August 13th, 2011

#2865: Motorcyclic musings

The CB250 Nighthawk was, by the way, a much better bike for me.

Before the riding evaluation yesterday morning we had two or three exercises to complete. One was the "two u-turns" exercise that I couldn't do on the dirt bike--and in a smaller box to boot.

The box was perhaps two or three feet narrower and the same length; when we practiced it, I was able to do it on the Nighthawk perfectly. Which is good, because it was on the riding evaluation; and I did that part of the evaluation perfectly. That helped me pass.

I lost points on the "short stopping" test, and in fact had to go around and do it a second time; and on the cornering test I was a bit slow getting through it.

I don't really care; I didn't lose so many points that I failed the test. I passed it; that's what counts. And I know I can ride a motorcycle safely enough with my green skills: I'm going to ride my Suzuki around town, not out on the open highway.

* * *

One of the things I've been thinking about re: the Suzuki is its lack of turn signals. I ought to be able to get a set of turn signals for it (6v of course) and wire them in; if I need a blinker circuit there are easily a half-dozen ways I could build one. (Probably I'd use a 555 timer, because they're simple, cheap, and ubiquitous. Also, one of my favorite ICs.)

I want to get a speedometer and cable for it, now more than ever, so I can ride my motorcycle without exceeding the speed limit. Ditto for a package tray in the back (or whatever the hell that thing is called) though if I happen to find the OE one in the garage, and fix it, that would do.

This winter, of course, is the big restoration project: take the thing apart, clean the hell out of it, tear down the engine, etc. When I'm not going to ride it any more because the snow is ass deep and it's 3° outside, I'll do that.

* * *

What about after I'm employed? What then?

...I had hoped to have a job before now. Reality has not cooperated with those plans, of course, because our government is spending money like a drunken sailor who wants to be totally broke before he gets rolled and the entire works is in the shitter. There are jobs out there, a few of them; it's a matter of finding places to apply and then interviewing with them.

Generally speaking, if I get an interview, I get the job. Not always, but usually. Being, as I am, on the verge of desperation, I'm going to have to go get something no matter how humiliating it might be (read: "Do you want fries with that?") because I need income.

Once I've got a full-time job, and am past the probationary period, then I can think about buying something with two wheels and a motor. It might be December before that happens; but if that was how it panned out I'd wager I could get a smokin' deal because no one buys motorcycles in the dead of winter. (Usually.)

The entry-level bikes I've looked at all weigh less than 400 lbs, too. Know what that means? It means I can carry them on my handy-dandy motorcycle carrier, that's what. But assuming it was a typical Illinois winter, I could ride the thing home. WTF.

Not necessarily a new bike, as I said in a prior entry; if I could find a good used one that would probably be better, because I'd pay less for the thing and not have to worry about scratching the paint and stuff. You don't want a brand new bike for a starter bike. Cripes.

* * *

I think about the whole issue of "you can't do that because you have this and that and the other thing you've got to do!" Okay, yes: I'll need to sock back money, because when this place sells--whenever the hell that might be--I'll need to be able to get into an apartment tout suite. I get that. (Is that how you spell that? I don't know French. WTF, just call it a pun. Ha! Reality is my bitch yet again!)

But then I think: do I, or do I not, deserve some happiness around the pounding hammers of responsibility? Because that's what I'm thinking of, here; I'd like to be able to point to something and say, "Look at that! It's a sign that things are looking up for me!" Something, you know, other than, "Well, you're not living on the street, anyway!" *sigh*

After ten years of being triphammered with loss after loss, it'd be nice to be able to do that.

* * *

They say rain is "likely" this afternoon; so I think I'm going to go cut the grass as soon as the old clockaroonie hits 8. I cut it last Friday; it's about due. Since it's probably going to rain tomorrow, too--and since I'm naturally awake now--I might as well.

* * *

Dad always used to do that: add "-aroonie" to various words.

...he had a thing for neologisms, and did stuff like that with words all the time. He also would invent alternate lyrics for songs.

All of which I do.

So (for example) in 2008 when I took that August trip to Maine, I greatly amused everyone with "mosquiterators", and my niece seized on the word and began using it amongst her friends almost immediately.

* * *

I can say with authority that the flavor of Orbit gum does last a very, very long time. It lasts so long you get tired of tasting it! Those commercials showing the boardroom guys doing various things to get people to spit out their piece of gum? Not necessary. I get sick of tasting MINT! or WEIRD ORANGEY FLAVOR! or whatever it is I'm chewing and spit the damn thing out.

* * *

Last night I ended up doing a little more writing on that story I was working on last week. A handful of pages more, but it's non-blog writing, which is always a good thing when you're an aspiring author.

It's mostly exposition; but it's necessary because it's a story about a xenoarchaeologist and I don't want people saying to me, "You don't just go and dig! You have all kinds of careful science to do!" And since it's supposed to be hard SF, guess what that means?

