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Friday, August 31, 2012

Motorcycle Vigilance

On Wednesday as I was going to work, two young boys on bicycles did something incredibly stupid. They left the sidewalk, rode out across a heavily congested Boise thoroughfare without warning, and subsequently caused several vehicles to slam on their brakes. Unfortunately, a black Harley Davidson Road King was embedded in traffic. The rider slammed into the car in front of him.

I was about 400 feet north of the accident and saw the whole thing unfold as I traveled south. The rider was flat on his back with a huge bloody laceration on the back of his head as I passed by. The throttle was wide open as the weight of the right side of the bike was bearing down onto the pavement. I'm not sure what happened to those idiot kids.

Several years ago, law enforcement fell into this trend of calling motor vehicle accidents "collisions" because as the theory goes..."accidents" were preventable and the term collision was more precise.  Such is the minutia of our age.

I have ridden a quarter million miles on motorcycles over 30 years. I have been in four accidents. They were probably all preventable. It didn't matter who had the right of way. In any collision involving a motorcycle, the motorcyclist loses. So the idea of simply riding and obeying the law will not work for riders. People running stop lights will kill you. It will not matter to your loved ones or your corpse who had the right of way. So what I thought I'd do today is list some things that have nearly killed me, wrecks that I have witnessed, things to pay attention to. My collective experience.

1. If you don't have to ride a motorcycle, don't start. They are extremely dangerous and if they were invented tomorrow, they'd be outlawed.

2. Now that you have ignored the sound advice listed in (1)... here is the list.

3. Learn HOW to properly ride a motorcycle. Learn how to lean, how to operate both brakes in unison. Learn when not to ride- like in rain, ice, or at night. Always check your bike's equipment, tires, brake lines before riding. Don't modify your bike with extreme accessories. Heavily modified bikes are harder to maneuver. Giant ape hangers will not help you avoid a collision. Modified bikes are in a proportionately higher amount of fatal collisions than less modified bikes. Some modifications are good. Consider those. Many bikes have anti lock brakes and Gold wings have airbags. Really.

4. Wear protective clothing. Closed footwear, gloves, leather. Protective eye wear. Cover areas of the body that will be struck by flying debris like sand, rocks, insects, or other airborne objects.

5. Wearing a helmet is up to you and the law where you live. In areas I am unfamiliar with, I wear the helmet. On local trips to the store and back, I don't. If I am familiar with a route, I will leave the helmet behind. If you are an inexperienced rider with less than 10 years time, I would say...wear a helmet. If you have a passenger- make them wear a helmet.

6. Always ride in the number 1 lane or near the crown (middle) of a road. You get a little bit more reaction time and objects around intersections become more visible. You have more room to maneuver rather than being pinned against a curb. Debris slides down the crown of a road and you are less likely to strike it.

7. Always watch for debris on the road. Rocks, loose sand, RV air conditioner lids, lumber. Never, ever ride behind a vehicle with an unsecured load. I watched a plastic cooler lid come out of the back of a truck once and nearly take the head off of a rider in front of me. In fact, I avoid riding behind pickups if I can- especially those just merging onto a highway.

8. Triple your following distances. You and your bike weigh a combined 1000 pounds. Trying to get that type of weight shut down using only about 3 squares inches of rubber on two tires- makes for some harrowing stops. That's why bikes get put down. They slow down (more friction) better on their sides and I am not kidding. Obviously, speed in excess of 70 calls for you to dramatically increase following distances. If it is raining, you are really in trouble. Wet brakes and a wet surface will virtually guarantee you will slide forever. I refuse to ride in rain unless I am someplace desolate or the rain is light or I can reduce my speed considerably. Even when it's dry, motorcycles are hard to stop. I left 140 feet of skid marks at 50 MPH once and still managed to break my arms, ribs, and put a 4000 dollar dent into a Ford F-150. 

9. Do not ride at night if at all possible. If you must, know the route well. I cannot tell you how many riders I know that have been killed and injured by loose livestock and wild animals. The number of DUI drivers tend to increase after 11 PM. I hit a giant pothole one night in Kansas City which threw us both off the bike and caused 2 grand worth of damage. At 5 MPH. I would have seen that giant crater during the day. Bad things happen to motorcycles when it's dark out.

10. Notice blind intersections on routes you use frequently. They kill and injure riders all of the time. If shrubbery, buildings, planter boxes, signs, and other obstacles are blocking another motorist's view of you- you won't see them either. Never enter a blind intersection, even with a green light, without looking for idiots running through it. Three times this has saved my life- last year I had an idiot running a red light miss me by less than a yard. I forgot this rule and almost became roadkill. Note blind intersections and never forget them- avoid them where you can.

11. Never, ever, trust other motorists. With the advent of cellphones this has gotten worse. When changing lanes, always physically glance. I still do. Every once in awhile I catch someone in a blind spot that I didn't know was there. I don't ever trust turn signals.

