The Ultimate Pacifist

So I’ve really missed writing lately. I remember when I could just have a thought and bang out a post. It was cathartic to be able to throw out something banal and humorous that would be rattling around the old dome. But now that I have a family and I have become aware of the potential violation of the privacy of those around me, I have become more leery of putting myself out there. Plus I spend so much of my time at work, most of the banal humorous stories have to be predicated on an in-depth knowledge of what I do. Again the privacy issue.

Now though, I think I have found something I can write about. Something that I feel I have something to contribute to. Not a self important opinion, or some ridiculous observation, but an honest impart of things I have learned. Things I really think to be true. Of course, as this is Motoproponent’s Weblog, those things are about motorcycles.

As I continue to be an athiest evangelist for the Word of Moto, my influence is manifesting itself in the form of many questions. Questions from people seeking to dip a toe in the shallow end of the riding pool by embarking on the trip to become a motorcycle commuter. It seems like an easier gap to bridge to tell the wife/fiancé/girlfriend that a motorcycle is going to save time, money, and wear and tear on the minivan, than to pitch the wind-in-your-(receding)hair freedom of the open road. It’s also a lot easier to picture yourself as a work-a-day utilitarian commuter, than a badass, hard hittin’ biker babe or Motorcycle Mama.

Here in the Bay Area we have to most motorcycle commute inducing weather and legislation I have ever had the fortune to live with. In fact it is THE reason why I moved back here in the first place. A conversation with my daughter recently made me realize that I have been riding for nearly 20 years. 20 years!!. Soon my motorcycling experience will be old enough to drink. My new commute has been going on for nearly a year now. I find myself shaking my helmet at my temporary traveling companions as I think to myself I have something they should know in my head. I see in them the brash young self important and entitled motorcyclist I used to be.Well here it is.

Woo-sah. Relax. Learn the meaning of almost and recognize your lack of influence.

As a motorcyclist you are only in control of what is between the bottom of your tires and the top of your helmet. (sometimes it’s more like influence than control, really) You need to recognize that no amount of engine revving, or obscene gestures will change the behavior of another commuter. There will never be an instance when some douche pinches you in the split (my own term for motorists moving close to the adjacent car to keep you from splitting lanes) and your engine revving and bird flipping compels him/her to take a self assessment and change their evil ways. There is never a time when the motorist feels that they have done something wrong. You, be being on a motorcycle and splitting lanes, deserve what ever you get in their eyes. There is no sympathy and no awareness of your vulnerability. Even though you cannot exert your will against them, you are the bigger person. Just turn the other cheek and take solace in the fact that you will live longer and be happier and smarter for your chosen method of motion. (I will address the living longer and happier/smarter claim in later posts. for now just trust me on this one)

The other element of this moto pacifism is to realize that no amount of “fault” is worth any amount of pain. This was the most difficult term to come to. In looking back on my motorcycle accidents none of them were my “fault”. I was just moving along through time and space when the actions of another resulted in damage to my body and property. It’s easy to place blame and continue going about my day. But no insurance payout really returns you to “whole”. There will always be some lingering joint pain or a future back pain. Your bike cannot sustain any significant damage and truly be “good as new”. You most certainly did not “teach them a lesson”.But the most jagged pill to swallow is that all of those accidents were avoidable. If I had broken one of the links in the chain of events that led to the motorcycle resting on something other than it’s tires and kickstand. There were several actions or inactions that were solely my decision, that would have prevented that loss of blood from my body and cash from my bank account.

So the TLDR crib notes: Let it go. A 400 pound moto can do nothing to a 4000 pound minivan except make the driver mad enough to vote away your ability to ride. Arrive at work happy to be alive and be a model for others to use as a positive example to sway their decision to ride in our favor. It’s us against them out there, and every one of “us” is one less of “them”

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How far away is “Away From It All”?

