Well, put the first battle scars on my Ninjette today. I was practicing low-speed drills. I was making a near donut right hander….slowed down to tighten the circle a bit…. Well, lets just say low-speed doesn’t equal no-speed. Geez, bike fell over, I stood over it. Of course, there were a lot of people hanging around to watch it happen….when no one was there two weeks ago I did fine. I am trying to develop as much control as possible…. Simply scratched the lower fairing, bar end, mirror, and brake lever. Nothing bent, broken, or twisted…save my ego. After doing these practices, I have discovered that I wasn’t as good, years ago, as I thought I was. I am working hard to relearn and surpass my old skills. But, learning isn’t always easy or fun.

I didn’t stop though.  I kept at it for another 30 minutes or so.  I just hate the scratches……mostly the ones to my sorely bruised ego.

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What is wrong with us? Are we, and our children, so desperate to ally ourselves with celebrities that we assign our allegiance to anyone who strikes a chord with us? Witness the current fascination with Paris Hilton. If she were in any of our “normal” families, those without great wealth, we wouldn’t be happy with her behavior. But, our fascination with the living pales miserably when compared with our fascination with some former living folk.

I remember when Elvis died. For more than 10 years, we were all witness to a parade of folk who swore they had seen the dead man. He was seen worldwide. He was seen in small towns. He was seen in laundromats. It is fascinating that his “living” quarters were never identified. He seems to have been living on a cloud…never to surface again. Nope…he really was dead…no matter what we wanted…

I am reminded that Elvis’ fan club wasn’t the only one to be caught up in rumors, fantasies, and wishes that never came true. Tupac fell to an assassin’s bullet in 1996. Today, 10 years after the fact, we still have people claiming he faked is death and will arise. Some of these fans argue with great passion, as if their passion will bring him back. Unfortunately, it won’t, the object of their affection is well outside their reach. But, they still believe. As though belief will change things. Like their Elvis fan counterparts they are often the least educated, poorest read, and most easily led blindly along. They tend to be blown with the wind from one trend to another.

How disheartening must it be to find that there are “secrets” around every corner that you cannot get in on. They always seem to be hiding things from you. There are so many little secrets for those that skip over the “big” words in the newspaper. Those “big” words aren’t important, your friends can tell you all you need to know…of course. If not they, then the TV will tell us, or the never-lying internet, or maybe our illiterate uncle or aunt. But not, God forbid, a……book….eeeeegggadd that horrible word. Why would we read a real book, or even expand our vocabulary to include those “big” words….

I cannot fathom how hard for these people must be, but I have taught some of their children. They are full of suspicion, superstition, hearsay, and blind guess work. They put faith more in the fantasy’s of their illiterate friends than in the books that are so mysterious. For those of us who are tasked with the enlightenment of the next generation, it is very difficult to fight our way through all of this. when your friends are the ultimate authority…it doesn’t leave much room for teachers and such.

While I do not believe that the behavior of the parents is a direct cause of a child’s behavior…it can help to lead them along a certain path. I just wonder how many books their parents read. I wonder if they realize that most people, like the coroners involved in the cases mentioned above, are, almost without exception, people of honor who take their oaths of office as a sacred trust. And, as scientists, the pursuit of the truth is a cause that transcends all other concerns, and that would include and bribes that might have been bandied about. But, of course, that would mean trusting people you don’t know, who may not be part of your immediate society, and/or family. Thus, they cannot be trusted.

If the trust of these types of people cannot be given, then who can be trusted to tell the truth??? Magazines that are in the business of titillating the public??? Websites that make their living by keeping rumors going?? By listening to those who know as little or even less than the children I teach. I agonize daily of the ignorance of those around me. How hard must it be to go through life feeling that everyone knows “it” but you??? “They” are keeping it from you. “They” are the reason you can’t accomplish. “They” are the ones that don’t try to understand you. It is “their” fault that you are an outsider!!!

Could it be that maybe our lack of understanding is our own fault??? And, maybe that of those that care about us?? A good teacher can teach a student to read using a phone book….but, only a student that sees worth in the knowledge, and is willing to work hard to acquire it. Where does that work ethic come from?? When does it arrive?? Can it be instilled at will?? Who is in charge of doing so??

