Tag Archive for lenore

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.

Shadows

It took five months, but at last the weather is getting to the point I can ride the motorcycle consistently. Today I rode out to our second campus at work and discovered a friend rode his Shadow to work as well. I parked next to him and took a quick photo.

Shadows

Lenore and Steve's Shadow ACE basking in the sun

I did a little work on Lenore tonight. I intended to tighten her chain, but I couldn’t budge the axle nuts and I don’t have the right tools to break them loose. Instead I ended up filling the tires, checking the oil, and then I adjusted and reversed the saddle bags. They sit a little more level now, and should prevent an issue I had where a heavy load pressed one bag down onto the exhaust pipe. That didn’t turn out well for the bag or the payload.

Because of the tools and consequences of failure involved, I’ll probably have the professionals just go ahead and replace the chain and sprockets. The chain looks like this adjustment will put it past the safe operating range, and I have no idea when they were last replaced. Then I’ll take care of an oil and filter change and check/replace the spark plugs myself, and she should be good to go for a while.

I thought about using this picture for Photo Friday, but ultimately decided I didn’t like the background. I’m sure we can fix that in the 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.

Free At Last

The weather looked sketchy Friday morning, but I decided to chance it and busted Lenore loose. By lunchtime, we had a gorgeous day. I rode her out to a restaurant with some co-workers.

Look who I set loose

Lenore with the dust and cobwebs blown off.

It’s about time. I had the first-ride jitters as I rounded the first corners, wondering if I’d be rusty at all.

Then I opened up the throttle and removed all doubt. Damn it felt good to ride again.

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.

Cursed Weather

Dear Illinois weather:

It’s the middle of April. There’s no reason for this bitter cold and rain. In fact, the following picture was taken just over a year ago, and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. You should look like this again.

Shadow at Sunset

This would be good for both my sanity and my wallet.

The weather dudes say early next week you’ll take us up to about 80 degrees, but you will continue to piss down rain and throw thunderstorms at us. After that we’ll get some sun, but it will get cold and windy again. Thanks for nothing. You tease like a cougar at a Boy Scout festival.

What do you have in store for us this summer? Monsoons? Surprise blizzards? Hot hail? I can’t wait to find out.

And you wonder why I want to move to Hawai’i.

Your bitter enemy,
Mike

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.

Smoke Blog: A Special Romeo y Julieta

It’s getting to be that time of year where I can start talking about two of my favorite things again: cigars and motorcycles.

The Little Bird and I get most Wednesday evenings alone during the school year, so we headed outside to enjoy the warm weather while waiting for the rest of the family to get home. I decided to bring a cigar along, a certain Romeo y Julieta of a limited origin that my publisher gave me back in November. I chose this one because I knew I would at last have the time to finish it, not bail halfway through due to the weather.

My first reaction? Wow. It boasted a bolder flavor than its cousin the Reserva Real, and it included faint, peppery notes on the finish at times. Typical winter headaches with my humidor left the wrapper a bit dry, but that did not harm the burn, flavor, or construction of the smoke. A small hole and then crack appeared in the wrapper, but to my surprise, it didn’t affect the draw at all. The draw itself remained smooth and consistent all the way to the end, and I took this one down to the knuckles.

I’ve got to get more of these. Unfortunately they’re a bit difficult to come by.

Meanwhile I got Lenore out, dusted her off, and fired her up. I knew I wouldn’t have time to take her for a ride, but I at least wanted to make sure the battery was still charged and to get the oil moving around again. This is only the second time I’ve even started her in 2011, and I’ve been itching to get her back on the road. The few other days we’ve had where the weather may have been nice enough to ride, I didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage.

Little Bird & Lenore

Careful! She'll cut you.

It looks like we’ve got a little more cold and rainy weather ahead of us, but after that it’s going to start calming down again. I’ve been asked many, many times if I’ve been riding the bike yet, and pretty soon I’ll be able to say yes.

About frickin’ time.

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.

And Knowing is Half the Battle

I killed Lenore’s battery today.

I have a bad habit of hitting the engine kill switch, getting distracted, and then leaving the bike’s ignition on. (This is usually someplace safe, like home; otherwise I obsess over the key.) In this case I rode over to a friend’s place, and he’s got a sloped driveway. I had to move the bike around to find a level spot to park it, and by then I forgot all about the key in the ignition.

Forty-five minutes later my hand went to my pocket, and I noticed the key was missing. I went out and found it in the ignition, and when I tried to start her I got nothing but clicks. Swell. I first figured I’d have to jump it, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to jump a bike with a car. Not to mention it would be damn near impossible to get the connectors onto the battery terminals anyway.

