Thursday, December 12, 2019

New tenant on Piedmont Ave

There is a new tenant on Piedmont Ave

He has taken over the now vacant Starbucks on the corner of 41st.
I guess that there was not that enough money to be made there
By the hour, by the square foot, per barista
Selling coffee
For Starbucks

Across the side street
Gaylord’s coffee eeks out a living
Selling coffee that Russ roasts himself
And has very young people serve to us
Behind his censored mural
Along the wall
Where some guests sit outside and smoke

When it is raining,
There are no tables on 41st street
And the new tenant in the old Starbucks
Finds his shelter almost dry
With room for his bag and bicycle

His blonde hair
Half beard
Youthful face
And obvious distress
Are all familiar to me

I’ve seen him around
He has lived on Piedmont Ave. for a while
Just not at Starbucks
On a rainy day

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

850 words about our fires that the Chronicle did not print

We should be outraged to live in a state that alternates between fires and floods and yet does so little to prevent either. 

So, now it is fire.  Again.  

My former mother in law needs to be evacuated for her health because she needs to breath air without smoke and has health concerns that she uses electricity to cope with. People died in her town in their last fire. 

Last time I wrote on this it was about a flood.  

A town where I like to catch dinner was under a few feet of water.  Many businesses were damaged, some residences too. That town has been flooded several times. 

Both the fires and the floods are made worse by bad land management coupled with ineffective building codes.  Our state’s response to these long-understood problems of fire ecology and watershed protection is the same as our nation’s response to climate change: insufficient.  

We blame climate change, we blame Trumpian budget cuts, we blame PG&E, all with some justification.  

But the bigger picture is formed with long standing inconvenient truths.  

We need to set little controlled fires to avoid larger blazes that get totally out of hand.  

The native peoples have been saying this, the forestry people have been saying this and environmental biologists have been saying this since before I was born, and I am not young.  

We need to reforest and replant a buffer distance out from all of our rivers and streams. 

When it rains it should be an opportunity, not an emergency.  Water needs to slow down in forested land as it runs off.  When you see high water that is brown with dirt, that is our topsoil washing away out of an unhealthy watershed.  We need strategically placed reforestation and wetlands to keep the water and land both healthy, let water seep back into the depleted aquifers, give us fish runs and become natural fire brakes.  And sometimes water just needs to rise, so don’t build there. 

Why do these two simple fixes not happen? 

My guess is because it requires that two powerful economic groups be regulated and pay a good share of the cost of change.  

They are the agricultural sector and the building sector.  

On the one hand, the kinds of land use zoning and building code upgrades that would turn our regular fire and flood seasons into non-emergency events will cut into profits. 

And on the other hand, those with large amounts of private property have a habit of resisting any and all kinds of regulation.  They keep us all asking why they should not be allowed to do what they want with their own land and real estate projects.  

The question deserves an answer because nobody should be regulated or restricted without due cause.  

In this case, they should not be allowed to manage lands or build buildings that easily burn, and there are places where we never should build, farm or graze cows.  In many parts of the state we have developments that were permitted directly in harms way, or in ways that make harm.  

The reason the rest of us should have a right to keep business from repetitively burning down our state is part of the same thinking that does not allow anyone near a school to build a dynamite factory. 

To be fair, if one thinks about it, a lot of us have benefited from the housing business and the farm production and have participated in the lifestyles they afford us. The fixes are simple to understand, but will have all kinds of complex local issues to deal with when put into effect. 

We will all have to help pay for the change.  

Now that the state is on fire again, let’s take a moment to think about how bad it really is.  We need to get out of denial and do as much as we can, the same way we have prepared for earthquakes.  

Of course, the technical and political part is in no way easy. We will end up moving whole communities, retrofitting homes, setting aside land and finding better use for our waste waters as we manage other difficult changes. Our old water and fire problems exist in a time of other challenges. 

In many ways climate change, fire ecology and seasonal rain patterns along with everything we need to do to get off fossil fuels add up to a serious, statewide rebuild. 

That rebuild is also a great opportunity, but we have hardly even started.  

Don Macleay,

The author has written more extensively on this subject

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Converting a 98 Moto Guzzi V11ev to all LED bulbs

Tools needed:

·        Metric Allen wrench set 
·        Philips and straight edge screwdrivers 
·        Needle nose plyers 
·        Wire cutters 
·        Razor blade

Materials needed with the links for where I found them 

left to right, tai/brake light, instrument lights, tachometer/speedometer 
illumination and turn signals, each with original and LED replacement
Note that the normal advice is to use the same color LED as the lens.  In this case all the instrument lights, headlight, tachometer - speedometer - front running lights and tail/brake lights are natural-white lights.  

The only colored LED is the amber turn signal. 

Note #2: I was able to get everything from Gregory Bender at and from Super Bright LED’s 

Mr Bender knows his motorcycles and their wires and is who I recommend first for any electrical work and parts on a Moto Guzzi.  

The Super Bright people have a wide range of parts, most of which Mr. Bender does not carry.  

