Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holy Spandex Batman!

Foregoing any preconceptions some may associate with events such as Montreal's 2012 Comic Con, I decided to take the plunge finally and see for myself what the hype was all about! However, that being said, I wasn't willing to do so on my own... at first I tried to wrangle my oldest son to come with me but realistically speaking he wouldn't have had the patience or the courage to face the barrage of crowds and multitude of costumed vigilantes. The line alone to buy just my ticket today took no less than just over an hour! Than it occurred to me; why not try and get some students to come along?! I wrote and teach a course entitled, Consumerism, Leisure and Popular Culture and thought that this event would be a, ahem, 'super', way of introducing new topics in the near future. Comic Con has been gaining momentum in La Belle Province and this year they have featured special guests such as Adam Baldwin from the short lived but excellent television series Firefly, Saul Rubinek from the hit television show Warehouse 13 and Wil Wheaton from shows such as Star Trek The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory! There are some other surprise names waiting for you below as I managed to capture a few pictures of them!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DesTination: Monday Morning Blues

Making Monday's Bearable...



I work in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada and travel daily to and from work via my '96 Suzuki Intruder 1400 (aka Serenity) as often as possible. It's a round trip of just over 350 kilometers a day...

People often ask "why do you do it?" I can't help but think "how could I not?"


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Loving Memory...

... of
Linda Louise Snow
1956 - 2009

When The Heart  


When the heart 
is cut or cracked or broken 
Do not clutch it 
Let the wound lie open  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DesTination: Memory Lane

My Grandmother and I
Heading towards the true, north, strong and free I found myself on the road riding towards memory lane. Riding on instinct I followed the 40 East Bound for just over an hour. Doubt began to settle in and just as I was about to pull over for directions I came upon the sign for St. Gabriel De Brandon. It's been over fifteen years since I had last visited and the experience was marred by the fact that I had gotten lost on the way down. It wouldn't have been so bad but I had a friend with me who was less than impressed with my navigational aptitude at the time. I remember feeling dissatisfied with the experience overall as a result. Determined not to make the same mistake this time I set off on my own with no one other than Serenity for company.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

For The Love Of 'Baby Hulk'

Photo © UniqueSnOwFlake
Apparently nothing says "I love you" to your children like creating and painting several murals. For as long as I can remember I have been painting murals from time to time for various folks in and around Planet Earth. From Canada to Ireland and even South Korea, if I was working with children or making my own (with the help of my lovely wife Jennifer of course!) you can bet that a mural would soon follow. Recently my youngest son's day care, Garderie Espace Des Anges was interested in hiring someone to paint some murals for their brand new day care.  With forty-eight spaces still available for anyone interested in sending their children to a great and friendly bilingual daycare, I hoped that creating some interactive murals would help the lovely owners fill these spaces.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shadow Boxers

A Tale of Two Champions


"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." 
- Rocky Balboa (2006)

My boys, like all five & two year old's are nothing if not impressionable. However, after watching Real Steel (2011) last Autumn with my oldest son I can't deny that the movie got me thinking about how wonderful those Rocky movies still are! In fact, I still get as involved with Rocky's fights as I did the first time I watched them as a kid. Love it or hate it there is something quintessential about boxing in and of itself that seems to pull at our heart strings. Perhaps it is the bare knuckles of it all with only the sheer will power of each opponent keeping them going?! Maybe its the lore of Rocky itself fighting against all the odds and becoming something from nothing?! Whatever the case may be my boys are no exception as they delight in practicing their non-existent skills and train accordingly. Captured by my wife, Jennifer, one night witness the end result of several hours of hard work and training for their future boxing careers!

Namdaemun Market


A Visit to Namdaemun Market - South Korea
Autumn 2005

A Quiet Day at the Market

Bongeunsa Temple


A Visit to Bongeunsa Temple - South Korea
Autumn 2005

Into the Light

Monday, July 2, 2012

Food for the Seoul


I left the Republic of Ireland for the Seoul, South Korea in August 2005. It was literally a spontaenous decision that was precipitated by a need to see some place new. South Korea was a great experience for me personally. I was hired to teach at Kids College, in Insadong, Seoul over the telephone and within two weeks I was on a plane (paid for by the school) heading to Asia. I had never thought about doing this before and saw it as an affordable way to get to this part of the world without the strains of financial insecurity. With a well paying job waiting for me, Jennifer, my soon to be wife, accompanied me we got to share this incredible experience together. Although we inevitably moved to Jeju-Do to teach at Yale Foreign Language Academy we did enjoy our time very much in Seoul and it was amazing how warm and friendly Koreans were towards us. Seoul is definitely worth the trip if you haven't visited!

