New Toy – Part 1

Back when I was in college, I had a good, old fashioned crotch rocket… a 1993 Suzuki Katana 600. Last month, I got a new toy… a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 750. I got a great price, which I found to be a very appropriate price and put almost as much into it to get it and me road-worthy again. It had been sitting in the previous owner’s garage for five years. It had not been started, or in any way, maintained for that amount of time. It was not running and had to be trailered home. Here’s a run-down of what it took to get back on the road:

  • Purchases
    • Motorcycle (2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 750, VN750A22)
    • Helmet (HJC F70)
    • Insurance (Geico)
    • Registration (TN)
    • Turn Signals x4 (Not OEM)
    • Phone mount (Roam Universal, I will be looking for something more substantial)
    • Battery (Yuasa, OEM)
    • Rubber tubing (OEM)
    • Fork top (OEM)
    • Fuel tap assembly (fuel valve on the tank, OEM)
    • Air filters (K&N)
    • Spark plugs (NGK, OEM)
    • Spark plug socket (O’Reilly’s)
    • Fuel gauge sending unit (OEM)
    • Oil filter (K&N)
    • Various fluids & cleaners (Amazon & O’Reilly’s)
    • Battery charger & accessories (Battery Tender)
  • Labor
    • De-rust tank
      • I used Evapo-Rust from Amazon. It did an okay job.
    • Replace battery
    • Replace fuel tap assembly
    • Replace fuel gauge sending unit
    • Replace turn signals
    • Replace spark plugs
    • Replace air filters
    • Clean everything
    • Rudimentary carburetor cleaning
    • Various electrical work
      • Ran a wire for a phone charger.
    • Change oil
    • Top off antifreeze

I have learned a TON by working on this thing myself. Here are a few key things that happened or were discovered:

  • The carburetor was a BEAST to remove, even though I had the service manual to tell me exactly how to do it. I didn’t have the guts to disassemble it at the time, for a more thorough cleaning. That will come later.
  • The tires were in surprisingly good shape, given their age. They are still on the bike and I intend to use them.
  • It is a pain to get a correctly-fitting helmet when doing it by mail. I suggest that anyone buying a helmet, do it in person to find the right fit.
  • Now that it’s running, I come up against a wall, when I hit about 4000 RPMs. Looses power, especially going up hill. I have been told, by a service tech, that a more thorough cleaning of the carburetor is in order.
  • When buying a used bike, have a budget in mind BEFORE buying and have a good idea of what will need to be done AFTER you check it out, but BEFORE handing over the money. Be okay with walking away. There are a ton of bikes for sale.
  • GET THE SERVICE MANUAL for your model of bike. Worth every penny. I wish I had one when I had my old bike.
  • When ordering online, check out the shipping charges. With certain vendors, shipping is almost as much as the part itself.

Here are some of the websites/stores I used to get what I needed:

  • – Got several cleaning items and non-bike-specific items
  • – My go-to for OEM parts. Free shipping for orders over $140… not hard to do.
  • – Helmet and batter charger w/accessories. They also have a local store. Free shipping to the store.
  • – Spark plugs and non-OEM turn signals (OEM ones are VERY expensive)
  • (not a typo) – Cycling app and service for phone
  • – Carb cleaner, brake cleaner, oil filter, plug socket… normal non-bike-specific things.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE!DO NOT, under any circumstances, use a company called Adept Powersports. They have the absolute WORST customer service known to mankind. Ever since I have been old enough to spend my own money on anything, I have never received customer service this bad. I even got cussed at for questioning when/how an order would be shipped. Luckily, I stopped it before they shipped me the wrong thing and, likely, charged me a restocking fee. JUST DON’T. These people do not deserve to receive one red cent from anyone for anything.

At this point, all that remains is to receive and replace that fuel gauge sending unit and pull/clean the carburetor again. Not looking forward to that, but I feel much more comfortable about it now that I’ve been through a thing or two. I am, very much, looking forward to spending some time on the road with this thing. There just not much like it. More later!

