Off Folly Cove

I went diving with my friends Jack and Jane yesterday. When we left the dock, the fog was starting to burn off, but there was still a high overcast. Jack chose to anchor between Lanes Cove and Folly Cove, predicting correctly that we would be sheltered on the northern side of Cape Ann. The water was a smooth as glass.

Perhaps a better simile would be as smooth as a bowl of soup. Whether it was the overcast above, or simply an abundance of plankton below, the visibility was pretty crummy, at only about five feet or so.

Continue reading

Painted Turtles

Image

I took the kayak for a 7.48 mile round trip from Dover to Natick and back today. I started off by Bridge Street in Dover — fortunately grabbing the last parking spot — and took the boat downriver to just short of the Natick Dam. Along the way, in several spots, I saw painted turtles basking on logs and boulders in the river. Usually, they would slip into the water as soon as I got close-ish, but these little guys stayed put just long enough for me to get their picture:

Painted Turtles on log

Painted Turtles on log

Quabbin via Motorcycle

Image

Around the start of the last century, water shortages in Greater Boston caused the state government to look to Western Massachusetts for supplies of clean drinking water. The Wachusett Reservoir was completed around 1908, and in the Twenties, the people of the Swift River valley lost their battle against eastern Massachusetts, and construction of the Quabbin Reservoir begun. The towns of Enfield, Greenwich, Prescott and Dana were disincorporated, their citizens evicted from their homes, and all structures in the way of the future reservoir razed. Construction took place during the thirties, and the reservoir filled during the forties, becoming the largest inland body of water within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Today, it supplies most of eastern Massachusetts with water. To protect the water, the area around it is a reservation. Yesterday, I took the motorcycle out for a ride around there. The roads around the reservoir are great for motorcycling — curvy, and not too crowded.

Continue reading

Rereading the Declaration

There are holiday traditions that are shared by everyone, and the there are private, personal traditions. For the Fourth of July, public traditions include watching fireworks (I saw the Orleans show on Sunday), bonfires, and cookouts with the family. My personal tradition is rereading the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing it; several years at least. I wonder how many Americans have read it in its entirety even once; I wonder how many would even recognize quotes from it. A lot of people confuse it with the Constitution, which is our fundamental law. The Declaration isn’t law; instead, it’s a clear statement of the founding philosophy of the American system: that power derives from the consent of the governed.

It’s really too bad. Both documents are pretty readable; Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration, in particular had a talent for the feeling and rhythm of words. Probably the best example of this is the most familiar:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thinking about the text of the Declaration, there is an interesting duality in the way Jefferson thinks about government. He begins by saying “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” but continues on to say, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” Many items of his bill of particulars deal with George III’s failure to attend to laws needed by the colonies:

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

If you haven’t read it yet, I heartily recommend you do so. Wikipedia has a nicely annotated version if you would like some context.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

…Hello FJR 1300

Under threatening skies, I took the Katana for my last ride, down to MOM South, the dealership in Foxboro I bought the new bike from. There were thunder showers prowling the area, so I didn’t take it for one last ride through the Blue Hills.  Heading south on I-95 through Walpole I got poured on momentarily, and then I was out of it.

After a short wait, I was called into the office to do the paperwork. It always seems like I’m signing a peace treaty when I buy a vehicle; there are so many things to sign. Finally, though, I’d turned over my down payment and signed off on the loan, I was the proud owner of a new Yamaha FJR 1300-ES and it was time to wait for the new registration to come through.

While I was waiting, the bike was waiting for me out front. I walked out, and took a look. It’s beautiful. It’s sleek and black, and big. Looking at it from the rear, I was looking at the built-in saddlebags, and started idly wondering if I’d be able to get it past the car in the driveway into the garage. The dashboard integrates into the fairing, and it’s big. It’s a sport touring bike, and I’d been thinking of it as a sport bike I can take touring, but it’s starting to come home to me that it’s a sporty touring bike.

As they were finishing up with the registration work, John Brooks gave me a very detailed rundown of the all the controls and features. It has a lot of amenities, and a lot of thoughtful touches. He very carefully walked me through them, but I’m looking forward to working my way through the owner’s manual.

Finally, the registration was transferred, and they moved the license plate from the Katana to the FJR. John recommended I rehearse a little in their large open parking lot, so I did – first one circle the width of the lot, then another half the width. With rain in the area, and needing to get back to work, I then headed back north on Route 1 towards home. As I left, I saw them putting the Katana away.

I was grinning most of the way back. This bike is so much more comfortable, and yet, is nearly as responsive as the Katana. It’s got power to spare. The only drawback is trying to move it at very very slow speeds, where I do feel its extra weight, and am cognizant that my feet barely reach the ground. But I’m already starting to get more comfortable with finessing it around.

I got to Route 128 around 3:30. If rush hour hadn’t already started, I would have taken it through the Blue Hills. Instead, I came home and got back to work. I put in a bunch of extra hours last night, and didn’t feel that I needed to make up time. Instead, I got what I was working to a break point, and tried out my new toy. I took it up through Chickatawbut Road, then back through town to Cobbs Corner, but had to cut my ride short due approaching thunderstorms.

