Friday, November 28, 2008

Boycott Black Friday

Black Friday has a new meaning when a young man is trampled to death opening the store front doors to a crowd of shoppers.

"Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down"

Will the store still turn a profit after the lawsuit and insurance payout? Probably. Will people still rush stores to save $48.88 on a brand new, state of the art, next big ticket item next year? Probably. Will this tragedy be forgotten and commercialism still shine? Probably.

But all it would take is for this one store to lead the way in stopping this senseless madness. Offer specials all weekend or a week and provide a 30 day raincheck for any item not available. Stop people from camping out for two days on their doorstep to be the first in line. And prevent another tragedy in the name of profit.

We all need to stop and think, think about Jdimytai Damourand and his family, not just this year, but next year and every year.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving...

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

This weekend looks like we are in for some nice weather and I think I'll go for a ride Saturday, just to get away and enjoy the silence of my helmet. Where the radio and television advertisements can't get me.

This is the busiest travel weekend of the year, be careful out there, ride safe.


Friday, November 21, 2008


I was sitting in the car, in a grocery store parking lot the other day while Brandy ran in to grab a few things. I sat there with the window down, ignition off and radio off. I hate the radio, the commercials, morning shock jocks that think they're funny and the same number one bubble gum pop song of the week played over and over and over again.
I like to sit quietly and people watch. I find it interesting to observe what most call human nature and I refer to as human habit. Cars and SUVs would pull up, families would pile out, pick wedgies, scratch, adjust and the herd would move toward the store. Can you tell I don't like large crowds of people either? That's why I sit in the car, and to think, as a child that was punishment. But what was most interesting about a lot of these people was the beep, honk and chirp from their cars as they walked away. Not a glance back for a visual check or knowing that the vehicle is locked when they close the door, but an annoying audio cue confirming that everything is locked up, safe and secure. It was starting to become irritating, as it was a pleasant day, the birds were singing and from across the parking lot you could hear this noise pollution that nobody else even noticed. We deactivated that feature on our car just for that reason.
What came to my mind was how many bells, whistles, doodads and thingamajigs we need on our cars that we don't ask for or come as standard equipment that we don't know how to use, activate or deactivate. I sat in our modest hatchback and took inventory, automatic transmission, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, power door locks and 6 disc in dash CD player with auxiliary input. All the the standard equipment available in most cars, right? Then I started to look closer, driver and passenger SRS and side curtain airbags, front and rear variable speed window wipers, vanity mirror on the drivers visor, tilt steering wheel, height adjustable seating and height adjustable seat belts. I looked closer at the dash, a tach (for an automatic) and then turned the key on and got lost in all the pretty lights. Battery, temperature, brake, cruise, set, tire pressure monitor, and a "PS" light, what the heck is a "PS" and what does it do? Post Script? Power steering? Do I need a light to tell me my power steering is failing, wouldn't the stiff response to a turn input signal power steering?
We take for granted what a cars do for us. Did we ask for it or is it just what consumers have demanded or have manufacturers told us this is what we want, to make their brand more appealing over the competition?

Riding a motorcycle and running errands requires trust in mankind. We leave our bikes, sometimes with our helmets locked to the bike, sometimes not. Our bikes can be moved, hit, pushed, tipped or stolen, but I feel that is a part of what makes motorcycling what it is. A simpler time when we didn't need as much. I don't need a radio, let alone a 6 disc in dash CD player with iPod capabilities. I don't have an alarm, nor do I need one, motorcycles come with an unwritten law of do not touch. I don't even have a clock, nor do I want one. I have a key, a manual choke, a neutral indicator light, headlight high beam light, oil pressure warning light and a tach, that I installed by choice. That's it, pretty simple. I read the manual, I know what my tire pressure is, what my oil level is, I check my brake fluid regularly and I know how to operate my reserve fuel switch. And the drivers vanity mirror, is the mirrored windows of the bank on Main Street.

P.S. - I'll let you know how the story turns out with the novel I'm reading titled "Owners Manual".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks Ma...

Mother Nature gave us a break today from the week of rain.