Changdeokgung

A Visit to Changdeokgung - South Korea
Autumn 2005

Swim?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Republic of Cork

Once Upon a Time...



I moved to Cork, Ireland in the Spring of 2003.
I left Canada with a duffle bag, one JEEP Mountain Bike, and what little worldly possessions I had.

I returned to Canada in 2010.
The Duffle Bag was replaced with several boxes, suitcases and shipments of even more boxes.

Most Importantly I brought home my beautiful and inspiring wife, two children and yes even two Irish cats!

Some Ass Stole My Mountain Bike!

All in All, it Was Worth the Trip!
 ;-)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wolf Pack

The Perfect Day Trip...


A Day Trip taken in and around the Eastern Townships with two friends whom I met via a riding group, the Dragon Riders, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

This is my first video ever! 
The pictures and video itself were taken with a Kodak Easy Share P850 Camera.

Ride Safe... Ride Hard!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spyder's Web

"Now You Can Take Your Motorcycle Test on a Can Am Spyder Roadster
and be riding by the next day!"


As I write this I have just gotten off the phone with a BRP Can-Am representative. I wanted to confirm this unholy possibility that yes you can do your motorcycle test on a Can Am Spyder Roadster. The official word from Can-Am is... "No, you cannot use a Can Am Spyder Roadster to pass your 6A license." Not yet anyways! Apparently the powers that be behind the Spyder Roadster has already changed policy in Quebec in 2010 to allow for anyone with a motor-vehicle licence (i.e. Class 5) to use one. All you have to do is take a seven hour training course with a Quebec Recognized Drivers School.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A True Fekking Langer....

The Idiot Garbage Man...
It's days like this that reminds me of the importance of being earnest. 

When you find yourself struggling to juggle life's little curve balls and you inevitably get walloped in the face by what can only be described as a true langer! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Graduation Bollywood Style!

Mrs. Vathilakis & My Son
As students' protests against tuition increases have reached their climax in Montreal, other students have been feverishly preparing for their final weeks of... kindergarten. My oldest son has finished his first year of 'real' school, so to speak and to celebrate it the powers that be decided to have the children put on a show and of course a small graduation ceremony. We live in a multi-ethnic neighborhood where the average home consists of either Greek, Indian or African families. Our local school, Sinclair Laird, is a hub of activity as it caters to all three ethnicities and then some such as ourselves, a Heinz 57 of sorts as both our boys were born in Europe but also hold Canadian citizenship. The school has been wonderful for our son's development and I particularly have enjoyed the stance it has taken against such issues such as bullying, academic excellence and unification. This was a two day event whereby the students of all grades performed various plays, songs, and yes, Bollywood dances (a personal favorite of mine...). The next day was specifically for the kindergarten graduation ceremony.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is it Just Me or Did My Gas Cap Fly Off?

Ruptanu
& His 1976 H-D Shovelhead
Here is a little tale of Bangladeshi and his 1976 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. I met Ruptanu on craigslist of all places. He had placed an ad in hopes of attracting someone kind enough to help him out with a predicament he found himself in. You see, here in La Belle Province motorcyclist on learner permits cannot ride unaccompanied. They literally have to have a full licensed rider riding along side of them with their own motorcycle. It makes little sense of course, it's not like I would be able to prevent any learner from a catastrophic collision. To be honest, even if we were talking about driving a car here I would be just as inclined to jump out of the car, regardless of speed, in order to avoid any collision. So I am essentially useless other than of course than to satisfy the government powers that be. Fortunately for Ruptanu, I answered his ad and not some sex offender looking to rob him of both his innocence and his motorcycle!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DesTination: Venise, Quebec!


DesTination: Venise
With a forty percent chance of showers I must confess I was weary about our ride being cancelled this morning. By 07:30am it began to rain heavily despite blue skies and white clouds above! Regardless, whether the official ride was cancelled or not, I was determined to go out anyways and enjoy what I suspected would be a sunny, dry day in the end. Fortunately, our fearless leader, Steve, rose to the occasion and felt the same way. Our destination was Venise, Quebec which is literally just a stone's throw away from the U.S.A. border. Armed with a Kriega waterproof bag, a rain kit and of course in lieu of recent arguments with my beloved Serenity, my tools including my volt meter and jump cables. It's not a grudge, it's just a lesson well learned!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who's There? Beakster on Affordable GPS Set-Ups!