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Strange and a bit sad.

Today is strange and a bit sad for me. Today is the anniversary of an event that I cannot commemorate in a public way. It is related to some other posts I have made, which are a bit cryptic, in nature. The reason they are cryptic is because, if I were to reveal their true nature, it would, likely, hurt people in a way that I would never want to do.

One day, perhaps, I will be able to talk about and discuss those things, but for now, it just isn’t possible. I was hoping that writing a little would help, but it really hasn’t. I really look forward to the day that I can talk about this to certain people who are a part of it and I hope those people are as willing as I am to talk about it. A large part of it will be general acceptance of events that transpired many years ago. I’m afraid that acceptance won’t ever happen and I can’t find out for an amount of time that only God knows.

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RIP Mark

I just got word, from my sister, that a childhood friend of mine passed away. I’m sure we all have those friends that we still consider close, even though we may not have had contact in a while. Mark Hilke was one of those. We grew up not too far from each other. Our older siblings were close friends. We hung out during college. Mark was one of the two friends of mine who took me out for my 21st birthday. I have quite a few female friends that light up a room when they enter, but not many male friends that can do the same thing. Mark was one of those. The picture of him, in my brain right now, is of him smiling that big ole smile like he was up to something… he probably was.

Mark, I love you, Brother and I’ll miss you.

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Duly Installed

Today, December 6, 2020, I was installed as Worshipful Master of Harrison Lodge No. 114 F&AM of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. I am proud, honored and terrified to have been elected, by my friends and brothers, to this office. I will do my very best to serve this lodge, the brothers of this lodge, the community of Harrison, TN and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, to the best of my ability. Love y’all!

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A Mason

A Mason is a man who professes a faith in God. As a man of faith, he uses the tools of moral and ethical truths to serve mankind.

A Mason binds himself to like-minded men in a Brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, social, cultural, and educational differences.

In fellowship with his Brothers, a Mason finds ways in which to serve his God, his family, his fellowman, and his country.

A Mason is dedicated. He recognizes his responsibility for justice, truth, charity, enlightenment, freedom and liberty, honesty, and integrity in all aspects of human endeavor.

A Mason is such a man.

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A Bag of Tools

Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and common people, like you and me,
are builders for eternity?

Each is given a list of rules;
a shapeless mass; a bag of tools.
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.

R. Lee Sharpe
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Why is he called “Worshipful Master”?

Masonry began in England in the days when the beautiful old Cathedrals were being built. The craftsmen who designed those magnificent buildings, and those who built them, organized themselves into lodges. Each lodge elected a Master to head the group and other officers to lead it – those ancient lodges were the beginnings of Masonry.

In ancient times, the word “Worshipful” meant “Respected”.

Because one Master Mason was elected by the members to lead them, he was given the title Worshipful Master indicating that he was a respected Master Mason.

In modern Lodges, a new Worshipful Master is elected each year. The Worshipful Master serves as the chief officer of the Lodge, and presides over all its meetings. The Worshipful Master wears a hat during all proceedings of the Lodge. The significance is not that the Master is wearing a hat out of some sort of preeminence, but rather the other members are not wearing hats out of respect.

“Why Is He Called ‘Worshipful Master’?” Billie Mosse Lodge,

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Elections bring out the worst in people

Elections do, in fact, bring out the worst in people in ways I could not have imagined. So, here it is… my token post about the election. I have been sitting here for days wondering if I should even create a post about the election… or, at least, related to the election. Everyone else and their brother seems to have an opinion, so why not me, I thought. What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t post something about current events?

Full disclosure… this post has been edited and the original paragraph, occupying this paragraph’s space, was removed. After some very valuable feedback from three people, whom I trust about such matters, I decided to remove it because it tainted the spirit of the article. Now, back to your regularly-scheduled post…

I think the issue, surrounding the election of the President of the United States is deeper than simply bringing dignity back to the Presidency. This is a pretty tired subject, but with the advent of social media, people have gotten more than a few free passes with being jerks themselves.

