I may have mentioned once or twice here that I ride a motorcycle. I have some experience riding on the street but very little in the dirt. I may also have mentioned once or many times that I’ve recently purchased a new ginormous motorcycle that’s in the “adventure bike” category. That means it’s perfectly capable of going both on and off road. I’m somewhat intimidated by it which makes me a very timid rider in the dirt, unsure of my abilities to stay upright. Many of my little stories are about conquering my fears and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. This story is about the power of the mind.
The new ginormous motorcycle has more electronics than the space shuttle and enough buttons to rival a modern airliner. So many buttons in fact, they had to make an on-line simulator to practice with. I’ve only figured out about half of them so far since it takes the majority of my limited brain cells just to stay upright. I don’t need to make things more complicated by fiddling with buttons and switches. Anyway, I was reading some on-line forums about the bike and stumbled upon a thread about something called the “G-switch”. Folks were raving about what a difference it made in the dirt for traction.
If you haven’t ridden a motorcycle in the dirt, traction is where my fear comes from. Riding around a corner and feeling your rear (or front) wheel start sliding is a very unnatural feeling and causes my stomach to pucker up. So naturally anything that improves traction is going to make my life better. I quickly opened up the manual and then the on-line simulator and figured out how to turn the G-switch on and off. Time to jump on the bike and go find some dirt!
I rode up to a high mountain lake on slippery, loose gravel and dirt roads. With the G-switch engaged it was like I was riding on rails. My tires were glued to the dirt and I rode at 2x my normal speed. What an amazing difference! With the G-switch on it was like I was a different rider. Why hadn’t I discovered this earlier?
Once at home, enjoying an adult beverage after my ride, the engineer in me decided to figure what what the G-switch actually does. What engineering marvel did those designers create when they crafted that magic switch? It took quite a bit of research to find the actual specs. And it turns out… it has nothing to do with traction really. It changes how the clutch works.
How in the world did I ride so well then? It’s amazing what the brain is capable of. I know there’s plenty of cute fables out there describing the power of belief, but I never thought I’d experience it. I was sure the G-switch was doing something to help me and therefore I relaxed, trusted the bike, and rode better than I thought I could. I have to laugh at myself. It will be interesting to see what happens on my next ride. Will I revert to being cautious since I know there’s no magic G-switch helping me? At the same time I now know I’m capable of riding more confidently than I have been. My guess is somewhere in the middle. Regardless, the lesson learned is that we’re all far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. But you’ll never know if you don’t try.
- I took the new ginormous motorcycle out for its first long ride yesterday. I did an impromptu 100 miles to a couple of very small towns with populations of less than a thousand, rode through a snow covered canyon around a reservoir, then some high speed highway miles to get back home. The bike handles like a dream. The ride was at the very end of a busy day (hint, foreshadowing). I started out with some technological challenges. As I’ve mentioned before, the bike came with Apple Car Play installed. I’m an Android guy, so I was briefly faced with the thought of having to switch over to Apple. Fortunately they released an update supporting Android Auto a week ago. Yay for me! So, I went through the process of updating the bikes firmware. All seemed to go well except… Android Auto won’t connect to my phone. Sigh. After trying everything I could think of, I ran out of time and had to move on to other tasks. One of those tasks was part of operation senior fitness. I went for an honest to god trail run, which I haven’t done since last summer. Very discouraging since it felt like I was starting from scratch. Legs were very shaky and weak by the time I got home. More errands, and fast forward to the end of the day and it was time to ride! Now, if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle before it’s hard to appreciate how tiring it can be. It doesn’t matter how newfangled and fancy your bike is, it takes a toll. They’re heavy, you have constant buffeting of wind, noise, and you have to have a hundred percent focus at all times. It’s not like driving around in a car. On top of all that it’s a new bike, so I’m still trying to figure out all the buttons and ride characteristics. I certainly went into