Posted by: nativeiowan | April 25, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Island Time

I have been spending a bit of time “in the isles” lately. Long stories as per why I am here so much, but suffice it to say that family n life n living, oft-times, takes one in unpredictable directions.

So it is Saturday mid-day. My neighbors are blasting some noisy tamure music over wasted speakers. I think one of the “boys” is cleaning the pool and enjoys the canned musak that is often considered traditional.

Have a baby in a bassinette on my table. Lets see… Just checked and Epiphany is semi awake. Eyes shifting to the external stimuli. Lets see how much longer she “sleeps”.

My hounds come and go. Noisily raising or lowering their masses. Often prompted by the gate being opened or a refrigerator door closing. They are somewhat fickle friends. Willing to leave my comfortable presence if any food source wandering too close.

By food source, I refer to a child. Most the kids are gone now but they are walking sources of delightful gobbles n licks for these hounds. One of the smart hounds, Iowa, manages to get into the house unnoticed an parks herself delicately under the table. She can remain unnoticed but well fed for long periods of time.

Ok… Epiphany starting to squak… So the baby was rescued by her mom. Moms are such great inventions.

In these isles things take a long time… the roads are pretty much a constant drama. There are soooo many cars on the roads. And take note: the roads have not really changed much in the past 20 years. Basically the old roads get rebuilt every so often, but no new roads, public planning systems, are being built.

Yesterday was funny… We have 2 “gals” who are the housekeepers for our family compound. It is not unusual for there to be only one family member in residence, so there are times the girls have very little to do. But when the hoard invades they are terribly taxed. They earn they keep daily by managing 4 or 5 separate kitchens, the pool n bbq area, the TV room plus 5 other “homes” each with bath n living area… all containing way too many kids.

So yesterday was pay-day. Years ago we got smart and started doing direct pay into employee’s accounts. Save us heaps of time and energy. So we thought until it became evident that no house keepers were going to show up yesterday/ Friday. We were told that on payday they need to go to the bank to get their money, and nowadays, with the big crowds and all, it takes them all day.

Everything in these isles takes way, way longer than planned.

I have been talking to some political types about business and where the nation is and when the administration is going re-learn the value of the rural sector. Let me pull some info from a paper I am sharing with the PM’s office…

Assumptions:

  • The rural economy(s) of Solomon Islands have been allowed to wither over the past 40 years.
  • Prior to 1980, the economic engine of The Solomons was the rural economy(s)
  • A picture says a thousand words: UN database

Flow on:

  • It is obvious that the trend(s) as exemplified in this graph is directly associated with the loss of growth in the rural economy.
  • The loss of the rural economy comes from a number of contributors:
    • Past Government policy lead to the centralization of commercial services and activities
    • Centralization leads to the “best and the brightest” relocating to where the “bright lights” are
    • The focus on harvesting of resources further disenfranchised the rural sector by moving the need from low-scale and low-tech rural production to the importation of heavy machines and equipment.
    • “Industry” after the early 80s meant large-scale investment in heavy plant and equipment with trained operators.
    • This shift prompted a move in the skill-set of agrarian production to that of modern-world service providers such as truck drivers, chainsaw operators, and mechanics / technicians
  • The question, now, would be “How can we reignite the rural economic engines?”.

The point of this discussion is to decide if the SIG is anywhere near serious about the rural sector. I am optimistic due to some recent verbiage they have put out… And I have heard it from more than on source. So it may be time to look back, toward the rural sector.

Honiara basically sucks. Sadly Gizo is not a whole lot better. Its just easy to get onto the water at Gizo. Here in Honiara I am land-locked.

I see lots of money floating around. Still plenty of ex-pats in hugely expensive vehicles. Everyone I see has a phone to their ear… and not just a phone… everyone has a smart phone and lives connected.

Funny stat: and according to th WB … 25% of Solomon IsIanders have access to modern sanitation but almost 60% have access to mobile connectivity

My grandmother would comment, “ it’s all about your priorities”. And she is right. If running water and sanitation is more important than being on-line, well I guess the stats would be different.

But I am feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about this new government. Maybe, just maybe we shall soon see some positive decision-making.

From my discussions with people in the SIG I believe the work is being done and that a strong work ethic (as strong as it can be here) is exemplified by the “bosses”. There has been (always has been) rhetoric about corruption. But I hear that the rhetoric is heating up and the new Gov is both willing but actually targeting the corruption battle. Again, I am uncharacteristically optimistic.