12. Most collisions with other vehicles occur when someone exits parking onto a roadway quickly or turns left in front of you. These types of collisions are hard things to prevent such as deer running out of roadside trees. This is the best case I can make for wearing a helmet. Sometimes collisions are unpreventable.

13. Know the routes you are traveling in advance on long trips. Avoid chip sealed highways and highways where they are stripping and eating the pavement away as they prepare for a new layer of asphalt. These areas of road "destruction" can be very hazardous. Especially when people are exceeding posted speeds on chip seal that has not been swept.

14. Gut instinct. If something doesn't feel right, don't act irrationally. Years ago I was following a farmer doing 50 MPH in a 60 zone in Iowa. I was going to pass him but I didn't. I could see his head bobbing around. Suddenly he turned left, no blinker, right through a ditch to a field service road I would never have noticed. Had I been passing him...ugh. Be very careful around farm machinery also. They turn suddenly. In Idaho- we are mostly an open range state. Cows wander around and they are plenty stupid. Give all of those things a wide berth.

15. Don't ever drink or drug while riding. Don't subject yourself to diminished reaction times. Taking a dangerous activity and making it even more dangerous- thins the herd quickly.

16. One last thing that I almost forgot. Always check your mirrors when stopped in traffic at a light or a sign. Be prepared to run a light if you have to. People rear end motorcycles too. 

17. Don't ride motorcycles.

Years ago, my boss suggested getting motorcycles for the police department. I politely refused. Motorcycles offer no cover and they are simply too dangerous where kids (young cops) are concerned. And when I say kid- I am talking about anyone under 30. Ten years of riding experience would be my bare minimum plus training courses. I love motorcycles. I don't want to discourage anyone from riding but riders should understand the dangers. They are plenty and they can be grievous. I have had two broken arms, a few broken ribs, and more lacerations and road rash than I care to remember. If you ride- please stay vigilant at all times.

Having said all of that, it is time to hop on my motorcycle and go to work. I wish you all a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Writers Leave the Rails

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Every once in awhile, I come across something that is so senseless that it defies belief.  Usually I just read it and move along.

Today I'd like to call your attention to something I read on the "Dorkfish Express." I am going to re-post it at it's source so that the writers can take "credit" for this. They are quite serious.

Back in my law enforcement days, I used to say that any whack job can walk through the door and they do. They report outlandish things. The police were often the first filtering device. Any citizen can believe and say what they want. That's why we have Mormons, Democrats, Republicans, and mental health institutions. It's the same way on the innertubes...any nutter can write.

Just because you believe some outlandish shit- does not mean that I have to.

Here then is the greatest conspiracy theory that I have ever read. The writers claim that within the next 60 days we are going to have a staged national "crisis." A crisis so bad that it will prevent us from voting. It will take many respected and educated people to pull this off but no matter- they are willing to go to any lengths to get Obama a second term. However, they won't need to pull the trigger on the great plan as long as it looks like Obama is going to win.

Always leave yourself an out. They even have an inside "source." Code named "Rosebud." You cannot make this shit up. Here it is. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is This Who We Are?

President Obama loves to use the phrase, "Is that who we are?" He uses that phrase rhetorically when talking about perceived social wrongs.

So when a Chinook helicopter dropped out of the sky and killed 30 armed service members, Obama sent the grieving families some form letters. With that stamped, narcissistic signature of his.

Unfortunately, the families talked and compared letters.

Phony, superficial, condolences. Is that who we are? No sir. That is who Obama is.

The Great Chicken Slayer and Other Hump Day Nonsense

Nothing says "good time" like waking up on the floor of some filthy shed, covered in piss with a throbbing headache and being told that you are responsible for killing 70,000 chickens because you are an idiot. Of course, finding your picture and your story on the national news... well that's just a big time bonus feature.

Some people should never drink. Here's one.

In Moonbat Valley, an assistant Chief of Police was arrested more or less, for DUI. This after striking a parked car three times and failing to see the patrol car which was watching as the minor drama unfolded. That level of unconsciousness is mind boggling. The suspect, Mike Crawford, is one of the nicest guys I know. He is the heir apparent to a Chief who found the City of Sun Valley an "all you can eat police buffet" and refuses to leave. He has been there 35 years. Never has a police department done less nor been paid more to do it. Being a cop in Sun Valley is like falling in the toilet and coming out with a trout. The town has virtually no crime rate and is populated with old, white, rich people. Maybe a thousand of them.

Odd, that the paper forgets to mention whether or not there were any passengers in the pickup. I am not surprised at the lack of reporting in Moonbat Valley. It's become a tradition there.

