Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Variety is the spice........

Maybe it's just the mindset and not the actual motorcycle but I seem to have a much more interesting life while riding. Take yesterday, for example.

A trip to Portland was on the docket. Lloyd Center Mall is actually one of our customers. For some reason, Terry, the guy who takes care of their many doors, likes me. God only knows why. We don't sell directly to end users. The usual route would be for him to call a distributor. In this case I go meet with Terry and pass the information along to somebody else for the quote. I don't mind. How often do you get to go to a huge mall during working hours and be able to truthfully say it's for business?

Being the first of the month, it was time to mail a couple of checks off. So the day started with a trip to the post office. Since it was before hours, I parked Elvira and walked into the lobby without removing my helmet. As I exited the building and walked back toward the bike I saw this old guy coming my way. I immediately tensed up. I'd met him a couple of times before.

My first introduction to this guy happend at Bing's Restaurant in Lebanon. Katie loves the fake Chinese food thing. Me, not so much. I indulge her off and on. Love and all, you know. Anyway, we're sitting at a table when this old guy walks up to us. Uninvited.

"Does your wife call you 'Honey'?," he asked, pointing to Katie. Without waiting for me to answer he delivers the punch line.

"That's bee poop, you know?"

I don't suffer fools gladly. So I told him to go away. Maybe somebody else would be impressed with his totally imagined wit.

My second encounter was at the post office under similar circumstances. Only this time, I didn't have the helmet on while walking back to the bike. This guy must live close to the post office as he was coming up the sidewalk that time, too. The parking area is on the opposite side if you're trying to put the pieces together. Anyway, as I was standing by Elvira the guy started to talk to me again. It would seem his memory for faces isn't too good, either. He started to tell me something about how he used to ride a scooter. I gave him that cold, blank, stare that cops work so hard to master. The stare totally shut him down and I rode off.

So here we are again. For some reason I decided to let him talk a bit. Don't think I'm getting soft. It simply suited me, ok? Sure enough, he started in about how he used to ride a scooter. Sometime during the World War II years he said he rode a Vespa 125 on a route through Europe that covered 4800 miles or so. According to his story, at least. I told him I was only headed to Portland.

What struck me as interesting was his reaction. The weather was cold and foggy. 39 degrees ( f ) to be exact. The man seemed amazed I was riding that far in the cold. Interesting contrast for a guy who rode a 125cc scooter for a 4800 mile trip during war years. Anyway, I bid him goodbye and he gave me this huge smile and a big thumbs up. I really should change my ways and be accomodating more often, I guess. His day was brightened. I feel sorry for those folks so hungry for conversation or a human connection. Or perhaps it's just a need to talk about themselves. I notice that seems to be the agenda an awful lot of the time. The greeting is just a way to get started.

The trouble with riding in fog is that one never knows what kinds of things are going to appear out of the fog. These photos are examples of the kind of thing you really don't want showing up in your windshield.

This is serious! I'm in the fast lane of the freeway and this is filling my view. Here's another look.

Whew! It's in tow. What a relief! I was reminded of an important lesson. Thanks to a suggestion from Bobskoot, I have been carrying the G11 around my neck and under my jacket. Yes, these photos were taken through the windshield zoomed up close on the Canon. I was not as close as I looked. However, let me say this. Just because a rider CAN do something, doesn't mean they SHOULD!

The standard disclaimer about not trying this at home applies. Riding one handed down the freeway, following somewhat closely behind trucks, and fiddling with a camera can be more than some riders can handle! Leave it to us nut cases.

Once we got about 45 miles into our journey, the foggy beginning was rewarded by clearing skies. Fog gave way to sunshine. By the time I got to Portland, the sun was beaming steadily. Of course, it was localized to the Portland area. I encountered the reverse situation returning home. Not only did the fog not clear down south, but the rain came in, too. Luckily, the rain started 10 minutes after I parked Elvira.

I apologize, but I totally screwed up the exposure on this photo. The sun was shining brightly from the right. I should have changed the metering setting. I was more worried about getting a sharply focused shot. The point of the photo is to show the parking area. It is not a space set aside for motorcycle parking. As you can see, it's just a corner that can't really be used for cars. There is a pull in spot where the car on the left is and the same kind of spot just on the other side of Elvira. The two spots are at right angles to each other so the geometry requires that blank corner.