Beakster &
His Lovely Bonnie
Hailing from Scotland I met Beakster via the Dragon Riders Riding Group. He is a marvel with all things motorcycles and recently came to my aid when my own bike decided to give me the silent treatment! In just a short time he has taken a somewhat neglected Triumph Bonneville and has transformed her in just a matter of weeks into like new condition. With his permission I am posting a step by step instruction on how to add affordable GPS set-ups to your own motorcycles. Without further ado here is the official word by the Iron Kilt himself:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

She's Just Not That Into Me!?!?

Oy Vay!
Admittedly I am at the point of no return with my bike who's name I think I need to change from Serenity to something more appropriate...perhaps 'Lil Bitch' will suffice nicely?! I am beginning to feel like she is just plain not that in to me! Maybe it's because I moved things along too quickly with us. Maybe I should have taken things more slowly, gotten to know her better and vice versa. It just felt so right when we found ourselves, hand in grip, so to speak, that well, the excitement and thrill of being with such a purty lady after so many years left me feeling not unlike a school boy at his secondary school dance?! Everytime I get one thing fixed something else happens and now I am beginning to feel resentful and rejected by my baby despite the fact that this is obviously a ridiculous emotion to feel towards a motorcycle.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hydraulic Clutches, Father-In-Laws, and FJ40's... Oh My!

Ineptitude is like
a Jar of Brake Fluid...
There are times in a person's life where they have to decide whether they are going to continue living by their own self-imposed ignorance or whether they are going to grab the bull by the horns and flip the system the bird! I found myself clutch-less recently after what was an otherwise lovely day of cycling along the St. Lawrence River with my buddy Steve. Fortunately I was merely a few blocks from home when this happened so pushing Serenity back, albeit embarrassing, was also not too taxing. Thinking the cable had snapped altogether (as was the case once upon a time with my Moto Guzzi Neveada - aka The Widow Maker!) I admittedly feel sheepish in saying that I completely forgot that the bike itself has a hydraulic clutch! A novelty for me really as I have never had one on a bike before. Had I known then what I now know I could have just solved my problem in less than ten minutes and ride her back home. Alas, live and learn is today's little lesson. Inevitably, Steve had a good laugh at my expense and in the end, I'll be sure to return the favor someday soon! ;-)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Serenity Bobbed Out!

Spit Shined & Ready to Ride!
I have owned several bikes over the last ten years or so but I must confess I haven't enjoyed owning a bike as much as I have my Suzuki Intruder 1400 since my Harley-Davidson Nightster! Like the Nightster, there are hundreds of things that you can do to the Intruder that many Japanese bikes are limited by. I have spent the last few months, in particular, the last week especially, bobbing out my bike as much as I can without actually changing the structural integrity of the bike. Inspired by many of the ideas I have seen via Intruder Alert and Blue Collar Bobbers, I am proud of the end result given that there isn't anything that any Joe Schmo couldn't do himself. The final touch were some decals that I added today after washing the bike and prepping it for this coming weekend's ride to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.

Installing a RefinedCycle HM1 Mount & HDLT5-1 Headlight

Things Are Looking Up!
As mentioned in my previous blog, Installing Wild 1 Chubby Outlaw 10 Inch Z Bars & Harley Vintage Gran Turismo Grips, I found myself at the end of the experience with a beautiful bike but no way of starting it! So after crying about it for twelve hours or so I decided to get a start on rectifying the problem the very next afternoon and took the headlight apart again. Only this time, I figured I'd also start on installing the brand new RefinedCycle HM1 Mount Adapter & HDLT5-1 Headlight I had purchased some several months ago. As always I had waited so long because of no other reason than a genuine lack of confidence. However, the more I take this bike apart the more I find myself wanting to take everything apart just to see if I can put it back together! ;-) I decided to prep by getting everything I required including a soldering kit, which inevitably would not be necessary! Suffice it to say, there is something extremely satisfying about working on your own bike; even more so when you complete the job and realize you didn't get ripped off from some shop who has a penchant for over charging -  an epidemic amongst some shops in Montreal!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Installing Wild 1 Chubby Outlaw 10 inch Z Bars & Harley Vintage Gran Turismo Grips

Prepping the Patient!
Since buying my 1996 Suzuki Intruder 1400 I have been inundating folks at Intruder Alert with various questions regarding nearly everything and anything about the bike. I had purchased several parts for the bike prior to even taking ownership of it and thus their patience and friendliness has helped me come to understand the inner workings of my girl, Serenity. One constant uncertainty for me, however, has been the Wild 1 Chubby Outlaw 10 inch Z Bars which I purchased for the bike back in November or December 2011. Thanks to the folks at Intruder Alert keeping everyone up-dated on their day to day opinions and up-grades of this model bike I noticed that many have swapped their handlebars out on this bike. However, it begs to question whether all Intruder's are built equally?! I ask because apparently some have said my 10 inch bars would fit whilst others swear they wouldn't. Admittedly, once the bike was in my possession I had my doubts that the brake hose in particular would stretch far enough.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