Perhaps it’s early onset dumb-shititis? Or chronic romanticitis?

Perhaps the mix of long serving, self-servers is just right. Perhaps enough old age or, perhaps maturity has set in.

Time will tell.

Again, I am uncharacteristically optimistic.

Posted by: nativeiowan | April 24, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… literary endeavors

I have been working on this piece for some time now… open to comments, complaints, n criticisms…

The Last White Man

A colonial tale…

From the water the “big island” is indeed BIG. Compared to the numerous smaller islands the big island is a mecca of life in these islands. All goods into and out passes through “The Port”.

A modern container ship is berthed at the main wharf. Efficiently loading and unloading. It will spend less than 10 hours in Port.

The white sands of the beach glistened in the midday sun.

An array of bright orange and red “canoes” line the beach. Each has an outboard motor. They come from near and far

A bustle of dark-skinned people keep a frenetic pace as they arrive depart, load, unload, gossip and laugh. Numerous languages can be heard, The roar of out board motors, th crying of small children mix to create a confused cacophony of life.

Behind the beach, parked in a insensible mix and match, stands a fleet of flat-bed trucks. Coming and going, raising dust, disgorging people, collecting and delivering. “Market trucks”, as they were called: Bags of copra, trocus, and cocoa. Returning the same trucks are laden with drums of fuel, bags of rice, cartons of tobacco and tinned goods.

In this bustle of life stands an oasis of calm and tranquillity. Poised, as if a spectator to,the noise and confusion of The Port; The National Yacht Club is civility within chaos. The NYC celebrated its 100th anniversary a decade past. It had been a sacrosanct bastion of Colonialism for almost a century. Coining, decades before the famous American City, the slogan, “I love NYC”.

An imposing “leaf-haus” (leaf house) is the main NYC. In the cool recess of the corner is the bar and cold room. Tables and chairs segregate the main floor space.

A small “cabanna” made from mangrove logs and sago palm is a prominent feature. Set a part from the main-club area and accessed by a small cause-way, this bastion within a bastion is known as table #1.

A lone white-man sits in the shade of the sago. He sips a glass of beer. Dressed in his standard “whites”; white linen shirt with knee-length trousers, knee-length socks, gleaming black oxfords. His walking stick leans within reach and his “solar-topee” rests on the table. A heavy glass ashtray holds a half-dozen butts.

He has a magazine and is reading slowly and thoroughly. A pedanticness is obvious in the slow turning of pages.

A tall, lean islander, dressed in a well-worn, white linen jacket approaches the cabana. His bearing military straight. His bare feet, large and knurled, tell much of this man. He is slightly bowlegged, and is carrying a tray in one hand and a large book in the other. He replaces the empty beer bottle with a full, tops-up the glass and places the book on the table. The dirty ash tray is replaced by a clean. A fresh pack of “Dunhill Reds” appears from the pocket of his jacket and is placed next to a gold lighter. All is in perfect order before words are exchanged…

-Last Pack lo Reds, ia, Boss. Mi no savvy what time moa by come.-

The Gentleman, for surely that is what he is, slowly folds his magazine, takes the last puff of a cigarette he holds between his fingers, surgically grinds it out in the new ashtray, then raises his blue-eyed gaze.

-Thank you, Niko, you are a good man.-

-Thank you, Boss. Bye you look long new-member book, staka lilbit new man, ia.-

Standing erect, tray well balanced, slightly limping to the right Niko returns to his duties in the bar.

His best and only friend was “Nika”. They’d been friends for over 50 years and, as the years passed the others departed or died, HE and Niko were the last of the “old breed”.

– Mr. Jason, Mr. Jason -, a man waves toward the cabana. – Mr. Jason, a moment if you please?-

A young man,dressed in a faded “island-shirt”, denim cut-offs and flip-flops negotiates the maze of tables with little dignity. Obviously in a rush, his right flip-flop “blows-out” forcing him to pause in his haste to repair his footwear.

He approaches in a puupy-clumsy manner: -Excellency, so glad to catch you here. Was hoping to have a word with you. About the fund raising we are doing-.

HE sat at “table #1”. It had been “his” table for decades. His and many others. So many years have passed, HE, thought. Fund raising, indeed!

