Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mercenaries

Call a spade a spade...
So they don't like the name "mercenary." They don't even like to be called "private armies." How quickly we forget that Rumsfeld has been talking about privatizing the army for years. This 12-page online New York Times article published August 14, 2005, written by Daniel Bergner, gives a first-hand account of the work of the new wave of privatized defense operations now going on in Iraq.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/magazine/14PRIVATI.html
And they teach you in school that Globalization is just something that is happening, not something that is being made to happen...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lowering Our Sights

Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post dated today:
"U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/13/AR2005081300853.html
Contrast that article with the President's Saturday radio speech:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050813.html
So the question is, what's going on? The Washington Post is a conservative propaganda machine, even a co-sponsor of the September 11 pro-war rally being put on by the Pentagon. So why such a big contrast between their Sunday article and Bush's Saturday propaganda speech?
Bearing in mind that the President's public addresses usually are significantly Orwellian, could it be that this latest news of lowered expectations really was the original plan? Might this new set of circumstances actually be the ones most favorable for the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld agenda? We no longer expect the Iraqi people to become wealthy with their oil reserves. We are transitioning to mercenaries in Iraq for the defense of corporate American oil interests. That means that Americans, not the Iraqi people, will profit from Iraq's oil. Isn't this what "Globalization" means? Why is this not consistent with the Bush agenda?

New Bike

No, no ,no... I can't afford to buy a new bike. I built a new bike. Well, nothing in it is new, but let's just say I haven't seen a bike like this yet out there on the road and when I have asked the bike peddlers in bike shops about the design, I have gotten some funny looks. Actually, I remember one guy who just turned his back and went off to find another customer to service.
So while I was waiting for my beans to bake - baking beans on a hot day, imagine! - I did a project that I have been thinking about doing for years. But let me give some background first.
I have been riding bicycles since the 1950s. My first bike was a sturdy little thing with 20 inch balloon tires, a single speed similar to the BMX bikes, but before those had appeared on the scene. I rode it for several years and it was an integral part of my summertime. We lived near the Greenville airport and nearly every landing airplane was visible from the fields around my house, so whenever I heard or saw a plane, if I wasn't doing something else, or even if I was, I would hop on my little bike and try to get to the airport in time to see the plane land or watch it taxi in. My brother and I had made a little trail through the ditch to connect our road with one end of one of the airport runways. Sometimes we would go out there and cruise the runways or do circles inside the letters of the "GREENVILLE" that was painted on the north end of one.
My brother had a full-size balloon tire single-speed bike. I think, actually, that he learned to ride on that bike instead of on a smaller one like mine. Then one year our dad bought him a very nice "English bike," a Raleigh, I believe, with 26 inch wheels but narrow tires, handlebar mounted brakes for both the front and rear wheels - a change from the pedal-activated rear brake of the balloon-tire bikes - and a 3-speed shift mechanism built inside the rear hub with a shifter mounted on the handlebars. Shortly after, Dad found another one for me. Mine wasn't as pristine as my brother's Raleigh. I think mine was a JC Higgins and it had been used a lot more than my brother's but it was a rugged bike and served me well for many years.
In the process of using these English bikes, both my brother and I became bicycle mechanics. I even got to the point where I could disassemble, clean, lubricate, and reassemble the 3-speed hub and get it to work like new. Our bike years lasted well into our motorbike years. He had a Whizzer motorized heavy duty balloon-tire bicycle. I had a little scooter powered by a lawnmower engine. But eventually we got cars and the bikes faded into memories of our childhood.
My brother never got back into bicycling. He stayed with cars. For awhile, he had a love affair with Buicks, like the '55 Century that he put the '57 transmission into. That made quite a hotrod even if the transmission never worked quite right. Then he had an infatuation with the '56 models of Buicks. He even took a '56 Buick Super, hacked off the back and mounted a wooden rack body on it, and gave it to our parents to use as a pickup. I used that more than anyone else, but I still remember our mom driving it.
I was reintroduced to bicycling when I was in the Air Force. A friend of mine when I was in tech school in Illinois let me use his new 10-speed one day. I rode it several miles around the perimeter of the base and fell in love with 10-speeds. But I didn't get my first 10-speed until after I was out of the service. I was working at Squaw Mountain Ski Area and it was summer and I went to visit a friend in southern Maine for the weekend. I stopped at a bike shop in Waterville on the way down and bought a very sweet 10-speed brand new right off the showroom floor. The very next day, I ran it into a ditch when I took a sharp corner too fast for my untrained guts. When I got out of the hospital, once I was out of traction and back on my feet, the first thing I did was to rebuild that bike and get back on the road. My neck is OK now, but the bike was stolen from our front porch about 10 years after my accident, complete with the child seat where my oldest son got his first taste of bicycling.
By then, though, I had my second 10-speed, a French made Motobecane Grand Record made from lightweight "double-butted" Reynolds 531 alloy tubing and fitted with Campagnolo derailleurs. It was pretty much state of the art for a production bike of that vintage, around 1977, and it was fast. But I wound up not riding it a whole lot because it was too big for me, too long of a stretch, so I actually still have the bike today and it is still in pretty good condition. My son is using it this summer. Yes he has had newer bikes, but this is one that he hasn't yet trashed beyond repair. I say that with a snicker that only a father (or a son) can understand.
Since the Motobecane, I have had a few mountain bikes and my wife had a hybrid road bike that used some mountain bike components but had ram's horn handlebars with non-SIS bar-end shifters and 27 inch rims. My favorite mountain bike was an "Offroad" with Shimano Deore components and "Biopace" front sprockets. It belonged to a well-known bike shop owner in the Bangor area, but I bought it used from one of his shops. I put a lot of miles on that bike, but again, it turned out to be too much of a stretch for me and hurt my neck, yes from that original injury, so eventually I gave it to my teen-age son who trashed it in no time at all. Considering it's original value and quality, I stashed the remains under the shed.
My wife had a similar bike. We always called it "The Pink Panasonic" because it was painted hot pink and yes, the brand was Panasonic. It also was fitted with Deore components and Biopace sprockets. Since she almost NEVER used that bike and since she and I both forbid our sons from using it, it remained in excellent condition over the years. The boys did borrow the knobby tires from it, but a few years ago I revived it with a set of wide road tires, 26x1.90 in size. The Panasonic frame was too heavy, but the bike was great fun to ride with those tires and was not only stable on dirt but fast and smooth on pavement. Yet, nobody rode that bike.
So, for the past few years I have had in my shed the lightweight frame of a well-equipped old mountain bike, the remains of a hybrid 15-speed with rams-horn handlebars, and a pristine hot pink Panasonic that nobody would ride. Being a long-time fan of road bikes, I have had a dream for the past few years of confiscating both of my wife's bikes and using my Offroad frame and building something new, something I haven't found in a bike shop. Yesterday I did just that.
I took the road bike handlebars off my wife's old hybrid Univega and fitted them to my Offroad mountain bike frame. Then I robbed the road tires and wheels from the pristine Pink Panasonic. I used the original Offroad derailleurs and crank set, but fitted handlebar-tip shifters from the old Univega. It took all day, but before the beans were baked, I had myself a "new" bicycle and it is fun to ride! The only thing I have left to do is to fine tune all the adjustments and wrap the handlebars.
On the road again.......