LED tail and turn signal

The tail and brake lights are the easiest part.  Just change the bulbs for the equivalent LED’s. For the V11, I chose the natural white LED’s because the back fixture includes a clear window to illuminate the rear license plate.  Otherwise somewhat better brightness results come from matching the LED color to the red lens color. These are the kind that have a twist lock cylinder and two bottom tips.

Original headlight bulb
   The headlight is fairly easy.  Just note that one has to find a place for the voltage converter and that the back of the light has a round black heat sink that sits outside of the bulb mirror.  
LED headlight kit 

There was room for both inside the V11 headlight assembly.  Be careful to not place the converter or any wires in contact with the heat sink.  The wires on the kit are long enough to also mount the converter outside the headlight assembly, but there was no need on the V11.  

The front running light is also in the front headlight assembly.  It is easy to change.  Note that the LED is slightly wider than the bulb we are replacing, but fits through the hole when aligned correctly.  Gently wiggle, but DO NOT FORCE the light in.  There is a small rubber ring at the base of the light that requires a small push, but that is after the rest of the light is all the way inserted. 

The tachometer and speedometer lights also only require changing the bulbs.  This is the same bulb and LED as the front running light, so gently find the path to get the LED in without forcing it in any way.  

The six instrument lights on a v11 are high beam, turn signal, neutral, oil, generator and low fuel.  The turn signal is discussed below.  

For all the others you must change the bulbs for LED’s with the bulb on.  If the LED does not light up, take it out and reverse it.  It should light. This is because LED’s are DIODES and electricity only flows one way through them.

Do not change out the low fuel light.  Even when off, the level sensor allows enough current to flow through it that the low fuel light will always come on, even with a full tank. 

I used a straight edged screwdriver to wiggle the rubber bulb holders out, and changed them one at a time so as not to get them confused.  A bit of spit and the same screwdriver got them wiggled back into place. 

empty turn indicator socket
The turn signals are the tricky part.  

One can easily do it only half way by only swapping out the
rear bulbs for LED’s. That works, but the front bulbs and the instrument panel bulb have to stay as they are.

To make everything LED requires an electronic flasher and to change the way the dash indicator bulb works using diodes.  It is a little complicated, but not that complicated and all the materials are readily available. 

1.       Pull out the turn signal instrument light holder out and remove the bulb.  

       2.       Replace all 4 turn signal bulbs with the LED equivalents.  The V11 has amber lenses so use amber LED’s. 

Electronic and standard flashers'
       3  Replace the flasher unit with an electronic flasher.  Crimp on tabs and plug into the same connections.  Note that red is positive.  The V11 wiring harness had a red striped positive female connection.

        4   Test.  The left and right should flash when the switch is in the right  place.  If they come on and do not flash or if nothing comes on, the electronic flasher might be reversed.  (don’t forget to turn on the key)

5.       Plug the incandescent indicator bulb back in.  Normally, all 4 turn signals will flash, no matter which side the turn signal switch is clicked on.  Unplug the incandescent bulb and it should work correctly. You have now verified that the indicator bulb is connected between the two circuits. 

connecting the diode kit to indicator bulb socket
holding what is to become the ground wire      
      6.       Cut both of the bulb’s mount leads off leaving enough extra wire in both directions to strip and make connections. 

      7.       Temporarily attach the two positive sides of the diodes to the two wires that used to go to the indicator bulb socket assembly.

      8.       Temporarily attach the negative sides of the two diodes to one side of the bulb socket holder.

      9.       Now test the whole thing. Connect the other side of the bulb assembly to ground ( I ran the ground wire down to the frame), put the incandescent bulb back in again, and try both turn signals.  Now left and right should work as normal and the indicator bulb should work for both.  If the system does not work, go back and check the diode polarity and all connections.

     10.   Replace the incandescent instrument bulb with the LED with the turn signals on and flashing. Same as all other instrument bulbs, the LED will only work one way and may need to be reversed. 

     11.   Make all the connections permanent using some kind of crimp connectors.

     12.   Close the cover, check that ALL instrument lights are working correctly before screwing it down.

Notes on the optical results.

Instrument lights are much easier to see during the day, especially on clear days when the sunlight directly shines on the dash and one has sun glasses on under the helmet visor.

Part of the reason to go though the trouble for the turn signals is that one ends up with an indicator so bright that you will not miss it to remind the driver to turn the signal back off. 

The speedometer and tachometer dials are much easier to see at night, especially when driving in the city and competing with street light glare. 

Brake, tail and turn signals are much more visible to other drivers day and night. 

Headlight results are significant, especially with the high beams at night hitting reflective signs. 

Notes on the electrical circuits.

The LED’s use much less power in all cases and produce less heat. 

Such things as the headlight relay become less necessary, and now are serving less amperage (flow) than they were designed for, but this will not cause any functionally problems. 

The biggest draw for power on the bike is still the starter motor. 
Second was the headlight, but after the LED change, is probably now the horn. 