Terry introduced me to Randy, a security guard that has worked for the mall a long time. I asked Randy about this spot. Nobody has ever given me a citation for parking there but I just had to ask. Randy told me it was useless for cars so go for it. So I have official permission. I guess that's okay. I mean, there's a certain feel to it. Kind of like cast off property rather than being honored with a special parking spot for bikes. Personally, I don't care. This works for me.

There is a chance that a bike could get trapped depending on what type of vehicles parked in the end spots. Not to worry. I had scoped that out. If I turned left I could ride over the curb into the entryway. Hmmm, I wonder what Security would say if they saw me doing that?

Here's a gratuitous photo of the sunshine. I did finally pull my head out and spot meter for the sun.

The ride home was uneventful except for one incident. I hit the freeway because I needed to get to my laptop and take care of something. As you leave Portland headed south, the freeway goes up and over the Marquam bridge. Two lanes go to the left and head west. The two right lanes head to the right and then down and to the south. Starting to the left, call the lanes A,B,C, and D. I'm in the C lane. A woman in a car is in the B lane. The car seemed to have a bit of trouble getting up the slope of the bridge. Traffic was backed up behind her. She decides she really wants to go south instead of west.

So the woman right beside me decided to change lanes. Where I was. No harm, no foul, I look after myself. What cracked me up was the coincidental aspect of what kind of car it was. Any guesses?

A gold Prius! With a handicapped sticker, no less. The woman realized her mistake and swerved back into her lane, almost going too far to the left. Maybe I should be more careful in future about taking jabs at the Power of Prius. Who knows what kind of cosmic karma I'm messing with?

Miles and smiles,



bobskoot said...

Mr Irondad:

having been a member of various photography clubs over the years I have found that when you show photos to your "peers" they seem more critical . . . it's as if all photos are elevated to the term "images", or works of art. Images being of higher quality, with better composition etc. Of course, not all images can fall into this category. It's like a tape/digital recorder, to record a memo, except a picture is worth a thousand words. these photos we refer to as "snapshots" as if to infer they are not up to your high standards. So no excuses have to be given as to wrong exposures or wrong compositons etc. Just say "Snapshot" and we know they are the photos you left on the cutting room floor but decided to show us anyway.

another thing to ponder, I contend that a fuzzy snapshot is better than no snapshot at all

I used to take a lot of photos with one hand and I also had to hold the camera upside down for my fingers to snap the shutter button. I decided it was safer to mount a video cam using ram-mounts. Before that I came up with the idea of using the neck strap. I thought if something goes wrong I could just "drop" the camera and it would be safely protected. I also think it is better for the camera to have it tucked behind you jacket. More padding and less vibration than your tank bag or top case.
I have had problems with my dSLR Nikon with it in the topcase. It has created a problem with the mount, I think too much vibration

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Dave said...

Dan its stated right on the plate Trusted Carrier
What could possible go wrong : )

I can easily see ware this could cause a brief pucker moment

Like the spinning car rims that were a fad there for a wile.
Old F

irondad said...


Thank you for the clarification. I do start feeling like every photo should be up to some higher standard now. I like the snapshot thing. That will help a lot.

There is a chest pocket in the 'Stich that works well for the G11. The only thing is that there is no tether. Your neck strap idea is a good solution. At least while on the bike!

Take care,


irondad said...

old f Dave,

I saw a video clip on America's Funniest Home Videos where a woman was asleep in the passenger seat. The driver woke the woman up as they got close to the truck facing their direction. He acted alarmed and she nearly freaked out. What a thing to wake up to! At least I knew what it was right away.

Those spinner caps drive me absolutely nuts because they make me think the car isn't stopping at the traffic control device. If they went away yesterday it wouldn't be too soon.

Take care,


Charlie6 said...

Irondad (Dan),

good posting. I myself find I don't mind when people walk up to me while near the motorcycle, it's almost a given when on the Ural...the UDF factor you know.

glad to know even highly experienced motorcycle safety instructors have been known to ride with one hand on the grip and one hand holding the camera for a shot....tried it, didn't like it too much. Still, there are moments when I wish I had the camera easily accessible....must work on that.

As to Prius owners, they wouldn't be so eco-smug if they knew how much damage to the environment the production of all those batteries in their car makes.