Then I remembered learning about bump starting the bike by popping the clutch:

It’s really the only option besides having my wife bring over the trickle charger, then return for the bike in a day or two. I intended to practice bump starting at some point anyway, so I decided I may as well give it a shot.

This is where my friend’s sloped driveway came in handy. I pushed up to the top, found 2nd gear, rolled, popped the clutch… and vroom! I half expected to shoot across the street and break my neck, but it was actually very smooth and easy.

I forget what first prompted me to look up bump starting, but I’m glad I did. I tend to read up on riding tips, and in this case it saved me a lot of trouble. Now Lenore is back home and sipping electricity from the battery minder, and she should be back in action tomorrow.

And there you have it, fellow bike rookies: Ever wondered how to handle a dead battery? Now you know.

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.

Bike Envy

I love Lenore. I really do. But today I was idling at a stoplight when a dude rolled up next to me on a sweet, black Harley-Davidson Fat Bob. The rider looked over at me, looked down at my bike, gave me a nod. The light changed and he roared off.

It was like being in the boys locker room again, looking around with that awkward, inadequate feeling you have before you learn there are showers and growers and maybe you’re not so bad off after all.

Lenore’s a comfortable ride and I’m sure we’ll be together a long time, be it for financial reasons or otherwise, but man, I was sorely tempted to take the left turn onto I-74 and ride out to Walters Brothers HD to do a little Father’s Day drooling.

Instead I just reminded myself of the small bike mantra: It ain’t the size of the bike that matters; it’s how you ride her.

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.

(Late) Photo Friday: Moto Photo

Friday’s Clutch concert and the ensuing chaotic weekend were not conducive to photography, so I’m posting late. Of course, I did post a bonus photo last week, so things balance out, yes?

Tonight I noticed the sun blazing orange in the sky and decided to jump on Lenore and shoot some pics from the saddle. I mounted up and drove west on a wide-open, rural road just north of town, then fired away. I didn’t get too fancy, but in the spam of about five miles I snapped 140 pics. I slurped the pics over to the laptop, then narrowed it down to three I kind of liked.

Shadow at Sunset

Shadow at Sunset

In this first one, I stopped at an intersection for a moment. Those tracks in the ground are from a farmer’s tractor, probably having rolled across the asphalt either shortly after the road was resurfaced or during an extremely hot day.

The next two I shot while in motion, the first off the left side of the bike…

Look Ma, one hand!

Look Ma, one hand!

…and the second off the right side.

Hey, whos on the throttle?

Hey, who's on the throttle?

See those speed lines on the asphalt? That’s why you’re not supposed to look down when riding a bike; your brain can’t process the environment changing that fast. Occasional glances won’t hurt when you’re running in a straight line, but it’s really not a good idea when you’re turning or threatened by a loss of control.

I cranked up the aperture and shot in aperture priority mode so I could achieve a deep depth of field, ideally keeping everything from the bike’s tank down to the ground in focus (aside from the motion blur, of course). I’m very happy with these as a first attempt.

Lessons learned:

1) Sunlight changes fast. In just a few minutes, I went from having plenty of light for the settings I selected down to having some serious underexposure issues. Next time I’ll have to stop and reset my camera settings from time to time.

2) When you can’t look through the lens (I’m not ready to pull a Josh Kurpius and stand on the foot pegs, no matter how cool his pics are), AI servo focus and continuous shooting mode are lifesavers.

3) While amber goggles throw a nice layer of clarity onto the world in twilight conditions, effectively brightening the scenery, it’s important to remember the camera isn’t wearing those same goggles. Want the camera to have that same clarity of vision? Buy a lens filter.

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.

It's Ridin' Season!

Im back, baby!

I'm back, baby!

I’ve spotted more and more bikes on the road the last week and a half or so, too. Some guys put on their chilly weather gear and even hit the roads the first weekened of March. Every time I spotted a bike, I got excited and more than a little jealous. (And felt silly until I learned a friend of mine gets the same giddy feeling.)

I haven’t taken her out of town yet, but I’ve taken her out a couple times to get her blood going and to make sure everything’s running in tip-top shape before we get out on the road. Opening the throttle, leaning into the turns, shifting through the gears… it all came back to me. After a few minutes it felt like I’d only put her away last week.

Of course, next week we’re supposed to get rain and cold again. Argh. Summer can’t come soon enough!

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: Snow

Last year, the goal was to do more with photography.

Oops.

