This is what happens when an oppressive military regime builds a separation wall and then by an act of God, or karma, or maybe just an extreme weather event related to climate change, coupled with engineering flaws, part of the wall collapses. It is said that these walls stretch 700 km long. I am not sure if that includes the electric fences around Gaza that stretch far out into the sea. These barriers alone should be an immediate alarm bell for anyone contemplating whether the Israeli government treats Palestinians humanely. The construction cost of these walls and associated infrastructure such as roads must be in the billions; money that would be better spent on water supply, waste water treatment, and power infrastructure, or education and healthcare for everyone, regardless of their heritage or religion.
Amnesty International released a 280 page report this week on the situation in Israel confirming what many organizations have already found; an extremely disturbing, deep- rooted system of apartheid against Palestinians. The US, UK, and Germany have been quick to dismiss the report (with the exact same rationale interestingly, as if mutually agreed upon, or otherwise dictated to them) without reading and analyzing it. Obviously, Yair Lapid was also quick to dismiss the report on behalf of Israel with the usual pre-planned gas-lighting narratives tied to accusations of "hate and demonization toward Israel, misinformation, and anti-Semitism."
Here at home, the Trudeau government in Canada has been too busy dealing with public backlash (convoys and truck horns) related to Covid-19 restrictions to jump on the bandwagon and dismiss the report just yet, but I am sure that is coming. Trudeau seems to piggyback on the US on many foreign policy issues. He is pro-Israel and anti-BDS. He typically expresses soft "concerns" about Israel's illegal settlements and inequalities, but then vows publicly to bolster trade with Israel and deepen ties. He also typically acknowledges Israel's right to self-defense and security, but he falls short of acknowledging the same right for Palestinians. And like other ignorant Western government officials, Trudeau supports the "two-state solution". Anyone with a reasonable understanding of the situation should be able to easily see this is no longer possible as a result of Israel's relentless annexation and settlement tactics.
The Canadian media has kept relatively quiet about the Amnesty report with the exception of one of the TV news networks that gave the last word to Israel, and the National Post - a biased, pro-Israel, apartheid denier.
Check out my Instagram page for additional photos! @cam.r.blair
When I was in my teens, I had a Norco Spitfire Turbo with a chrome steel frame and fork set and blue alloy components. I loved that bike, but was always envious of the ultra-BMX brand bikes that some of my friends had such as Redline, Haro, Diamond Back, Kuwahara, and Mongoose to name a few. The all-time ultimate was the P.K. Ripper. Anyone with one of these was a super cool, very awesome, totally radical dude.
This past spring, almost 37 years later, I found a P.K. Ripper frame at a neighbour’s curb waiting for the recycling truck! It spoke to me and said, “Help me, rescue me, build me, please!” So I brought it home! I thought it would be a good project for showing my kids some bike mechanic skills (they are otherwise glued to Fortnite and Snapchat). But wait… this wasn’t a “real” P.K. Ripper frame… the dimensions seemed right, but something was off. It was made of steel and the original P.K. Ripper frames were aluminum! I poked around the internet and discovered there are a few “Thai (Thailand) P.K. Rippers” from the 1980’s.
I decided to build the bike in the spirit of my 1980’s bike with light weight, aluminum and chromoly components on a steel frame. I also wanted the bike to celebrate SE Racing, despite that the frame is a knock-off (this practice was common in the 80s for just about anything—even Rolex watches).
The build wasn’t easy! I’m not entirely sure the frame had ever succeeded as an operational bike in the first place. A bad weld on the seat tube made it nearly impossible to insert a seat post. I had to file the weld down inside the tube. There were welding defects that I ground off the frame in a few places. There were also a few small gouges deep into the metal that revealed themselves when I stripped the paint, requiring filler.
When I went to purchase a headset, I discovered that the headtube was an irregular size. Luckily, I found one that would fit with the help of Sam Rucchetta at Sam’s BMX shop. However, the initial headset I purchased didn’t allow the gyro mechanism to pass freely so I had to source another and found one at Porkchop BMX.
I wanted to use a new 1 ⅛” SE Racing stem with new old school (NOS) Landing Gear Forks so I purchased a Profile Designs stem converter from Amazon. When I tried it, I realized immediately that it wouldn’t fit in the Landing Gear Forks. It was a larger outside diameter than the inside diameter of the forks (22.2 mm vs. old school 21.1mm)! It was seemingly impossible to purchase the correct size of stem converter due to a Covid-19 related production problem in Asia, so I rigged up a “lathe” with my drill, and machined the stem converter down to the correct diameter to fit into the forks. I also modified the stem converter to accept a “Potts Mod” hollow stem bolt and used the 21.1 mm wedge that came with it.