Here’s a funny quote about how I feel about the whole thing:

“Social media has made too many of you comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the mouth for it.”


There, I said it. I miss the days when, if you wanted to say something nasty to someone, you had to do it to their face or, at least, over the phone. Sure, you could also say something bad about someone behind their back, but there was still a little doubt about something having gotten lost in translation. It wasn’t as direct. Facebook takes that last sentiment to a whole new level. What’s worse is some people keep others on their friend list for the sole purpose of arguing with them. I can’t imagine this is healthy.

Now, with the assistance of social media, you can say something directly, without having to look into someone’s eyes to do it or, immediately, face their wrath. They might not even see it until the next time they log in, which could be days. By then, at least, some damage has already been done and they weren’t even there to defend themselves.

Elections do, in fact, bring out the worst in people. Over the last few months, I have noticed a few things on my Facebook feed. Some people I’m friends with are just jerks when they think they know better… or even when they don’t know better. Some of my friends are uninformed and are ignorant on purpose. Some of my friends just like to stir the pot. Some have no trouble hiding their hate. Some have chosen to show their love. The minority are very well informed and produce posts that one can actually learn from. Still, others are well informed, but have trouble hiding their hate. Since this post will, likely, end up on my Facebook feed, I’ll let you decide which group you belong to.

As for me, I chose to be part of the “love” group with a smattering of participating in well informed posts without engaging too much. Maybe that is the easy way out. It could be that I know God has a plan and he will use anyone he deems necessary to accomplish that plan.

I have a hard time believing that platforms, like Facebook, initially intended their platforms to be used for such divisive purposes as many people do today. Nevertheless, they have created this beast and now have to manage it or else give up massive profits. I’ve seen recent posts about boycotting Facebook in favor of Parler. This seems to be under the guise of “free speech” and no threat of censorship. On the surface, this seems like it might be good, but after some thought, I think this has the potential for being exactly the opposite. Now, people can really speak what they are thinking and not even have to worry about going to “Facebook Jail.”

My plea is this… just show love, people! Try to really imagine that you are looking into the eyes of the person you are “posting to.” Do you not even care that your words have weight anymore? I’m not one to judge people by what they say. I’m more of a “judge by their actions” kind of guy. That being said, it’s kind of hard when my only tool is writing to people I haven’t actually laid eyes on in years. Also, I hope this sentiment reaches some of my friends who have gone the “darker” route on social media.

Just to be clear, I consider everyone on my Facebook friend list a genuine friend for some reason or another. Maybe, I knew you when I was still in single digits… maybe, you’re married to someone I knew in single digits… maybe, we have been lifelong friends and have never lost touch… maybe, I haven’t laid eyes on you since high school or middle school or longer… maybe you were a teacher of mine… maybe I was your teacher, in some capacity… maybe, we played sports together or against one another. Maybe you’re a fraternity brother or lodge brother or coworker.

The point is, I consider you my friend and you are on my friend list for a reason. As a friend, I am asking you to be nice. Don’t be fake, but understand that you can, almost always, get your point across without being mean or disrespectful. If you can’t, then maybe you should just keep it to yourself until you can figure it out.

I hope that my social media legacy is that of a person who tried to bring people together and say nice things… or, at least, say things in a nice and well-informed way. I hope you do the same. Now is the time for us to truly come together and figure out how to be decent again. Love y’all!

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We Are Okay!

Happy October 16th, y’all! We are okay! I just wanted to let you know, the Barber household is okay.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” 

Margaret Thatcher

It occurred to me, the other day, that I hadn’t really given any kind of worthy update since, like, April. Let me assure that we are okay. The number one big thing today is that it is Melissa’s birthday! We’ll not discuss exactly which birthday, but a birthday, nevertheless. Happy birthday, Baby!

One big things going on right now is that I started toward my MBA. I am only taking one class this semester and it is kicking my butt. Financial Management 6020. My degree is through Tennessee Tech, so that’s pretty cool. Suffice to say, there a reason I don’t manage my household finances.

