-scrolled player pianos. ...

The past is a kind of future that has already happened.

Datamancer's Ergonomic Steampunk Keyboard

Man, is this thing gorgeous!

This keyboard was commissioned by a female client and has some elegant, feminine design features such as violet LEDs, an acanthus-leaf pattern etched into the brass, and a soft burgundy wrist pad that is removable for cleaning. It also has a built-in "buttonless" touchpad mouse in the center (tap anywhere to left-click and drag, tap in the top-right corner to right-click). This keyboard is interesting because the typing plane is actually tipped forward rather than back. It looks odd at first, but actually makes for a very comfortable typing position.

Datamancer has been cranking out a lot of great keyboards in the last year, but I think this one really takes the cake.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Yamaha dual fuel motorcycle revealed - Motorcycle News

Yamaha dual fuel motorcycle revealed

A conventional full-sized fuel tank is fitted above the engine like any other bike, but tucked tightly behind the cylinder and below the fuel injector body is a second tank designed to contain either ethanol or a petrol/ethanol mix such as E85 (which is 85% ethanol mixed with 15% petrol).