Friday, February 17, 2017

How turning 40 has changed my life, and it hasn't even happened yet.

Have you ever felt lost? Like an identity you thought you had, but you don't. The need to seek out the true meaning of yourself takes on a new role that for some is exhausting, for others it's an adventure. Which is it for you?

This year I am turning 40. Many of you that have already gone through this hump, perhaps have asked yourself similar questions about all aspects of life. For those of you that have not, perhaps you are just not as much of a free thinker as I am. Maybe video games or consumerism is clouding your judgment. Or perhaps you would argue the opposite for me. Nonetheless, I feel a huge change coming on. I have not been able to put my finger on it quite yet, but there is an energy force that is driving me towards a goal. How am I to figure this out? Perhaps you have felt the same energy yourself and maybe even have struggled with it for years. Do you feel empty? or have you found your salvation, or purpose or meaning in life? We seem to call it different things.

Whatever you call it, or whatever it is you are seeking it usually takes a lot of your time. I personally have never really figured out my path. I've loved, lost, loved and lost a million times. Not all romantic love, but love of family or friends. Many have made their way to a greater power. What did they accomplish in life? Besides me, who else remembers them. Did their life matter? Does my life matter? These are questions that have perplex me for awhile now. The last few months leading up to the "big 40", these questions have become more consuming. Like a terror in the night that you simply cannot hide from.

The Susquehanna River in Binghamton, NY.

So how exactly does one find the answers? I am currently trying Yoga, meditation and Veganism. I have felt the need to cleanse. I have felt toxic in my own skin. I'm not sure if these are the true answers to resolving this part of my journey in life, but it sure is hard to ignore how good it feels in my own skin again.

Yoga has really surprised me. I see people posting about going to yoga a few times a week and other folks joining in on these rally type of yoga events. You know the ones held at Time Square or in a huge park in a city near you. I use to think to myself that there are so many people on the bandwagon of yoga. Is it just cool to do yoga? Does that give you a better shot at a job, or look smarter when talking to someone at business meetings? Why are all these people doing yoga? I kept asking myself these questions over and over and kept fabricating my own answers. Then one day, my schedule changed at work and I now was able to make it to a yoga session. That session changed me.

I look back at that first day and I was so nervous. I was overweight and could barley touch my toes. I still can't touch my toes, but I at least now understand I don't necessarily have to. The instructor was such a great lady. She was calming, and knowledgeable. You could tell she loved teaching yoga. I barely could do any of the moves. Every time I attempted to do something, she was right by my side with blocks, or moving my head, or telling me to try with knees down instead of up. Nonetheless, every class I went to there after was the same way. I had realized even just that one day a week made me stronger physically and mentally. The use of blocks faded. Then one day, she was no longer the instructor. My interest faded. The new instructor was intense. She made yoga a workout, and I had become to realize that while it is a workout, it is much greater than that. She had apparently lost that in her training. There was no chi, if you will. Just keep up to break a sweat. I never did yoga there again.

Fast forward to a year later, October of 2016, my husband and I moved to upstate New York. At that time, I was just working remotely as a contractor, from my full time job that I had just left. I was bored! What do I do? There is nothing more mind crumbling than boredom. One day I was on YouTube searching through videos. I came across a yoga video from a lady that seriously resembled my old yoga instructor that I liked. There are literally millions of videos on YouTube and somehow I found this lady. You may have seen her videos. She has over two million subscribers and all sorts of videos depending on your experience. The channel is called Yoga With Adriene and I owe it all to her for getting me back on track with yoga. She gets it!

See yoga isn't something I'm doing to be cool, or to fit in with a certain group of people. I have found it to be peace of mind. A cleanse of the soul that has taught me to relax and appreciate time. These are two things I struggle with often, and now I have better control of them. Which has now lead me to meditation. This is far harder physically, mentally and emotionally. This to me is a challenge that has been defeating me, but I am not giving up. Being an asthmatic, breathing has always been a struggle. Yoga has helped and now having to pay attention to it and nothing more, is a true test of my will power. Many people that do it for years, still struggle with it. I plan on keeping it as part of my life style for as long as I am alive. You can say yoga was the gateway drug to meditation.

Alright, so we've talked about yoga and meditation, but now let's talk about being vegan. You are probably asking why I am betting myself up by jumping the gun to a plant based diet. To be completely honest, I went through a time in my 20s where I was vegetarian for 10 years. I don't honestly recall the reasons leading me back to eating meat. That said, I have spent lots of money indulging in some of the best hamburgers our great country has to offer, to some of the best steaks, chicken and fish meals every made. I'm a bit of a cook, so all of these meats where back in my diet. I am middle eastern, and so many meats were now in my diet that had never even been in my diet before. Growing up it was mostly Mediterranean style food. If there was meat involved, it was only fish, lamb and goat. Now my diet encompassed everything.