So this year I figure I best start strong. Rather than messing with a focused theme like 52 Weeks or joining another group, I dreamed up Photo Friday. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture or two of whatever strikes me at the time. To get rolling, I took the camera outside to see what I could do with snow. I came back with two pics.

First, I visited the motorcycle in the garage.

Soon, my sweet. Soon.

Soon, my sweet. Soon.

In all honesty, while the snow was blowing outside, it wasn’t the whiteout you see here. However, the overexposure of the background created a nice deception that I felt worked for the picture. The real trick was keeping our low garage door and the kids’ toys and our van outside of the frame.

(Side note: get a load of the custom floor for Lenore to park on. This keeps the salt and snow off her tires and kickstand. Do I pamper her or what?)

That done, I walked into the back yard. We have some nice, high drifts, but nothing that made for a particularly interesting picture. The snow on the picnic tables showed just how much we received, but it wouldn’t be particularly impressive to anyone living in the frozen North.

Then I spotted the kids’ swings, complete with contoured snow in the seats, swaying gently in the wind.

Wont you play with me?

Won't you play with me?

They just seemed so abandoned, so I pushed through the drifts and snapped away.

The Photo Friday moniker has a nice, alliterative feel to it, and Friday gives me plenty of time during the week to get my pictures taken. Only one problem: the next two Fridays, I’ll be out of town doing some book signings and hitting a convention. As a result, I may cheat a little and post on Thursday night. Or Monday. Or something.

I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it.

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.

Itching to Ride

I think the motorcycle obsession has finally taken hold.

Every time I pass Lenore in the garage, I feel the urge to fire her up. Wet, cold Illinois weather is not always conducive to riding, however, especially for a relative rookie. I can’t tell you how jealous I am right now of friends like Weston Ochse, Nate Southard, and Paul Legerski, who all live in comfortable riding weather year-round. Note I qualified that as comfortable riding weather. If I have to dress up in layers of clothing just to get on two wheels, that’s just not a good trade-off to me because lugging and stowing all that extra gear would be a pain in the ass.

Right now the idea is to explore my limits of comfortable. After an unusually cold Halloween, we’re now getting a bit of an Indian summer. Last weekend the temps crept up to the low 60s, so Saturday morning I zipped up my leather jacket (probably the first time I actually unsnapped and closed the lapels), busted out the leather riding gloves for the first time since my riding class, and rode Lenore out to breakfast and then to karate class.

It was probably around 50 when I took off, and a stiff wind blew across the fields. I thought I’d feel most of it in my legs, but as it turned out the worst was a cold spot along my jawline. The wind came right in under the rim of my helmet, concentrated on that one spot, and after just a few minutes it started to sting. The few minutes of irritation was worth it come that afternoon, though, as temps climbed up to 68 and I spent a little more time on the road.

We should be seeing mid fifties and sunshine this week, so I ordered myself a simple balaclava to keep the wind off my neck and jaw. Another rider friend, Eric Masek, rides all the way down into the 40s, so I’m going to give that a shot as long as it stays dry enough. I spotted a pair of fleece-lined, Kevlar riding jeans that may help keep me on the bike longer, too (I’ve never been a big fan of long johns, but I suppose that’s an option I should consider).

Meanwhile, I’ve got another reason to be jealous of Nate: he just picked up a Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Sportster he’s dubbed The Late Late Show. I wasn’t particularly taken with the Iron 883 after seeing it on TV and in magazines, but then I spotted one in a parking lot in Peoria and it got me drooling. That black denim paint and blacked-out engine looks much sharper in person, and I’ve been eyeballing them ever since. I think Nate also made the right move adding the forward controls, and those ape hangers look damn good on his bike.

Like I said: jealous.

Of course, now I see Honda is putting out the Shadow Phantom for 2010. With its blacked-out engine and $7999 price point, I’m guessing it’s a direct competitor to the Iron 883, and will add to Honda’s “Honda-Davidson” rep. It’s got a smaller engine but already has the forward controls and it has glossy black paint instead of the matte black the Harley sports.

That’s not to say I’m in a hurry to ditch Lenore anytime soon. The last thing I need is another payment right now, and Lenore is a solid, comfortable ride. I have a few more customizations in mind for her, too, including a set of crash bars for that inevitable day she goes down on her side.

In the meantime it’s fun to drool while I get this weather thing figured 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.

The Christening

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.”
— Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”

The bike has a name at last: Lenore.

Making it official

Making it official

The name wasn’t on my list of candidates. Instead, like every good name, it just popped into my head and it clicked. (For those of you who missed why a name is important, read this.)

Now to finish that cigar (a Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real) and get some writing done.

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.