Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning

If you are a guy like me, you probably soon get lost when women speak of the age of their babies in weeks.  Personally I need to do the math in my head to translate "17 weeks old today" into a meaningful (at least to me) unit of time. There was a stand up comic (his name escapes me) who did a bit about his mother still referring to his age in weeks even when he was into his late thirties - that's in years of course.  Something to the effect of , "she called me on my birthday to tell me how proud she was of her boy who was 2028 weeks old today!" 

Yes, it would seem that a mother has a little different perspective on time when it comes to their children.  The whole "weeks" thing just does not resonate with the male half of the population.  Most of the time this is little more than a barely interesting object of whimsical musing, good for little more than the good natured jab of the aforementioned comedian.  But earlier today it struck me that in some cases this mental block exhibited by some of us is detrimental to our full appreciation of the horrors which plague our godless society.  This minor eureka moment came to me while reading a report concerning the method that some of the child murderers in this nation have come up with to get around the law against partial birth abortion. 

You remember "partial birth abortion" don't you?  That is where the baby is partially delivered, all but the baby's head, and then a sharp object is driven into the brain so that the baby is dead before the delivery is completed.  This of course is a mere technicality, so that the murderer cannot be charged with murder, and the mother cannot be charged as an accomplice (or for hiring a hit-man?), since the baby was not born alive.  Neat, huh?  You may also recall that two of the more well known of those who vigorously opposed the ban on this barbaric practice are our sitting President and one of the major party candidates for that office.  In fact, don't forget that unequivocal support for abortion is enshrined in the party platform that they both affirm. 

But now it seems that those who love death have devised a way of getting around the ban on partial birth abortion as well.  This method involves injecting the baby with a drug which causes a heart attack.  Again, once the baby is dead, the body can be removed without fear of legal consequences.   This is where the concept of weeks comes in.  The information I read about this practice mentioned that in some parts of this nation, it is carried out in the 35th week of pregnancy.  Now any woman (at least with any motherly instincts) will immediately be aghast.  Me? ...I had to do the math first.  Even men remember that the time from conception to birth is commonly deemed to be 9 months.  So let's see, if you figure about 4 weeks to a month, and 4 times 9 equals 36, then ...  Oh my!  They are killing these babies only a week before they are born.  But at least the baby doesn't feel any pain, because ask anyone who has had a heart attack, it is painless.  Oh, wait...

I would also point out that it is a sad commentary on our society that the murder of babies about to be born seems more distasteful than the same crime committed against them earlier in their existence.

"It's not a baby, it's a fetus," they argue to justify themselves.  Well, they are half right.  "It" is a fetus; Fetus being Latin for offspring or child.  Just doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?  Terminate a fetus, or murder your offspring, the act still has the same smell of death. 

There was another comedian who used to do a bit where he poked fun at conservatives for being anti abortion and yet supporting the death penalty for 1st degree murder.  A very rough paraphrase of his punch line would be, "I guess they just want to let 'em grow up before they kill 'em."  The liberals in the audience seemed to think it hilarious, apparently unaware of the inverse they affirmed.  Kill those who are the most innocent and vulnerable, but have mercy on the one who has proven himself a murderer; yeah, pretty funny.  The Bible has something to say about that subject:  Isaiah 5:20

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quick and Easy Magneto Check

This is a simple check that can save you some time, aggravation, and maybe even some money.

You have a used mag, or you are swap meet shopping for one.  Is it in working condition?  How do you know if the mag is not in a bike and/or the bike doesn't run?  Or is that magneto equipped  bike you have had for decades becoming harder and harder to start, and you suspect it may be more than just symptoms of an old leg?

Easy.  And best of all, a minimal investment in test equipment.

That's right, two 3/8" bolts and a rubber band.  Even with the mag out of the bike and spinning it by hand, a magneto in good condition should be capable of jumping the gap between the two bolts.  If you take that tiny little drive gear and give it a vigorous twist, it should produce a spark.  Obviously then, if the mag is still in the bike, it should do the same at "kicking" speed.

