Sunday, May 22, 2016


A weekend of planned motorcycling failed to come to fruition.

As usual, I arrived back in Dubai late on Thursday evening and connected the bike to a charger to top up the battery. Then on Friday morning I kitted up, removed the bike cover, fired up the Black Beast, and noticed fluid on the ground where no fluid should be. Upon closer inspection, the said fluid turned out to be antifreeze. It might have been coming from an overflow; I had topped up the reserve bottle last time I rode the bike, but no. It was still dribbling after I took the bike around the block. So off came all my bike gear and out came the tools.

Then off came the plastic, and I eventually exposed a slight dripping of coolant from the water pump. Staining on the engine nearby indicated that this leak had probably started last time I rode the bike, which would go some way to explaining the low coolant level in the expansion bottle last time.

So motorbikes would be off the agenda this weekend. “Sassa, rassa, frassa, rassum…” etc.

On Saturday I rode the bike over to my friendly neighbourhood Kawasaki workshop. I figured I could get that far without losing all the coolant and cooking the engine. Beloved Wife followed me in the car that contained all the bike’s plastic that I hadn’t bothered reinstalling. There seemed little point, as the mechanic would only have to take it all off again. He took one look, nodded in agreement of my diagnosis, commented about a drain hole, and disconcertingly sucked air through his teeth. My cursory glance through the workshop manual had alerted me that removing the water pump would involve dropping the coolant and the engine oil, so I have left the bike to have a service too. And new rear brake pads. And a tyre pressure sensor/transmitter because the front one’s dead. 

I have also checked Cradley Kawasaki in Birmingham, where it is revealed that a TPMS would set me back £154 and a water pump (assuming that the problem isn’t merely a gasket that Sod’s Law says it isn’t because the parts fiche shows the water pump as a single irreducibly complex item with a single part number) a further £174. Naturally, I’ll probably end up paying about 30% more than these because they’ll have to be borne upon velvet cushions by rose-petal-scattering handmaidens all the way from Japan. Theoretically at least, brake pads and filters should be in stock.

There is a silver lining to this dark and pendulous cloud, and it is this: owing to the impending Holy Month of Ramadan, I will be unable to get away from Qatar throughout June, so I’d not be able to ride the bike anyway. Ergo, having the Black Beast in bits awaiting new bits is of no real inconvenience. And it’ll be spending the next few weeks in air-conditioned comfort rather than mouldering under a plastic cover at the Crumbling Villa. And of course I can save up in preparation for the wallet-wilting invoice that will be heading my way.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The games people play

It is a game.

A game, in which two players have different victory conditions.

One player wins by providing a robust design to a limited cost and time budget, and the other wins by delaying and frustrating progress as far and for as long as possible. To this end, the first player works to produce his best; he has no incentive to delay and incur additional costs. Meanwhile, the longer the second player is able to impede the first, the more money the latter receives.

It doesn't actually matter if the final built product ever emerges out of the ground. Neither does it matter how well the first player plays. If the second player can find anything - anything at all - right down to a misplaced punctuation mark in a document, he can delay while the entire document is rewritten, recopied , reissued, and reviewed to see if a different player on the second player's team can find anything else. The second player is also allowed to change the rules of the game at will to maintain his advantage.

With luck, the second player can extend the game usque finis mundi, and the first player will always lose.

When you play the Game of Roads, you win or you die.


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