La Vie En Rose

Parents of All Kinds
Were Out With Their Kids!
I opted out of the Ride for Dad motorcycle run today in order to actually be a dad to my two little boys! Situated next to the St. Lawrence River, Operation Board Walk was conceived on a whim after my beloved wife, Jennifer, suggested we spend the day near some place scenic.  The bicycle path in Verdun spans for miles in either direction. To the left, you could literally travel by bicycle to Cote St. Catherine on the South Shore via Nuns Island. To the Right, you could easily go through Lachine and access Point Claire and Beaconsfield. We decided to go right with the intention of stopping in Lachine by the marina. For bicycle lovers Montreal boasts hundreds of miles of bike paths, some taking you as far out as the Eastern Townships! There is something for everyone's interest and skill levels. Having grown up in Verdun the bicycle path along Boulevard Lasalle is a personal favorite of mine.

Friday, May 25, 2012

DesTination: Bassin De Chambly

Trip Itinerary -
Courtesy a la Beakster
Whilst most were returning home after a long day at work we were heading back out onto the open road for what inevitably would be a very beautiful evening ride along the Bassin de Chambly located in the Monteregie area in Quebec. Short and sweet was the order of the evening as 'Bobby the Bobber' led us off the island of Montreal and towards the South Shore on his H-D 48. Beakster brought up the rear as tailgunner with his lovely Triumph Bonnie whilst I had the pleasure of just 'riding' with two other fellas in the middle, Jean-Sebastien on his Buell XB 12S and Fuad on his Kawasaki ER-6N. This was Fuad's maiden voyage with the Dragon Riders and would prove to be a baptism by fire of sorts as it was also the first time he would take to the road for so long a period on a motorcycle!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

DesTination: Montebello!

Fairmont Le Ch√Ęteau Montebello,
Montebello, Quebec
What a day! There was an assortment of emotions this morning as members from the Dragon Riders Riding Group took to the road from Moe's Bar & Grill in the West Island and headed out towards Montebello, Quebec via Riguad and Oka. The weather was in and around 29 degrees and before long the majority of riders began undressing as the day progressed. Being used to Irish weather when motorcycling it was a rare treat for me to be able to remove my leather jacket out of necessity as temperatures were multiplied by the heat of the engine, let alone the tarmac. There were roughly nearly twenty bikes in our pack today, some with passengers whilst other equipped with sound systems and i-pads no less... yes, you read that right! More on that in just a second...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

DesTination: Dragon Riders Welcome/Bienvenue Orientation

Photo © Richter7
The last few weeks have found Steve Houle, organizer of the Dragon Riders Riding Group and myself, slave to Steve Houle's ambitions for motorcycle riding group domination of the world, working feverishly on preparing safety guidelines for riding in a group. Group riding can be one of the greatest experiences or one of the worst depending on a variety of variables. Some of these variables, such as knowing how to ride (you would think this is a given, wouldn't you?!) and respecting which 'third' of the lane you are in is under the control of the rider. Whereas, other variables, such as someone chatting on their cell phone whilst driving a car and hence not paying attention or equally as bad, the inept cage driver too engrossed in picking his nose instead of checking his blind spots, is clearly out of our control. Whatever the situation may be we decided to put together a presentation of sorts of riders of all experience levels in the hopes that it will encourage smarter and safer ride outs universally.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

DesTination: St. Jean Sur Richelieu

The Orange Julep
Decarie, Montreal
After last week's successful trip with the Dragon Riders Riding Group to Val-David's Au Petit Poucet restaurant I found myself wanting more! However, I wasn't willing to wait two weeks before another ride out so I decided to set something up in and around the Montreal Island. Before I knew it, we found ourselves a motley crew of eight - four provisional learners and four full licensed members. The Dragon Riders Riding Group encourages all provisional learners to join as there are many volunteers who are willing to collect them from their homes and take them on day trips. Depending on how friendly the learners are we may even decide to escort them back home... or leave them somewhere in the Canadian wilderness... it's their call really!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DesTination: Au Petit Poucet

Operation - Au Petit Poucet
As dawn came and went I found myself pacing about anxious and excited to get on the road for the first time since buying my Suzuki Intruder 1400, for a reason other than commuting to work. A local riding group by the name of Dragon Riders had organized a day trip to Val-David, Quebec. Don't let the name fool you... by the end of the day the group's organizer aptly renamed it 'Ice Dragons' as temperatures dropped to minus eleven with the windchill factor and speeds being driven. The ride promised to be scenic as it would take us through St. Eustache, Lachute, Morin Heights and finally Val-David where we would be going for lunch at a restaurant called Au Petit Poucet, a personal favorite of our group's organizer, Steve. Having never met before today in person all six of us found our way to our meeting point, Moe's Bar and Grill.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monster Trucks: Bringing Parents and Kids Together!

