Sunday, November 30, 2008

Buy Now

It looks like the spiraling economy has now affected the scooter market. There have been virtually NO sales during the past couple of months. It's like a line has been drawn in the sand and no buyers are stepping forward. I thought that scooters were a solution to the ever decreasing supply of oil and gas, but with the decline of gasoline prices many are going back to their old ways and to their SUVs.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with any scooter dealer, make no commissions from their sale, nor have I been paid to promote their products, nor have I received any gratuities for their promotion. That said . . . here is what I saw on the weekend

SYM RV250 (cdn$4,495. = us$3,600.)

Yes, that is for a brand new SYM RV250 right off the dealer's showroom floor. They would rather sell them than hold onto them until next spring.

Hyosung Rally 50 (cdn$1,495.= us$1,200.)

SYM Mio50 (cdn$1,995.= us$1,600.)

I forgot to take a picture of the CMI Rattler 50 which was on sale for cdn$995. At these prices why buy used.

Vespa "S" 150 (cdn$3,495. = us$2,800.)

It's a buyer's market and no one is buying.

I was speaking to another dealer and arranging for scooter financing is going to be difficult next year as some financing companies have pulled out of Western Canada. Prospective purchasers will have to arrange for their own financing, or pay cash. Dealers may not order scooters for their stock unless they have a guaranteed sale. It's going to be hard to say what happens until it happens. All I can say is that we are living in interesting times.

We have been getting very wet weather all week but today it cleared up and the sun made an appearance.


We travelled on River Road on the section from New Westminster towards Richmond. The road winds along the Fraser River and it is one of my favourite routes back to town. Much more relaxing than taking the freeway. It was nearing sunset late in the afternoon and mist was forming on the water's surface. I just had to take a few photos.


This is the time of year that you have to be careful as when the warm air mixes with the cooler air, a mist or fog develops which makes it hard for others to see you.


Richmond is at or near sea level and is protected on all sides by Dykes. This is Delta land, land formed by the sediment that has been washed south by the mighty Fraser River, and is very susceptible to flooding. Homes built in this area do not have basements due to the high water table. There are some homes built along the Dyke, along with a few boat yards and fishing vessels


And I believe, for the right price you will be able to buy this "fixer-upper"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pike Place Market, Seattle, Wa

Saturday was a very long day on the road. We went to Seattle for a 1st Birthday Party. I say Seattle but really we went to Bellevue. Grand-daughter of our very good friends, Sonny & Sher, and also some of their family flew in from Hawaii, and the proud parents from St Louis, Mo. We had a feast fit for a King. After lunch you had to pick us up and roll us out the door. I think we overate. But it's ok, we have done it before and survived. Our plan was to leave Vancouver in the morning, do a little electronic shopping along the way, have lunch and mosey back to Vancouver. But managed a little time for sightseeing. So many freeways down here, and the drivers are no different than where we are from, so aggressive, tailgating and often not very courteous. In order to navigate around Seattle you have to be comfortable using the freeways. So many numbers, I-5 , I-405, 520, I-90


We used to go to Seattle often to visit friends in Bellevue and Mercer Island, but it has been a long time since we have travelled I-90 over the new floating bridge. I say new but new to us as this floating bridge project has been completed for years.


I-90 exits around Safeco Field (replacement for the Kingdome) so we ended up cruising around the Chinatown area and headed towards the city centre until we arrived here . . .


It's difficult to find a parking space in this area so we told ourselves that if we found a spot we would walking around and explore for a while, and we were lucky. It's much easier if you have a bike


Wish I had my bike here too (whispering to myself). For those that have not visited Seattle, the Pike Place Market is located along the waterfront and most of the shops are located Underground. There are many vendors here selling a large assortment of nearly anything you could imagine, from Seafood, fruit & vegetables, and handicrafts.


I just love the colour of all those neon signs


As usual, the Market was very crowded. The isleways are not really that wide and it is hard to wind your way through the crowds and it doesn't help when groups of people just stop to talk (blocking the way).


The Pike Place Market is also home to the very first Starbucks Coffee.



It is an exciting place to wonder around. Perhaps next time we can plan for an earlier visit.


With sunsets arriving much earlier this time of year, it was almost dark and the vendors had to rely on their lights. Twilight is a great time to take photos and a tripod would have come in very handy as I had to resort to hand holding techniques and using walls and lamp posts to steady the camera.