During assembly of the bike, the bottom bracket set was difficult to press into its tube, but I succeeded. The head set was a bit tricky to press into place, too, because the gyro mechanism tended to push one side up making it unlevel and requiring several attempts.
The rear brake caliper would not reach the rim, which was puzzling. Even if I used a Dia Compe MX1000 caliper, which has a longer reach then the Nippon 883, it still may not have reached the rim. Moreover, the brake bridge for a P.K Ripper frame is flat, so the bolt and washers supplied with the brake don’t secure it in place properly. I ended up purchasing some flat stock aluminum and machined a brake extension.
Lastly, to be able to install the stem pad with the Potts Mod, I purchased a ⅜” grommet kit and punched a hole through the pad to insert the grommet. This seems to work fine.
Photos of the bike show the frame as almost black. It is actually a dark grey colour. If I were to do this build again, I would send the frame away for powder coating (and I might still do that). The paint finish looks nice, but is not nearly as durable as a shop-applied powder coat. This seemed out of budget for me when I began the project, but later discovered that there are places where the frame can be sent to have this done at a reasonable cost.
Sam’s BMX (@samsbmxshop):
- Tioga Style Tires (2.125 front and 1.75 rear), Blue
- Mission Bottom Bracket Set, Black
- Generic Seat Guts, Black
- Dia Compe Tech 77 Levers, Dark Blue
- Nippon 883 Front and Rear Calipers, Dark Blue
Harvester Bikes (@harvesterbmx):
- ACS Maindrive Freewheel 1/8" - 16t, Chrome
- SE Racing Sticker Set, White
- SE Racing Lockit Chain Tensioners, Blue
- SE Racing 12 O’Clock Nylon Pedals, Black
- SE BMX Life Grips, Blue
- KMC 410 S1 Chain, Chrome
- MacNeil Bikes Inc. rim bands
- Odyssey Slic Kable and Housing, Black
- Cinema Alloy Valve Caps, Blue
Porkchop BMX (@porkchopbmx):
- SE Racing 1/8" threadless alloy Knarler Stem, Blue
- VP-H732 JIS Headset 1" Threaded 27.0 mm Crown Race, Black
- OS Quill Stem Potts Mod Bolt M10 X 1.0 X 160mm, Black
- Supercross NOS Seat Clamp 25.4mm (1"), Blue
American Cycle (@americancycle):
- SE Racing Landing Gear Forks 20” x 1” Threaded, Chrome
- SE Racing Power Wing bars - 30” width / 9” rise
- Redline Flight Crank Set, Chrome, 175 mm
Planet BMX (@planetbmx):
- SE Racing 20"x1.75" Sealed Bearing Wheelset
- SE Racing Pad Set - Chrome w/ Black/Blue Logo
- Neptune BMX 44 Tooth Chainring, Black
- Chromoly laid-back Seat Post, Chrome
- Yi Zhan OS Gyro Detangler (1” threaded forks)
- Profile Design (1" to 1 1/8") Stem Adapter
BMX B1KE STUFF / superscoobydoo7 / Ebay :
- MCS seat, Black/Blue
Riders Choice - Motorcycle Shop & Apparel:
- Maxima Waterproof Grease
- Kenda 20x1.75/2.125 Inner Tubes
-Dupli-Colour Auto Paint, Graphite Grey Pearl
-Dupli-Colour Acrylic Enamel Clear Coat, Gloss
-Meguiar’s Gold Class Quik Wax
-WD-40 Bike Chain Lubricant
-3M Bondo Plastic Metal
-Rust-oleum Self-Etching Primer
- ⅛” x ¾” Aluminum Stock for Rear Brake Extension
- Misc. Hardware for Rear Brake Extension
-1/2" Plastic Spacers for Rear Brake Mount
I see a lot of appliances on the curbside and I know there are a number of reasons for this. Appliances are made much cheaper than they used to be. They are often designed with a lifespan as short as 10 years and can break down even sooner. The cost to diagnose and repair an issue can be so high in terms of parts and labour that people are inclined to purchase new than repair. The good news is that we can fix appliances ourselves (this requires a bit of bravery and some technical skill in operating basic hand tools and practicing safety).
I once had a relatively new washing machine that stopped pumping. It was taking Sears an unreasonable amount of time to get to my house to do the repair, so I fixed it myself for free. The problem turned out to be a quarter stuck in the intake of the pump, which I found by disconnecting the hose. I removed the quarter and the unit was back in service again.