But it gives me a chance for the main character to explain what and why and how, and the last thing you want is for a reader not to know WTF is going on. And I think I'm pretty good at making exposition interesting, particularly since I usually break it up into manageable chunks and spoon-feed it to the reader a little bit at a time. Eventually he comes away understanding what's going on and why it's happening, and doesn't feel like he sat through a 4-hour lecture on hyperdrive mechanics or xenoarchaeology or ballistics or WTF-ever I need to explain.

Without bathroom breaks.

So I'm meandering towards the next major plot point, making the reader wait, and I'm trying to think of some kind of minor (or semi-major) crisis to have crop up. Okay: being on a planet of buffalo-sized creatures which have all simultaneously lost their sentience in a wash of pheromones because mating season just started? I think I can find a crisis or two in there somewhere, because shit happens. (Okay? Shit always happens. Always-always.)

The best thing that I could possibly do--and now that I've thought of it, I'll probably end up doing it this way--is to have the answers all laying there, ready for discovery, the main character on the very verge of the "Eureka!" moment...and then have some cataclysm eradicate them. (It's an old plot device. It works; that's why it's still used despite being so old. "They never get the gold," as my parents always said.)

* * *

By the way: do you know how big a buffalo is? It's big enough to knock over a freakin' Ford Explorer if it gets mad enough. Yeah. Now imagine being on a planet, with no way to get offplanet, with about three billion buffalo IN MATING SEASON.

* * *

Speaking of Esploders:

So apparently Og has begun teaching his daughter to drive. Oh, lordy.

She's going to get his 400,000-mile Exploder as her first vehicle. The damn thing is still solid, and there's no reason she can't drive the thing until she's done with college if she so chooses.

Meanwhile, he's riding around in Exploder 2.0 and I'm sure some of his neighbors would swear they're seeing double when they look at his driveway, there being two virtually identical 'Sploders parked there. Heh.

* * *

...going over the last of what I wrote last night--because in my discussion of the story I remembered a point I needed to insert--I was struck with how well the last bit I wrote reads.

Okay: when I was in the nuthouse I re-read Niven and Pournelle's Footfall...and the bit I wrote last night reads as well as the typical exchange between human and alien in that book. I may be arrogating to myself a better job than it actually is, but I don't think I am. (And I need that confidence and ego-boost anyway.)

Since my aliens are "funny-looking humans" (as most are in all of SF) you need to convey alien-ness somehow. I managed to do that with the last exchange in that conversation--mainly just a slight underscoring of something that is different about how the alien character thinks.

Score one for me!

* * *

Well, it's 15 to 8; I need to hit the can and feed the cats and get myself put together for some mawn lowing (gotta keep that mawn lowed, I'll tell you that!) and whatever other stupidity the day is to contain.

Hopefully as little as possible.

...but it'll only take about an hour or so to cut the grass, and then I can start thinking about the Fiero's brake system. Whee! It's a festival of joy!

*sigh*

#2866: The rest of the day's stupidity HAS ARRIVED!

I called my sister and brother-in-law to see why he called me yesterday.

It turns out that--when I sent the check to my sister for my chunk of the property taxes--I transposed a couple numbers.

So the digits read $XYZ.AB and the ordinals in the written field read "EKS-ZEE-ZEE-WYE-WYE" or some such, and they wanted to make sure it was okay to change the number so that it matched the ordinals.

Which is fine. "Keep the excess, if any, as I owe you money anyway," I added. Just a stupid mistake and I don't f-ing care.

Besides that, however:

That crazy sister of mine in Maine? Drinking again. Drinking rum--which her liver won't tolerate--and doing crazy shit.

Like?

Okay: her 16-year-old son returned home (first I heard of this) and has been living there; but a week or three ago he had to barricade himself in his bedroom, and she spent all night pounding on the freakin' door.

Noooo, that's not self-destructive or abusive! Not at all!

So the kid has bugged out again--second time this year!--and things are, once again, afoot.

*sigh*

And here I was, all worried that my oldest sister was pulling some kind of "surprise inspection" crap--she's too busy to worry about that stuff right now.

So the aforementioned stupidity is about it for this week. That's fine.

* * *

I got the grass cut, but I had to work for it.

My back--good God my back. All I'm doing is sitting on the damn riding mower and it's hurting and hurting and HURTING...and then I hit a bump that rocks the mower back and forth, left-right, and ZANGG!! OH GOD THE PAIN.

...guess I need to make an appointment with the doctor. *sigh*

Okay? I spent twelve hours over four consecutive days sitting on a motorcycle and it didn't hurt once, so WTFF!

* * *

Dinner last night was General Tao's Chicken; and I don't remember much after that.

I tried to go to bed around 5-ish but my stomach clock wouldn't let me, so I ordered the Chinese food and was up until perhaps 8. (Oh--I did write some, that's right.)

Then I hit the bed like a laser-guided nuclear-tipped bunker buster; and except for a short period of wakefulness around 2 AM, slept.

Woke up at 5, got up sometime later--the rest has been blogged on.

The grass is cut, the stupidity is dealt with--hopefully the rest of the weekend is my own. Hopefully.