I quickly got into position and managed a shot of the sun setting over Alki point (West Seattle)


One last glimpse of the market before our long drive home (back to Vancouver) and the ferry making its way back to Bremerton


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Flat tire repair

It's been a very active week. We (car club) had our awards banquet and Christmas Bash last Saturday, and Sunday was our grand daughter's 5th Birthday party, so I knew that I couldn't manage to sneek away for a ride, so I brought my scooter in for its scheduled maintenance last week and left it there. While the weather was not forecast to be that good, we had lots of sunny & cloudy periods and it was quite pleasant. Pleasant enough to have ridden to work these past few days, but I was scooterless. I managed to pick it up tonight and go for an extended ride on the way home and MAN, it felt very good to be leaning in the corners again. Temperatures are more towards the chilly side and your visor fogs up if you breathe the wrong way so while I am stopped at a light, I have adopted the breathe sideways through your mouth so as not to blow on the cold shield to minimize condensation. With service out of the way, I am good to go until Spring. New plug, check, fresh oil, check, new air filter, check, inspect brake pads, check, all systems go. Did I mention that it felt good to be back on two wheels after nearly a week. I should have brought it in before the insurance expired on my SV then I would not have been bikeless during this short period.
One of the things that I always worry about when I ride, is the fear of having a "flat" tire. It's not so much of a problem in the car since you have a spare tire in the trunk. It's just the inconvenience of having to jack up the car, try to find the mag wheel key, and loosen the nuts and hope that your tire has enough air to get you home. How may of us actually check the air pressure of your spare tire ? I would guess not many. A year ago I "won" a small portable air compressor


You know the type that you plug into your cigarette lighter, or is it more politically correct to call it a power adapter plug. This is a higher PSI unit which I now carry in the trunk of my car in the hopes that it will never be used. It's the old philosophy of bringing an umbrella to stop the rain. I also purchased a flat tire repair kit


I know that there are different types of plug kits. This is a mushroom type which is installed from the "outside" of your tire using the Plug inserter tool. You firstly remove the "nail" or object, then use the hole reamer to clean up the 'spot'. Then you load a mushroom plug into a chamber/tube of that cylinder on the right and "screw" it down by using that allen key as your winding mechanism. The mushroom is compressed and forced down the shaft through the tip, while it is inserted into the tire. You use these type of plugs as temporary fixes only to get you back to a place where your tire can be professionally repaired, or you purchase a new tire depending upon the circumstance. Many do not like these type of plugs as they are "not" glued and are only held in by friction and air pressure. That's why I also carry those "worm type" or pipe cleaner patches


Like the type on the Left. You have a file which "roughs" up the Hole and an inserted which looks sort of like a large sewing needle with a slit in it. The pipe cleaner is forced into the hole and when you remove the inserter the gooey portion remains in the tire. The glue helps to bond the rubber together so this type of patch is more durable than the mushroom type. You also have some CO2 cartridges in case you need more pressure to seal the tire to the rim.


all of my bikes have battery tender plug-ins which are connected directly to the battery and serves at least 2 purposes. One is to connect the battery tender, and the second to connect my electric vest as they both use the same type of connector.


I also made up a power cable, with a 2-wire (trailer type) connector on one end and a cigarette type power connector on the other so I can have enough wire to reach all the tires, especially on the car. I recently purchased another ATV type tire repair kit (on the left). This one uses the 'worm' type and also comes with C02 cartriges, and a tube of extra glue. You can't have enough emergency supplies. so I purchased another portable compressor like this one


so now I am set. One set for the car, and another set for the bike. It gives you a great feeling to know that you are prepared for an unexpected flat tire and I hope that I will never have to use it. I also have some of those pressurized cannisters with "stuff" inside that is supposed to seal the tire. They say that they are tire friendly but those tire people don't like the mess they create. I've never used any of this stuff but I am thinking that when the chips are down and I have a flat tire in the middle of no-where, I hope that one of these solutions will get me home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Granville Island: Panos

Panos are panorama photos of Granville Island, an island in the middle of the city (considered to be Downtown Vancouver) but it is an island surrounded by water on all sides except for the causeway entrance from the south. It is a vibrant tourist area filled with restaurants, gift stores, boat charters, a marina and a very sucessful "farmers" market, food fair, bakeries, coffee shops and all types of ethnic food is available.

(feel free to click on any pano, then use the + magnifying glass to view the pano at full size, and drag the bar below to scroll back and forth)

You are able to purchase food and spices from many lands. It's all here. During the summer there are entertainers to keep you busy. Many visitors arrive in their own water craft and dock at the public floats. You are able to go on a scenic harbour tour, rent your own boat or just people watch.

(This pano is comprised of 5 photos stitched together)

I have been doing panos for a few years, but you normally don't view horizontals head on as it creates distortion, usually concave or convex lines will give you the sensation of "bowing". The first pano was taken on a 45 degree angle to give you a more normal view, but I wanted to show you the diversity of products available and how they are disbursed throughout the complex. Handicraft vendors are located beside fruit vendors and beside food vendors, they are not grouped together as you would expect. The crowds have thinned a bit since summer.

(Granville Bridge, spanning False Creek, looking north)

Because of the inclement weather, it was a little deserted outside. In good weather you would not be able to find a place to have a seat, but today you had the place all to yourself.
For some reason there is this sudden interest in Panos so I thought I would post a few. Most digital cameras don't have wide angle lenses, so often I take 2 photos and stitch them together creating an approx 20mm field of view. There is also a distortion factor on wide angles lenses which you will not notice as long as your view is on the same horizontal plane, (ie not pointing your camera UP or DOWN) otherwise you will get concave or convex horizontal distortion lines. The more wide angle your lens is, then the more distortion it will exhibit. There is an article on Luminous Landscape that compares a Canon wide angle lens with a photostitched image, but right now, I can't locate it. The conclusion was that as compared to a 20mm or wider lens, a series of digital images with lens set for about 45mm (which is normal perspective and stitched together) resulted in a cleaner image with less or non-existant distortion. Unless your subject can be taken with the camera completely horizontal (as prev mentioned) your horizon will be either convex or concave and will be impossible to stitch without distortion.

Here's an interesting article to get you started

Sometimes you require more pixels in order to print a larger photo. As mentioned in this article, you are able to stitch more images together to accumulate more pixels in your image, thus you are able to produce a much larger photo than your camera was capable of .

Monday, November 10, 2008

A perfect match

Pano's that's short for Panorama. I've been a photographer for all my life, longer in fact than I have been riding motorcycles. I remember my first camera back around 1960 I purchased one of those NEW SLR's - a Minolta SR-1 . By first I mean my first "real", quality camera not counting my Kodak Brownie (which I got as a present when I was 8 years old) . Over the years I have belonged to many camera clubs, worked in a photo lab hand developing Black & White, had my own darkroom, enlargers and a camera collection as a previous member of the Western Canada Photographic Historical Association. I have always been interested in panoramic images and currently own several rotating lens panorama film cameras, both in 35mm (24mm x 64mm) and 120 (6x12 format). , as well as several 4x5 field cameras where I am able to shoot both 4x5 (or 6x12). Only recently has digital "caught up" with film in quality and I had been a faithful film user until the end, however I like very large photos so when I am away on a trip I still bring along my Mamiya 7 outfit (6x7 format).
One of the reasons that I mainly shoot digital is cost. With digital there are no film nor developing costs, and you are able to see your results immediately. However for those special scenic pictures I remain a film user.
Saturday started out very stormy with threatening periods of rain, which I could not avoid, but for photos it was the perfect light. Sort of overcast and bright filtered light. The rain has a way of making your images look Crisp.

(Gastown, Gassy Jack Square, Vancouver, BC)

This image was taken early morning. I like the glossy sheen of the road, good for photos, not so good for traction. A few years ago I dabbled with photo-stitching but getting them printed was the challenge. I even purchased a large carriage printer (Canon i9200) so I could do my own by cutting down 20x24 to print 10x24 . Black & white was not a problem as I purchased large trays to handle 12x30 (by cutting 24x30 photo paper). I noticed that on a BLOG that I follow Steve has been posting some panoramic images so I was inspired to produce this:


I was not sure how large of an image Webshots would allow, so I have reduced it a bit. This image was produced using 5 images (landscape mode) with about 30% overlap. If I had wanted a larger image, I would have shot more images in portrait mode, perhaps 8-10 with 20% overlap which would have given me a greater height and adjusted the scaling. It would be very rare indeed to find me without camera. This year I thought that I would learn more about mpeg4 video. I thought that I would be able to do the same "panoramas" but in movie mode, rather than a static picture, so here is the same image in movie mode:

gastown vancouver bc.wmv

So here is a comparison for you: a static panoramic picture, or a panorama done in "movie mode" of the same scene. I think that the conversion process of uploading the WMV reduces the resolution a bit, as the original AVI is smooth. The source video is 480p . Saturday: skootin & photographing, a perfect match .

Friday, November 7, 2008


I follow a few BLOGS and recently Lucky mentioned something about drivers of Corvettes. (his post of Thursday, November 6th) Yup, I'd have to say that his opinion is mostly true. Yes I have a Corvette which mostly sits there gathering dust whilst I scoot around the country.


I recently mentioned that I was hibernating my vehicles for the winter and now it's 3 down (none to go) . I only insure the 'vette for a few months during the summer so I have to winterize it and take it out for its last outing of the year. So on a recent Sunday a couple of weeks ago as the sun made its last appearance (of the season) I ventured out for a ride .