a few corners too fast or sometimes unsure of myself, not knowing how the bike would handle. Plus I’m a mediocre rider at best, even on the old bike I know well. I finished the ride with a high speed highway run which had my adrenaline up a bit. All that was left was a short ride through town and some stop and go city traffic. And sure enough, as a traffic light turned green the cars started moving forward, everyone suddenly came to a quick stop. I slammed the brakes and awkwardly put my foot down, but the bike began leaning over. Now keep in mind this is a very tall and heavy bike. As it leans, at some point it’s mass will be too great to hold unless you’re a world powerlifting champion. Which I most certainly am not. As the bike kept leaning and I started fighting to get it back upright, all I could feel was how shaky and weak my leg felt from the run earlier today and just how tired my body was from the ride. Time came to a standstill as I fought this massive machine. It felt like every car around me was watching this slow motion spectacle. At the last second I managed to win the war with gravity, and awkwardly lurched forward. My leg was quivering and I could feel all the muscles in my lower back. I don’t really remember the last few stoplights or the ride through the neighborhood before I got home. I’m going to drop the bike at some point, but my hope is that it’s in the dirt and due to technical terrain. That I can live with. Dropping it at a stoplight in traffic would be… well, I don’t want to think about it. Lesson learned – don’t ride when you’re tired and not hundred percent. I let my excitement and enthusiasm get the better of me. When I start traveling I’m going to have to remind myself to keep my daily mileage down and resist the urge to just push on to the next destination. Which is hard, because it’s just so damn fun to ride!
- My brother in law finished his last patrol shift as a police officer in a big city yesterday and begins his retirement. I’m super proud of him. He had a great career and did everything from patrol, metro street crime enforcement, SWAT, and taught at the academy. He did everything right, and is the model of what you’d want in a police officer. Thank god he’s out. This is no longer an environment to be a police officer in. Every stop, people have their phones out waiting to capture something gone wrong. The chance of losing everything you worked your entire career for is high. You will be judged first and foremost by the court of social media. The city and police department certainly won’t back you up. And clearly the bad guys now feel empowered to attack officers with impunity. No matter what you do as an officer, you’ll lose. He made it out and can hold his head high. Congrats!
- Meanwhile, in other law enforcement news, “ICE officials told staff today that the number of families and minors arriving at the border is expected to be highest in “over 20 years” and the government will use hotels in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix if it runs out of space for families at ICE rapid-processing hubs “. Yeah, nobody saw this coming. Apparently it’s ok in the middle of a pandemic to let thousands of migrants cross the border. We haven’t even reached peak border crossing season (May/June). What could possibly go wrong?
- I’ve said it before, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to not wonder who is actually running the administration? It’s clearly not Biden. The other day he had another embarrassing gaff in which at the end of a video call he said: “I’d be happy to take questions if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance,” Biden told Speaker Pelosi. “Whatever you want me to do.” They immediately cut the feed. It’s also starting to look very odd that there’s been zero talk of a state of the union speech. Because I’m a dork, I looked up the dates every president has given their first SOTU speech. The latest was January 31st by the first George Bush. It’s now March.
- I finally finished the series Mr Robot. Fantastic. I love unique plots. We just started a new one (well, new to us), For All Mankind. We’re only a few episodes in, but really digging it so far.
- I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Shocked. Jaw on the floor. The second great uprising by QAnon domestic insurgents that was supposed to take over the capitol yesterday… didn’t happen. Never mind, the capitol police asked yesterday that the national guard deployment be extended by several more months. I’m just happy that, after a brutal and hard fought campaign against these vicious insurgents, the D.C. National Guard has created a “Presidential Inauguration Support Ribbon” for the tens of thousands of Guard troops who deployed to the Capitol. You just can’t make this stuff up. Bronze stars for “sleeping in parking garages” or “eating undercooked chicken”. Sigh.