Richard Machida said...

Up here, it's Subaru drivers. They drive like their invincible or terrified.

Darren said...

Sometime during the World War II years he said he rode a Vespa 125 on a route through Europe that covered 4800 miles or so. According to his story, at least.

Did he talk about his time machine, too? Since Piaggio was an aeronautics company whose factories were bombed by the Allies during the war, and didn't even invent, let alone sell, Vespas until the late 1940s.

Chuck Pefley said...

Bobskoot makes some good points. If a photo, snapshot, picture, image, whatever ... conveys what you want, then you've got what you need. Could it have been improved somehow? Probably. Does it matter in the given "use" context? Probably not.

So, make your photo and be happy with what you did. Remember you're doing it for your and sometimes our enjoyment. That is enough. Should you decide you want to make your living this way, then that is another issue.

We have an older man (gotta be more careful about calling people "old" these days) in our neighborhood community who fits perfectly into your "honey" category. Funny guy. A pain in the arse too. Nevertheless, you never know what life is like behind his scene, so a little kindness and empathy along with a couple of moments can be very rewarding in the long run. Who knows ... that might just be me someday. I know when I'm traveling solo for an extended period I sometimes seek out the odd conversation, just to see if my vocal cords still function -:)

bluekat said...

I have to confess I've used our little fuji camera while riding, but haven't been able to do so with the G11 (yet). Oh, and once you start down this slippery slope, it's addicting - just so you know. I don't try to process and perfect these images too much. Part of their charm is their tilted angles and less than perfect composition.

What some of the others have's ok to just take a snapshot. Our fuji camera has almost no settings. I can choose a few scene settings, but that's all. It forces me to just take the pic and quit fussing about it. Very liberating sometimes.

Mike Simmons said...

Wow, your own parking spot at the Lloyd Center. Your the man! :)

irondad said...


I do need to be more accomodating. The trouble with using a bike for everyday business is that I get into the mental state of feeling rushed. After a while it's just another vehicle and I lose sight of the magic.

Have you seen the big flap that just came out regarding Prius brakes?


I've noticed that, too. Outback drivers. What happens to me is that they signal a lane change right as they do it. Sort of like the turn signal light is a force field!


You know, I did wonder about that. Which is why I made the statement about it being according to his story.

Take care,


Orin said...

I hate comment spam, don't you/

Scootin' Old Skool

Steve Williams said...

I would have never expected you to be shooting pictures of semi trucks while riding. Sort of an Annie Oakley like trick.

Your photography continues to improve. My own experience suggests that when I get too caught up in the excellent picture I cease getting any excellent pictures. When I just shoot and am open to whatever happens I find the cool stuff. I watch Kim working, unencumbered by any rules or standards, and she makes amazing pictures.

I'm still thinking about those trucks though...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...


I echo my thanks to bobskoot about letting me off the hook for photo quality. At some point I want to work towards some degree of professionalism in photography. I may need a backup or supplement. I'm probably being too serious about it all.

As to the er, "older" guys, I'm really working on it. I promise!


I still have a taunt from Conchscooter to deal with. I'm working on a monopod with a cable release wrapped around it. I have to take a photo of my front wheel while riding!

When you're really good you can mess up pictures and people think you did on purpose and call it art. Right now I'm just messing up! Thanks for being kind.


You can use it, too! You and I have to do lunch soon. We need to discuss some business. Maybe next week?

Take care,


irondad said...


Would it be too severe to say, "Death to spammers!"?

Steve Williams,

I get these crazy streaks once in a while.

About the excellent photo thing, I say,

"Wise counsel, Master! I shall take it to heart."

Silly me. I always tell people that they will ride better if they can relax and make it more visceral than intellectual.

Take care,


bluekat said...

When you get that monopod mod perfected we expect a write up (with pics)! :)

Anonymous said...

You messed that pic? I disagree.
It's bright, sure, but carlots are usually dark and dank places.

Irondad had arrived on a bike, to his personal parking space, and man did the sun shine brightly :D


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Eve said...

I love those special parking places too Dan. Back in the old days all the bikes used to park in thoes areas at the mall with no trouble from security. I don't really go to the mall much anymore. I've strapped the G9 around my neck but havent pulled it out while riding. Well there's always a first time for everything. Maybe!
Ride safe my man!!