(Stanley Park, Lions Gate Bridge, in the background)

My usual routine is to bring everything up to operating temperature, add fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank and ride around for a few hours. It's always good to get the transmission shifting, the oil moving, the water pump pumping you know, exercise all the components so they don't decay from lack of use. It has been my practice to only use the 'Vette (C5 Roadster) during fair weather with the top down, however not today. It is not often that I ride around with the top UP, but the air was cool and I didn't want to get a chill. Of course, unless there is ice on the road I often ride my scooter to much lower temperatures much more exposed to the elements, but you are also more prepared with suitable clothing to match. This is in direct contrast to the good old days of the '60's when we would take my Alfa Guilia Spyder, top down in subfreezing weather during a snow storm warning. I have more or less always had a convertible around.

(Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet)

Stanley Park is approx 10,000 acres in the middle of the city. You would hardly know that there is a metropolis just a couple of miles away, sort of like our Central Park. There is a road which travels around the park and in the middle you will find our World Class Aquarium (with dolphins and killer whales). There used to also be a zoo here, but we let the animals out.


I have been riding for many years and have had bikes since the early 60's. I started with a Yamaha 80 (2-stroke) and obtained my motorcycle endorsement using it for my "road test", sometime around 1965 . I also had an MGB, actually more than one, so it is not unlike me to have both a convertible(s) and motorcycle(s) hanging around at the same time. You get different sensations. With one you get the wind in your hair, and the with the other you get Helmet Head. And more lately I have been getting wind on the scalp. They both give you a sense of freedom in differring ways.


During the "off" season, I am in the habit of keeping in touch with my Kymco dealer and stopped there to visit. In the summer I would be on some twisties in the middle of nowhere miles away from civilization

(Vancouver skyline, taken from Stanley Park)

Eventually we returned home and on the way stopped off at a gas station to top up the gas and add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer. I always store the C5 with a full tank of gas to minimize condensation. After the 'Vette was safely tucked away in the garage and plugged into a battery tender, it was officially Hibernated.


Oh, almost forgot. There is a time and place for driving fast and the streets are not the time & place to behave as if you were in the Indy500 . Call it respect for other drivers, call it maturing, call it stupidity. Yes we do test its limits once in a while but usually on some deserted road with no one else around. I used to get a lot of speeding tickets and I have been 'clean' for a few years now. 'Vettes are also LEO magnets, especially RED ones and they often they follow me waiting for me to make a mistake. All I can say is they better not follow me on my Bike (SV650nK4), or scooter Kymco X500Ri 'cause those machines don't know how to go SLOW.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Limited Connectivity & Leaves

Instead of moving our clocks forward an hour (to go to Double Daylight Savings Time), we fell back an hour. Wonder whose idea that was ? I'm of the opinion that daylight at the end of the day is better than in the beginning of the day. It's hard enough to just wake up in the mornings. Have you ever tried to get out the door 15 minutes earlier ? 'cause in order to do that you have to allow an extra hour. I try to do my household duties during the weekdays, so as to leave the weekends free for scooting. We moved our clocks back last Sunday, and now it is dark to and from work. I've been trying to give our lawn that "one last" cut of the year. It looks like I will have to make sure my flashlight has a huge battery so I can see where I'm cutting.
It's been a frustrating past few days. Late last week I had a minor problem with my computer so a friend said he would take a look at it. I purchased an external DVD writer for my netBook and the Nero software locked up. I attempted to un-install it but it appeared that one component was still trying to load up on boot up, thus giving an error. Not really a big deal, but the error screen always came on so you had to click the "OK" button. I tried to find the startup script to disable it but being computer illiterate as I am, I have to rely on someone else to help me out. Anyway, long story short, I came home with the computer on Friday evening and could not get it to log onto the internet. Thus no BLOG updates for a few days. But all is back to normal. My netBook is a great little machine. It is small with a 8.9" screen great for travelling or being on the move, as well as being a backup computer for surfing the web.
Saturday was a great day for scooting . . .


On the way home from Breakfast with the guys, I took a little detour through Queen Elizabeth Park. There is a Ring road that circles around and passes by a little lake. The locals call this park, "Little Mountain" and it is the reservoir for the City of Vancouver, being the highest hill in the city. The main reservoir at the top used to be OPEN, but now it is covered with a parking lot on top, Restaurant and viewpoint of the city, as well as a few walk ways (walking paths) .


There are lots of ducks begging for food, and there are some small fish in the lake, goldfish size so you would need a lot of them to make a meal. Just as I got there I wanted to take a picture of the scoot under the large flowing willow tree, but a father and son got there just before me so I had to change my angle a bit. You are able to see a bit of his red jacket, on the left.


I don't live very far from the Park so took the scenic way home. You have to be very careful this time of year and watch out for all those leaves on the ground as they are slick as grease.


Right now we are in-between storms. Lots of rain & wind were forecast for this particular afternoon, but so far the weather has been clear. Just a few spits of rain but you can definitely feel Fall in the air.