Song of the day: Big Head Todd & the Monsters Boom Boom
- While I’m not a particularly gifted writer, I do much better at communicating my thoughts in written form than I do speaking. My mouth and my brain are not always in sync. In my head I may have a completely logical and well thought out opinion, but what comes out of my mouth is “that sucks”. I did this exact thing yesterday to Mrs Troutdog. She made the innocent statement that “I should watch SD Governor Kristi Noem’s CPAC speech, it’s really good”. My response? “How do you watch that crap? It’s just a bunch of politicians auditioning for their next office”. Way to go Troutdog! She reminded me of it later that night, telling me that I can come across very negative about everything. She’s probably right. The problem is that in my head I don’t feel negative. That’s actually not what I’m thinking at all. In reality I actually feel more positive than I have in a while, mostly due to stepping away from the non-stop barrage of political news we’ve experienced this last year. I have a bunch of goals and new activities that I’m really excited about. So when it comes to some random political speech, I really could care less. It won’t impact my life one bit, regardless of who the politician or which side of the aisle they’re from. Politics are fake. More so than any other profession. I have a deep distrust of all politicians. That distrust leads me to view anything they say as something purely calculated to achieve their next elected office. That’s unfortunate because I’m sure many of them are lovely people, and there probably are some politicians out there who truly feel that they’re trying to make a positive difference for the future. The unfortunate part of my dismissing the Governor’s speech is that it’s actually a really good speech. She really is a rising political star. Now, I don’t agree with everything she stands for. As is probably true for many more centrist folks, I agree with most of her political ideas but I don’t agree with her on social issues. I suppose that’s the case for most people, regardless of political side – you pick the few issues that are important to you and choose a politician that most closely espouses that. Meanwhile, you hold your nose and ignore the other parts. There will never be a perfect candidate for everyone. And Governor Noem is certainly not perfect. Noem has received 26 traffic citations, including 20 speeding tickets from 1989 to 2010, stop sign and seat belt violations, no driver’s license, failure to appear notices, and two arrest warrants. That’s impressive. I don’t know if she’s a rebel, giving a big FU to the establishment, or just a really bad driver. One thing I do know, she clearly has a workout routine that makes me feel very inadequate. I suspect most men and women in that audience spent much of that speech wishing they had her shoulders and arms. I’m thinking a Noem / Tulsi ticket in 2024 would be pretty powerful. Question is, who gets the top spot?
- I smoked some pretty good baby back ribs the other day. I confidently stated that I think I’m ready to try a brisket this summer. If you’re not familiar, smoked brisket is the holy grail of barbeque. It takes twelve plus hours to cook and there’s no in-between when it comes to quality – brisket is either mouth wateringly good, or it’s awful. It’s an expensive piece of meat and a lot of hours to find out which one you’ve got. Plus it’s so big you have to have a bunch of people over to help eat it, which guarantees a large audience for your potential failure. In preparation I watched Aaron Franklin’s instructional series on cooking barbeque and quickly realized… I’m not ready for brisket. I think a more realistic goal for the summer is mastering pulled pork. I’m good with that. Being able to crank out a good rib or pulled pork are still worthy items in the “basic dude stuff” toolbox.
- Speaking of South Dakota, it’s been on my todo list for quite some time. It’s a little out of the way from where I’m located so it’s just out of reach of the quick roadtrip. But the Badlands, Black Hills, and Rushmore… is a motorcycle dream ride. I need to start figuring out what trips are realistic this summer. Lots of moving parts to coordinate. Will Mrs Troutdog have a suitable bike by then and is that type of trip even within her new rider skills? Is that where we want to spend the bulk of our vacation budget this summer? Who’s going to watch the dog, or do I need to install a sidecar and get some doggles? Am I overthinking this or not planning enough? It’s always interesting when you plan on doing things you’ve never done before. It’s hard to know what to expect. Fun thinking about though.
- I don’t do well without sun. And this winter has been weird weather-wise. Normal for us is three or four days of storms, a week of sun, and repeat. It’s normally a pretty good mix. A few powder ski days followed by some blue sky groomer run or cross country ski days. This winter feels like it’s just been grey non-stop. I’ve missed most of the powder days due to bad timing with work. My mood slowly drifts south with lack of sun. On top of that I have this new motorcycle obsession, so my thoughts are on warm summer days lately. So anyway, yesterday I went cross country skiing with some friends and my hound. Halfway through the ski, the sun came out and it was glorious. I think there was a five minute period where we all just stopped and stood there, not speaking, faces turned towards the sun. It gave me hope. We’re only a few weeks away from blue sky spring skiing. And a month from actual motorcycle time. Now I just need to stop eating cookies or I won’t fit into the new fat Elvis motorcycle suit.
