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Hog Rises Again

June 7th, 2009

Medical Insurance = License to Cruise

What a fantastic day. I didn’t always think I was having fun, but in retrospect, I realize I was.

I decided to organize God’s Own Garage, because it was starting to get cluttered, and I still have to stick a 2400-pound milling machine in there. I really opened it up. It felt wonderful. An orderly room is like a beautiful woman. It gives you pleasure just by existing.

Then I decided to clean the mildew off the Harley’s saddlebags. It grew during the roof-problem era, when the garage was damp. I got on the web and looked, and I saw a lot of stupid ideas for killing mildew on leather. Then I realized I already had something that would probably do the trick: iodophor sanitizer. Unlike bleach, it won’t damage the leather, and as far as I know, iodine kills EVERYTHING. So I cleaned the mildew off with rubbing alcohol, hit the leather with iodophor, and followed up with leather conditioner. And the bags looked great. I was shocked.

I never thought that bike was all that good looking when I bought it. The black tins disappointed me, but at that time, you bought the Harley the dealer showed you, or you did without. Today I realized it’s actually a very nice looking bike. It has grown on me.

One thing led to another, and I found myself trying to get her started. I had to drain all the fuel back when I installed the new petcock, so the tank was literally dry. I figured it was time to fire her up. But I had no gas. I did something really stupid. I had a truly ancient container of gas on hand. I decided to put a quart in the tank. I figured it would get me to a gas station, and if it wasn’t the greatest gas on earth, it wouldn’t matter, because I’d be diluting it twenty-to-one with new gas.

I had to use a MAPP torch to get the silly thing started, aiming the nozzle into the carb. When it started running, I thought my problems were over. I decided to take a short spin to see if it was in shape to get me to the gas station. And the bike died three blocks from home. Worse, the place where it conked out was a good two feet lower, and you really can’t push an 800-pound bike uphill. Even a slight grade is bad news.

I walked back to the house, got the torch, and drove to the bike. Got it started. Then it died again. Finally, I had to call my dad. He was the only person available on short notice. He graciously abandoned his dinner, drove to a gas station, bought a gas can, bought a gallon of good gas, and brought it to me. Thank God, it did the trick.

I got the bike home and fiddled with it, and I went for another spin. The acceleration was weak, and it tried to stall at low speeds. I figured it was either the gas or corrosion in the slow jet, which happens when a bike sits. I went and got gas, and on the way home, the bike got worse, surging and farting. Surging is embarrassing. It makes you look like an idiot in traffic. Like you have no idea how to work a throttle.

I got home and ordered some new slow jets on the web (the dealer near me probably charges fifty bucks each for a two-dollar item). Then I decided to play Dr. House. I thought there might be crud in the carb, but I did not want to take it apart and hit it with carb cleaner. But I realized I had a bottle of STP fuel injection cleaner and some Sta-Bil. I figured carb crud had to be just like injector crud. And if the bad gas had water in it, Sta-Bil would get rid of it. I made an STP and Sta-Bil cocktail, poured it into the tank, and hit the started. The bike ran! I got a screwdriver and adjusted the idle speed, and away I went.

It ran like a dream. Great low-end torque, good acceleration, no backfiring, no hesitation, and no surging. It probably didn’t run this well new. Against my better judgment, knowing I was very rusty, I decided to go for a longer ride. I put on my helmet and horsehide jacket and boots, and I tooled through Coconut Grove and onto I-95.

Riding at highway speed is very intimidating when you’re a new rider, and every rider who has been off his bike for months feels like a new rider when he gets back on. So I was nervous. I felt stiff, and every seam and reflector in the road seemed determined to knock me off the bike. I stuck with it, having no choice, and I went all the way to Northeast 95th Street (over 10 miles) and got off. I rode by the house where I grew up, across a busy intersection from Mike’s old house. I rode down by the bay, where we used to waste our time gigging inedible fish.The bike never gave me a second’s trouble.

On the way home, I felt loose, and my Motorcycle Safety Foundation training came back to me.I threw the bike around a little, just to get used to moving the weight. It was wonderful. I had really missed riding, without even realizing it.

Also, I came up with a name for the bike. It made me laugh. Can’t tell you now, though. I’ll spill it eventually. Not all of you will get it.