A more recent washing machine had stopped supplying hot and mixed-temperature water. I diagnosed and fixed the problem using YouTube videos (these videos are terrific for boosting confidence and overcoming fear). In this situation, the hot water intake valve had ceased which normally opens to let hot water in. Interestingly, the cause of the problem was the degradation of cheap connection hoses with fittings made of steel rather than brass. Iron filings had clogged the intake screen. I was able to clean out the screen but the intake valve (a solenoid) was no longer operational. I sourced a replacement mixing valve assembly for $100.00 (see photo below) and bought some better quality hoses for another $50.00. My washing machine has been working ever since!
In the Toronto, Canada area where I live, appliance parts can be sourced from “Reliable Parts” and similar warehouses. I’ve saved thousands of dollars sourcing parts from “Pool & Hot Tub Depot” of London, Ontario and doing my own repairs on my hot tub. I’ve sourced replacement parts for my barbecue from “Grill Spot”, also here in Canada. I’ve had recent success with a US supplier called “Repair Clinic'' for a lawn mower part which crossed the border and arrived at my doorstep in two days (they also supply parts for major appliances). Repair Clinic has a good blog article of their own on Appliance Repair. Here is a link:
We live in times when climate change is on the news several times each week. We hear about the climate emergency and the impending doom with the threat of floods. We see an increasing number of weather events and catastrophic damage. We pat ourselves on the back for building new environmentally friendly skyscrapers, while failing to see them multiply. We burn fossil fuel at an ever-escalating rate and come up with creative ways to penalize consumers for carbon dioxide emissions through tax mechanisms without ever actually reducing emissions. And all the while, we are so focused on the futility of “carbon”, that we are distracted and completely failing as a society to improve on some of the more manageable environmental challenges. Among these is recycling and waste reduction.
I took a pic of the baby food section in the grocery store yesterday. There is a small selection of baby food in recyclable jars, but look at the massive selection in mixed-material pouches which we have absolutely no program in place to recycle. What was wrong with the jars? Oh, I forgot, they are heavier, so more carbon dioxide in transportation and shipping cost. But these are going directly to landfill! I also see milk and juice containers with a plastic spout rather than the traditional cardboard spout that could be formed by the consumer. Mixed-material containers are more difficult to recycle and also generate plastic waste.
As consumers, it may feel as if we don’t have much of a choice when we look on the store shelves. However, we can write to companies who are creating problems for us. We can do an internet search and figure out who the CEO is. We can also write to elected government officials and let them know how we feel. This can help guide policy making. Simple policies enacted by our government can help correct packaging problems and environmental outcomes. A well-worded letter goes a long way.
What if every consumer took one hour to write a letter about a product that is going in the wrong direction in terms of its packaging? In the past, I’ve written to Colgate-Palmolive about their non-recyclable deodorant applicators. They brushed me off with a reply explaining how awesome they are and already doing everything they can. However, I brought the issue to their attention at least and hopefully got them thinking about it.
I’m going to write to “Personnelle Baby” and “Baby Gourmet” to complain about their baby food packaging. “Mott’s” is another company that has switched to the non-recyclable pouches in the adult food isles and will get a similar letter from me. Note that “Heinz” is the only baby food product on the store shelf with traditional recyclable packaging. WTG Heinz! Sadly, Heinz’ loss of market share on this shelf, in comparison to products which are exasperating an environmental problem, is astounding and should be alarming to everyone.
Of course, to some extent, the other power we can exercise as consumers is the ability to refuse to buy products with problematic packaging.
I joined a poetry group on Facebook a while back and posted the occasional poem. Sometimes I’d get a “like”, and if I was lucky, maybe even two. Still, I enjoyed reading peoples' posts, and was inspired to write more of my own poetry. While most people POST poetry, some people REQUEST poetry to soothe an aching heart. Sometimes it is for a bad dumping; other times for the loss of a loved one. The people in the group usually respond with something comforting. . .
One day a fellow posted a note that said, “Does anyone have a poem for Palestine?” A guy responded with a snide comment suggesting that "Palestinians are terrorists”. Then another guy quickly followed with an extremely hurtful anti-Palestinian poem with some effort put into the rhyming couplets. I felt the viciousness of the stab through my own heart. I jumped in and politely told both responders what I thought of their comments. Of course, the individuals responded back, telling me to chill and piss-off. I reported the incident to the group administrator, but it was too late. Sadly, the individual left the group.