I learned this little trick over 25 years ago from the local magneto guru, Neil at Electro Mag Specialties.  Well, Neil is no longer with us, but before he passed on he served as a mentor to a gentleman I recently had the pleasure of dealing with, that being Rudy at RebuiltMags.com. When I mentioned the trick that Neil taught me so many years ago, he confirmed that a magneto in good condition should be able to jump a 3/4 inch gap.

One caveat to mention, however; if your magneto is of recent vintage with "rare earth magnets" or has been updated with them, this trick will not work.  I suspect it is because these new "hi-zoot" magnets produce just enough more drag to prevent you from getting enough speed into your twist.

Another point I might add. It has been my experience that if your magneto has weak or no spark, and its not the points, then its usually the case that the magnet needs a re-charge.  This is especially suspect if the mag worked fine and rather than failing while in use, it was left unused for a long period of time or gradually became weaker. Here is a situation where a service such as Rudy provides can really shine.  His charge to service a magneto is only $45, plus a mere $15 additional to recharge the magnet.  That means that if the rest of your magneto is good, then for only $60 it can be back in tip top shape.  And when it comes to starting a magneto equipped bike, that can save a young guy from having an overly muscular right leg (it makes you look weird to have one leg twice as big around as the other), and for we who are older it could prevent a heart attack. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Doubling Down on Job

I saw this tidbit somewhere not long ago (don't recall exactly where) and thought I'd share it simply because its the kind of thing that delights me.

In the book of Job, we find in chapter 1 that this man for whom the book is named, was wealthy.  Wealthy to the tune of 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 hundred female donkeys (Job 1:3).  Job was also blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters (Job 1:2)  Of course you remember the chain of events recorded in the book (if not, let this serve as a spoiler alert).  Job loses everything, including not only his possessions but his health, ...and his children die.

But if you skip to the end of the book, you will find that Job was blessed by God to receive double of all his former possessions (14000 sheep, 6000 camels, etc.- Job 42:12 )) plus another 7 sons and 3 daughters. (Job 42:13).  So, the question then becomes, why double of everything else but only the same number of children as before his trials?  And here is the whole point of this post.  Job DID receive double the children, for the first 7 sons and 3 daughters did not perish, but only departed this earth before their father to be reunited with him in eternity!

The Bible is full of gems like this that are so easy for us to overlook, but God continually blesses his people by sending faithful men to study and expound not only great foundational truths, but even the little nuggets of gold.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sturgis Again

No, I'm not talking about the "Sturgis" that is going on this week, ...I mean re-living the Sturgis that was.  You know, the one that started it all.

Face it, despite the fact that some of you will probably read this post the week after returning from "Sturgis", my money says that a number of you are like me and have come to regard "Sturgis" as just another over-crowded spectacle on the order of the Mall of America, or Disney World.  Perhaps its my penchant for vintage motorcycles of the Knucklehead variety which led me to abandon the crowds of Sturgis.  For those of you faithful who still make the sacred pilgrimage, there is good news coming in the form of Harley's new 2017 water cooled models, which should enable you to idle in "Sturgis" traffic to your hearts content.

But I digress.

Despite my obvious apathy for what the annual Black Hills Motorcycle Classic has become, there is an upcoming event that sorely temps me to once again endure the seemingly endless miles of barren landscape that is South Dakota's Interstate 90.  That event is "The Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival, to be held  August 26-28 of this year.

Lest we all forget, flat track racing is what started the whole phenomenon that we all now know as "Sturgis".  What better way to honor that heritage than to take a trip back in time to races featuring the kind of bikes that made the event an annual gathering not to be missed.  The Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival promises to give you a little taste of what it was like during the glory days of flat track racing, when Pappy Hoel and the Jackpine Gypsies hosted a race they dubbed the Black Hills Classic. 

Flat track racing; ya gotta love it!  If you follow this blog, you may remember that I have been somewhat involved in the vintage flat track scene, if only to extent of providing porting work for local legend Bill Hofmeister's Iron Sportster powered XR as well as for Souix Falls vintage racer Clint Erickson.  That alone is enough to make me want to attend, but I have to admit, the promise of "Pre '70s Dirt Drags" is what really caught my attention.  In fact, I have to admit to spending time researching rear tires suitable for such an undertaking before coming to my senses and realizing that dirt drags and the open valve train of the Knuckledragger are probably not a good match.  Future plans for The Spirit of Sturgis event include expanding into vintage asphalt drag racing as well.  That would be near impossible for me to pass up.

