Tag Archive for lenore

Forced to Chill

For the first time in ages, I suddenly find myself forced to sit and relax.

It’s Columbus Day, so I have the day off from the day gig, and it’s Monday, so I have the day off from the night gig. That made it the perfect day to get some new tires for Lenore, and I set the appointment a few weeks ago.

Lenore's getting a new pair of shoes today.

A photo posted by Mike Oliveri (@mikeoliveri) on

I layered up for a chilly morning ride. The forty-minute trip is the longest ride I’ve been able to make this season, partly because of the old tires and partly because I spent a lot of time ferrying kids and/or gear around. It felt damned good to be on two wheels again, despite the two pinheads who tried to ruin my day by pulling out in front of me.

Bad news and good news at the bike shop. The bad news is my tires didn’t get ordered. I wasn’t looking forward to the idea of burning vacation time to make another trip back, but worst case, it’s doable. Fortunately they had some different tires in stock and, after cutting me a bit of a deal for the inconvenience, it shaved quite a bit of moolah off my original quote.

Works for me.

They only have one service tech, so install’s gonna be a while. One of the parts guys gave me a ride to a Starbucks down the street, and fortunately I had the foresight to bring a Chromebook along. Now I find myself sitting here with time to actually get something done for the first time in a long while.

Where the hell did this year go? I haven’t been on the motorcycle, my writing has suffered, my workouts have suffered, I haven’t touched my camera in over a year, and I have several projects that need to be done at home.

Damn. Something’s got to give.

In the meantime, I have two anthology invitations and several projects that need my attention. Let’s see if I can’t finally put a dent in one.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Garage Repair: I Am All That Is Man

I’m a big believer of do-it-yourself home repair. Whether we’re talking plumbing, electrical, flooring, or HVAC, most of the costs are tied up in labor: paying someone to come out and do the work. With the right tools and a good YouTube search, however, you should be able to handle most household repairs and many automotive repairs.

After that it’s just a matter of weighing the cost of your own time against the cost of paying someone else to do it.

A little over a week ago, this happened:

Gonna need a new one of those (Garage spring repair)

A photo posted by Mike Oliveri (@mikeoliveri) on

That’s an extension spring for a garage door. It snapped in half, which meant the garage door opener couldn’t open the garage. Fortunately whomever installed it had the foresight to run a safety cable through the spring, so I found it hanging in place rather than punched through a wall or window.

Most garages have a single torsion spring above the center of the door; the rest have a pair of extension springs. Torsion springs are not easy to replace, and they can hurt you if you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t have the right parts.

Extension springs, on the other hand, are easy to replace with nothing more than a socket wrench. Disconnect one pulley wheel, thread the cables, reconnect the pulley wheel, and you’re back in business.

Assuming you can locate the damned things. I hit three of the big box hardware stores and a Farm & Fleet looking for the right size springs, but they only stock springs for up to 160-pound doors. My door, apparently, is closer to 200 pounds. I ended up calling an overhead door company instead, and they were able to find me a new pair. The bigger springs cost almost three times as much as the 160s due to their size, but at least I still wouldn’t have to pay for installation.

I finally had enough time today to get to work. Half an hour later, this happened:

Garage door: FIXED! I am all that is man.

A video posted by Mike Oliveri (@mikeoliveri) on

Score. Saved me a couple hundred bucks in labor, I’m sure. It works better than before, too; the newer springs pull the door open a few inches higher, even with the top of the doorway.

And because I was able to get the garage door open, I was able to make this happen at last:

SHE'S ALIVE! (And needs a bath.)

A video posted by Mike Oliveri (@mikeoliveri) on

It’s good to be the king.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Lenore: Back on the Road

Lenore’s front brakes began to squeal at the end of the last riding season. I thought about taking her to a mechanic, but I knew that could get expensive, depending upon the problem. I mulled it over all Winter, and finally decided to man up and tackle it myself.

After a little research, I knew it had to be bad brake pads or it was time to bleed the brake line. One surf through Amazon and I had pads on the way for under twelve bucks, shipped. Tell me I can make that happen through a mechanic!

Shortly after that I picked up some DOT4 brake fluid for around five bucks and two lengths of plastic tubing for a buck and a half. Tuesday afternoon, my eldest son and I went to work.

Well there’s your problem!