Posted by: nativeiowan | April 24, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… thinking about education

I have been succesful because I have had loads of better than good luck, I received (was forced to endure) a very good education, and I was never given a choice in the matter, but I learned what hard work was at a young age.

My literacy level, my willingness and ability in varying workplace venues, plus loads of luck lead me to a succesful life. Perhaps it is the vanity of the aged to think we were better, or harder, or smarter, or less timid. I have been thinking about the topic…

The education system failing the adults of tomorrow…

I hear it often: – the system just is not good enough, -the system is not working-, the system is failing the “kids”-. –I home school because I don’t want to expose my kids to “all that”-.

I think the blame here is being misplaced. May I ask, is the system failing the kids, or are the parents failing the kids? Perhaps both are failing, or all three are failing? Isn’t the educating of the child a joint responsibility? All stake-holders bear an interest and a responsibility.

When a parent/ family decides to “home-school” there is a statement of economic fact being exclaimed. Only those who can afford to home-school have such an option. They must be able to afford the time, the actual out-of-pocket cost, as well as the emotional and energetic expense of being a teacher, an educator, and a parent.

Most parents/ most adults fail to recognise that “school” is only a part of education. The majority of the “system” in use is based on a guideline of training students to be social, agreeable, thoughtful, cooperative and respectable contributors of society. Teaching the basics of education; reading, writing and ‘rithmatec. And, importantly, to spend 8 hours a day in one place, doing as you are told. It is as much conditioning as it is educating.

Yet I would table that parents oft-times think they can dump their responsibility of educating their children on the “system”. And when their kids turn out to be dumb, or lazy, or illiterate, or shit heads… well the system failed, didn’t it?

Home schooling has traditionally been the bastion of the well to do. Tutors, lecturers, nannies, and private schools have been where the educated sent their off spring to be educated. The modern (was modern about 60 years ago) education system is based on a need to move from an agrarian to an industrial society. We were sent to schools to learn to conform, as training to go to work at a factory. Only the well to do “educated” their children to be thinkers.

Of course, rare exceptions are known where a backwater boy or girl turned out to be a genius. Yet the majority of our thinkers and shakers and doers came from and come from privileged backgrounds.

But, as I see the society dumbing down, the trend of children turning out “better educated” than their parents is a pipe dream. We all appear to be accepting a downgrading of our intellect.

It sounds harsh but lets measure the vocabulary of my Father vs the vocabulary of my grandson. My father had a powerful vocabulary. What about languages? My mother was fluent in 2 languages. Music? My grandmother was home schooled in music but could teach music.

Throwing rocks at the system, which we insist upon, ain’t a valid answer. I feel it would be more productive to rethink, revamp the antiquated system, answering first and foremost: Why am I educating my child? What am I educating my child for?

The American Dream/ Scheme?

Once, long ago; in a land of wilderness, darkness, deprivation; There was a light.

And that light was “Learning”.

One was “Learned”, or not.

To be “Learned” one would have studied the “classics” of the day; the curriculum of language, arts, science, and religion of the day. All modern societies had Institutions Of Learning.

Ancient societies had classical learning as well.

Teacher or Shaman?

Priest or Sorcerer?

Scientist or Alchemist?

Where is our modern society’s classical Learning?

Who are our modern society’s classical Learned?

The Library or the Mall?

Plato or Bill Gates?

Biance’ or Vivaldi?

Not sure what is being taught or learned these days but I fear the overall standard-reducing trend we have become accustomed to may be the way of the future…

Posted by: nativeiowan | April 2, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Thoughts for the week

It is friday morning here in the land of Oz. We have winter coming on. Its getting cooler and the rains appear to have settled in. I am watching a mix of newz programmes and find my self perplexed and even pissed off. I may have missed something here but as the various newz channels recap the week I feel as though I am the proverbial Stranger in a Strange Land…

1) In 1976 Iran became a terrorist state. They raided the US embassy and held a bunch of folks hostage for a long time. Since that time Iran has been a repressive, idealistic and aggressive state, funding terror activities world-wide. Now the US and “allies” are giving the Iranians political and global legitimacy. And a green light to go for the bomb. All I can say is – did I miss something here? And as this happens the Israeli State is getting abandoned. WTF????

