Page Index
January - March 2010
The Kitchen Counter Archives
January 3, 2010
I own 14 remotes, and I don't know why. There is really no
explanation for this, as some of these are for electronics I
don't own anymore. A couple of them don't even work. In
total, 34 batteries are required to power them all. Thus
becomes my 2010 New Year's resolution: reduce the remote
control inventory.
January 27, 2010
riding. The above items are part of what makes this possible
(the other part involves
certain equipment for the motorcycle).
Hands, feet and mouth/nose are the toughest body parts to
zipping along in 5th gear. The mask is thin enough to fit easily
under my helmet and has a sweet looking
Darth Vader type
breathing apparatus that's supposed to warm the air as you
breathe it in. The mask extends below the neckline and is made
mostly of fleece, which is the absolute warmest material I know

The gloves have 150-gram Thinsulate insulation and are thin
enough to allow decent mobility. That's important when
twisting the throttle and pulling on clutch and brake levers. As
an extra layer of insulation, I wear disposable latex gloves
under the regular gloves. This helps retain and warm any
perspiration from my fingers - sort of a wet suit for the hands.

The toe warmers are the best thing this side of electrically
heated socks. They are chemically activated and stick to my big
toes, which are always the coldest part of my feet. The heat
output isn't crazy hot, but placed inside a confined space, my
toes stay warm. After a ride, I throw them in the trash.

With this equipment, I stay remarkably warm when I'm on the
motorcycle in 20-degree weather. However, it does help that
the dirt bike is a good workout in the snow. I also have the
advantage of riding straight out of my heated garage, so I'm
warm to start with. Winter riding has totally changed my
outlook on snow, to the extent that I'm actually disappointed
when it melts. I sometimes look at the weather forecast to see
when the next snow is set to roll in. I wish for frozen

February 14, 2010
In April 2005, two momentous events occurred in my life: I
moved to Chicago, and I knocked myself out on the dirt bike.
The latter event would have been more significant if I hadn't
already whacked my head as hard once before (see
Illinois race report from 1999). The 2005 crash, however, was
the kind where you don't completely lose consciousness.
Instead, you walk around like a bumbling fool, then at some
point later realize that you don't remember the last month of
your life. The black helmet (above) on the left was strapped to
my noggin that day.

All I'd intended was to warm up the oil in my KX250 by taking
it for a spin behind my dad's tool shed. When I approached a
series of odd-shaped furrows in the cornfield, two thoughts
came to mind.
This is where Dad must have demo'ed that
deep-ripping tillage implement last Fall.
Three seconds later:
Holy crap, this ground is rough!

The next thing I knew, I was staring at my pickup truck parked
next to the tool shed and wondering how it got there from St.
Louis (except I didn't live there anymore). Over the next hour,
the memories returned, all but the 10 or 15 minutes
immediately following the crash. The middle helmet above
showed up on my doorstep a couple weeks later. Through 5
seasons and nearly 300 hours of riding and racing, the Shoei
VFX has protected my brain cage very well. It was showing its
age though, so a new helmet was ordered and received last

I've been a Shoei guy from the beginning. The helmet on the
right represents at least the fifth of that brand that I've owned
since I began serious dirt biking in 1993. Call it habit or
whatever you like, but I don't see this trend changing anytime
According to the folks at Case Construction, there are
approximately 435 ways to injure yourself while driving one of
Based on my skid loader driving abilities thus far, I'd say they
are correct, and then some. But it sure is a lot of fun. Snow
has met its match, finally.
March 25, 2010
nation's government wants its trillions of stimulus money to
be spent. The Internal Revenue Service refunded me more
dollars than I asked for. This extra $207 was related to the
"Making Work Pay" tax credit, which I vaguely remember
piece of paper represents the extent to which our
about last year. The nice folks at the IRS noticed that I didn't
claim this stimulus-inspired credit, so they did it for me. After
all, we would not want the government's free handouts left
without homes. Good people, those IRS tax return
March 28, 2010
In my house, interesting things like this show up all the time.
Above, we have a mostly clean carburetor block from a 1995
Suzuki RF900. To answer your first question, no - I didn't buy
a street bike. This is from a bank repo'd motorcycle that I am
attempting to return to running condition. Although the bike
came back cleaner than I expected, its former owner had left it
in storage for a few years and did not drain the gas tank. This
caused two problems: 1) the old gas gunked up the carb; and
2) the gas tank was full of this:
The various filter screens in the fuel petcock and in the carbs
themselves kept most of the larger particles from entering
the engine, but it was a real challenge to figure out where all

of the rust was deposited inside the carb. Fortunately, many
of the larger motorcycle dealers have online parts guides for
most motorcycles manufactured since the 1990s. The RF900
parts guide helped greatly. And credit goes to Suzuki for
using carbs that have fine metal screens to sift out the crud.

The Suzuki runs well now - probably too well for my limited
street riding skills.