The old brake pads were definitely shot. I couldn’t tell how much pad they had left before removing them because I didn’t know what I was looking at. Once I got them off the caliper, I could see they were just about down to bare metal.

We inserted the new brake pads, then we bled the brake line. All in all a piece of cake, and I love that the bike came with all of the tools we needed. My son even learned a few things in the process, and for once it was more than just creative cussing.

Good as new!

I took her for a test drive that night. Brakes worked like a champ! Less than twenty bucks and I’m back on the road. Next up she’ll get a bath, a fresh coat of chain lube, and an oil change, and all will be right with the world.

Now the weather just needs to behave.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Lenore: Free at Last!

I busted Lenore out of the garage at last.

Lenore is free at last!

“Freeeedooooom!”

It’s about time, too. Most of the Spring Break weather sucked, and the rest was a matter of not having the time and running the Rugrats everywhere.

Today I rolled her out, fired her up, and checked the chains, cables, and lights & signals. I rode her down to the gas station to fill up her tank and check her tire pressure, and then I took the long way home all around town to get some wind and work the throttle a bit.

Even that short ride felt great. The little things came rushing back: the feel of looking through and leaning into turns, the tiny catch in her upshift from 1st gear to second, the sweet spot to throttle on between gears. Finding that sync with the machine? That’s Zen, my friends.

Here’s hoping I can stay out of the cage for a while.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Winter Break(-In)

Today starts winter break. Just shy of two weeks off work, during which I plan to finish up several writing tasks.

Unfortunately it hasn’t started well. The blizzard tearing through the Midwest didn’t hit our area hard, but a window broke in our garage and the snow blew in. I opened the garage door this morning to get a shovel, only to find Lenore plastered with snow.

Poor Lenore

Not cool.

So, too, was most of the back wall of the garage, a lot of our stuff, and one side of the grocery getter. It’s powdery, frozen snow, too. Clingy stuff, a real pain to clear off. Thanks, nature. I’ve never had to shovel a garage before.

Insult to injury: while shoveling the garage and the drifts that built up across the driveway and front porch, the city snowplow came by and knocked our mailbox off its post. This is three years running, and it’s the fourth or fifth time in those three years. Even after I put in a smaller mailbox, and later mounted it farther back on the post. This has to be personal.

All in all, a shit start to what should be a productive couple of weeks.

All in all, good reasons to move to a warmer climate.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

On Busted Thumbs and Heart Attacks

Most of you have met Lenore.

Brick Road

How're YOU doin', beautiful?

I took her to get her chain tightened—and, as it turned out, replaced—today, just as the Illinois weather decided to make up for the early warm weather it gave us by dropping back into the 40s and 50s. Ah, well. That’s what leather and sweatshirts are  for.

Then I learned it’s damn near impossible to manipulate turn signals with a busted thumb. Last night while sparring in karate class, I somehow managed to block my opponent’s knee using only my thumb. My thumb lost, and now the first knuckle doesn’t want to bend and it’s swollen like a sausage on a too-hot grill. My scream of agony every time I manipulated the switch probably did a better job of catching surrounding motorists’ attention than my turn signal did. I thought about switching to hand signals, but these days I’m pretty sure there’s only one hand signal that most drivers recognize, and that one won’t do me any good.

Then I stared death in the face.

I left Lenore in the tender care of the mechanics at Grayboy in the Heights and asked them where I could get breakfast. A big dude runs the service desk, and he pointed out the window to a shabby gray structure two doors down from their main building.

“Go there,” he said. “If you like meat, they’ll give you plenty. You won’t even be able to finish it.”

Challenge accepted.

Understand, I’m standing in a spot two blocks from downtown Peoria Heights with its high-end eateries like French Toast and Noir, and its array of trendy little boutique shops. The Silver Dollar, on the other hand, is a dark little bar in the other direction. On the plus side, chances were it would be more affordable.

I walked in and a friendly woman behind the bar handed me a type-written menu. A quick scan turned up Mikey’s Special: a toasted biscuit topped with a sausage patty, three eggs over easy, and cheese, all smothered in sausage gravy.

It looks like this:

The Mikey Special. Holy shit.

Holy shit.

If my doctor were sitting with me, he’d have punched me square in the face and tripled my cholesterol meds for the next six months. That plate is bigger than my iPad. I took out  a fork and cut into this thing, and it bled bright, golden egg yolk. I could already feel my heart cringing against my spine and begging me not to eat it. My brain reminded me I’m running the Warrior Dash in three weeks, and this wouldn’t help the cause.