Song of the day: Presidents Of The USA – Lump Pinkpop 2005
- Normally I love winter. I downhill ski, cross-country, skate ski, or snowshoe at least three to four days a week. You might ask why I’m still getting fatter then, but that’s a topic for another post. This winter I’ve been busy preparing for my “Summer of George” moment. New motorcycle purchased, new riding suit, tools, updated video gear, endless hours of motorcycle travel videos consumed, and many late nights pouring over maps planning routes. I’m almost ready to hit the road. Except motorcycles, snow, and ice don’t mix very well. I’m probably a tiny bit more rugged than the average guy, but not Long Way Down rugged. If you haven’t watched this motorcycle travel documentary you should. It’s interesting to see the effort it took to film something before the GoPro existed. Anyway, the point is that it’s another month in my part of the world before road-tripping becomes enjoyable weather-wise. I’ve never looked forward to winter ending before. So, I’m forced to spend my time pursuing maps and travel websites to build my list of must-see destinations. I’ve been mostly focusing on unrealistic epic trips across the west, so I hadn’t looked much at what’s close to me. This morning I stumbled upon the motherload of interesting small town America just a few hours from me. I found a little town perched on the Snake River that hosts what they bill as “Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um”. It was an emu ranch that has become a museum full of artifacts and dwellings from the 1800s early settlers and early small town America memorabilia. Looking at the map more, within 40-50 miles of that town are deep canyon overlooks, sand dunes, birds of prey conservation areas, and a ghost town. Plus a couple of promising looking BBQ and burger places. This is the perfect day trip to kick off the Summer of George! Another month of quick rides around town in-between storms to get used to the new bike, and then it begins. Because I love winter, I’ve never looked at the weather report before and cursed when I see another week of storms coming. It’s a strange feeling. Sigh. Back to the maps for now I suppose.
- A California democratic representative, during an interview on CNN, stated that those businesses that cannot afford to pay their employees $15 an hour are essentially not worth preserving. This simple statement encompasses everything wrong with mostly liberal, big government-centric thinking. The thought that some mindless bureaucrat gets to pick and choose what businesses are worthy of keeping is appalling. And naturally it’s a statement from someone who’s been primarily an academic/lawyer/politician his entire career. A thirty second investigation into the representative (a.k.a. Wikipedia) shows a bit of a contradiction – he has a degree in economics, wrote a book titled “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future“, yet still makes statements like the one he did. My interest is piqued enough to read more about his philosophy. Maybe there’s something I’m missing? At the moment, in regards to the $15 minimum wage, I still feel if people are resorting to entry level jobs to feed a family then it seems like the government focus should be on enabling creation of middle income opportunities instead of simply raising the bottom wage. Otherwise, let’s just adopt Andrew Yang’s proposal and give everyone a universal basic income. We’re already printing money, what’s a few hundred trillion more?
- There’s been so much global warming, Niagara Falls froze over this week. Of course polar vortexes are cyclical events that happen from time to time and shouldn’t be counted as climate. Climate is measured in decades. Interestingly, in the cult of global warming, a cold event like this doesn’t get much press but an El Nino warming event causing a hot summer will be treated as non-stop climate Armageddon. It’s all about the narrative baby.
- Speaking of printing money, the Federal Reserve expanded its record holdings of US Treasuries in the fourth quarter of 2020 as it continued monetizing the massive federal debt. I don’t understand much of this, but it does seem like they’re trying to push inflation. Most of this is way over my head, but it certainly feels like if we continue to simply toggle the levers… at some point it’s going to collapse. I guess as long as it’s not on my watch we’re all good.
- I know that there is no actual censorship or purging happening on the part of Twitter towards folks who don’t tow the woke orthodoxy, but they just suspended Steven Crowder for simply saying he can confirm that people voted at address that do not exist. That is some serious insurrectionist talk. Thank god we’re being protected from outrageous statements like that.