A couple of other, educational-related, things are that Taylor will be graduating UTC this December and John should be graduating Tennessee Tech in May 2021. Within seven months, I will have had all three of my children graduate college. It, truly, doesn’t seem like it has been that long since they graduated high school. I could not be more proud.

You know… despite 2020 consistently throwing us curveballs…. with the virus, the working from home, economy problems, election craziness and everything else going on, I am happy to say that, for the most part, my family is doing pretty well.

Mom did have a not-so-little health scare a while back, but seems to be recovering nicely. Dad and Nancy are doing pretty good and getting out some. Overall, not so bad.

This weekend, the Lodge is having our annual Car Show, to benefit special needs children in Harrison-area schools. This thing has been postponed since May, so I’ll be glad to get it done.

Elections at the Lodge will be coming up in the first week of December and I will be in the running for Worshipful Master of Harrison Lodge No. 114 F&AM. I’m a little nervous about the whole thing, but excited too. Assuming I am elected, it’ll be a big responsibility. I just hope I can lead those men in a positive way and accomplish some good things in my year. I hate that Robert, our current Master, had to do it in 2020. He had big plans and didn’t get to do many of them. I hope I can make good on some of his stuff and add some of my own.

Lately, I have been working on getting this website SEO-ready. I am learning a lot! This includes making my post a little longer than I normally do, as you might be able to tell. I hope this was a sufficient update. More later!

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Why Not Me?

In my older years, I consistently wonder why I was never bullied when I was younger… why not me? I see a lot, these days, about kids my age who were bullied back then and are now enduring the effects of PTSD and the like. Or, on a darker note, people who were kids back then and are now dead, having committed suicide either recently or way back then, when the bullying was fresh.

Why not me? Being a small guy back then, I was ripe for the picking! When I was in seventh grade, I was 4′ 9″ and 95 pounds. I played in one football game, as a middle schooler, because I broke my nose in the very first game of the season. This was when I was in seventh grade too. In eighth grade, I was the football team manager. I wasn’t doing that again.

In eighth grade, I was still small. Not yet five feet tall. By ninth grade, I was 5′ 2″… a growth spurt! My goodness! I’m going to be a giant! Just kidding… fast forward to today and I made it all the way to 5′ 7″. Obviously, not much of an improvement.

So far, in this post, you may have noticed that I have only been referring to my size. The fact is that I was also an athlete. Additionally, I was very smart. By the end of eighth grade, I had made the All-County soccer team twice, Star Honor Roll (All A’s) and was headed to one of the best private high schools in the Southeast. This high school, The Baylor School, in addition to being academically rigorous, has one of the best high school athletic programs in the entire United States… just ask the writer of our Sports Illustrated article.

Over the years, I have though a lot about this issue of suicide, among teens, bullying, etc. Surely this is not as simple as just getting your kids into sports. Some people are just not athletically gifted. Others might have been athletes and still get bullied. What’s the magic sauce?

I have come to believe there is no magic sauce. It’s random. Middle schoolers and High schoolers are random. Think about it…. hormones raging… parents aren’t at school to vent on… find the very next kid I see and pick on him! Just for clarification… I didn’t bully anyone. I was too busy preparing for when the hammer dropped on me, as I knew I was a potential target. Though random, it make sense.

Although it makes sense, it’s also messy. Random is messy and chaotic and doesn’t make the kid being bullied feel any better. Many of my friends today, who have been my friends my whole life, were bullied and I never knew. Suffered from things like PTSD, depression and various other conditions, as a result of bullying. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it. That being said, I didn’t see a lot back then. I was definitely an idiot.

Sadly, I don’t have much of a conclusion, other than to say be nice to one another and teach your kids to do the same thing.

Below is the link and number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please use it.


Photo from @800273TALK on Facebook on National Suicide Prevention Lifeline '1-800-273-TALK (8255)' at 3/29/19 at 11:48AM
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