I couldn’t believe the ignorance of the one responder, and the anger and seething hatred of the second, along with the blatant prejudice of both of them on a POETRY page that is supposed to be a SAFE place for everyone. Why are these two pricks so quick to attack a fellow when all he wanted was a poem for his people? So I started thinking: these are two extremely ignorant, arrogant, angry, racist people. But what about the rest of us? How have our views been shaped and how do we see Palestinians and Palestine?
Does anyone love Adam Sandler as I do? He is hilarious and entertaining. Certainly an easy guy to love. I was watching his film “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” a while back and thought about the imagery being used and the bend being imposed on the audience. The Israel-Palestine conflict is used in a way that is uncomfortably funny, but: are the scenes TRULY funny if we THINK for a moment about them? Maybe movies like this shape how we think about people we don’t really know. Maybe we are being exposed to biases disguised as comedy and portrayed as fact. We are being channeled to one side of thinking. This isn’t just about ONE MOVIE either; it is many movies. And it is the way stories have been related to us in Canada and the USA through television shows and the news media for decades. We are so infected with a one-sided view that we can't see it is the Palestinians who are being terrorized and violated, and not a single person in the world is doing ANYTHING to peacefully stop it...
I have since come to know the individual who was asking for a “Poem for Palestine”. He is a young fellow, studying at a university in Gaza when he can scrape together enough money to attend. He needs to come up with $500.00 (US equivalent) for tuition and is lucky to make $5.00 in one day helping his friend with a construction project. He is confined within the Israeli fence around Gaza and often feels depressed with the living conditions there. Though he loves Gaza and his people, he feels imprisoned with absolutely no opportunity, no future to look forward to, and no hope for improvement. He would like to travel the world beyond Gaza and feel free. He wants to be an actor someday.
He is a young man with hopes and dreams like all of us and does not deserve to be caged indefinitely in Gaza, or rudely shunned by a couple of ignorant fucks on a poetry page - just because he is Palestinian. Instead he should be proud to be Palestinian and have the world's support. I am proud of him for using art to lift the spirits of his people in terrible times.
What a pain in the ass when plastic buckles snap! These cheap little buckles are so convenient when they work, but render an item useless when they break (i.e. a knapsack, belt buckle, etc.). I wish someone would come up with a better design or a different type of plastic so they last longer. Today I noticed the buckle on my dog's "gentle leader" broke. I'm sure it was because of the cold temperature. This was a disaster because without the gentle leader, he could easily pull a locomotive from Mississauga to Toronto without even trying. And if he were to see a squirrel, he could lurch forward with enough force to pull my arm off. Anyway here is a fast fix. I cut the broken plastic buckle off and replaced it with a steel quick link which I bought as a pack at the dollar store.
When living paycheck to paycheck, there are strategies that can help minimize debt. As an environmental guy, I also want to reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose whenever I can. Re-use stores such as Value Village, Thrift Shop, and Goodwill are helpful for clothing and other needful things, keeping money in the wallet and fill out of landfill. It is also helpful to be able to fix things. Too many times I have seen bicycles, for example, on the curbside for the sake of someone's inability to repair (or pay for the repair) of a flat tire.
In the photo below I have shown a Swifter which at first seemed broken beyond repair. I wrapped an interior plastic tube (supplied with the Swifter for aesthetics) with packing tape to make it snug against the inside walls and reinforce the broken joint. Then I glued the joint and wrapped the exterior with Technical Tape. For me, Technical Tape is the new “MacGyver” go-to when duct tape isn’t adequate or appropriate.
A while back I fixed a few tears in my BBQ cover with Technical Tape. I also sewed on new Velcro straps to replace the old ones that had torn off. This cover may be due for replacement soon but I’ve been able to get another few years out of it and I’ll keep extending its life as long as I can.
Lastly, I seem to accumulate a lot of Zip-lock type bags. These are expensive! So I wash and reuse them. I may not necessarily want to use them for food again, but they are great for organizing hardware, keeping screws and spare parts together.
I set up bins in my main bathroom to try to divert even more material from landfill than in my kitchen alone. Bathroom recyclables typically include cardboard toilet tissue rolls, cardboard containers (i.e. for soap, toothpaste, Kleenex, etc.) and plastic containers stamped with a recognized recycle symbol (i.e. spent shampoo bottles, and other products). The organic bin is for discarded tissue. Pretty much everything else is some sort of waste for which we do not have diversion programs in place. I call this the “Landfill” bin as a reminder of where the material is going if I can’t separate it for diversion. I hope that product suppliers are motivated to continue engineering containers and applicators to facilitate recycling.