- I don’t know if this is real or staged, but it’s pretty funny regardless. You need to watch to the end.
Song of the day: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground – Live at La Cigale
- As humans, it’s normal to take things for granted. Your health, your car starting, the sun rising, and indoor dining. I’m lucky that my state has allowed indoor dining for the most part during this horrible gift from China, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (I don’t think I’m allowed to say China or Wuhan virus anymore). Well, the last two days I’ve been on a road trip of sorts and my travel partner and I stopped in a cute little town and went to a promising looking brewpub. The hostess scurried outside and asked us if we had reservations. Who needs reservations at a brewpub? We said no and she replied that the only seat she had left was outside the tent and not under the heaters. What? We said ok because we were starving, so she seated us at a lone table away from four other tables under a makeshift tent. Keep in mind the outside temperature was in the twenties. This was all very confusing. I ran back to the car to get another jacket and then went inside to wash up in the facilities. Once inside I saw all the chairs stacked up on top of the tables and it suddenly dawned on me. This state does not allow indoor dining. It’s twenty frigg’n degrees and the state is forcing people to eat outdoors. I watched patrons arrive carrying huge thick blankets. The people in this state are so desperate to eat at a restaurant they’re willing to bring blankets and sit outside in twenty degree temps. Meanwhile, all the restaurant workers are inside walking around without masks. They only put them on when they came outside to serve patrons. What sort of dystopian nightmare is this? When our food came it was good… for about thirty seconds and then was stone cold. BECAUSE IT’S TWENTY GODDAM DEGREES OUTSIDE! It’s hard to describe the absolute lunacy that is a health official who thinks all this is a viable solution to the problem. And I’m saddened that as thinking, voting, citizens we’re all just meekly going along with this nonsense.
- The aforementioned road trip was to pick up the new motorcycle I’ve previously mentioned. Oh, she is a thing of beauty. I’m already in love. This particular bike was pretty hard to find, so I ended have to go to a different state to buy it. Not an issue other than we’re currently experiencing a pretty significant snow storm, or a “winter weather advisory” as the weather service call it. I’m not a particularly smart fellow, so it didn’t dawn on me to rent an enclosed trailer. So my new beast had to travel across three states through a snow storm to get home. She was covered in a thick layer of road grime and ice by the time I got her in the garage. But, it’s an adventure bike and that’s what it was intended to do. It’s not some fancy Harley that only comes out when it’s a perfect 70 degrees. I figure it was the perfect baptism to adventure. I will however be spending the rest of the day cleaning her up. And dreaming about the adventures we’ll have. Once it stops snowing.
- Twitter has decided to ban Project Veritas and it’s founder James O’Keefe’s accounts. Yep, no censorship here. Move along people, nothing to see.
- This is an excellent video talking about the problem with electric vehicles. It’s not the cars that are the issue, it’s the lack of charging infrastructure. I have no problem with the idea of electric vehicles. I’ve even toyed with the idea of putting a deposit down on the Tesla Cyber truck (Mrs Troutdog would kill me). This country simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to support large numbers of electric vehicles, nor the drain it would put on the electrical grid. Not to mention how we’re going to produce all that electricity with only solar and wind power since we’re getting rid of all those nasty fossil fuel plants. I wonder if there’s another source of electricity that’s clean, safe, and proven? Like, say… nuclear? Why in the world this isn’t being even spoken about by the Green New Deal zealots is beyond me.