It was a beautiful morning ride into work. The roads were nearly clear of all debris from the heavy rains the night before. The temperature was in the mid 50ºs and the wind had calmed to a dull roar. I wished I could ride all day.

But not today, instead I sat in the boss's cage as we drove to Woodburn to tour one of our customer distribution centers. I gazed out the window of the car, watching the sun dry the asphalt as we passed over it and longing to smell autumn's warm radiant welcome after a heavy rain. I was thinking about the sun on the back of my gloves warming my hands from the exposed handlebars then up my out-stretched arms. My jacket absorbing the sun's rays, tempting me to unzip a vent to let the fall air billow though my shirt. If only I could be on my bike.

It was nice to get out of the office and enjoy the sun during the brief moments made available. The tour was informative, the three of us all took mental notes of their daily operation and discussed how we could implement even just a fraction of their system into our own warehouse. I am sure many have seen these distribution centers from the outside, they are huge warehouses with what seems to be of very little activity. I've seen many from afar and could only wonder what went on inside. These places are the equivalent of beehives, the happenings inside is the epitome of efficiency. As a logistics coordinator I nearly scratched out a resume on a passing cardboard carton...until I looked up.

Just like a beehive there are no windows or skylights. There is the orange glow of mercury vapor lighting and row upon row of racking and product stacked to the ceiling. It wasn't depressing in the least, the staff was busy working, everyone was polite and courteous, happy bees, a proud lot...but it was not for me. I've worked outside too long to not see the sun or feel the rain on my face, even if just for a moment between answering emails and returning phone calls at my desk. I do appreciate the view my office affords me, I can see my bike from my desk and I can survey the valley sky along my route home.

The sun dropped to the horizon all to quickly today but the sunset was absolutely gorgeous for my ride home.

The forecasters predict a dry and sunny weekend and into next week. I can feel the autumn breeze through my shirt already.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lest we forget...

Veterans Day, I understand, is a day of remembrance to all of those men and women who have served in the military. Not only those who have died but to those who have served and to those who are still serving their country. I am disheartened to learn that November 11th is much less recognized or not as strongly observed in the U.S. as it is in other countries. Veterans Day parades were held today and not on Tuesday, November 11th. Most of us work on Tuesday, as our employers insist on conducting business as usual. Veterans Day Sales are kicking off the Christmas shopping season early instead of waiting until after Thanksgiving. Maybe November 11th is just another day, nothing special, symbolizing something that happened so long ago, nobody speaks of it anymore. I mean no disrespect at all, I am just saddened that another holiday, especially an important one as this has succumb to commercialism.

To me November 11th is Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day and I am also familiar with reference to Poppy Day. A day commemorating the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. I grew up observing November 11th by wearing a poppy, reciting In Flanders Fields in school, honoring 2 minutes of silence to remember the fallen soldiers of World War I, World War II and the too many wars that have followed.
November 11th is a respectful, solemn, an almost somber day. A day when every business closed and parades were held on the 11th day, regardless of what day of the week it occurred.

We wore our poppies, we stood out in the rain and snow, the bagpipes played and we hung our heads.

Just two remember.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Riding in the rain...

Riding in the rain is easy, add darkness and things get a little more complicated. Fallen leaves on the road mashed into a paste creates another hazard and adds to the challenge. The most difficult factor for me in this equation has to be headlights of oncoming traffic. The reflection of light in the raindrops on my visor creates a kaleidoscope of wonder.

Here are a few things I've tried in an attempt to alleviate much of the wonder and make riding in the rain a little more comfortable. Another product review if you will.

I use NIKWAX Visor Proof to shed rain from my visor. It works well but needs to be applied often. A quick turn of the head or tuck behind a windscreen at speed will clear the rain from my visor and reduce the need to use my wiper fingered glove. It also seems to prevent bugs from sticking to my shield, a simple wipe cleans up insect residue nicely.

My Teknic winter gloves have a wiper on both index fingers. At first, I thought this to be a hokey gimmick but it works surprisingly well. They are waterproof and do a great job of keeping my hands dry. They were stiff and warm during the first season and the leather has broken in but the insulation is now somewhat lacking in their second year. The wipers do limit dexterity of the index fingers due to the long wiper surface. These gloves are relatively inexpensive at $49 compared to others on the market for $100 or more and I feel that they perform well considering their cost. I am glad I added heated grips to my bike this year compensating for any shortcomings of these gloves.