I plan to ride more in the future. I was always reluctant to ride, because I was worried about having an accident, and I was too cheap to get medical insurance. Actually, I was afraid they’d make me get an exam, and I didn’t want to show up fat and out of shape, and I never seemed to get into the kind of shape I thought would impress the insurer into giving me a ridiculously low rate. When I finally got insurance, all they did was ask questions. I could have told them I was a giraffe. They would have bought it. So I said my blood pressure was 75 over 40 and I had just won a gold medal in the Decathlon.

Not really.

Anyway, I have insurance, so I’m not as scared of the road. Oddly, the thought of paying medical bills scares me less than the possibility that I will be turned into a giant meatball.

It was a magnificent day, all the way around. I realized my milling dreams were doable, and I got the Harley on the road. I can’t ask for more than that. I’ve been thinking I should ride it to church. It’s a long trip on the interstate, on a low-traffic day. Perfect for riding.

I’d look like a freak with that jacket however.

The pastor’s son has a chopper. I guess I would be excused.

I had a problem with the insurance people. Somehow they got the idea that I had smoked fairly recently, and they jacked up my rate. It’s a lot of money. A hundred bucks a month. I called and complained, and they said I could get a blood test and prove I didn’t smoke.

I’ve been thinking about it. I may just let it go. I keep thinking it’s wasteful to spend that kind of money for an occasional cigar. Then I think about the more fundamental issue: freedom. Do I really want to live like an uptight, irrational, self-righteous, liberal smoke Nazi, just to save money? Wouldn’t I be letting them control me?

For a long time, I thought I might want to give cigars up altogether, because I had read a few things that worried me, and I was concerned about using a product which had been a curse to my family. But last week I read up on it, and here is the truth: smoking a couple of cigars a week is one hundred percent harmless. It’s not addictive. It won’t hurt your heart or lungs. It won’t give you cancer. The Jews believe asceticism is evil, and I think they’re right. Maybe it’s wrong to live like a fanatic in order to keep the insurance company from ripping me off. Liberty–even small, nonessential liberties–is worth something. Pleasure is important. Christians forget that. You’re not supposed to be a slave to it, but if you deprive yourself more than you should, you just store up temptation for the inevitable day when your willpower breaks, and you weary yourself of trying to be good, and you reject gifts God intended you to enjoy. One purpose of the sabbath was to teach man he occasionally had to get off the hamster wheel, stop punishing himself, and enjoy things.

I don’t think John the Baptist was a true ascetic. His diet was limited when he was in the desert, but no self-respecting ascetic would even consider eating honey. It’s an extremely decadent food. And we have no idea what he ate when he was in Jerusalem, where he had access to real grub. You can’t compare him to true ascetics, like the Buddhist and Hindu nutjobs who wander the jungle for decades in diapers, living on dirt. We know Jesus and the disciples enjoyed food and wine, and Jesus even let a woman perfume his feet.

I still have time to think it over.

6 Responses to “Hog Rises Again”

  1. steve in CA Says:

    I quit smoking over 20 years ago, but I still enjoy a good cigar 2-3 times a year. My cardiologist doesn’t get mad at me. He says just don’t make it a habit. Since I only really enjoy Cuban Cigars, I don’t think I need to get worried about it becoming a habit; unless I can buy them locally and not sneak them in.

  2. cond0010 Says:

    “The Jews believe asceticism is evil, and I think they’re right.”
    I remember when Aaron mentioned that on your blog. It does seem contradictory to what being ‘religious’ is all about. But I agree. Totally.
    Sounds weird, but, you can’t have yourself rebelling against… yourself. 😉

  3. Kyle Says:

    Asceticism does indeed set you up for a fall, and worse, the shame spiral that often comes with a fall. It’s much better to allow yourself simple pleasures in small amounts than to live in total self-denial.

  4. km Says:

    God intended us to enjoy His great creation.
    We need to be careful, because we and the world are both tainted by the Fall.
    But throwing all pleasure out because of the taint of the Fall is foolish. We are, within reasonable limits (that ultimately work to our benefit), supposed to enjoy food and drink and sex.

  5. lateniteguy Says:

    Please try PRI-G in your fuel. It will keep even today’s lousy gas alive for a year in a metal can. You can usually get it at West Marine. It blows Stabil out of the water.

  6. Steve H. Says:

    I suspect that this can was filled about 20 years ago. It belonged to a dinghy my dad had on his boat at that time. I don’t know if any product could have kept it alive that long.