Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Frayed Knot

There was one loose end I eluded to on my last blog post that I needed to tend to, and I haven't been able to say anything until it was official.

After considerable consideration and even some apprehension...

I tendered my resignation as a motorcycle instructor.

I have been a Team Oregon instructor since 2012, starting my journey auditing range sessions and volunteering to 'throw cones' in the fall of 2011. I don't remember how many weekends I volunteered, but it was more than required, I was hooked and they weren't going to get rid of me so easily. 

I went through Instructor Prep training, then basic training as an apprentice and intern instructor before being signed off as range instructor. I quickly became a classroom instructor as well, after that I moved up to 'mentor' where I coached new instructors on their journey as interns and apprentices. Soon I was asked to take on the responsibility of 'On-Call' support, where instructors in the field would call to report any issues, and had support if they had any questions, or if problems would arise. I overheard a call come in Friday "There's horse poop all over the range!?!" 

Over the past 6 years I participated in demo practices, cornering clinics, Rider Skill Practice courses (RSP), Advance Braking Clinics (ABC), and the new Precision Maneuvering Clinics (PMC), anything to hone my craft. 

Quick Stop from 70mph - ABC (Photo credit Dan Bateman)

Brake and Escape - PMC (Photo credit Pat Hahn)

The Snowman - PMC (Photo credit Pat Hahn)

I contribute everything I've learned to become a skilled and proficient rider to Team Oregon, and I still have much to learn.

So why quit now?

This past year 2018 has been quite stressful, Brandy's boss retired, leaving her to find work. This resulted in having to move closer to Salem to ease her commute, so the entire spring and summer was spent looking at houses, selling our house, packing up and moving. We finally got moved in, somewhat settled and are now enjoying our new home.

However, there was one loose end left to tie up.

We were able to reduce Brandy's commute into work, however that left me with a 40 mile commute each way into work; I guess it's my turn to look for work closer to home. I considered Amazon's new warehouse in Salem, Home Depot's cross-dock center in Salem, even Do It Best and Winco distribution centers are in Woodburn if need be. Maybe something local in manufacturing would suffice, do I even want to stay in supply chain?

I'm a frayed knot

I dusted off my resume, added a few updates, made a couple of changes to shine it up a little and applied for a job posting in Corvallis. Oh great, didn't we just move from Corvallis to be closer to Brandy's work?

Regardless, I applied and waited patiently for either a rejection letter or an interview. Fortunately it was the latter and I was offered an interview. Now to search unpacked boxes for a dress shirt and tie. The interview went well and I was offered the position. Shortly after I tendered my resignation at Lowe's, which was easy enough, but there was one more stipulation.

Since I will be working full-time for Oregon State University, I'm not allowed to teach part-time as an instructor and I had to give up what I loved so much. This was the hardest pill to swallow, but as I mentioned earlier and echo the infamous words of Irondad himself "motorcycling is a journey".

My journey as an instructor was supposed to take me well into and beyond retirement, or so I had thought, but as Yogi Berra stated "when you come to a fork in the road, take it".

No matter how sad I am to give up teaching, what made it worth it is that I am now working for Team Oregon full-time as their new maintenance worker. I'll be behind the scenes, working side by side an incredible team of office staff, site specialists, and instructors. I have a lot to learn the next several months while playing with motorcycles.... I mean servicing bikes, maintaining and painting ranges, and managing an entire fleet of motorcycles, trucks, and trailers. I'll be in and out of the office, working in the barn, or off in the truck visiting range sites statewide.

Talk about a corner office
Team Oregon just had an open house last Friday, welcoming the public to come by and check out the office and operations. I had fun working the event, meeting new people and showing them around.

I officially start Monday morning, it's sure going to be nice making a career out of something I love.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Done and Dusted?

Well, not quite...

We have finally settled into our new home, somewhat. All of the papers have been signed, we closed on the old house, October mortgage payment has been made on the new house, but there are several things we want to change, update or replace. However, after twelve years of renovating our last home, we just don't know where to start. One small renovation project begins another, begins another, and so on.