Monster Truck - Crustacean
&
That Tiny Fella Under it is my son! 
Hmmm... I reluctantly purchased the tickets to this weekend's Monster Spectacular Truck Show with little if any expectations. My oldest son who is five has begun to slowly but surely merge his love of dinosaurs with monster trucks. Add the fact that there was a 'Transformer' debuting at the show - buying tickets was a no brainer. I hadn't attended a Monster Truck show since I was around 12 or 13 years old. My step-father had wanted to surprise me and decided to take me with my mother to the show. I remember when we pulled into the parking lot at the Olympic Stadium my mother turned around and smiled at me asking sheepishly: "Can you guess why we are here?" I couldn't imagine why we were there, it wasn't baseball season - not that I was inclined towards sports as a child anyways! My step-father chirped in his best English: "Ve r ear to see BIGFOOT!" A French Canadian, his English was basic at best but it was sweet of him to try anyways. I smiled and perked up. This was pretty cool. I thought to myself, finally, "they get me!" As we parked the car I was amazed at how many people were actually there to see the Bigfoot exhibit. Imagine my surprise when I entered the stadium grounds to find myself standing in front of one of the largest giants I had ever seen at that time. Only it wasn't a nine foot hairy Sasquatch but instead a two ton Monster Truck by the name Big Foot! So, they didn't "get me" after all but then again, how many kids did you know who knew what they wanted to be since they were four years old! I remember having a good time nevertheless and it's this memory that made me think of sharing this experience with my son.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

WTF? When Motorcycles Go Wrong!

All Dressed Up
& No Place to Go!
Today was to be the first day that I would really go for a lovely spin with my nearly classic motorcycle! The Montreal Bikers Club had set up an outing today to ride to Mont Tremblant and I was all dressed and ready to go. I was the first one to arrive at the Petrol Canada Station this morning at 08:15 am. I had been having a few difficulties with my bike since picking it up on Thursday of last week but the excitement of being on the open road again and exploring parts of Quebec for the first time on a motorcycle was too tempting. As I pulled into the station I had already started experiencing some of the difficulties that had been persisting over the last two days. Namely, loss of power in the throttle, the persistent smell of gasoline, and of course the inevitable engine 'cut out', whereby I literally found myself coasting into the parking lot with a dead engine.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Installing a Jardine Billet Backrest Extension & Corbin Dual Tour Saddle

Jardine Fishtail Pipes
finish off the look I was aiming for.
Many of you know by now that I have been picking up bits and pieces for my Suzuki Intruder 1400 (aka Serenity) since purchasing 'her' back in October 2011. One of those pieces happened to be a used Jardine Billet Backrest Extension off of a seller on eBay for $50.00! Not bad considering these retail new for just over $200.00 - proving that you can still get a good deal every now and then on eBay! That and the guy who sold it to me openly admitted he had no idea what he had really. As fate would have it, when I brought my bike into Moto Sport Newman on the south shore to get serviced after having sat unused for two years by her previous owner I was told that nearly all the parts that I purchased would not fit the bike! Before you chuckle to yourself and think - "see, don't buy anything blind on eBay!" I wish to state for the record that the mechanic(s) at Moto Sport Newman didn't know what they were talking about! This entire blog is dedicated to them as I will now show them and everyone who is interested how to properly install a Jardine Billet Backrest Extension!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Joys and Tribulations of Technology

Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 VS. Apple I-Pad 2
Twenty-Four hours after my initial decision to act on purchasing a new tablet I find myself sleep deprived and still very much angry at the whole experience! The decision to buy any kind of technology for me is a difficult task. Simply put I am one of the last of the pre-techies of the 21st Century. I am the guy you knew back in the 1990's still using an actual Remington Typewriter to write up school reports after having hand written everything with painstakingly precise handwriting - a lost art in a world filled with everything geared towards writing with your thumbs; albeit a testament to our inner ape's ability to use our extended thumbs no less! I digress.