Readers’ feats

October 16, 2022 • 1:30 pm

I used to have a “meet the readers” feature in which readers could send a photo and tell us a bit about themselves.  Today I’m putting up photos from emails I just got from two readers, informing us of their feats.  Well, the first one could be seen as a feat, but an unpleasant one. Readers’ explanations are indented.

This one comes from Darryl Ernst:

Not sure if you might remember a “Photos of readers” post that featured me and a picture of my beautiful Yamaha R1 motorcycle. Unfortunately, after decades of riding, I finally dropped my guard and allowed someone to hit me, and what was my favorite of many motorcycles over the years has been destroyed. In slow, heavy traffic approaching a busy intersection the light turned and I came to a stop at the red light. As is my SOP I checked behind me before I decided to stop. If I don’t like what I see, I go through the light, but in this case what I saw looked fine. The vehicle behind me was well back from me and was slowing down as if he too was coming to a stop, so I went ahead and stopped. And a couple of seconds later he plowed into me anyway, catapulted me off the bike and then would have run me over if I had not rolled out of the way. I’ve no idea what led to him doing that. Fortunately I’m fine, stiff and sore is all, but my favorite bike isn’t so pretty anymore. Which has me feeling a bit sad. Nothing lasts forever.

Before (from 2020)

Yesterday.  Good thing Darryl wasn’t hurt!


From Max Blanke, who appears to have considerable skills:

Not wildlife, of course. My wildlife images tend to be horrible. Anyway, I finished this today, and had consulted WEIT commenters on the engraving prior to cutting.

Understanding that your site is not “Why Knives are Stabby”, I figured to send the attached images along anyway.

I combined late Roman and Anglo Saxon elements to come up with the basic design. The scales are Llanite, which we quarried ourselves this summer. The blade is laminated steel, the bronze salvaged from scrapped machine bearings. The blue stone accents are sodalite, from my big pile of interesting rocks.

It will be in the post to the new owner on Monday, who only knows that it is some sort of bladed weapon.

European blades are not my specialty. I did make a crusader’s sword not long ago with “Hello, I would like to chat with you about Jesus Christ” engraved on the blade in Middle English.

According to Max, the Latin on the blade translates as “”Now the die is cast”, attributed to Julius Ceasar upon crossing the Rubicon.

UPDATE:  Linda Calhoun just sent this “feat”. Her words:

Pumpkin pie: this is as close as I will ever come to a “feat”.

I have to admit it looks good!

59 thoughts on “Readers’ feats

  1. I admire good craftsmanship in anything, be it knives or pies. The knife is beautiful and having watched several episodes of Forged in Fire, have seen what a difficult craft metal smithing is. I love shows about people making things.

    And as a former bike rider decades ago, I empathize with Darryl, what a loss. I gave it up after a few too many close calls.

    1. That ‘ ALEA IACTA EST’ (‘the dice are thrown’, and word order in Latin is of little consequence) dagger looks absolutely sublime. I would have no practical use for it (I’m not into murder, for which it appears exquisitely suited), but then it is a work of art, so absolutely beautiful. That kind of loving artisanship gives me hope for humanity.
      It reminds me of VS Naipaul’s “Nothing there was fashioned by love or even skill and as a result there was nothing the eye could rest upon with pleasure”. (not a literal quote, just from memory). That dagger is the antithesis. Many eyes will rest upon that dagger with pleasure!
      If ever I were to be stabbed to death with a dagger, the beauty of that one would be of some consolation, d*g willing.

      1. When I took Latin in high school, it was “Iacta alea est”; and Suetonius reported that Caesar had said just that; but, per Wikipedia, “[I]t is now most commonly cited with the word order changed (“Alea iacta est”) rather than in the original phrasing.”

        1. Latin doesn’t rely on word order, as you already know, because it’s highly inflective. So often rhetoricians, like Cicero for example, played with it to achieve various purposes. And Suetonius was sort of one of those typically Roman historians under the pay of Augustus so we take what he says more generally and not always as literally Some even suggest Caesar spoke this phrase in Greek and it was poorly translated into Latin.

          1. I worried over the Latin, probably more than necessary. I was trying to figure out how the phrase would have been quoted in England 450 years after Ceasar’s crossing. That comes with the assumption that anyone quoting Ceasar would use Latin, instead of some variation of Old English.
            I should do a Judean dagger with “Romanes eunt domus” on one side, with a line through it, and “Romani ite domum” on the other side.

            1. The Latin would have been the same 450 years after Caesar. He crossed the Rubicon in 49BC so that means the Latin you would be thinking about is 400AD That’s still during the Empire – Late Empire. We have lots of Latin from that date. No English was spoken that early.

              1. It’s a common newbie mistake to forget the imperative and also use “master” instead of house. Wittingly showcased in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.