2) One State in the Union passes laws which give businesses the freedom of choice in who they serve. I know, controversial since my youth when “no shirt no shoes no service” signs were everywhere. Not cool then but there is a discussion worth having as per who and what, I as a business/ service provider, can and cannot choose to do. But the idea of freedom of choice rubs some folks wrong. So much so many major corporations now choose to not do business with said state because of their choices… hmmm, I agree with W.E. here in that I fail to not see a double standard (EVEN HYPOCRISY) herein.

3) Mrs Clinton is in the newz a lot. First as a very viable (if not the only) Democrat candidate for 2016, and second for a number of rather questionable if not nefarious activities while in high public office. And she is still a viable candidate. Golly, again I go back in time for this but… what the fuck happened to the standards held when Gary Hart was blasted off the campaign trail? He got done for “womanizing”. Not lying or cheating or hiding/ destroying government info// documents…  All I can say here is WTF!

4) A white dude gets beat up by a couple black dudes on a train in St Louie. All on camera. I may be akin to Genghis Khan but it sure as hell would have been differnt if the white dude had a gun and used it. Golly, that would have been controversial newz! The world is sad but when a white cop defends himself he is a racist shit. When a couple young black dudes punch n kick a lone white guy they are “troubled” or “understandably frustrated”. WTF!!!!

5) A bus load of “educators” in Georgia got years in jail for fudging test results. All I can say is maybe my Niece, Tracey and her good-man, Joe, need to offer lessons in rasing kids. Grand-nephew, Jake, is graduating from high school, is an Eagle Scout, is a state-level musician, a debate/ speech award winner, an honour roll student, and has secured a scholarship for undergrad school. I know Tracey and Joe work hard for their kids but their success is evident, and I think they should start giving lessons on what hard work can result in. I think the general population may have forgotten what hard work is and what it can do for you.

So call me a grumpy ol fart who vicariously views the void called “our modern world” through a telescope. But, again, all I can say is WTF!

Posted by: nativeiowan | April 2, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… The Esk back way

Met up with one of my favourite fellow riders, Big G, yesterday. We met in a picturesque lil Queensland town, Esk, and rode some sweet roads together back to Palmwoods.

G, is a family member of my buddy, Adrian’s, and we have met rode together more than once. he’s a “stuck in his ways” long-rider, like me. Though we ride differently we both ride long, light n fast.

G and Adrian’s bro-inlaw, GN, are going to spend 3 weeks with me riding the US of A later in the year.

So, G likes his roads a bit twisty. He likes his bikes a bit quick. He likes loads to be nonexistent and he like the weather to be on the fast side.

I live in a bike-heaven land where weather n roads = bike very easily. I am lucky n happy and thank G for the company…

esk + copy

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 27, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Baxter Motorcycles of Marne, Iowa

Being a Native Iowan I am inordinately pleased that a small time Business like Baxter’s is so darn good.

http://baxtercycle.com/

I found Baxter’s in June/ July 2013. I was flying into Des Moines and wanted to ride a Thruxton back to California. I ride plenty of bikes and have decided my favourite, off-the-shelf ride is a Thruxton. I tout myself as a cafe-racer from the ol sckool… low n lean, light n quick. Pervious to that time, I had picked a new Thruxton up from a local dealer here on the east coast of Australia. I then had 2 BMWS… a F800R and a R1200RT, as my main riders. The 800 is a great bike but the “sport” ride is far from a cafe ride and I never liked the bulk n weight 1200. Nice, great bike, just way too big n heavy.

The Thruxton became my favourrritte ride.

So after looking around I found only 1 dealer in Iowa stocking the Thruxton.

I picked my Thruxton up in Marne and did the Iowa to central Cal ride through, Salt Lake, and Lake Taho.

I was soo, soo impressed. The flat lands, the mountains n long highways, rain,a great ride.

I am not a young-dude but I stay fit and the low, naked ride is what I prefer, and the Thruxton did not miss a beat.

I purchased that bike over the phone and email and the whole scene was a breeze. Baxter’s made the whole long distance gig way too easy.

check out… https://nativeiowan.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/running-naked-day-4-a-service-interval/

At the end of that ride I gave that Thruxton to my nephew in Cal. He is the only member of my family who digs the cafe style of riding. Everyone else rides heavy and is perplexed by my choice of bikes. but not this guy, he knew immediately and for his smarts got a bike with only 4000 miles on it.

I am a great uncle to have.