The previous owners were young newlyweds with a small child, and they weren't the best at preventative maintenance, let alone cleaning. So we've spent the last month cleaning sticky handprints off of walls, windows, and whatever else a sticky two year old can get his sticky paws on. Upgrading all the CFL lights in the house to LEDs revealed much of the grime. The dirt and grime on everything needed to be scrubbed with magic erasers, steel wool, soap, water, and a lot of elbow grease. We have yet to get it all, but we started the "to-do" list of several minor repairs around the house needing attention. New toilet seats, furnace filter replacement, light switches replaced, faulty GFCI plug replaced, pressure washing both the front and back patio, installing cat doors to keep Basil Kitteh from wailing all night wanting out, and deterring the neighbor kittehs from coming in.

Trobairitz is cursing the new kitchen, we had designed and installed the Ikea kitchen in the old house to maximize storage with an abundance of drawers, ceiling height cabinets, corner cabinets with a lazy susan, and a huge porcelain farmer sink. The new house with contractor special kitchen cabinets are short, shallow, and lack any innovative thought into efficiency whatsoever. Something we've both had to adapt to is finding a place for everything and then remembering where that was when we need it.

The bathrooms are also contractor specials with budget toilets, sinks, faucets, and one piece tub and shower surrounds. Ack! How do people live like this? I won't even get started on the carpet and linoleum throughout the house.

I jest really.

It is a nice house and much better than the 16 other houses we viewed previously. It is a 2007, so it has all modern plumbing, wiring, windows, insulation, siding, roof and underground irrigation. It doesn't "need" anything per say, and we've settled in just fine. The neighborhood is quiet, exactly what we were looking for; I am sitting here on a Saturday afternoon enjoying the silence.

We hear a small private plane fly overhead once in awhile as we live near the airpark, and a train horn off in the distance, but we don't mind it at all, nor the light traffic going by on the road behind us. Those sounds come, and then they're gone. There's a rooster down the way, and the cows moo in the distance, just what you'd expect living in the country. No kids screaming, no dogs barking, or chickens squawking, nor pigs grunting like we tolerated in the city.

We'll get to the updates and renovations, once we prioritize the list, in due time and on our schedule.

I have one more loose end to tidy up in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime it's good to be home.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. 

~Melody Beattie

Monday, August 27, 2018

Closing and Keys

We finally signed the closing documents on our new home Friday, and we are expecting to receive the keys today, Monday.

Simple. Right? Not.

We both wanted to walk away from the whole deal. I don't know how realtors, title company brokers, and loan managers deal with this stress everyday.

Cue dream sequence....

I long for the good old days where you walk into the bank, everyone knows you because you've been with them for years, and you chat with the bank manager to discuss a new home purchase.

You meet with a realtor who finds homes to show you based on what you are looking for and want in a new home. She shows you a half dozen homes over a period of a couple of weeks, you decide on one you like, make an offer, the seller counter-offers, everyone is having fun, laughing and all come to mutual agreement. Then you list your house, an offer is made, accepted, and skip to my Lou you've switched houses.

Then comes appraisals, inspections, and loan applications. Look at all the new friends you're making, what fun! So excited to move in to a new home.

Ha! Wake up, the good old days are gone, and everything is done online now. I have yet to meet our loan manager, and it is best that I don't, nor does she want me to. I won't go into details. Evidently, losing documents, miscommunication, and scrambling to finalize very important paperwork is the norm in real estate and banking transactions. We did everything we needed to do well in advance, we got all the paperwork and information together that they needed well in advance.
Why do they do this to us, let alone to themselves? This was not a fun process at all.

I finally received the call from our realtor about 4:00 Friday afternoon that all the paperwork went through, funding went through, and we now own a house. Technically two, our realtor laughed and called us land barons. We'll close on our old house in a couple weeks.

There were no whoops of joy, nor cheers of congratulations, simply a big collective sigh of relief.

Now we wait for keys. There's no final walk through, we get to walk in and discover what surprises await. I was able to wander through the house during the inspection, making mental note of the overall condition of the house, and what immediate repairs are needed. Brandy has only seen the house during the brief half hour initial viewing and offer. We've taken more time test driving and looking at cars than we have putting an offer on a house. If we don't like a car, or someone buys it before us we just order another car. Not so with a house, especially when you're competing with multiple offers. Nor can you simply sell your house because there's a rattle in the dash, because we're not going through this whole rigamarole again anytime soon. I have a poor memory, but this emotional nightmare is burned into my psyche for years.

We'll go in with mop and bucket in hand expecting nothing to be cleaned, blinds hanging haphazardly from the window, grubby paw prints on the fridge from the snot nosed, sammich grabber that lived there before, and we'll clean, scrub, paint and repair while we move in and nest.