- One of the many topics that came up during the previously mentioned road trip was the sad state of our public schools. For better or worse, Covid was the perfect inflection point for fundamentally changing how we teach our kids. We have the technology. We have the entirety of human knowledge instantly available. We have the ability to present information in ways that were unimaginable when I went to school. And when forced to move to remote, technology driven teaching, what did our educators do? Nothing. They’ve continued the same old way of teaching we’ve been doing since the beginning of time. We literally have clung to the Prussian education system from the 19th century. Someone stands in front of the class and lectures and the obedient students attempt to memorize. The only difference is they’re trying to do it on Zoom. Kids, make sure not to miss your 1pm Zoom math class! Why, why, why? This will be harsh to hear, but what should happen is to get rid of half the teachers. Replace them with IT people and digital content creators. The remaining teachers would be responsible for driving the curriculum and measuring student progress. The student to teacher ratio should only be limited by how many papers/projects/tests a teacher can grade. Those teachers can be, gasp, located anywhere in the country. We want teachers who can put out amazing interactive digital content that engages kids in the same ways they’ll be working and producing at their jobs in the future. Meanwhile I suspect we have many teachers that lament we no longer have library books and encyclopedias to look up facts. If I had kids and was forced to go the “remote” learning route, I’d certainly be looking into some sort of Khan Academy type of learning. Our public schools are doing our kids a massive disservice and the teacher’s unions and elected officials are happily going along with it. Change is scary. But pretending the digital age isn’t real is dooming our kids to fail in the future.
- And because at heart I’m still a ten year old who likes fart jokes, enjoy some mugshots of people with crazy fake eyebrows.
Song of the day: Hole – Celebrity Skin (live)
Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.
- Let me see if I’ve got this right. Four years of non-stop obstructing, harassment, bias, calling half the country racist, xenophobic, white supremacists. Tearing up state of the union speeches for political theater. Literally calling for your supporters to get in the face of the opposition at gasoline stations, restaurants, and shopping at department stores. How many videos have you seen of leftist/Antifa/BLM crowds chanting and screaming in the face of people in restaurants just trying to eat a meal? (none if you only watch CNN) And NOW you’re the party of unity and healing? A man, who’s stated mentor was an actual racist and member of the KKK, said that he decided to run when he saw the president support white supremacy. Seriously?
Look, I could care less you supported. Personally I think 90% of both parties are twatwaffles who care only about power and enriching their inner circles. But if you can’t at least admit there’s hypocrisy, media bias, and big tech influence… then you, my friend, are seriously part of the problem. A problem that can only be fixed by becoming a contrarian. Make an effort to expose yourself to many different opinions, not just the ones you agree with. Soon, you’ll realize that most of the steaming turds that run the media (which includes social media) and politics have only one purpose – to separate you from your hard earned quan. I implore you – please don’t be naive enough to believe these folks actually care about you. As the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for something you consume – then YOU are the product being sold.
- In my never ending attempts at being creative, I’ve been really trying to learn how to make little videos for the YouTubes. It’s working out about as well as my blogging and photography have gone. But, I enjoy learning new things so it’s all good.
- Just know that if I see you driving alone in your car and wearing a mask, I will laugh at you. Not to go down the mask rabbit hole, but just to illustrate for you that in the real world there is no “scientific consensus” about mask wearing… I’ve been observing the comings and goings of the various doctors at my hospital. Surgeons, neurologists, hospitalists, residents, there is no conformity on mask wearing. Some wander around with a paper procedure mask dangling from one ear. Others wear an N95, covered by a procedure mask and a face shield on top of that. These are folks who are smarter and more immersed in science than most of us and there clearly is no universal agreement on “the science”.
- Ok, ok, just one more point and I’ll stop. Please find me a graph of any country, state, county, or city that shows the ‘rona case count dropping significantly after a mask mandate. I’ll wait.
- Today was our first snow. I’m looking forward to forgetting politics and focusing on winter sports. I don’t care many times I see it – the first snow of the year and we run around like little kids. Every damn time.
- Mrs Troutdog informed me that I’m buying a new motorcycle and gear. My bike (and gear) are from 2005. Can’t say I don’t get the most use possible out of my stuff. The problem is that I’m so overwhelmed by indecision that it’s now winter. I have five more months to consume every YouTube bike review and further paralyze myself. I expect to make a decision sometime around 2023.
- If the news, media, politics, or the ‘rona are getting you down, do the following. Step 1: Open a beer, pour a glass of wine, or pop some champagne. Step 2: Scroll through images of Quokka’s.
You’ll feel better, I promise.
Song of the day: Katy Perry – California Gurls ft. Snoop Dogg