      2. ‘Alea iacta est’ is singular so the correct translation is ‘the die is cast’ rather than ‘the dice are cast’

  2. Oooh. That’s going to leave a mark, Darryl. Glad you’re OK. Beautiful (and a bit scary) craftsmanship, Max. And, Linda, that is one perfect pumpkin pie!

  3. Darrelle – glad you survived that accident. Hitting a bike from behind often has more dire consequences! I wonder what the person was thinking? Were they distracted and simply forgot there was a vehicle in front of them?

    Max – the end result of the knife looks gorgeous! I hope we helped with the Latin.

    1. Thank you Diana. I was lucky, no doubt. Well prepared too, but definitely lucky. As you wrote, this kind of accident is usually devastating for the rider.

  4. That pumpkin pie looks way to good. If it tastes half as good as it looks, it will get at least a Michelin star, if not more than one.

  5. Poor Darryl – a real shame about the motorcycle, but thankfully a lucky escape from injury.

    Kudos to Max and Linda for their impressive creations.

  6. Darryl, that bicycle does not look to be in a good shape, a total loss, I guess.
    I hope that car driver has a valid insurance. More importantly, I gather you escaped unscathed. Motorcyclists not always do, they are pretty vulnerable, but escaping unscathed from that one is a great blessing from Ceiling Cat (I guess you were pretty lucky).

    1. Yes, definitely some luck involved. The driver did have insurance and so far they have been handling things well. Another stroke of luck there.

      The bike is severely damaged and was evaluated as a “total loss.”

  7. Ouch Darryl. Glad you are ok. Like Phil, I am a former biker from decades ago, but as my strength to horse a bike that is falling diminished and my reflexes started to slow, I moved to a car. Had more than 100k safe miles on bikes, enjoyed absolutely every mile of it, and though I did not have such a fancy machine as yours, I empathize totally. Please get well and thanks for sharing. The first pic is the one I will choose to remember.

    1. Thank you Jim, I appreciate the kind words.

      At the moment it’s kind of hard to look at that first picture. 🙂

  8. That dagger would look right at home in the hands of Cassius, Publius, and the rest (including, yes, Brutus, too) in Act III, Scene I of Hamnet’s daddy’s play.

    Excellent workmanship, Max.

  9. The motorcycle, ok, but I do not understand how someone can handle that… I wouldn’t last … or, I dunno, maybe I should try it…

    The blade… I mean, you can just do that? How .. what… where…


    1. Motorcycling isn’t for everyone, but it is a lot of fun. If you are ever curious enough to try it, a good way to “dip a toe into the water” is to find a place near you that administers the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) Beginners’ Course. These courses are offered all across the US (not sure about other countries) and there is one likely within an hour or two of where you live (if you’re in the US). In most jurisdictions passing the course will fulfill all requirements for getting a motorcycle endorsement on your license.

      But the good parts for someone who is just curious are, modest cost, it’s a long weekend of classroom instruction and riding, the course is designed to take people who have never ridden before and teach them how to ride and survive on the street, and they supply the motorcycles.

      1. My Dad’s theory was that you should introduce motorcycles to kids as early as possible, so that once you reach the teenage risk taking phase, you are already experienced enough to ride a bit more moderately. For us that means dirt bikes, which tend to be a lot more forgiving unless you hit a tree or drive off a cliff.
        We use four wheelers on the ranch, and I have started collecting old sidecar bikes. They are not very fast, but it is easy to throw a dog or a couple of kids in there to have an on or off road adventure.
        When my kids were little, we took a whole summer to travel from West Texas to Montana on one of the bikes, focusing on National Parks and monuments, with lots of camping, looking for ghost towns, petroglyphs, and remote hot springs. At the time, they complained mightily about dust and looking at “more red rocks”, but they remember it fondly.
        I rode one of the bikes to a motorcycle show last month, and since I was going to return at night, I replaced the old filament tail lights with much brighter LED bulbs.

        Looking at your bike catastrophe, I think you were very fortunate. No amount of situational awareness or defensive driving is going to keep you from getting hit while stopped at a red light.

        1. I completely agree with starting kids riding young. Give a 5 – 6 year old a mini-bike and some place safe to ride and let them have at it.

          It’s great that you’re giving the youngsters some great experiences that they will fondly remember for the rest of their lives.

          1. My summer routine at 12 years old was to strap a canteen to my motorcycle and disappear into the mountains until dark. This was fine with my folks, or at least tolerated.
            However, my kid does the same thing at 14, and my parents fret endlessly about them getting lost, attacked by mountain lions, or devoured by poisonous snakes. And my kids are way more risk averse than I ever was.

  10. I don’t have a photo, but I wrote a book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written. That review will get me breakfast at McDonald’s…as long as I have six dollars. Merit doesn’t matter, anymore.

  11. The car did a good job with the bike Darryl. Glad you are ok. I always look (looked) behind when stopping too and even usually pulled over a little to give them room if need be, however there seems to be always a way to bought undone.