Within the last month I have made a commitment to myself to begin a Vegan lifestyle. My husband refuses to change, but yet wants me to eat a steak or a pound of chicken with him every night. He is Polish and German, so I get it. I just have felt that need for cleansing and so far it is working out great. I have found a whole new world of recipes, some of which he has even enjoyed. I have felt myself feeling better and having more energy. Not feeling sluggish anymore.

Yoga, meditation and moving to being Vegan only seems to be a small part of reaching the summit of what it is I have been struggling to figure out. I feel like these things are the base. You know, those "first steps". This reminds me of something called the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. There are 5 levels to the pyramid theory he discusses. Yet they are better broken down into 3 segments; Basic Needs, Psychological Needs, and Self-Fulfillment Needs. I find myself hoovering between the psychological and self-fulfillment needs. If you wanted to break it down more specifically, I am floating between Esteem needs and Self-Actualization. The need of feeling accomplished in ones life to the need of finding my full potential. At least I know where I stand. So, how am I going to get to the top? That again takes me back to my original concerns for finding the true meaning of life. Maybe I should call it "the quest for finding my self-actualization"?

Sunset at Lake Santeetlah in NC.

Perhaps waking up on April 22nd 2017, my birthday, will enlighten me with the answers I seek. Maybe not. Either way, I feel more focused now that I'm following a path in my life that is going to lead me to the top of Maslow's pyramid. Perhaps the answers or my achievements won't come until I'm 60. Perhaps then I will even look back questioning why I moved forward this way. Maybe I'll look back thanking myself for making the right chooses, because the success in the future has everything to do with what I do now. I have always thought that once I have figured out my purpose, that then my fate will be sealed. Either way, I do not believe someone should live life worrying about tomorrow. Over the years I have grown to understand that living in the present is really how we succeed in life. Remembering our past and learning from it for our present and using both to get us to the future. Cheers to finding self-worth!

Have you every contemplated about your purpose? Have you ever questions your current state of mind?  If so, please share your experiences. We may learn from one another. After all, that is what life is about.

Monday, January 30, 2017

DIY - Relocation of Dyna Indicator Lens and Turn Signals

Ever since I bought my 2008 Dyna Low Rider (FXDL), I have struggled with aftermarket parts because the indicator lens is on the bar clamp. Such an annoying place to have it. I have always wanted to move it, just didn't really know how. The new 2016 FXDL models ditched the indicator lens on the clamps. They moved the indicators into the speedo dash. Genius! Wish they had just done that with prior models and called it a day. Instead, here is what I had to do to move it to my dash, but not in my speedo.

This is the OE location of the indicator lens on my 2008 FXDL, right on the handlebar clamp.

The plan is to move the indicator lens from the clamp and position it between the speedo and tach. Dead center between the two bolts.

Now it's time to take everything apart. You start buy unscrewing the two bolts on the dash and the one just under the seat. You will have to remove the seat, and when you do I suggest disconnecting the battery for safety. Once all the screws are out, the dash then is loose. Just pull up on it and begin disconnecting the wiring harness plugs. For the speedo button, you will have to unscrew it. Keep the rubber outside peace on a safe place and then push the wire part through the dash. That way now everything is disconnected. At that point, you will have a free dash, that you can now move to your work bench or table. 

Your next step is to remove your handlebar clamp. Since I am changing my bars and risers, there are more steps to do at this point. First, it is best to start taking off the controls. I usually start on the left side. On the controls there are 4 screws. There are 2 on the outside clamp and 2 on the controls themselves. Begin with unscrew them all slowly. I basically, unscrew each one a little bit at a time, while moving from one to another until they are all so loose I can manage moving the wires out the way and clutch safely. When you work alone it can be challenging. If you have a friend, get a 12 pack a beer and thank him for the extra set of hands after the jobs done. Anyways, once the controls are off, you have to remove the left grip. I had slid mine on with lubricant. I usually take them off by squeezing a zip tie or two in there and then spraying WD40 in the opening that is made. Then you just start twisting the grip back and forth to work the WD40 and boom! the grip slides right off. 

Now for right side you basically do the same thing, only you have the throttle cables you need to watch out for as well as some springs for the poor mans cruise control. So, be very careful when doing the right side. Once the controls are off, you can now proceed to remove the 4 screws on the handlebar clamp. Once those are off, you can then set the bars in the pile you probably have in your garage of all the bars you have tried. I have some for sale if anyone is interested. 