So the other day I really had the urge to get out of town, But I still had to be back home in time for all the trappings of responsible adulthood. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. There is something that seems more pure about daydreams when they occur at a scenic overlook that is not marked with a “Vista Point” sign on the side of the road. There is a clarity that comes with the focus required to pilot a motorcycle down some technical ribbon of forgotten asphault that has not known the embrace of a street sweeper since it was pressed into place.

 

I guess, since here in the Bay Area, “it” is “all” cell phones and traffic. So then away from “it all” is about 30 miles from the Castle. Head up Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Fairfax and hang a left on Bolinas Rd. The Fairfax Coffee Roastery is the landmark your looking for.

I’ve ridden this road before but never on a bike like Matilda. This is kinda the thing that falls right into her mission statement. This road, this tasty bit of convenient isolation is Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. The BoFax, to those that know.

 

It quickly gets desolate, especially if you go around brunch time on a weekday.

 

What begins like any other foothill road soon descends and undulates into some coastal conifers and writhes back and forth onto itself like some mythical giant python trying to strangle an equally mythical and giant rodent.

 

 

 

The Mighty Bofax spit me out on the PCH, just south of Point Reyes Station. I turned around and did it again to get these pics.

When I was done I headed up the coast to take a less technical route  back over the hills to meet a friend for lunch. That’s when I found out how close “away from it” all really was. No Cell reception, no other people, a great view and the slight rustle of a constant gentle breeze.

The crest on Marshall-Petaluma Rd. I just switched off the bike and sat by the side of the road with a bottle of water.

 

It was perfect. Until that sweaty, mouth breathing bicyclist rode up and wanted to chat.

 

🙂

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Go Play In Traffic!

By show of hands, who else loves horrible traffic?

I’ve written before about the merits of motocommuting and about how my close proximity to work made me a worse employee because of the convenience.

Now though I have evolved as both an employee (now a supervisor) and as a bay area motorcyclist. The professional evolution now has me commuting to SFO, and my evolution as a motorcyclist has me really enjoying it. ( Plus having an excuse to buy a new bike helps) I’ve often talked about the zen of focus that comes with battling traffic. Now though, the battle has become a game. Not like high stakes tag, where being “it” means getting creamed. My mindset is less “I’ll show them!!!…Pay attention or I will exact retribution upon your side view mirrors!!” and more “WEEEE! look how much fun you could be having if you, too, were riding!” If I’m going to take the self-appointment of Moto-Ambassador seriously, I would rather evoke a touch of jealousy than create fist-shaking ire.

Because the commute is longer, I have to leave much earlier. That means no punctuality pressure, and by not being rushed I actually get to work earlier and much more refreshed than my caged subordinates and contemporaries.

Lead by example, right?

 

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S’been a while

Wow, has it really been more than two years since my last post?

 

Well if you didn’t know I’m now a Husband and (step)Dad! I will often have thoughts that I think are witty and perhaps worthy of sharing with a bunch of strangers, but I have been afraid of compromising the privacy of the rest of my little family. Plus, life has gotten pretty full. The time that I have to sit and bang out a post is better spent sitting on the couch, doing nothing but being still and quiet.

Maybe this is being a grown up.

 

Maybe I just need another exciting road trip to make me want to gush text.

The Hawthorne BARF Rally  is only a few weeks away.

 

We’ll see.

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Got game?

So I’m rocking some public transit action to the city. I got a dinner invite and I’ll be providing some cheap Mexican beer.

That’s right Tecate in a can.

So here I am sitting in the back of the bus (where all the bad kids sit) listening to some Cat Empire on the old iPhone, when all of a sudden this kid jumps out of the seat in the middle of the bus and starts throwing these cryptic gang signs out the big back window.

I pull one of the earphones out to hear what he’s saying as he’s signing.

“five one oh four nine nine ……etc etc” and in between signs he’s rapping his cell phone on the window

I was completely flabbergasted.

I looked at him and said “dude, did you just try to pick up on some chicks,..from the fucking bus?”