Trobairitz is awesome, and such a positive influence in my life, I know that she'll make this new house a home and I love her for that. She'll smile at me and I'll know everything will be alright.

Our old home was a rental when we bought it, intending it to be a two year flip it became our home for twelve years. We renovated, remodeled, landscaped and grew to love this house. We learned a lot, sweat a lot, bled some and even cried some; and I'll miss it dearly, but we'll take those memories with us and we'll create new memories in our new home and I'll think back fondly... while standing in my new double garage!

~ “Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Coming up for air.... and breathe

We're both here everyone, it's been a busy Spring and Summer with very little, if any riding or writing.

Trobairitz's boss retired at the end of February, leaving her without a job after 17 years. We knew it was coming, but nevertheless it makes for some tough decisions. First thing was for her to seek employment, we've all done it, whether through necessity or by choice, but I can only imagine how daunting it is after 17 years. It is difficult to find employment in Corvallis, the major employers are Oregon State University, Samaritan Health Services, and Hewlitt Packard. The competition for these jobs is fierce, especially for a legal assistant competing against the health professionals and techies migrating to Oregon from Southern California.

So what is one to do?

Salem is Oregon's Capital, and home to Willamette University, a private liberal arts college of business and law.  What better place for a legal assistant to find employment than the State Capital?

And so it was, discouraged by multiple rejection letters in Corvallis, she applied for several jobs in Salem and was flooded with potential interviews to where she was turning them down.
A nice problem to have if you ask me.

Minto Brown Park in Salem

Union Street Railroad Bridge is one of two pedestrian and bicycle bridges that connects three Salem, Oregon, parks and more than 20 miles of trails
However, this creates a whole other quandary such as her commute. She went from a mere 3 mile commute to a 40 mile commute, thus an hour each way everyday. I know this is nothing for you city dwellers and interstate commuters, but this is a big change for a couple of small town folk like us. So we decided we'd just move to Salem, her commute would be shorter and mine would stay the same.

Would that it t'were so simple

We knew of someone that wanted to buy our house, so we made an agreement, set a closing date, contacted a realtor and started looking for a new abode in Salem. When we bought our current home in '06 the market was flat and we only looked at three houses before finding this one. Easy peasy. However, twelve years later the current market is very hot, and looking for houses is not as it once was. No longer does your realtor recommend homes for you to view, and you casually ponder your options, but you are to scourer the internet listings, find something you want to view, contact your realtor, have them set up an appointment, meet them there, and hope that it is still available. If by some miracle it is available and doesn't already have multiple offers, you view the home hoping it doesn't need updating, repairs or who knows what else. Not to mention does it even fit your needs, forget about wants and desires, this is a hot market and there are 6 other offers on the table so you better make it a good one. Ack!

We spent every spare waking moment we had perusing listings, emailing and texting our realtor, then driving up to Salem after work to look at houses. Many evenings skipping dinner, and getting home late; only to go to bed, get up early, go to work and do it all over again. Every house we looked at needed something, if it was within budget it was 60 to 70 years old, needed major renovations and updating, then at the top of our budget houses still needed work, and throwing more money at it going above budget only increased the size of the home. We're modest folk, and the two of us do not need 1800+ square feet. We visited 16 homes over a period of  2 months, in three completely different neighborhoods and we were running out of time as the closing date on our home was coming fast... something had to give.
Brandy found a listing for a house very similar to our very first home, which we liked the layout, so we made an appointment to view. It wasn't in Salem, but the commute was fair for both of us. Our realtor texted me later that day stating there were already two offers and would we like her to ask the seller to wait for us to see it. Sigh... yes, please have her wait, we'd like to see it.  It's in a desirable neighborhood, within budget, fairly new (2007) and less than 1300 square feet. We were up against 3 other offers, I haven't slept in weeks, this is house number 17, I'm done, let's do this.

We are under contact, and this is the first weekend we've nothing to do since May and I'm finally able to sleep again. I went for a ride Friday to drop off the earnest check at the title company, and took the long way home.

I actually sat in one of the windows of the covered bridge, listening to the babble of Ritner Creek and closed my eyes for a moment.

We still have the inspection, and are going to be busy for the next month packing then moving, painting and cleaning, but the stress of securing shelter has been lifted.