Once the bars and clamp is off, since I am putting in new risers, I have to remove the risers. There is a ground wire attached to them, as well as your brake cable clamp. Be sure you remove that screw and keep an eye on your ground wire. The first time I took the risers off ever, I ended up bending the ground wire so bad that I had to make a new one with new connectors. Nonetheless, now you can start unscrewing the bolts at of the risers that you see on the inside of the triple tree. Once those are off, you might want to inspect your bushings. I had replaced mine year ago, with polyurethane ones, so I know they are good to go. I honestly wish I had replaced them with the OE rubber ones. They helped to dampen the vibration a bit better on my Dyna. The poly ones make the vibration a bit more intense. This might be a project for next winter. Now you will have things hanging off the bike. I basically made bungees my friend during this part of the project. I had one bungee holding up the right side controls so my brake fluid reservoir didn't start leaking. I had another holding the opposite side to the front frame tubes. Then I had painters tape holding the turn signals wires on the forks. The things you have to do when you don't have a friend around. 

Now that everything is out of the way we can continue with working on the dash. I had to take the original clamp and I lined it up over the tapped up area in the photo below. I used it as a template for cutting the proper size hole needed for this to work.  

Set the OE clamp on there and took a pen made a template of the proper diameter needed for the cut out. 
Grab a set of safety glasses and a cutting wheel for your Dremel. 

You can start to make your cuts and of course clean up with files. 
Grab a file ad clean up your work. I could have done it with the Dremel using other bits, but I just didn't have them on hand.

I then mounted the new bars, risers and clamps.

Love it!

Wired everything back up, including plugging the battery back in. Reinstalled the dash, put the controls back on and zip tied any wires for a cleaner look.
Looks so much cleaner without the turn signal lens there. 
These weren't the best clamps, but for 11 bucks on Amazon they worked alright! 

New bars, new risers, new clamps, new relocation kit for the turn signals and a new location for the indicator lens! FINALLY!! Now I just need the snow to melt so I can ride. I should mention that I did test everything prior to making the final reinstall of all parts. I didn't want to put the dash back on if the electrical just didn't work. One thing I did run into was the bolt mounts on the dash that are welded to the tank. Some people cut and re-weld those brackets. I actually bent them the opposite way and it worked fine.

Have you been working on a winter project? If so, I'd love to hear what you have been working on. It's always fun to changes, heck even sometimes we put things back they way their were. How many of you have done that? ha! Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

DIY - Fixing a Remote Control Due to Corrosion

This morning the heater in our condo went dead. It was screaming bloody murder, like a jack hammer to concrete. After calling the condo emergency repair line, they came running over to help. Looks like it needs a replacement fan motor. Nonetheless, it is about 18 degrees outside and the temperature indoors is beginning to drop. Luckily, I have a really good space heater made by Lasko.

However, when I pulled it out and tried to use the remote, the remote just did not work. So, I turned the unit on by hand to warm up the living room for a bit. Like any space heater, they do consume a lot of power. So, I try to just run it until it warms up and then just deal with the cold again.

That said, I had to fix to the remote. I don't want to keep getting up from the warm couch to turn the darn thing off and on. Call me lazy, call me whatever you want, but if a remote came with it, then I want to be able to use it. So, I decided to take it apart. Here's what happened.

Pulled the Corroded Batteries out - 1 of 2

Opened up the remote, by following the gap around it with a flat head screw driver

Used regular cooking foil to clean all the terminals. 

Used a knife blade to scrape off anything that I couldn't get with the foil. 

Put it all back together and added new batteries. Boom! We have a working remote again.

Do you like to do DIY stuff around the house? Or do you have someone else in your home that sort of takes care of all these sort of things? In my house, my husband doesn't like to be bothered with it. I personally enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

DIY - Fixing a Damaged Camera thread

My Contour Roam 1600 cam broke almost 2 years ago. I mean the camera works, just the threading to add mounts fully came out of the camera and rendered it useless. There was a hole left behind from where the plastic casing for the thread just fell right out. 

Just last night I had an idea out of nowhere! I thought to myself, I can take apart my cheap selfie stick that I had bought for 3 bucks. I had some liquid nails sitting around in a drawer from a home improvement project awhile back. I got up off the couch and my husband looked at me, like what the hell are you doing. I start pulling tools out and running to grab all the things I need. I then took over the kitchen counter.  

