Stephen Thrasher, Comet Smasher

Ride All Day Long

Monday, October 30, 2006 by Stephen

Blue Kawasaki Ninja

Rachel went with me to Kawasaki of Pasadena on Saturday, and I bought a motorcycle. The ride home scared me as I faced traffic for the first time. On the way home, I learned that motorcyclists sometimes wave to each other, and kids like the orange helmet.

I have yet to get my full Massachusetts motorcycle license, and with just a learner's permit, I can't take passengers or ride at night. It's a good excuse to leave work right on time, but I'd like to go to the gym after work and ride to community group on Sunday nights. So, I need to get up to Boston and either get them to accept my Texas motorcycle safety class certificate or take the road test.

As I was studying sunrise and sunset times, I discovered a phenomenon. Though the shortest day of the year is the winter solstice, around December 21, the sun sets earliest (in Houston, at least, at 5:21pm) on December 3, and the sun rises latest on January 11 (in Houston, at 7:18am), daylight savings ignored. Wikipedia says this effect can be seen on the Earth's analemma, which shows how the sun's overhead position at noon (or some other chosen time) varies throughout the year due to Earth's elliptical orbit and axial tilt. The effect is apparent for moon libration. I'll encourage you Bostonians with the fact that the sunset gets later from December 4 onward. That should cheer you up when your daylight ends at 4:12pm.


Deer Hooves Have Little Traction on Pavement

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by Stephen

Johnson Space Center is the home of at least one herd of deer. Tonight as I headed home from the gym, I saw some deer. Two minutes later, I saw some more in the road, and I waved to a car to slow down. The driver slowed down for me but didn't figure out the deer until he was about to run them over. Two minutes later, I saw one dart in front of a moving truck and then slip-slide its way back to the curb, sliding like it was on ice. It reminded me of those wildlife shows with the newborn deer with the wobbly legs. The slidey deer was part of a group of at least six or seven. I rode right through the middle of them on my bicycle and sent them scattering to the sides of the road. Fortunately, no bucks.


Absentee Ballot

Monday, October 23, 2006 by Stephen

My Cambridge, MA, absentee ballot arrived today, two weeks before election day. I hope this makes it more likely that I'll research my choices. Has anyone heard of the "Green-Rainbow" party?

The cost of motorcycle insurance varies greatly between companies. Markel, Progressive, and Geico quoted me with $1017, $1543, and $2292, respectively, for the same (high) level of insurance. Maybe I'll settle for something a little lower than the highest coverage possible. The amount $1100/year is about what I was last paying for car insurance, and I would think motorcycle insurance would be cheaper.

I made an offer on a motorcycle today. Whether I get that particular one depends on whether someone buys it before I can go look at it. If it falls through, I'll find another used one or buy new. This weekend.


How's the Weather Down There?

Monday, October 16, 2006 by Stephen

There's some flooding. I still rode my bike to work. I'm all stocked up on the raingear, with a cycling rainsuit from Rain Shield, neoprene overboots, a red showercap thing that goes over my helmet, and a plastic garbage bag to cover my bag. However, until it cools down from the mid-80s, my rainsuit still makes me sweat, despite its breathability. Additionally, when I have to dunk my feet up to above my ankles while peddling through an intersection, they get wet. When cars passed me in this giant puddle, they made wakes that pushed my bike around just a little bit. If you know me, you know that I enjoyed this.

The bayou in front of my apartment has risen a few feet and now looks like a full-blown river. The worst of the rain missed us to the north and west of us, and it looks like the bayou is carrying quite a bit of that run-off. The surprising thing is that people think this flooding is small potatoes. I should put together a hurricane kit.

This weekend I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
Basic RiderCourse, taking the Sunday test in the rain. I recommend the class. It was at San Jacinto College central campus. At one point I gave up on the class M license, but then I decided that I could take babysteps. The first step was easy—I went to the RMV in Boston, paid $30, and took a simple 20 question test. It took less than an hour, waiting included. After 14 right answers, the computer stops the test. I missed one out of 15—when do most motorcycle accidents happen a) 8pm-2am, b) 12am-5am c) daytime d) nighttime; it should have been obvious. They gave me my permit, allowing me to legally ride a motorcycle during the day without passengers. Nevermind that I had never been on a motorcycle. When I got back to Texas, I called San Jac's continuing education number and registered for the MSF class (they require registration two weeks in advance). They list the class in the life enrichment bulletin, and the listing was hard to find.

There's a question of whether Massachusetts will accept a Texas MSF course completion certificate in lieu of a road test. The MA motorcycle handbook implies that you have to pass the MSF class in MA as opposed to another state in order to be exempt from the road test, but I emailed the RMV, and one of their folks replied that it just had to be MSF certified. Setting up a road test in MA would be a pain because I would have to find a bike to borrow. Despite the license problem, I think I'll go ahead and buy a bike. I'm looking at the Kawasaki Ninja 250. Which color do you like? