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Neglect. 4/29/2007

I have been neglecting Hunting the Snark lately.  I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but 2 Fridays came and went with no Girl Friday.  And no one complained.  I guess no one cares anymore, as someone put it.

I would like to clarify that the neglect and lack of posts in here was not completely intentional, not was I on any sort of “hiatus” or moment of emo-ness.  I’ve just been very busy with real life lately.  I’ll be undergoing 2 major changes in my life in the next week, within days of each other.  I don’t do anything by halves, as some of you may know, and 2 very stressful events in the space of a week takes the cake, somewhat.

I wish I could promise I won’t do this again, but I can’t.  Priorities, as the MBA types like to say.  But I shall try to keep you abreast of things in my life, preferably motorcycle related.  Plus some other things.  And definitely not missing out on the Girl Fridays, which is probably the only reason why 94% of you come in here.

For those of you who have checked in and wondered, thank you for dropping by, and I shall try not to neglect this space too much in future.  Oh, and be prepared for some weirdness in my future posts, because next week, my stress levels are going to go through the roof.  Well, rather more weird than is usual.

I saw earthlings. 4/19/2007

A waiter asks a man, May I take your order, sir?

Yes, the man replies. I’m just wondering, exactly how do you prepare your chickens?

Nothing special, sir. We just tell them straight out that they’re going to die.

* To put this joke in context, someone recently watched “I saw earthlings“.

Girl Friday. 4/13/2007

Horseshoe. 4/11/2007

An Irishman applies for a job at a blacksmith.

The  blacksmith asks him, ” Have you any experience shoeing horses?”

“No”, replies the Irishman, “But I once told a donkey to fuck off  !”

Declaration of war.

Motorcycling, by its very nature, is a solitary sport. Even if you are riding in a group, you are essentially alone. Just you and your motorcycle, and the road, with your thoughts bouncing around inside your helmet.

The above is a sample of the random fragments of thought that do bounce around inside my helmet as I ride.  I ride to work every day.  By choice.  And I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts.  I do devote some attention to the various car drivers trying to kill me in the course of my daily commute, of course, but mainly, I use my riding time to think about the day coming up, or things that are festering on my “to-do” list, or more and more often lately, of someone.

I have noticed that I have begun to become a little gun-shy of the daily commute.  Yesterday morning’s ride in was a good case in point.  Traffic was more than a little chaotic, and cars were changing lanes willy-nilly, trying to gain a 12 foot advantage on the car beside them.  I don’t really understand this.  When I am forced to use a four wheeler for the drive in to the city, I get into my desired lane.  And I stay there.  I don’t see much point in jockeying and fighting for position in a traffic jam where the average speed of the vehicles stuck in the jam is about 10 miles an hour.  Because you’ll get to your destination 90 seconds earlier, tops.  And if the cop manning the intersection gets his timing wrong, you end up waiting anyway.

So what’s the point of lane changing 5 times in the space of 500 meters?

You aggravate the drivers you’re cutting in front of, and you’re definitely aggravating the motorcycles lane splitting behind you, because you’re now straddling lanes, and no one is giving you an inch.  You are now an obstruction to motorcycles.  Congratulations.  In case you didn’t realise it, the reason there is a traffic jam is because of the high number of single occupancy vehicles, i.e. cars, that come into the city.  With drivers changing lanes, and not keeping to a steady speed, and slowing down excessively for corners.  And you are not helping matters any by trying to get ahead 20 feet.

So I’ve become a little wary about lane splitting, even though it’s the most efficient way to commute by motorcycle in the city.  I worry about idiots like you, who change lanes without signalling, or not checking your mirrors.  Who do it suddenly, without making sure there is nothing alongside you.  Or deliberately trying to squeeze me out, because I take up less space that that car you are currently stuck in.  Or tailgate behind me, trying to squeeze past because you feel I’m moving a little too slowly, or because I left a little gap on my left or right.

I remember once, a long while ago, having an argument with a car driver, who was of the opinion that motorcycles should give way to cars because they had smaller engines.  I almost shoved my beer can up his ass, because any motorcycle above 250 c.c. in this country pays more in road tax yearly than a 1500 c.c. car.  Not to mention that any motorcycle imported into the country pays 100% in import duty.  So on a price per pound basis, I would think big bikes have more of a right to the road that any econo-box sedan.  Motorcycle use less road space, don’t damage roads, consume fewer resources and produce less emissions (no one mention 2 strokers, they’ve been banned for road use almost everywhere else in the world except this region and Africa).