After breaking off the female thread from the mount of the selfie stick, I covered the sides of it with the Liquid Nails glue and then set it inside the hole of the camera. If you look through the middle of the threading you will see something white. I actually had a small piece of sticky foam from an eye glass kit. You know those white foam pieces that you stick to your frames that are designed to rest on your nose. It was actually the perfect thickness to keep the thread flush with the outer base of the camera. 

I cannot believe it took me 2 years to finally fix this camera. I will now be able to enjoy it again. Eureka!

Have you ever had to fix something like this before? I seriously had the answer in front of me this whole time. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

8 Tips to Consider Prior To Buying A New Motorcycle

You have decided you want to buy a motorcycle. You have done all the research that Google could possibly house. You have received your permit or license. Maybe you even did a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) class or two. Perhaps you even did a few demo rides at some of the dealerships or local motorcycle rallies. You have narrowed down the bikes to just one. You go to the dealership and you realize you did the wrong type of research. You are shocked by the financial aspect and perhaps slapped with pre-paid maintenance intervals, extended warranty and perhaps even GAP insurance. You are side struck by the thought that you will soon have the motorcycle of your dreams. You did not think about the loan process, or about adding parts, accessories or gear to that amount. You walk out, ride into the sunset, wake up the next day saying the word Fuck a million times.

Maybe that has happened to you? Maybe it has not happened to you yet. Nonetheless, let's talk about this stuff, because no one else does!

1. What the hell is GAP insurance or protection?
  • Per Nationwide Insurance: Gap insurance is an optional insurance coverage for newer cars (in this case motorcycles) that can be added to your collision insurance policy. It may pay the difference between the balance of a lease or loan due on a vehicle and what your insurance company pays if the car (in this case motorcycle) is considered a covered total loss. 
  • Meaning your negative equity is covered and that is actually what GAP insurance is. 
2. Do you need GAP insurance?
  • If you plan on keeping your motorcycle until the end of eternity and driving like a made man, "maybe". 
  • If you are buying a bike that will probably depreciate pretty fast, like a one off design that might cease to exist. 
  • If it makes you sleep better at night. 
3. Do you need to pre-pay for future service maintenance intervals?
  • If you do not have a clue how to even change a light bulb, let alone your oil, then yes! 
  • You will save money paying upfront for the services. 
  • However, if you do know how to work on your own bike, or have some basic knowledge and commonsense, then save your money. 
4. Should you buy an extended warranty?
  • Honestly, with the way manufactures are mass producing bikes and cars these days, it might not be a bad investment. Especially if you have no idea how fix or replace bad parts. 
  • Again, if you have basic knowledge on how to fix or repair things, you might be able to save some money here. 
5. If the salesman/woman asks you if you would like to upgrade your Wheels or       rims to spokes, say NO. Why? Well I'll tell you why....
  • First off, they suck to clean. It is a nightmare to keep spokes clean. Unless you never ride your bike, or sit there meticulously wiping it off every single time you use it, then don't even think about them.
  • Second, you will have to buy tubes for the rest of your life! In addition to tubes, you have to buy special balancing weights for spokes. The standard box type just won't work on most spoke rims because they will have a curvature to them. If your spoke rim actually has a flat outer rim then you are one lucky bastard. The special balancing weights for spoke rims cost more money. Tubes can run you all sorts of different prices depending on the brand. 
  • Third, they are an expensive upgrade long term, seriously consider a standard rim. If the bike you are buying come with spoke rims as an original equipment feature, consider upgrading to non-spoke. 
  • Forth, thank me later! 
6. Do you really need an exhaust upgrade or even a taller windscreen?
  • If you have never rode a motorcycle before, than you could probably save some upfront cash by skipping the exhaust and just getting a taller windscreen. You are more likely to take a trip on a highway for an hour or more than you are entering a Moto GP event where performance matters. 
  • If you don't think you will ever have money for an exhaust upgrade, then use this time to add it to your bike loan. 
  • If you are a Sunday rider and will never go on the highway and don't care about more rpms, than roll with stock and smile at your lower payments.
7. Do you really need to buy a helmet and motorcycle safety gear?
  • YES! Motorcycle gear is expensive. Even the cheapest stuff on the market will run you a few hundred bucks. There are helmets, pants, jackets and gloves you can choose from for under $100 bucks a piece. There are also helmets, pants, jackets and gloves you can choose from that can run you about $400 a piece or more. Do your research! RevZilla has a ton of educational YouTube videos on gear. Start there! 
  • If the dealership has a good selection of helmets, might as well roll that at least into your loan. Get a good helmet! If they have gear from at least First Gear or Joe Rocket, then invest. If they have stuff from Alpinestars or Rev'it, great! Do it! If the dealer just has Harley Davidson gear, or Yamaha branded gear, etc, the labels? What are you getting? Educate yourself before you buy!
8. Do you really need to buy a tire and wheel warranty?
  • First off, ask what this means? All dealerships create their own types of warranties, so ask questions, 
  • Ask, if it covers a nail, or dent in the rim due to a rock or curb. Ask as many questions as you can possibly can come up with.
  • I have heard of many dealerships trying to avoid warranty claims. You can read about it on a ton of different forums.  
  • At the end of the day, even tire manufactures do not give you coverage on a tire if you get a nail in it. 
  • This is one of those grey area warranties with very few success cases. So again, ask questions! Make a list of questions that you find online and ask them all! 
I hope these 8 tips help someone out. Looking back at my experience, these are things I wish I had known, or asked more questions about.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Last Breath