Nevertheless, I would like to point out a couple other incentives for you to make the trip to the inaugural Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival.  One is the weather.  Any one who has ever been to "Sturgis" during the first week of August will attest to the hot temperatures.  The last week of August is much more likely to bring moderate temperatures with it.  Another is massive crowds and traffic, or rather lack thereof.  I already alluded to how much I would prefer to avoid them, so if Spirit of Sturgis had been scheduled to coincide with "Sturgis" ...well, no thanks.  Finally, if the Spirit of Strugis takes off and grows, as it certainly has the potential to do, its always nice to "get in on the ground floor" so to speak.  You might be able to not only re-live some history, but be a part of it!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Love and Hate

I initially prepared this the week of July 10th in the midst of police shootings and shootings of police.  Tensions have not abated in the days since...
Any time that a person sets out to quote a part of the Bible, it is important to look both backward and forward in scripture to insure that one isn't taking the meaning of that portion out of context.  In many cases that involves going back a considerable distance, and in fact may leave you feeling like you should quote the entire book to be sure you don't miss some of the context. In the case of this post, I initially wanted to concentrate on Titus 3:3, but upon reading both the verses before and after, I decided to expand the text that I will concentrate on to Titus 3:1-7.
This book is, of course, the Apostle Paul's letter to Titus, who he refers to as his son; that is a son in the spiritual sense because the LORD used Paul as the instrument of Titus' conversion.  I think we can find the immediate context of our text in verse one of chapter 2 which says this:

"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:"

The rest of chapter 2 and on into our text in chapter 3  are things that "become" or "fit with," or "are in alignment with" sound doctrine.   Now, to our text.

Titus 3:1-3  Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

If you follow the news at all, you are probably aware of the abundance of anger and hatred there is in our nation today.  Recently there have been a number of shootings involving the police and members of minority groups.  In two of these shootings the person from the minority group was killed, and it is quite possible that one of those was a incident where a police officer made a deadly mistake whether it was out of malice or fear.  The third incident was a case of a member of a minority group taking revenge for those earlier incidents by shooting and killing a number of police officers.

Obviously those incidents were heavy on my mind while I prepared this.  Again, verse 3 of our text says this:

"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."

The English Standard Version says it like this: "hated by others and hating one another."

 Perhaps some of you have been Christians for so many years that you really don't remember what it was like to fit that description; hateful and hating one another.  As for myself, having only been a Christian for about 16 years, I can very well recall when I was full of hate and hating others.  There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been full of hate over these killings.  In fact, given my background as a biker,  I can testify that I would have been in the odd position of hating the minority groups for their skin color and hating the police for their position of authority! 

 In fact, I find the entirety of verse 3 to be an apt description of myself before Jesus became my Lord and Savior.  I might have to amend the "sometimes foolish" to read "most times foolish", but the "deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another" are an all too perfect match.

Our nation presently is plagued with exactly these symptoms that Paul described to Titus here in verse 3.  In fact, it could serve as a checklist for the culture of America today.  Sometimes foolish.  Check.  Deceived; not only by false religions, but also by false versions of the Gospel. Check.  Serving, or as the ESV puts it, slaves to various passions and pleasures.  A big check mark there.  Living in malice and envy.  As Americans nearly all of us have more wealth than most of the people who have ever lived, and yet we still envy every one who has just a little bit more and have malice in our hearts toward them because of it.  Check.  Hateful and hating one another.  We see it every day.  Check.

So what are we to do? 

Well...,  Paul, since this instruction was for Christians, had already given the solution before he reminded them what had been the symptoms.  As we read earlier in verses 1&2:

"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,  To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."

But perhaps even more importantly, Paul goes on after verse 3 to remind Christians the reason why they were no longer be foolish, disobedient, deceived, hateful, and hating one another.  And what he says there also happens to be the remedy for any who have never trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The remedy for all the hate is love.  But real love for your fellow man is a result of love for God, and that happens because of the kindness and love of God our Savior.  As this passage tells us, that comes about not by our works of righteousness, or good works as we often call them, but solely by God's mercy in which he cleanses our sins by way of the new birth, the washing of regeneration as its called here.