Booze is a strange thing. Often, it just turns otherwise good people, into assholes. There was a day when I couldn't imagine my life without alcohol. Now, some five years later, I can't imagine my life with alcohol. I hope Mike keeps his job, he really is a nice guy but you never know with these things.

I went out and bought a new 4G Samsung Galaxy phone this week. Beautiful gadget. I really like it. The best thing about the phone is that I can actually use it in those sparsely covered areas like Montana and N. Dakota.

I haven't suffered through any more ambushes this week although we are only half way through- so there is still some potential. The news this week has been boring. Precious metals made a little run. The GOP convention and Romney are pretty boring. Isaac, the storm, is boring. Bernanke in Jackson Hole doesn't exactly get the pulse racing. I think what I find most interesting this week is whether Boise State's football team can hang with Michigan State. I have a feeling this game will either be close or be a lopsided victory for Michigan State. Sparty is taking us seriously. I'm not seeing any great confidence in our quarterback situation here in Boise either.

The game will tell us a lot. So we got that going for us.

I love the fall. You know it's fall when you see Halloween candy and school buses everywhere. Hunting season is here. I am looking forward to killing a few North Dakota birds. Birds with rings around their necks who are a little tougher than chickens, they don't die when you flip a heat switch off. It takes a gun to get them.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

You Lose Some....and You Lose Some More- The Sunday Collage

On Friday, I was the target of an ambush. My second of the week. So...

Today,  I thought I'd write about relationships. Why? Because I am so gawd awful bad at them. I'm not just talking about your run of the mill romance type relationships either. I can screw up any kind of relationship. But I am especially good with women.

When I part company with a woman, they hold me in such contempt that they would not stop to spit or piss on me if I was on fire. They'd walk around me. So in that regard, I consider myself a professional breaker upper. If any of you ever need advice on how to leave a girlfriend, email me for personal instructions.. You will only have to suffer through a week or two of shitty texts and emails. If they are especially pissed at you they will contact your friends on "facebook" or contact your other mutual friends to let them know what a terrible human being you are.

Of course they will do all of this while claiming the moral high ground for themselves. The scorned never claim anything but complete innocence. The women in my life have all been "victimized" by men. Culturally, we have raised our women to believe this nonsense. And they do. That's not to say that men don't- I'm just not in the habit of dating them.

Sometimes you are the hostage taker and sometimes you are the hostage.

So on Friday, I suffered through my second ambush of the week with an old girlfriend who had just come back to Boise. It started innocently enough with mutual pleasantries and exchanges, the catching up people do after months apart. But as we spoke, I noted that she seemed distracted. Finally her attention turned to the real reason she was at my house.  She hauled out her Gatling gun. She drew a bead on me and fired. And as this old girlfriend pulled the trigger- all hell rained down on me. I tried to take it like a man but it was unmerciful. She must have scripted this moment out in her head for months now- because she left nothing undone. She did an exceptionally fine job. Very thorough. I could not think of one thing she missed. I could only take so much. I contemplated throwing her out.

She stopped short of telling me I had a small penis. So she may have been distracted and forgot that.

Breaking up with people is tough. I've been on both sides of it. The problem with relationships is that somehow we think we need them. I gotta tell ya, I'm not sure that's true either.

I have always had this idea that I was going to find the "one." That life was meant to be shared. I've discovered a couple of things. That in order to find the "one" you have to be the "one." You also have to be willing to look. If you are going to go looking, then you have to be willing, mostly, to cut your losses and move on. You are only looking for one "right fit." That means you are going to have a lot of relationships that won't work and that will require an escape plan. I have a simple rule for this. I always look a year ahead. If I can't see myself in this relationship, or it is deteriorating, I am probably not going to waste time with it. That's just me.

When evaluating relationships- remember one hard and fast rule. We make time for the people that are important to us. There are no exceptions to this. If you are feeling ignored or marginalized in a relationship, or both of you have become that way, it's time to evaluate whether or not that relationship is worth continuing. I usually start looking for the exits right about then... 

The other thing I want to mention is that women are pretty intelligent. They are dangerous on both ends. So about the time you've cooked up your exit strategy and you think it's a good one, or maybe even foolproof, wait until you try and execute it. Then we'll see just how smart you are.

I have gotten spoiled in my old age. I like my life just the way it is. I don't want any hostage takers telling me what to do or reminding me what's wrong with me. But I'm not ready to give up- just yet. But if I do, I'll be ok with that. I know a few people who live alone and I really think they enjoy it.

So a great relationship and the end of the world have one thing in common. They will only happen once.

The gal I'm seeing now is something special. Mention marriage to her and she gets physically sick. I mean- projectile vomiting sick. This is something we share. I suspect that she knows she sucks at relationships just as much as I do. That is scary honest. Can you imagine a relationship with no victims, hostages, or hostage takers? 

I'll tell you this much. This relationship has potential.