So we're still here, hopefully we can get a ride or two in this summer, maybe even a hike and some pics posted. We've haven't given up on our blogs, we've just been a little busy lately.

Change is good, new treks and adventure awaits.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Looking for gloves all the wrong places, looking for gloves in too many faces.

When we visit motorcycle shops we generally stroll through the showroom, straddle a bike or twelve, then amble over to the clothing and apparel department. Having a closet full of old jackets at home and a couple of Aerostich suits means that I rarely try on jackets anymore. I have a scuffed up pair of Aerostich AD1 pants and a beat up Tourmaster Transition jacket I wear for gravel rides and spontaneous round-about spills on my DRZ.

I am very happy with both pairs of my Sidi boots, especially my Discovery Rain ADV boots, so I'm not in the market for boots for a while.

Trying on helmets doesn't interest me much either as I have a long oval head, so I have a pretty good idea of what will and will not fit my oblong melon, the Arai Profile... or so I thought. Arai recently redesigned the Profile, renamed it Signet-X and it won't fit my head, but the Shoei Neotec modular does... now. I've been waiting years to try a modular helmet, well worth the wait. Love it.

Helmets and boots are the two things you want to try on and buy from your local shop to keep them in business. It would be nice to buy all our gear from local brick and mortar, mom and pop shops. The only problem with that is local shops have to carry what's popular and what sells, which is typically leather.

Hence the never ending search, and a lot of trial and error of ordering online for a good pair of vegan gloves, hell, I'd settle for a half decent pair. Sometimes you have to go cheap to get manmade materials, careful what you wish for...

I wrote to Joe Rocket recently, asking if they manufactured vegan gloves and I received a reply with a long list of "vegan friendly" gloves. I had my eye on the Joe Rocket Ballistic Ultra gloves and placed an order through Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.

I received the gloves within a few days, tried them on and accepted them for what they were, an inexpensive "vegan friendly" glove. I tore the packaging open, and tossed the gloves next to my helmet and the rest of my gear, not giving them much thought. I rode to work that week, grabbed the gloves to try them and accepted them for what they were, an inexpensive "vegan friendly" glove.

It wasn't until the weekend, when we went to coffee and a ride afterward that I discovered that they weren't as friendly as I was led to believe.

1% "Genuine Leather"
I found it interesting that if manufacturers are going to add leather to their gloves, even if it's only 1% it should be of the highest quality "Genuine Leather", as opposed to what.... imitation leather?

Leather is leather is leather, if it's synthetic then it's not leather, so I wish they'd stop calling it synthetic leather. I understand that leather unfortunately does come from different sources, such as a cow, a kangaroo, or a corinthian.

Although I've yet to meet a Corinthian.

I wrote back to Joe Rocket mentioning my disappointment, thinking that there was nothing I could do but turn a blind eye and keep the gloves. I received a reply letting me know that the representative that I emailed originally no longer worked for Joe Rocket and if they may be of some assistance. Now I've worked in customer service most of my career, so I know to ask what the customer wants and then offer them what you can do. I told them that I had worn the gloves and tossed the packaging, believing that these were truly vegan friendly gloves, however I would accept a full refund from Rocky Mountain.
Expecting nothing, I was surprised when I received a reply stating that is exactly what they would do. Really?!? I looked up the email address of whom I was corresponding with to find it was Joe Rocket's distributor, Rocky Mountain's supplier. Return the lightly used gloves and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC would issue me a full refund and that would take care of everything on their end.
Now I don't know if they looked up my account and realized that I spend hundreds, if not into the thousands of dollars with RM ATV/MC, but wow that's customer service.

Prior to this I shared the list that Joe Rocket had originally sent me in a vegan group, and afterward had to go back and edit it stating that these gloves were not vegan after all. I suspect that a certain friend (even though it is rare that vegans have many friends) somehow discovered my dilemma and offered some help.

Don from 2Vegans2Wheels had a pair of vegan gloves he had ordered but were too small and offered to send them to me. Don is a tall guy so I was certain these gloves would fit, and they do. My search was over! What I didn't realize was how well constructed these gloves were and I immediately looked them up.

Motoport Racing Glove
Motoport also makes a winter glove, which I'll be ordering as soon as they come available. They also make jackets, pants, and suits. Although I'm a fan of Aerostich, they haven't been able to find a replacement for their discontinued vegan gloves...

Aerostich Vegan Gloves -

Motoport now fills that need, thanks Don...