As I spend most of my time here in Australia my shed/ warehouse/ museum is here. I must confess – bless me father for I have sinned – I am an unrepentant Britt-Bike guy. Though I still have the F800R, I traded the 1200 for a BMW R9T which i have customised and beaten almost into shape as a cafe-machine.

Theres a 52 Tbird, a 52/ 57 Triton, a 57 Indian, a 58/59 BSA, a 63 T120R, a 69 Norton Atlas, a 72 X75 Hurricane. As well as the Thruxton, the 800 and the R9T.

Excessive, i know but I dig the old bikes, the ol Britt-Bikes.

Last year, I bought another Thruxton in LA and rode to Iowa. Got it serviced at Baxter’s and, on my mother’s instructions, bought a very pretty Bonneville for my elder brother’s birthday.

When Randy Baxter delivered the bike last year I chatted with him about my vintage bikes and bringing them back to show room condition. Randy is a well recognised authority and restorer. In fact a friend of mine in Rockhampton, Australia owns a Baxter bike (a 59 Bonneville) be bought from a museum on the east coast USA.

This year I have managed to get the ol BSA on the table. The BSA is about the flassshhy-est bike from the 50s. It was certainly fast for the times and it looked it too…  BSA  copy It was sold under names like “Super Rocket” and “Road Rocket”. So futuristic for the times.

So, after breaking the machine down and deciding what we needed (yep, some dumb shits tried to replace the pistons decades ago and fudged it all up so new barrel, pistons, main bearing, seals, gaskets, cables… not surprising really, but I think the fact that it has not ben operable for years has saved the bike. it is all there, all original, it just needs some TLC.

I placed my order with Baxter’s this morn. I sent them a tentative list and they did the work, gave me advice and led me down the vintage bike rebuild road. It’ll be a few weeks but when the parts come we’ll soon get this puppy back on the road, well, not on the road. Into my museum.

So my hat goes off to the Baxter gang. Job very well done, again.

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 26, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… BSA coming back to life

Been a while since I have worked on this but it’s back and it’s happening quickly…

IMG_0676  

We are back wrenching on the BSA. I thought it was a ’57. I find it is a ’58 – ’59.

So we’re doing the take apart n see whatz wrong dance. And there is plenty wrong, but it’s still a sweet, sweet machine…

IMG_2061 IMG_2063 IMG_2064 IMG_2065 IMG_2067 IMG_2068

Ordering parts now so will continue and maybe in a couple of months we’ll be back and compressing…

Good fun

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 15, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… Sunday morn in Pasadena

Sunday morn here in Pasadena. Cup of coffee beside me, son, Don, in the reading room. The morning is gentle, cool and quiet.

Pasadena does not rise early. It’s a 10am wake-up kinda town. And on Sundays its more of a 12noon wake-up sorta town.

Heading south, back to Brisbane today/ tonight, rather. Midnight flight outta here so have some time, yet.

This has been Don’s first trip into Pasadena and his first visit to the USA in 7 years. The cross-country driving was fun with him. He’s a good driver and with his help we drove a couple very long days, covering some serious miles. For me, long-hauling is an art form. On bike or in car, one must maintain a high level of control and vigilance for long hours. A bike is much more intense but you get frequent stops. A car offers less “weather and wear” from the elements, but you do longer hours in a single session.

Have a few errands to do this morn: Drop the rental back. Put the Thruxton away. Clean the apartment and prepare it for a long emptiness. I must comment how happy, pleased, impressed I am with the ladies that run this apartment complex. During my last absence the drains blocked up and the bathroom area flooded. A fair amount of damage occurred before the folks in the unit below me saw the water dripping down. So the place has been torn apart; walls, floors repaired and repainted. The vanity was lost and a new one still on order. So things not 100% in the apartment but all is about 120% with the gals who run the place.

So we’re about 30 hours and counting before landing in Brisbane. Oh, yea, lets see… about 30 hours minus a day. We depart on Sunday 1130pm and arrive, after 14 hours of flying, at 630am on Tuesday…

Yea, for me, more time traveling…

Posted by: nativeiowan | March 12, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… 4 wheel’n through the USA

Just back from a cross-country run into Iowa:

usa 0315

Son, Don, with me. Was a very good run through great terrain and climes. All good fun…

IMG_1877

Back in Pasadena now. All is very, very good…

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 7, 2015

Mike’s Bikes… More Horse Power

Is all the world needs…

@Spaceport America… IMG_1979-Panorama

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