And…for those that don’t understand…we, who care about your understanding, will do our best to give you all the effort we can muster. But, you will have to try to. You may have to do things that aren’t fun. You may have to work hard. And, at least from here, the assault on ignorance will continue…and we’ll work on those “big” words.

So, here I was riding off to work…upset about leaving, still knowing that the mission must be undertaken. I arrive without much fanfare. No real problems on the way. Then,….the stiffness began.

It started slowly at first, a tug on the ole hamstring. Then, a tightening of the thighs. Slowly, the back began to spasm a bit. Ah yes, the ole bad neck had to ensure I never forget old injuries….the glories of aging.

Why, you may ask, did this occur. There are two reasons. The first, my own actions. Since returning to motorcycling after more than a decade away, I decided to do some research (I am a science major after all) and learn more about the activity. Well, I am reading a book by a man named Hough (More Practical Motorcycling), that explains some low-speed skills I had never attempted before. I had already been trying a lot of low-speed maneuvers to sharpen my skills, but these were a bit different. (You see, I know that like in aviation, some one who can control the bike at very low speeds has a much easier time of it at high speeds.) These particular skills required me to stand on the pegs altering the pressure left or right to achieve certain motorcycle behaviors. I haven’t tried that for……I can’t remember…the pain in my sore legs is too great. It is far more athletic than I anticipated. I am weak. I am nervous. I am feeling very old. Well, I did the maneuvers without too much difficulty, but I have suffered all day. My New Year’s resolution to exercise a bit more will have to wait until I recover from…er….exercising?????? How does that work? I do not understand…heck I can hardly stand at all….eeegggaaaadddd…..I am such a weakling.

The second reason for my distress lies with my lovely wife. You should be aware of the fact that a few years ago she had surgery to remove some questionable growths on her thyroid. She came through the surgery wonderfully. I was very relieved. But…….it left her with a very odd side effect. She now often sounds like a muppet when she sleeps. Normally, I don’t care my snoring drowns her out. Or, my tinnitus keeps me from hearing anything anyway (at least on my bad days). But, last night she added a new sound….honking goose. OMG….she was not rhythmic. It kinda came and went. I couldn’t stay asleep….my ringing, her honking, the dog, the cars in the road,…but, mostly the honking. I realize this is not her fault…but, it isn’t mine either….what was the name of that doctor again?????

So my sleeplessness added to my recovery time. Age added to my recovery time. My usual athletic prowess added to my recovery time. Then, I began to try to make my self sleep….ever try that? You keep flinging yourself down on the pillow. Slam your eyes shut. Block out what you can. Force sleep to come. Then, you begin to quiz yourself to determine if you are asleep……which of course you aren’t…or you wouldn’t be asking stupid questions like: AM I ASLEEP YET……WELL, NO STUPID YOU ARE NOT!!!!

So, for now I shall drag my tired, sore, pathetic old ben-gay smelling self off to bed…put a pillow over my wife’s head, stuff plugs in my ears, dart the dog, seal the window, and GET SOME SLEEP AROUND HERE.

I am an avid reader of the forums at http://www.ninja250.com/home.htm and the FAQ found there. As a reNewed motorcycle rider it is of great interest to me to be as visible and noticeable to others as possible. I was able to accomplish the tail light mod without too much difficulty.

So, after the head rush created by my dazzling ability to turn my brake light into a tanning light, I decided to attempt the horn mod. First, you must know that I have tinnitis. Which is a ringing in the ear that doesn’t ever really go away. Sometimes, through the use of an herbal product by Clear, it is relatively quiet for a time. This was one of those times.

The horn that comes on the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is anemic at best. It would probably work well as the horn on a 5 year-old’s trike, but a real motorcycle???? In traffic???

So, I went to Harbor Freight and purchased a replacement. When I got home I decided that before actually removing the original I should test both (the original and the new one) just to see if this was a good idea.

I removed the new horn from the package. Turned on the motorcycle. Hit the horn button. Truly as unimpressive as I thought. Attached two wires to the new horn. Removed seat from motorcycle. Placed one wire to a terminal on the battery. PLACED THE SECOND WIRE TO THE BATTERY. CALL THE PARAMEDICS. I CAN’T HEAR. OMG.

That was late yesterday……. Ear still ringing loudly. Can’t hear anyone. Can’t hear anything.

Next time, fix it where new horn is on the switch. Use long stick to touch button. Use ear plugs. AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH.

It sure is loud around here.