He goes “naw man..” as he shows me the screen of his phone with a text from one of the girls with her name “..I didn’t try, I got them fucking digits son”

With that he clanked his brass balls together and sat back down.

That’s game!

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$12.85 an hour

So today I was walking across the parking lot at work, where I saw a penny on the ground. As I knelt down to pick it up, a coworker asked me if I dropped something. I just replied, “Nah, it was a penny”

To which he replied that it wasn’t worth it. Like his time is too valuable to bend at the waist for so little compensation.

So I did a little experiment and found that it takes me about 2.8 seconds to recognize a penny and pick it up. And of you extrapolate a penny for 2.8 seconds of effort, it works out to about $12.85 an hour.

That seems worth it to me.

🙂

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I saw that coming

So it’s such a pretty day that I decided to take a stroll around the hood. I usually just walk to the bus stop or down to some store on the main drag here in The Laurel. But this time I decided to check out the actual neighborhood. I mean I see people walking around when I’m watching Hood Tv , so it would stand to reason that I might see other people from the neighborhood to chat with. Although I really didn’t get more than a smile and a “How’s it going” or a wave here and there. But I discovered that it is a very hilly and steep neighborhood.

Well it was trash day today so the scavengers were out. These are the folks that root through the trash and recycle bins set on the street, and retrieve the recyclables to take them to the recyclers for cash. Most of them just stick to aluminum cans and plastic bottles but the really hard core ones get the glass bottles too. That’s when I saw her. A little Asian woman pushing a heavily laden shopping cart. Judging by the clinking noises it was mostly full of glass. With bags filled with cans and plastic jugs tied to the outside of it. It was the size of a VW Beetle. She, however, was about the size of a ten-year-old. She couldn’t see over the top of it. She was pretty stocky but at maybe 5′ even, that puts her at about 140 pounds tops. I turned the corner ahead of her and started clopping down a very steep hill. In the back of my mind I was going to say something or offer help but I don’t think she should be doing it in the first place. I think the scavengers are a problem, and a liability. I mean I’ve seen the damage an empty cart does when it gets a little speed in a parking lot. I can only imagine what a 250 pound cart full of glass and garbage would do if it started sailing uncontrollably down a steep hill and slammed into a car. Or worse yet into an intersection. As this thought was milling about the ole noggin I heard the frantic slapping of little Asian feet in flip flops from behind me.

Guess what I saw?

C’mon, guess.

That’s right, it was a 250 pound shopping cart full of glass and garbage sailing uncontrollably down a steep hill right towards a Pearl White Toyota SUV. It was quite uncontrolled despite the best efforts of the little Asian woman. She was in front of it trying to slow it down with out turning it as it would have toppled over and spilled the product of hours of trash rooting. Facing the cart and frantically back pedaling down the hill, the carts momentum conspired with both of her cheap flip flops and soon she was just a lump of meat being shoveled down the hill by the runaway cart. I was already running up the hill to help her out as the front wheels had swallowed her legs and she was sliding on her hips and the palm of her hands. This whole grizzly flesh and glass contraption had drifted to the left and she was pinned against the curb by the time I got up the hill to her. I had to put my back up against the front of the cart and give it everything I had to lift the front a few inches so she could get her legs free. Then I wedged the casters against the curb so it wouldn’t go anywhere. She winced and inspected her road rash. I was really surprised nothing was broken. She looked like a Picasso when I got to her. But I guess she was really flexible.

Then she asked me to call her phone because she couldn’t find it. I did. She found it. I helped her get the cart to the bottom of the hill and then during her recap of the events my sorry for her feelings kinda went away.

She was holding the phucking phone in the crook of her neck when she lost the cart. She just wasn’t paying attention.Yakking away and didn’t notice how steep the hill was because her cart was too high to see over and she couldn’t look around it because she was holding the phone with her ear against her shoulder. “I need both hands to push the cart” she said.

ARE you FUCKING KIDDING Me!!!!???!?!

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