    That’s a good picture of you riding. You look pretty well positioned.

    1. Thank you Michael.

      The frustrating thing to me is that given another 1-2 seconds I would have checked behind again and may have been able to get out of the way, as I had positioned myself to one side of the lane and had the bike in gear, as is my SOP. I’ve avoided exactly this type of accident at least 3 times over the years, hence the habits. He just caught me in a couple of second gap where I was vulnerable, and he fooled me by slowing as if to stop. I’ve still no idea why he got back on the gas.

  12. Tough, and probably a thought of “is this my life?” As Chuck Yeager said, “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.” Man, you can’t use the “airplane” the next day. Which to me means, whew! Lucky f’n duck! Darrelle! I’m very much relieved your unlucky encounter didn’t lead to serious injuries or the worst…Probably you’re spidey-skills. 😉

    1. 🙂 Spidey skills indeed! Not sure they helped on the initial hit, but I did manage a fairly impressive ninja move to avoid ending up under the car. As I was landing on my head, from my upside down perspective the car was looming over me, still coming, and I managed an adrenaline fueled fast roll out of the way even as I was hitting the ground. A couple of the bystanders even complimented me on it.

      The emergency responders repeatedly expressed disbelief at my condition given the type of accident and the condition of the bike. The thing that saved me from serious injury was that the tail of the bike was just tall enough to be deflected up, rather than straightforward, or worse down, and that ejected me up and over the front of the bike, rather than me ending up through the windshield or under the car. F’n lucky circumstances indeed.

      Shoot, I should have immediately gone and bought some lottery tickets.

      1. And the way you landed was most likely fortunate as well. A family friend went over the handlebars of his bicycle and broke his neck. He’s recovering but he has extensive facial and neck injuries and he was wearing a helmet so that made things much better than they would have been if he were not.

    1. I wish I knew. The only interaction we had was a few minutes after the accident. He approached me, apologized, then went back to his car. He was very distraught. As I was being put on a gurney I overheard chatter from the EMTs tending to him that he was in shock.

      1. “As I was being put on a gurney …”

        OK, I didn’t understand that this was – I mean, I, of course, am glad you are ostensibly OK.

        I was under (attempted pun intended) the impression that it was an “oops” accident, so I made no remarks.

        1. It was one of those events that was almost very bad except for one variable. The height of the tail of my bike. On many other bikes it would have been very bad for me. But, all’s well that ends well. I appear to be fine so far. I got up and walked away, but they strongly suggested I allow them to put me on a gurney and load me in an ambulance to allow them to assess me. I even had my normal excellent blood pressure, though my heart rate was a bit elevated.

  13. Linda, that is the best looking pumpkin pie I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen one that was domed like that. Makes me think it must be lighter than the typical dense pumpkin pie. I’d love to try it. Can you share the recipe?

        1. Oh yes, I’m not ready to stop yet.

          I’ve never gone over the edge on public roads, close a few times, certainly flirted with it, but I have on the track. That HST essay feels intimately familiar to me.

          On the track going over the edge was like this. You’re in the zone, you’re hitting all your braking points, turn points, apexes, perfectly, you’re hitting the best lines around every turn, you’re right up against the limit at which you can process it all, you can smell your tires burning around every turn, you can feel a bit of slip around every turn but the tires are dealing with it gracefully. In short, it’s a prolonged moment of perfection.

          And then you make a small mistake. Sometimes that results in an instant crash. Like getting too comfortable putting a little too much weight on the fairing you’ve been dragging trying to stay on the rear wheel of the pro you’ve been chasing around DIS until one time around the first turn of the international horseshoe you put a tiny bit too much weight on it and faster than you can register what the heck happened you are sliding down the track on your ass, even though you could have taken a slightly wider line, lost a little bit of ground, but at least survived.

          Or, perhaps worse, you make that small mistake and though you don’t crash instantly you know it’s coming, you’ve got plenty of time to see it all develop, but you can no longer prevent it. Like missing your turn point for the 2nd apex of turn 1 at Jennings GP, because you decided you could carry a little more speed through it than you have been, and you know right away, though it’s still a couple of seconds off, that there ain’t no way that you are going to still be on the track when you hit the exit.

    1. Yeah, that dome is intriguing, and you’re right about it probably being “light”. I don’t think I’ve ever had a light pumpkin pie, but I think I’d like it a lot more than the usual dense pies I’ve had. (Not complaining, I like traditional dense pumpkin pie.)

  14. Shame about the R1 Darrelle, it’s an awesome machine. I’ve ridden pretty big tourers all my biking life (and I’m 70 in two months time) but I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a friend’s R1 a couple of times and, ye gods, what a rocket ship it is. Plus felt like I was boarding a 125, it felt so small! But, as everyone points out, the bike can be replaced and the main thing is you are okay. It’s also a lesson that you will always heed, though I suspect there was little you could really do.

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