HotGrips heated grips are a wonderful addition to my bike. I have been told that once you try heated grips you'll wonder why you didn't try them sooner. I agree, I will not own another bike without heated grips. I went with the actual heated grips rather than the element tape that fit under stock grips. I would imagine that each have their pros and cons, but I cannot speak for the element tape. Stacy at wrote up a great review and install for the element tape and aftermarket gel grips. I would not hesitate to try the tape on my next bike.
I went with the HotGrips based on webBikeWorld review and felt that HotGrips were the original designers for the motorcycle industry. The grips do feel rugged and should stand up to heavy winter use and over time. They do a great job of warming my hands through my gloves and are sometimes too warm on high to where I have to turn them down to the low setting. Cost was a little high at $109, but only because Radio Shack nickel and dimed me out of $38 for a micro switch, connectors, distribution block, fuses and additional wire. Installation was a full afternoon project and required that I not only sand down my throttle sleeve to accommodate the grip, but I had to use a file to remove enough material. Although I took my time sanding and filing I still managed to 'oval' my throttle sleeve causing my throttle to stick ever so slightly. This is my only serious gripe, had they made the inside diameter of the throttle grip larger I am sure the adhesive would have taken up any slack. The other issue, I am not sure if it is the grip or me but the throttle/right grip, seems to be ever so slightly warmer than the left. I imagine this is due to again, the difference of diameter between the two grips. This may be the advantage that the element tape has over the HotGrips.

I have also switched to glasses with yellow lenses, they brighten things up on foggy, overcast days. They do offer additional eye protection but also create another surface to fog up. I've tried anti fog product CatCrap and don't recommend it. It works, but it needs to be applied daily and creates a halo effect with oncoming lights. It is time consuming to apply and remove. I keep it to use in a pinch until I find something better. I am open to suggestions.

The search is on for my next two purchases, one, a Pinlock visor insert, I've heard good things about Pinlock from one of the guys at bike night.
And two, auxiliary lighting. For some odd reason Oregon doesn't use reflective glass beads in their road marking paint and it is just plain hard to see the center line and fog line in the dark and the rain. I am hoping some low mounted driving lights will help alleviate this problem.

Fortunately the heavy rains seem to have diminished, but they will be back, and hopefully I'll be ready.

Let's be careful out there, drivers don't expect us to be on motorcycles in the rain, and their vision is reduced in this weather too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I am...

...a motorcyclist.

I took the car into work on Friday, but not because of the rain, I had to take some items into the office that would not fit on the bike. I have stuff at home "things to bring into work when I have the car" and I have stuff in my office "things to bring home when I have the car". I try to coordinate several errands together to accommodate one trip. This was just one of those times.

I am...a motorcyclist.

On the rare occasion I do take the car to work, I usually take a ribbing from coworkers, "what, is it too wet to ride?" or "don't feel well, are you sick?"
This time Brandy caught the flak from her boss and coworkers. She is usually the first one to work, so when they came in and she was working but her car wasn't in her spot, they started in with "Brad wuss out because of the rain?"

I am...a motorcyclist.

I drive the car all the time on errands about town and for out of town trips with Brandy. But I very rarely take the car to work and I guess I was out of my element when I pulled into work. I had to find a parking spot, I couldn't park next to the building as I do on the bike. I pulled into a spot, I did a complete inventory check of accessories that I needed to turn off before shutting the car off. Wipers, check. Headlights, check. Ignition, check. I turn on and off all of these switches all the time without thinking about it, as second nature. It was disconcerting, I actually had to talk my way through it.

I am...a motorcyclist.

After 'dismounting', I started to walk away from the car and in my peripheral vision caught the driver door, wide open.

I am...a motorcyclist.

I normally go for a walk on my lunch break to get out of the office, get some fresh air and a little exercise. Upon my return to the office, my heart skipped a beat when my bike was gone.

I am...a motorcyclist.

I survived the day and no one was hurt, but when I got home I did steal a quick peak in the garage.

I am...a motorcyclist.