Goodbye, Katana…

Tomorrow, shortly after noon, I’ll be taking my 2002 Suzuki Katana for my last ride, to the dealership to be traded in. I’ve had it for almost exactly 15 years.

Getting the paperwork together, I found that I bought it from the old South Shore MotorSports in Quincy July 1, 2002. I bought it to replace my first bike, a Kawasaki EX 500, which I’d damaged in an accident the previous fall. Even before the accident, the EX-500 had been getting unreliable, and once you’ve lost the trust in a bike, it’s hard to get it back. I saw no reason to spend hundreds of dollars replacing broken body work on it.

A big part of the reason I chose this model was because it was supposedly a more comfortable bike — less radical than Suzuki’s GSXR, less expensive than Honda’s CBRs. When I was looking at it in the showroom, I fell in love with it. It was bright yellow, and after the accident, that was reassuring — you’d have to be blind to not see it. My Aunt Dot once called it my “bumblebee”. On the ride home, I was impressed with how smooth the engine sounded. The EX-500 had been a parallel twin-engine; this was an inline four, and it sounded a lot smoother.

Suzuki Katana 600

Suzuki Katana 600

I was able to take some longish rides on it. I made it out to Quabbin Reservoir a couple of times. I made my longest trip, along the Mohawk Trail, during Labor Day Weekend of 2005. I took the masthead image from the top of Mount Greylock during that trip.  And I took it up to the White Mountains in 2006 and 2008.

Unfortunately, I found “comfortable” was a relative term. While it might have had a more relaxed riding position than a GSXR, the handlebars were a lot lower than the old EX-500, and it was correspondingly less comfortable. Especially at the beginning of the season, I was likely to develop a stabbing pain between my shoulder blades after riding a while.

It’s held up pretty well. I had a slow speed slip on a patch of wet leaves at the top of the street Halloween afternoon about four and a half years ago; I shattered the face of my iPhone, and scuffed up the side of the bike and helmet, and leaving a chain and lock bungeed to the back handle has added more scuff marks and black marks. But it still runs very well.

I started to think about replacing it a couple of years ago. I was starting to notice it was requiring more repairs more often. Nothing too serious, just time taking its toll. I was starting to trust it less. So I started thinking about what I wanted to replace it with. One the one hand, sport touring has appealed to me for a long time. On the other hand, Harleys are much more common around here than sport bikes. I’ve rented Harleys a number of times, and had a blast every time. I felt I was at a fork in the road.

Tomorrow I pick up the new bike. Shortly after the last video conference of the day, I’ll take the Katana on my last ride. I might take it through the Blue Hills one last time, then take it to the dealership. I hope they’re able to sell it to someone who enjoys it as I have.

Long Walk

I did something to my back last weekend, and have been hobbling around since. It’s not been too bad during the work week, as sitting itself hasn’t been too painful, though walking after sitting can be a pain. It’s put a distinct crimp in my weekend though; I daren’t use the kayak, I had to cancel a dive with Andrew today, and I don’t really want to use the motorcycle, both because of the back, and for reasons that I’ll relate later.

While yesterday morning was rainy and muggy, yesterday afternoon, the afternoon turned sunny. I wanted to do something, something that wouldn’t make the back worse. That basically left walking, so I drove into Boston with the camera, parked by the river on the Cambridge parkway, and went for a long walk.

The Longfellow Bridge is being reconstructed, so I walked over the bridge to see how it was coming. The bridge affords an awesome view of Boston, and I was particularly fascinated by the reflections off the John Hancock building.

After I crossed the bridge, I continued on through Beacon Hill, doing a little window shopping. Then I decided to visit Ward Maps in Porter Square, because they have a large collection of MBTA signage and maps. I could have hopped on the Red Line at Charles Station, but I was wearing my sunglasses, and wanted to swap them out for my regular glasses. So I walked back to the car, changed glasses, and walked to Kendall Square where I saw this sculpture:

Sculpture/Fountain in Kendall Square

Sculpture/Fountain in Kendall Square

I took the Red Line from Kendall to Porter Square.  Once at Porter, I turned left onto Mass Ave, and started walking toward Ward Maps, only to find them closed due to some sort of electrical problem. They’re a little less than halfway between Porter and Harvard, so I decided to just walk to Harvard Square. I’d never walked this neighborhood before, and it was very interesting — a bunch of small shops, interesting old homes, a colonial cemetery, and a couple of parks. After a quick tour of Harvard Square itself, I got back on the Red Line and took it back to Charles Station. Before I headed back to the car, I got a picture of the bridge reconstruction and the alignment of the temporary tracks the Red Line is running on:

Longfellow Bridge construction

Longfellow Bridge construction

So how was I feeling after all the walking? I was definitely feeling it in my legs last night. My back felt a little better, except a couple of times when I jarred it when I unexpected had to step down over a height difference I didn’t see. This morning I was feeling better — I’m still feeling it, especially after sitting — but better. I’m hoping it’s on the mend.

Flowers

Image

I just love this picture. I bought a box full of gazanias and lobelias Sunday, and took this with the phone before planting.

I’m now using it as my desktop of all three screens of my work computer.