Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Mayonnaise of Art Supplies - Moleskine Cahiers

We've all done it, at the grocery store. "Do I have mayo, at home? I don't remember. Better get some..."

Then, we get home and find three jars of mayo in the fridge, each bought under the same circumstance.

I carry a Moleskine Cahier in my rear pocket, pretty much all the time. The Cahiers are slim, paperbound notebooks (I use the blank sheet version), which are roughly the size of  U.S. passport, with a small pocket in the rear. For me, they serve many purposes: I sketch in them, take notes, write down song ideas or ideas for standup comedy. In the rear pocket, I keep a few blank business cards for whenever I need to leave some info with someone.

But, the paper covers are not the most durable things in the world, and tend to succumb to the rigors of daily carry. So, I came up with a hack to mitigate that problem. I cover the notebook with black duct tape:

It works really well. The notebooks stay together a lot better, and have a more substantial feel than what the thin card cover affords. But, the downside is that it's somewhat time-consuming to do, and I have to do it to each individual notebook. So, I decided to look for a reusable cover for the Moleskine Cahiers,

The leather versions cost way too much money (at least $35.00, including shipping), so I ordered a plastic cover, printed with a map of Colorado, to use until such time as I get the energy to make a leather cover, myself.

What does this have to do with the Mayonnaisse Syndrome? I'm getting to that...

When I was flying to Pennsylvania, for my Christmas visit with family, I picked up a pack of three brown cahiers at the airport newsstand.

I stowed them in my sketchbook bag, and went about the rest of my visit.

Two weeks ago, I went to the art supply store to get some colored pencils as part of a late Christmas gift for Noella Click. As I walked by the Moleskine display, I spied these on the rack:

"Oh," I thought, having forgotten about my airport purchase, "I should pick up a 3-pack of those." And, so I did.

Then, yesterday, as I ordered my reusable cover, I thought again, having forgotten two previous purchases, "I better order a 3-pack of the Cahiers, so I will have a new one for the cover."

Once that pack arrives, I will have enough mayonnaise notebooks to last me for a good long while...


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tough Week and a Half

Welp, it's official, I did break a rib. I had x-rays done on Friday, after a week of feeling fairly miserable. The results: "nondisplaced fracture of the right anterolateral sixth rib".

Honestly, I was glad to hear that. I was beginning to feel a bit like a sissy, because I hurt so bad. If I had only knocked the wind out of myself, and then felt this bad for this long, I would be ashamed of myself.

Six weeks, on average, is the recovery time for such a break. I am a week and a half in, so I should be good as new in the middle of February. I just hope that there is some improvement by the time we play Herman's Hideaway, on the 24rd of this month!

I emailed my doc and asked when I can get back on the bicycle. I think that she had already gone home, because I haven't gotten an answer, yet. I hope that it's soon, because I am not really digging on driving the truck back and forth to work, every day.

It's been too icy for the motorbike. Plus, I'm not sure I could ride it, anyway. A sneeze nearly puts me on the floor, and I sure wouldn't want to have that happen as I was motorbiking down the road!

Oh, well. Just taking it easy, for now, and growing fat and lazy.


Friday, January 02, 2015

First Ride of 2015, And First Crash

I took the commuter fat bike out for my New Year's Day ride. The snow conditions on the roads were more conducive to riding the fat tires than the thinner studded tires on the fixed gear. I rode over to Cherry Creek, and took the trail north to the mall, then cut off to surface streets. Steele Street got me back across the Interstate, and I decided to ride down Buchtel, and cut through the DU neighborhood in order to get to Kaladi Bros. Everything went swimmingly until...

About a quarter-mile from the coffee shop, I made the turn from High Street to Asbury Ave, and hit a patch of ice, which sent me straight down. I landed with a big "OOF", with my hands still on the grips. The force of the fall drove my elbow into my ribs hard enough that I couldn't breathe for a few seconds. I don't think anything broke, but I sure bruised some ribs up.

Right now, I am having trouble getting up out of a chair, and a cough or sneeze feels like death. I coughed, at Kaladi, after I finally got there, and almost passed out. So, not an auspicious beginning to the new year, bike-wise.

I did check, when I got home, and i am able to play my guitar.

And, I will be okay. I am unbreakable, after all.

Be careful out there!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Scenes From Western PA

I am in Mercer, visiting family, for my Christmas vacation. Here are some things that have happened, so far:

I saw this from the road, on the way back from a trip to Grove City:

I had Joy turn around and go back, so that I could investigate.  

I think that it is the foundation and central fireplace of a ruined house. The wood lying about looks like it might have been floor joists and planking. This is the kind of place which appeals to my inner 10-year-old.

I got my nephew, Sean, a SOG tomahawk for Christmas.

This was his first throw with it.

This was the distance. Pretty fun toy...