My belly said “Pump it in!”

As evil as this thing looks, it tasted even better. The sausage patty was thick like a quality hamburger, and juicy without being greasy. Few places get gravy right, but the Silver Dollar nailed it: thick and peppery without being gummy. And yes, I finished the whole thing. When I returned for Lenore, the service guy was astonished. He advised me to not fall asleep while riding this afternoon.

Now my blood runs like sludge in my veins.

It’s a good thing I have at least two workouts coming today. I’m going to need them.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

God of Thunder and Leather

That’s what it feels like riding the bike after so long leaving her cooped up in the garage.

It feels so metal leathering up and blasting down the road, even through the barren, unplanted fields of flat ol’ Illinois.

Moto Photo 1

Twist on the throttle and go

It’s good to be back in the saddle. The threatened rains have held off, the winds aren’t as bad as people would think, and I can deal with temps down into the 50s.

I’m sensing some quick bike trips in the near future.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Just In Time to Stick It to OPEC

The temperatures climbed into the sixties during the early part of the week, and I busted Lenore out of jail.

67 degrees means Lenore can come out to play!

How YOU doin', sexy?

She gets around 50mpg, so it’s just in time as gas prices spike up. We’re averaging $3.89/g around here, with some gas stations inside Peoria already hitting $4 or more. Surprisingly, Gas Buddy says prices in my old stomping grounds around the Chicago ‘burbs are about the same.

Now the pundits are saying gas may hit $5/gallon. They’ve threatened it before, but I imagine it’s got to happen some time. Makes me wish Better Place would hurry up and bring their cars out this way.

I understand they’re setting up charging stations around the Big Island of Hawai’i. If I ever get back out there, I’d like to rent one for at least part of the trip, or take a test drive.

In the meantime, I’ll be content with my motorcycle saving me cash.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Metric Chrome

I’m happy to post the 52nd entry to this year’s Photo Friday series:

Metric Chrome

A little of Lenore, shot just in time

I fired up Lenore one last time for the year, mostly to check the battery and get the fluids moved around some. No time for a ride, but I slapped the 50mm prime on the camera body and shot several photos to make it my last Photo Friday entry for this year.

I’ll talk more about the resolutions/goals thing tomorrow, but I’m glad to have succeeded at the Photo Friday attempt this year, even if I did double up from time to time to make it happen. I had the camera in hand more often and I did some more post-processing development, which was the entire point of the exercise. All in all a success.

Next year’s goal: step up the quality. I’m happy with several that I took, but I think I can do better overall.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Merely This and Nothing More

A couple rode a Harley Sportster down my street today. Envy struck me hard. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been missing my bike more this winter than I have in the past.

Shadow at Sunset

Get a good look, 'cause it's going to be a while

It could be as simple as I rode more this year. The Wife went back to a full-time job and needs the family grocery getter more often, even on weekends. Or I could be spoiled by the convenience of having it around, and now that winter’s set in I have to adjust plans around transportation and give up a few things, like today’s karate tournament.

Whatever the reasons, Lenore’s locked up for the season and I already miss her.

I’d like to buy cold weather gear and be done with it, but I’m not convinced that’s a good idea with the ice coming and the idiot drivers out there. It’s also a safe bet I can’t afford the decent stuff. As such, I’ve been trying to get my motorcycle fix elsewhere.

For example, today I browsed the bike magazines on the racks at Barnes & Noble. A lot of them are not for me or are boring, but a copy of Street Chopper caught my eye. In the first few pages I saw a pictorial by rider/photographer/blogger Josh Kurpius and decided I had to have it. There are a lot of photos in the magazine in general, many of them the kind of photos I’d like to shoot myself. Time to keep a closer eye out for bike shows and rallies in my area.

I most look forward to visiting the International Motorcycle Show’s Chicago stop in February. A friend and I drove up this year and we had a blast. We’ll be able to check out bikes, maybe pick up some new gear, and if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to count down to the start of riding season a month or so later. Priority purchases for me this year include rain gear and maybe a new half helmet, with a bike lift close behind.

Yesterday I spent some idle time on YouTube and found this amazing vid:

Unreal. That bike weighs somewhere north of 600 pounds, and he whips it around like a featherweight fiberglass sport bike. I hate to think of how many spills he took before he got it right.