Three years ago today I watched my aunt Sabah take her last breath in this world in her hospital bed. It is a moment in time that is so heavy of a burden to carry, that that day plays in my mind often. I could tell you each and every detail of that day, like it was today. It was the first time I watched someone fight death.

My aunt Sabah, my fathers sister.

Losing friends or family is a really hard thing. I lost my mother in a car accident 12 years ago. It was my dad, mom and I in a van traveling back home, when we were hit by a red light runner. The van was flipped, and my father and I survived the wreck. My mother was laying in the middle of the intersection barely alive. She died on the way to the hospital in the same ambulance I was riding in.

My parents and I.

Many of us don't talk about loss or deal with it well. I have lost so many people that I feel like I've become numb to it all sometimes. When you get a call this person past or that person past or this person is on their way to passing. Neither one of these experiences is easier than the other to deal with.

What I have learned over the years with loss, is that it is truly important to be the best that you can be as a mother, brother, sister, father, niece, nephew, uncle, aunt, grandpa, grandma, uncle aunt get the hint. Just be a good person. Do not judge, or disrespect. Do not hate or wish bad things on people. Do not push people away from you, just because you are having a bad a day.

Everyday on earth is a gift. You should treat it as it was intended to be treated as "the greatest gift on earth....LIFE"!


"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." Marcus Aurelius

I took this photo in OBX, NC. It was a peaceful day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Life with Beer

I love craft beer. I enjoy the flavors the aromas and all the fancy glasses.  I even drink the cheap stuff, because sometimes, beer is just beer and better than no beer at all.

I decided to scroll through my photos saved in my Google Cloud and realized, I have a lot of beer photos! So you know what, why not share them all in one place.  I basically scrolled through about 3 years worth of photos and these were all of them. I deleted some, wish I hadn't but there are still many to see. Some I don't remember what they were. For the most part I love beers with a very hoppy flavor. However, anything with chocolate or coffee is a bonus!

Nonetheless, enjoy the photos and comment if you have tried any of them. Cheers!

Sierra Nevada IPA

Miller Lite chaser with a Bloody Mary. Only in Milwaukee

I can't remember what this was, but I was left to look after the keg. Bad Idea!

This was a Pils, I don't remember who made it. Miami, Fl though.

Probably an IPA or Double IPA

Most likely a summer seasonal.

Something with high alcohol content. I think this was Victory Brewing.

One of my favorite beers!

The night before I got married. Sly fox rt113 IPA. I will never forget that!

This was the end of a stout I had during a jazz fest in NY.

Flight of beers at the Yard's Brewery in Philly. 

Drinking a Guinness in a private jet! Now that's living! 

Bar in Philly covered in beer caps. I thought this was too cool to not share. 
Flight at Manayunk Brewing

Free IPA keg of some type at bike night in Fish Town, Philly.

Long Trail, such a good beer. 

I love this beer too. Allagash White!

While this was the best of the bunch. I honestly did not care too much for their beers. 


Free beer! Do it! 

MotoGP Indy and it's always Miller Time!

Harley Davidson 110th anniversary beers. MKE celebration.

This had some spice to it. Not bad.

No comment!

Beer always makes a public toilet look better. 

Mystery beer. 

This was delicious! 

Add caption


Miller Fortune. It actually wasn't bad at all. I really liked it. 

I found out I am not a fan of cider beers. 

Sierra Nevada 

Sierra Nevada IPA and Bon Jovi

This is unique to their brewery. Which is located in Pennsylvania.

Hands down the best brewery in the country!! New Glarus, located in Wisconsin.

PBR at the Pabst Brewery! 

Who knows, but we drank a lot that day!

Beer! Better with great friends!