My other nephew, Kyle, got a Santa Cruz longboard. I didn't buy it for him, but I picked it up, in Denver, and shipped it to Mercer, for Joy. He was pretty thrilled with it.

My college chum, Tim, sent me this, via Facebook message. That is me, circa 1981, building up a prop for an as-yet unfinished space opera that we were working on. Yes, Virginia, I once had hair! (Note the Moosehead Beer shirt and flannel. Neil Young was my major fashion influence, at the time.)

More as it happens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Merry Christmas, For Me, Already

Back when I was 14 years old (1975), many of my lifelong obsessions were already in place. I was into motorbikes, girls, guitars (even though I was just beginning to try to learn to play), and comics. I was especially into comics about my obsessions.

As such, I was a huge fan of Dennis Ellefson, at Petersen Publications. You may know Petersen as the publisher of HotRod Magazine. They also published quite a few other titles including CarToons and CycleToons. And, at that time, Dennis, the editor of CycleToons, was the current artist for the long-running feature "Hogg Ryder". The plots for the HR comics followed a pretty standard form: Hogg would plot to show up his nemesis, The Old Poop, usually through some fantastic modification to his Webley Vickers chopper, and The Old Poop would somehow outsmart him and win the race/prize money/girl, or whatever.

While relatively entertaining, the plots held but a secondary interest to me. What I loved about "Hogg Ryder", from Den-Den's hand, was the same thing I loved about his incidental illustrations between articles in HotRod (or anything else that he did, for that matter). Namely, I was blown away by his art. The cross-hatching, the use of black space, the highlights which gave the illusion of gleaming chrome on a black and white page,, and the depth of field that he accomplished still are amazing to me. I aspire to his level of quality, but miserably fail, to this day.

I was so enamored with his work that I wrote him a letter, telling him pretty much all of that, in the Spring of 1975. I didn't really expect to hear anything back, but I did. Imagine my surprise when, in September of that year, I received a manila envelope in the mail, with the return address of Petersen Pubs!

Inside was a very nice handwritten note from Dennis, and some random original panels of his artwork! I have to tell you that I was blown away by that, and I treasured that package of material.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all of the life changes I went through as I got divorced, in 1998, that package went missing. I assumed that it had ended up in the trash.

Then, when I got to my sister's house, two days ago, for Christmas, she showed me the stuff that she had saved out of the big clean-out that she and my mother had done to my mother's house, just before Thanksgiving. There, in a cardboard box with some old toys and records, was my envelope from Dennis Ellefson!

Even though my name has the common misspelling, I really love having this note! (The graphics on the page are a good example of Dennis's work, btw.)

This panel shows some of the tricks that Dennis used to achieve that almost-3D depth of field.

Brush work! There is some damage to the image, in the right-hand panel, unfortunately.

This is my favorite of the original panels, not only for the execution, but for the subject matter, as well. It's 
5-1/2" x 7" of pure delight, for me.

Sadly, Dennis passed away in 1997, according to what I can find on the internet.That makes finding these panels even that much sweeter, to me. I plan to frame these, and hang them in my house, so that I can make up for lost time, enjoying them.

I hope to find the story that htese panels are from, somehow, and get a copy. If you know anything about it...


Friday, December 05, 2014

The Nail Collector

This morning, I got up, took the rear wheel (with the flat tire) off of the Scrambler, threw it into the back of the truck and went to the coffee shop to hang around until Performance Motorcycle Parts opened at 9:00. I got to Performance a little after 9:00, and showed them the nail sticking through my tire. A little after 10:00, I walked out of with my repaired tire, and noticed that the front driver's side tire on the Dodge was low.

After I replaced the wheel on the motorbike, I threw the Funk bicycle into the truck bed, and drove over to Discount Tire, where I left the truck to get the tire fixed. I biked home, then took the Scrambler out to run some errands. While I was out I got a call from Discount Tire; sure enough, there was a nail in the truck tire, as well.

Discount repaired my flat and re-balanced my tire at no charge. I was pretty surprised, because I knew that they did that if you had bought the tires from them but, these tires were on the truck when I bought it. I have bought tires there, before, and you can bet that's where I'll buy my next set.

Both the bike and the truck are back on the road, and I am hoping to avoid adding to my nail collection, anytime soon!


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Flat, No Scruggs...

Yep, that's what it looks like when all of the air suddenly evacuates the rear tire of Ye Olde Triumph Scrambler, on the way home from work. Luckily, it happened just up the street from my house, so i was able to 5 mph it to the drive, rather than having to get home and take the truck back for a rescue mission.

Just what I need in a December when my power bill mysteriously tripled, Christmas presents need to be bought, and i am already living on peanut butter and Ramen because of that.

End of self-pity. Life goes on.

Love, Jon