If you have never done so, God's command remains for you to repent and believe the good news that Christ died for your sins, and that he rose again the third day.  Then as our text says, you will be justified by his grace.  The eternal life that follows? That's just the frosting on the cake.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vintage Racing Action at the 2016 Meltdown Drags

The 2016 edition of the Meltdown Drags are now history.  Great racing action, good friends, and cooperative weather - who could ask for anything more?  Well, I guess Wayne Skinner could have asked for a few more passes on the lower end of his Triumph before finding bearing material in his oil after his  last run on Friday.  Still, even he enjoyed the atmosphere despite his bike's nitro methane induced early demise.

After several years of largely self inflicted frustration, I finally got the Knuckledragger to perform near its potential.  These things tend to take time when you limit your racing to one weekend per year.  Of course many of the other racers are likewise still sorting out fresh builds and/or modifications.  Even with the old stuff, there is really no such thing as the "status quo."

The number of drag bikes was down this year, primarily due the conspicuous absence of the AH Garage racing team.  (c'mon guys, it's just not quite the same event without your stable of horses joining in the fun)    It was the first time Skinner has been able to make it to the Meltdown, but he is pretty confident it won't be the last. There was also a first time (I think) appearance by Robert Nieves, another Iron Head racer, who also had a really sweet Hemi powered dragster (of the 4 wheel variety) on hand. Self centered jerk that I am, I never got over to meet him and welcome him to the group, but I know Skinner and others did.  Other than that the motorcycles were represented by most of the usual suspects. 

Nice shot of Jake Wang about 15 feet out and carrying the front wheel

Tom Rotert on his Triumph in the near lane 
 John Endrizzi on his hand shift Knuckle in the far lane 

 Mark Wang and his son Jake brought near matching Sportsters, Mark's being assembled during the last week before the event (photo by Jay Rogers)

The remaining pictures were all taken by Car Show Aaron, who seems to really have a knack with the camera.  His Facebook page contains some really great shots of not only the bikes in attendance, but a large number of the drag cars that make the Meltdown such a success (over 160 photos). If you share his pics, please give him credit for them.

Robert Nieves on his great looking Sportster
(photo by Car Show Aaron) 

"Famous Jay" Rogers staging his Iron XL
  (photo by Car Show Aaron)

That caption probably needs an explanation, since I just now made up that nickname for Jay.  It seems that every year "Gasser Wars" magazine features a picture of Jay in their coverage of the Meltdown Drags.  A year or so ago they had a picture of Jay and his Sporty as their "favorite bike" pick.  This year there he was again next to a line of text extolling the vintage drag bikes as real crowd pleasers.  "Famous Jay" - just kind of rolls off the tongue, don't you think?

Here's the Knuckledragger following sage advise given by AMRA announcer Rich Wegner back in the 1980's: "It doesn't matter how fast you go as long as you look good and do a smokey burnout!" (photo by Car Show Aaron)

Front wheel up just enough to look good but avoid scaring an old man 
(photo by Car Show Aaron)

As mentioned, the Knuckledragger finally made a pass near its potential (though one could argue that the bike itself has been chomping at the bit for two years with only the rider holding it back).  That happened early Saturday afternoon with Famous Jay in the other lane.  Nothing like being lined up next to a fast bike to add some incentive, resulting in the best E.T. and MPH for the hand shift Knuck to date: 12.056 seconds @ 113.32 MPH.

If you have a vintage drag bike, today is the day to start working on it so you will be ready to join in the fun next year at the Meltdown Drags.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Roads and Ditches

In my minds eye I cannot help but see a gate with a road leading from it. The road is a narrow one with a deep ditch on either side. The ditch on the left is called lawlessness and unrepentant sin. That on the right hand side is called legalism and self righteousness. The narrow road between the two is sanctification and holiness. A wise traveler will closely follow the Counselor sent from above who will guide him on his journey.

Matthew 7:13-14
Matthew 15:14
John 14:26