I’m not looking for that kind of skill, though. I just want to get out on the road. I miss the focus.

I miss the warmth, too. Summer riding means it’s also nice enough to sit outside with a cigar. I’ll be missing out on that for the next couple of months as well. People think we’re kidding when the Wife and I talk about moving to Hawai’i, but we’re not so sure. We couldn’t pull it off right now, but the time will come.

Which means I best keep punching out some fiction.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Lenore’s Last Days

The temps hit 70+ degrees on the ol’ Fahrenheit scale in central Illinois, and as I chauffeured the Wife & kids around for lunch and grocery shopping, it hit me this may be the last day of nice weather to get Lenore ready for her winter hibernation.

Oil change, after dark, no stand. That's how I roll.

Oil change, after dark, no stand. That's how I roll.

Unfortunately I neglected to account for the earlier sunset, so by the time we got home and I got to work, the sun decided to abandon me. Even better, the last guy to replace the oil filter put it on too tight, and after my failed attempts to use a new strap wrench to remove the filter, I resorted to hammering a screwdriver through the filter and using the screwdriver handle for leverage.

Hey, it worked.

2.25 quarts of 10W30 later and Lenore purred like a kitten. I put on a pair of goggles and took her for a quick spin around town, reminded her we’d still be together in the Spring. She told me she’d heard that song before. She reminded me I’d promised to take her on a road trip this year, that she’d get to see some sights in the great Midwestern wilderness.

“Hey, baby, I have a wife and kids,” said I. “A wife who works now.”

“Likely excuse. You ride me around town, take your pictures, then lock me up again. You don’t love me.”

“Hey, don’t talk like that, baby. You know you’re my girl. And the minivan, she means nothing to me. Now hold still while I check out your undercarriage.”

I pulled her in and shut her off before things got weird. I best take one of those promised road trips next year so she doesn’t turn spiteful.

No leaks around the filter or drain plug make Mike a happy rider. I had a hard time seeing the coolant level, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow in daylight. Then she goes on the battery minder until we get some unseasonably warm weather again or the cold gives up the ghost at the end of Winter. Next Spring she gets a new chain and sprockets.

I make do working on the ground in the driveway, but I keep thinking a hydraulic lift would be more convenient and allow me to do other bits of maintenance on the bike myself. I hit Amazon to get an idea of pricing, and I discovered this slice of interesting marketing:

Black Widow lift

Change your oil, baby?

In the ’50s, TV told us women vacuumed their homes in nice dresses and pearl necklaces. Today’s liberated women have moved on, preferring to do motorcycle maintenance in fuck-me pumps and Daisy Dukes. Ten more years and it will be brain surgery in bondage gear.

Hooray for progress!

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of putting a woman in an ad. I have a penis, and it tends to make a lot of decisions for me. If the ad were for the bike, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

But it’s a hydraulic jack. What can possibly be sexy about a hydraulic jack? (Oh, right. Thanks, Rule 34.) Even worse, they’ve covered up a significant portion of the very item I may be interested in purchasing. If I hadn’t found it in a search for a specific product, I’d have assumed they were trying to sell me the bike.

Anyway.

Lenore’s about done for the season. If I’m lucky there will be a day or two I can sneak out with her this week, but after that, it’s all preparation for the cold white stuff to bury us.

I need to move somewhere warm.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Quick Thoughts: Lightbox

Instagram is pretty cool. I play with it on my iPad from time because I like the filters and the quick & easy sharing. It makes things a little more interesting than the standard point-and-click shots folks are uploading all the time.

Unfortunately it’s made for iOS only. I finally found a solution for my Android phone, though: Lightbox.

Lenore Lightboxed

Lenore, with a Lightbox filter applied

Lightbox doesn’t have the variety of filters Instagram has, but it has quite a few. I do like its sharing aspect better, however. With just a few clicks I can turn social sharing on or off and add or remove the location information. It uploads in the background, and it drops the pics in a separate folder on my phone. If I decide I don’t like the Lightbox camera (zoom functionality is gone, focus seems slow), I can tell it to use the phone manufacturer’s camera software instead.

It will also grab thumbnails from your Twitter, Facebook, etc., feeds, as well as other Lightroom users, but I haven’t played with it much at this point. For the moment I just wanted the filter flexibility and the ability to share to multiple sites in one shot.

In short, I dig it. If you’ve got an Android phone, it’s worth your time to check out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.