The turn signal description and advice is for an MG v11, but is the same for most motorcycles that use a normal DOT flasher that clicks and have a single bulb indicator light.  (see schematic below)

Resistors are sold to make the turn signals work on the same old flashers.  Despite the name, what they do is sit parallel to the LED lights and put MORE power through the wires so that there is enough current for the flasher to work.  When only using LED’s in the rear, the front bulbs are playing that resistor role, and the flash is a little slower.  There is really no advantage to using the resistors and they produce heat. It is no more trouble to just change the circuit.  

This is a schematic of the difference between the LED turn signals and the incandescent ones that it is replacing:  

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Cheap shots on Spanish

My guess is that almost all of the media voices belittling the Democratic candidates for speaking Spanish at the debates do not speak Spanish themselves.

Of real note are the particularly snarky comments about “Beto”.

For those of us who do speak Spanish, Beto told us something that almost all of the English language media missed. He speaks it well. Very well. Beto grew up in a part of our country where Spanish is a common language and he has obviously spoken it most of his life.

So, the college student on NBC’s coverage giving him advice on how a white person should approach speaking Spanish and the snide panelist on NPR have one thing in common:

They both were equating language with race.

But speaking a language is something we learn, we do, we participate in. Even our native language is a learned thing. There are many people who grew up in another nation and speak the languages of where they were raised because they are from that place and not the land of their passport or skin color.

Beto grew up along the Mexican border.

He is no different than the Anglos in Montreal who speak the language of the French majority (me), or the Mexicans on the other side of that border who speak English better than your average student because English is part of their day to day life.

Booker did OK and my first reaction hearing him was admiration. He had the guts to learn and more guts to risk his skill level to public exposure. He also told us that his idea of ethnic minorities included respect for Spanish speaking Americans. Mayor Pete was competent, as usual, and as a former soldier he might well know a lot of those Spanish speaking Americans who carry guns for our country.

My overall impression hearing those putting their Spanish out there was “not bad” and they all showed a good, honest and intelligent effort. I would not vote for any of them in the primary because my views are further to the left, but they have my respect for making the effort.

And the message of all this Spanish speaking to the Spanish speaking public was loud and clear:

The Hispanic minority is important in this election.

That is not a bad message. It did not deserve the denigration it brought on from pundits taking cheap shots. The “Taco Bell” comments or talking about Beto “trying to speak Spanish” are both mean spirited and uninformed, telling us much about what the commentators think of the politician they are running down while saying a lot about how people in this country feels about Spanish.

In the United States, Spanish is a repressed, undervalued language that is often associated with a patronizing and racist view of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other brown skinned people. In the popular culture speaking French, German, Russian, Chinese and other languages is high class.

Speaking Spanish is treated as low class.

I find it revealing that people who do not speak another language themselves, make fun of other people for not speaking another language well.

Spanish is considered a crutch for those who do not speak English well enough in our schools, public services and politics. In many schools, Spanish is discouraged instead of being taken up to the next level of literacy. Spanish is what we use to talk (down) to those people, who are treated as second class Americans. Third class if they do not have work papers.

Spanish has been the language used to manage the hired help.

So Beto gets run down not because his Spanish is substandard, because it is not. He may have been the most skilled Spanish speaker on stage, including Secretary Castro. No, Beto gets run down because he is speaking Spanish and is white. The assumption that he does so poorly might have more to do with the miserable success level of American college students in achieving fluency.


Keep in mind that almost 100% of our media folk come from the less than one third of us who go to college.

My guess is that there is a higher percentage of bilingual English speakers working in construction and hospitably than there are holding commentator jobs at NBC. 

I have a lot of trouble with English speakers deciding that speaking Spanish in a national debate is pandering. Somehow all the other talk of minority rights, LGBTQ rights and so on is taking positions, but somehow, speaking Spanish is suspect. Were they afraid that Beto was talking about them behind their backs? With that NBC crew, they all could have. There was one Spanish speaking commentator and I was pleased to see him start off in Spanish with a couple of the candidates.

Just note something.
Why wasn’t there a voice over or subtitles to interpret as Spanish was used?
That is what would happen in a real bilingual nation.

But for NBC, Spanish was not important enough for them to be ready for it. Their only provision was to translate the debate from English to Spanish on Telemundo.

Secretary Castro closed speaking well, with a native accent. He let us know that he really speaks it. A lot of people with dark skin and the last name Castro speak no Spanish at all. They are from the United States and don’t speak Spanish any more than I speak Gaelic or my half-brother speaks the German that defines his mother’s accent.

Castro did well and I would have to hear more to know if he speaks household Spanish, the same way I once only spoke household English, or has the depth of day to day language use that comes from education, using it at work, using it for politics and having a deep contact with the culture, economy and daily life of active Spanish speakers. I am not sure how far that goes for Beto either. All the same, I admire Castro for speaking up and being positive about speaking his family’s language with the whole world watching. 

I am not sure I would trust my own English under such a spotlight.

And I am pleased that candidates for president of this nation had the courage to make talking directly to so many Americans with respect for them and their language a priority.