14 August 2017

O the places you'll go

I just felt like a picture today.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

13 August 2017

I heard this...

...the other day and found it rather profound.
           "A dog never barks at a parked car."

At first hearing it caught my attention and then I began to ponder upon it.

I have been barked at by many a dog in my days.  I have seen dogs bark at leaves, bark at the moon, bark at other dogs, and cats.  I have seen dogs bark at the wind, and unseen forces on the other side of fences.  I have seen dogs bark at basically anything that moves and some things that didn't but that they thought did (get of the couch and take your dog for a walk).  I have seen dogs bark for no other reason than that they have heard another dog barking.  However I can't say that I have ever seen a dog bark at a parked car.

I have been chased by dogs, some with intent to do me harm and some for play.  I have been chased on foot, on bike and on motorcycle and car.  I have never enjoyed it much when being the chasee, but the chaser seemed to be finding some satisfaction from it even if there was little chance of capturing the prey.  And if the dog caught the car what would it do with it?

I have heard that we have a tendency to notice motion, that our eye is attracted to it.  I am sure someone will be more than willing to say it is a link to our hunter/gatherer forebears that was a survival instinct that was handed down from the days of living in caves.  Personally I think it is handy for noticing when someone loses a ball that is coming into the street and braking or swerving before the little someone that lost that ball heads out to retrieve it.

Regardless of the source or reason, the ability to notice movement is swiftly followed by the decision to act on it...or not.  The fact that movement or action is more likely to be followed up with more movement and action is kind of a way of life.  That is why they call it reaction.  It is easier to react to something that is already in action.  The term 'critical mass' is basically a moment when the amount of reaction goes 'viral' and then everyone is doing it.

Everyone is doing it.  How often do we read a book, see a movie or tv show, vote for a candidate or proposition, recycle, eat kale, run a marathon, park in the wrong spot, criticize a group, boycott a store, protest a cause just because 'everyone is doing it'?

I will freely admit that I have in the past and in the present and in the future done things based on the recommendations of others, but with age and experience I have also not done things based on the recommendations of others.  I still prefer to choose my own walk.

Since the parked car does not react to the dog barking at it, the dog losses interest and quits barking at parked cars, but if the car is moving it must of course be reacting to the dog barking at it.  And if the dog is only barking at moving cars and ignoring the parked ones, it is only in reaction mode even if it things it is the one causing the movement.  In order to get the dog to bark, motion must be added to the equation.

Therefore is it better to be the dog that thinks he is driving the reaction of the car by barking and chasing it or to be the chasee that is causing the initial motion that attracts the dog that gives rise to the chase in the first place?

Another saying goes, 'If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes', but even if you are the lead dog that is leading the 'chase' the view may be different but it also never changes.  At least until you are winded and you can return to the home-front knowing all is safe and well again.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

23 June 2017

The case for/against motorcycles

First off is the obvious, motorcycles are dangerous.  Or at least that is what everyone that doesn't ride tells me.  Everyone, it seems, has a story or knows of someone with a story of someone that has had a motorcycle accident.  There are also many sayings that go along with the motorcycle experience such as what do you call a biker that doesn't wear a helmet? a donor.

It is true that motorcycles are less forgiving of inattention and carelessness, not only from the rider but from the fellow drivers that they must interact with on the street.  Defensive driving and situational awareness at all times is the bare minimum standard by which each cyclist must dedicate themselves in order to continue to enjoy their sport each and every day.  It isn't always the rider that is the danger but those they share the road with that are more interested with who they are chatting on the phone or texting their bffs without regards to the world around them.  You have to deal with that whether on a bike or in a car, truck or bus but the consequences are greater for those on a bike.

So why would anyone ride a motorcycle?  The fun factor.  Motorcycles are a great source of fun.  It is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors while being exposed to the elements of sights, sounds and smells.  It is the sensations that come with operating a machine by developing skills that satisfy the senses and reward patience and practice with increasing confidence and accomplishments.  When riders talk about freedom, it is a feeling that comes with the reliance on self and the control of machine combined with the biker community that contains an immediate shared connection for fellow riders that always seem ready to provide a friendly wave to the rider passing in the opposite direction.

Being exposed to the elements also brings challenges.  Weather extremes from cooking temperature heat, to shivering steering cold.  Rain, snow, wind, ice, animals and all the various obstacles that happen to find their way along your path are daily occurrences rather than the minor inconvenience it would be for one ensconced in a metal cage.

Another consideration is the fact that most of the bikes like so many cars are capable of much greater performance than is legally allowed even if it is prudently applied.

And the argument that you will save money is pretty weak.  Gas mileage on most bikes is much less that it should be given the improvements in technology but most riders where more interested in bigger, and more power and that is what was selling and that is what was provided.  Fuel economy is very much an afterthought in most motorcycle design.  It can be had but with compromises attached that make the average rider think twice.  (I have been thinking twice.)

Even though there are only two tires and they are smaller than a cars they cost every bit as much as a car if not more and often times only last a quarter as long.  Maintenance in general is more frequent and more expensive and unless you have some mechanical savvy you are going to have to rely on a dealer with dealer prices.  Also, because riding is so seasonal in nature you may find that getting any work done can take many days and sometime weeks due to the fact that everyone else wants to get their bike tuned up at the first sign of spring, just like you.

So why with all the hassles would anyone ride a motorcycle in this day and age?  After all I did mention that I quite riding some time ago because I find a car that got better gas mileage, had air conditioning, heat, stereo, carrying capacity and kept me dry when it rained.  I could go farther and see more with my time off and not be quite so worn out at the end of the day and that is exactly what I was doing with that car when I got it.

So what am I thinking?  If I were to go on a long ride I would still opt for the car.  If I were to take someone with me I would opt for the car.  If there was the remote chance of facing weather I would opt for the car.  So what am I thinking?

I am thinking that I am missing the fun factor that a motorcycle can provide.  I don't need a cross country machine, I don't need a big Harley cruiser, I don't need a motocross racer, and I don't need a cafe pocket rocket.  I would be happy with a commuter, city explorer, visit the next town, occasional buddy hopping, extreme gas mileage runabout.  Something that isn't a production to pull out every time or any time.  Something simple, dependable, reliable and most of all affordable.

The market is not great for this kind of motorcycle action.  Once again I fall outside of the one size fits all.  There are a few interesting machines but they continue to include compromises as so much of life does.  Maybe I would be better off just renting a machine for a day every now and again to get my taste refreshed.  That almost seems to make sense but motorcycles are something that has always put logic in the back seat.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.