Tuesday 29 April 2014

Pen Pilf

I'm still in touch with the girl from Seattle with whom I went out on a couple of dates. I'm using letters, emails and texts to um... Correspond? Converse? Flirt? Court? Pester?

When I wrote to her I mentioned in my letter a few albums that are dear to me. Her reply not only included a list of albums that she thought I might like to listen to, but a copy of her debut album with a personal dedication.

In the text message chit chat she - unlike I - has never said anything so stupid as "You should feel like a princess, each one of these texts costs 25p"

I emailed her on her birthday and her reply came back with the alacrity of a ping pong ball. It was long, heartfelt and touching, and the email footer is fantastic. It has a pair of quotes by Williams Blake and Shakespeare, both funny and poetic in their own right, both seemingly written about her.

It's not a competition, but she's clearly winning.

Richard “but she does write with a ball-point” B

Tuesday 22 April 2014

I'd like to dedicate this next song to a dead rodent

Over Easter I was visited by an old girlfriend. When she used to live with me she kept guinea pigs, they were very sweet creatures and I developed quite a bond with the one that looked like a shaving brush. That guinea pig seemed to have a favourite song. Each morning while I was doing my guitar practice the pigs were turned out onto the carpet to exercise and forage for their breakfast. Whenever I played The Kinks "Til The End of the Day" the pig would charge uncharacteristically around the lounge. The original recorded version had a similar effect on it.

When I was at a rock concert in Seattle a few weeks ago I heard the same song and was reminded of the creature. The old girlfriend has recently taken up the ukulele, so I relearned the song (on ukulele) and taught it to her during her visit - in memory of the dearly departed Rexford-Rex.

Richard “the postman brought me ...fuck all so far” B

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Yamaha TMAX (XP500) Rear Wheel Removal

Taking the rear wheel off a Yamaha TMAX is easy IF you’ve got all the right tools. I spent more on tools to take the wheel off than the “ride-in-ride-away” service at the tyre shop would have cost. You need:

  • Number 3 phillips screwdriver. Not any old crosshead, the screws are large and done up tight.
  • 19mm socket or spanner
  • 12mm slim socket on an extension bar. It’s not like you need a thin-wall titanium socket or anything like that, but my 12mm socket on a ½”sq drive wouldn’t fit and I had to go and get the one on a ⅜”sq drive.
  • 17mm hex bit on a breaker bar. You could try using a 17mm allen key but you’re going to need a long tube to turn it. You could try using a 17mm hex drain plug key but you’re going to need more than a little tommy bar to turn it. I don’t know the torque setting for the rear spindle but it’s somewhere in the “Fucking Tight” range.

The final drive of the TMAX is a chain in an oil bath inside the left hand leg of the swing arm. The road wheel sits on a splined hub. A spindle runs right through the swing arm, wheel and hub from one side to the other.

  1. Swing arm dust cover. There are two large phillips screws on the left hand side of the swing arm. Undo the screws and pull off the dust cover. It’s got honest-to-goodness dust seals and acoustic foam. You should now be able to see the large nut and washer on the left hand end of the spindle.
  2. Remove the brake calliper. There are two 12mm bolts that fix the calliper to the left hand leg of the swing arm. Take the bolts out and jiggle the calliper off the disc. Now is the time to check the brake pads. Now is not the time to squeeze the back brake lever.
  3. Support the calliper. Don’t leave the calliper hanging on the brake hose, prop it up on something or tape it to the swing arm.
  4. Pinch bolt. The right hand leg of the swing arm has a pinch bolt that grabs the spindle. Undo the pinch bolt.
  5. Undo the spindle. With a spanner on the nut and a fiendishly expensive hex bit in the head you can undo the spindle. Be bold man! You’re pulling on that spanner like a little girl!
  6. Pull the spindle out from the right hand side. You might need to encourage it with a hammer on the left.
  7. Pull the wheel off the hub. The wheel pulls off from the right. On my bike the splines were still clean and greasy and all it took was a little bit of wiggling.

Richard "new tyre" B

Tuesday 8 April 2014


Last week I came back from a holiday in Seattle, and I brought various souvenirs with me including biscuits, a coffee maker, light green cotton-paper bookmarks (with pictures of presidents on them), and an expensive pocket knife. My least favourite were sleep deprivation, jet-lag, and a laundry-and-ironing backlog the like of which I haven't seen since the great washing machine failure of 2012.

My favourite three souvenirs all weigh less than a gram, they are two business cards and a tiny quantity of gold. The gold was mined in the Klondike using traditional methods. I didn't know it but Seattle was a travel and supply hub during the gold rush. There was probably nowhere better to be if you were a turn of the century husky-dog-chandler or mining-equipment-baron.

Every tourist attraction and waiting room that we stepped into had a little rack of leaflets and business cards advertising other tourist attractions. In one of these racks my friend found for me a card that didn't advertise an attraction, but the business that supplies the racks and leaflets.

The other business card belongs to a pretty harpist with whom I went out on a couple of dates. No I didn't get to pluck her strings. Yes we are keeping in contact - by letter. Yes she reads this blog. No it doesn't seem to have put her off.

Richard "pen-friends-without-benefits" B

Wednesday 2 April 2014

BolingTravelBlog Monday/Tuesday

This is the end of my holiday and I have done well with my objectives:

  • To spend time with our ex-pat friend - yes, along with plenty of eating, drinking and sightseeing.
  • To look either up at or down from the Space Needle - done both.
  • To visit the Boeing factory - done.
  • To eat a crab - done, although it was dressed and served in a fusion restaurant.
  • To smoke some legally-bought medicinal weed - overdone.
  • To drink some of the local beer - done, I like what they call IPA in Washington.
  • To visit Canada - done on a daytrip.
  • To understand what the hell our friend does for a living - done...ish.
  • To drink coffee at Starbucks - done. It was expensive, bewildering, and time consuming. We also saw the original Starbucks shop.
  • To answer the question "where are you from? I love your accent." - done, many times, mostly facetiously.
  • To listen to grunge - done, in a museum.
  • To get home safely - done.
This blog will now go back to weekly updates about my life.

Richard "mission accomplished" B