And every day, more and more, I think about the dangers I face daily.  I’ve lost count of the number of close shaves, or how many wing mirrors I’ve ripped off or broken, of how many doors I’ve kicked in, or the number of windows I’ve broken with a quick application of a carbon fiber knuckled glove.  I’m getting really tired of having to be wary and cautious.

So, in fair warning to anyone who may be sharing the road with me  from tomorrow.  I’ve decided that I have equal rights to the road as you do in the rush hour.  Don’t get in my way.

I don’t like Mondays. 4/9/2007

Mondays sometimes suck, and with good reason.  I’m not refering to Garfield the Cat, and his “I hate Mondays” routine.  I’m talking about the waking up, and wanting to destroy the world kind.  I rolled out this morning on Bikebike, late.  There was a bit of an altercation involving toothpaste, chocolate milk and a blanket, which was resolved with the judicious application of force.  This resulted in me running out, jumping on Bikebike, and shooting off with the bare minimum of engine warm-up time.

I came out to the “T” junction connecting to the main road, and took the slip road left.  I headed up the acceleration lane, and signalled to merge with the traffic.  I checked my mirror, and did a quick over the shoulder.  The car behind was a ways away, and there was more than enough room for me to merge, safely.  I did so, although I wasn’t all that quick about it.  I didn’t want to give the engine too much right wrist, because she was still cold, and camshaft and crankshaft bearings aren’t cheap.

As I went to the right, I looked, and this bloody matchbox on wheels had come right up to me, and was occupying the space I wanted.  He accelerated, and was trying to push me back to the side of the road.  And he was being really aggressive about it.  I held my ground, and he promptly squeezed between me and the car on the right, trying to get ahead.  This was dangerous driving, not to mention the fact that it was bordering on pre-meditated murder.

If he brushed me, I would be bouncing off the tarmac, and smashing my collar bone on the curb.  I looked into the car, and it was some middle aged guy, with his wife next to him.  The car was the ubiquitous little Kancil, a car I particularly happen to despise, because I’ve noticed that a majority of males driving said car have real ego problems on the road, probably because they get bullied by other road users.  It isn’t my fault that your car is small, and has an under powered engine.  I ride a small bike daily.  Small in comparison to the other bikes in the stable, and grossly under powered when compared to an open class superbike, but it will still put your matchbox to shame.

Which is something these drivers still don’t realise.  How many times does it take for you to have your windows sucked out by a bike before you realise that you are basically driving what amounts to a small, minimalist car, designed only for short runs in the city?  And that just because it has alloy wheels and a racing stripe, does not mean it is going to go any faster than about 140 km/h?

I came up to this idiot, and gave him the stare of death.  His wife looked at me, and said something to her husband.  He pointedly stared straight ahead, not wanting to see the pure hatred I was staring through his window.  I slipped in front of him, and flipped him the bird.  And gave him a “come on” gesture.  I accellerated, and as we went down the hill, I took both hands off the bars, and stood up.  I turned, looked at him, and gave him another bird.  He came a little closer, and was obviously contemplating running me over.  I laughed inside my helmet, dropped into the seat, and gunned it.

As Bikebike responded, I thought about what idiots ego makes of us all.  And realised I was being as much of an idiot as he was.  I am comfortable enough in my skill with motorcycles that I don’t feel the need to show it off, anytime, anywhere.  Some of the guys in the club have been bugging me to show them stunts, or how to go fast, or how I take corners so smoothly it seems to be one single seamless action from upright to heeled way, way over, in a deceptively slow manner, that someone following behind actually realises is lightning fast, and with zero loss of corner speed.  And I’ve always refused.  My ego doesn’t need stroking like that.  And yet, here I was, on  a public road, playing tag with an idiot in a car.  Who, if he decided to test the impact strength of his car against my bike, meant that I would lose, and in probably the worst way possible.  My ego was getting the best of my sense of logic.

I backed off, and Mr Idiot Matchbox caught up with me.  I looked over at him, and he looked at me.  He raised a hand in apology.  I nodded my head, and headed off.  As I walked into the office, I was still in rather a disgruntled mood.  I sat down in my chair, looking at my desk.  I wasn’t in the best of frame of mind after fighting through the chaos that is morning rush hour.  Until the receptionist brought these in for me and placed them on my desk.

Coffee and doughnuts makes everything all right.  And in case anyone is thinking of asking, no, my name isn’t Colin.  It’s Percival.

Girl Friday. 4/6/2007

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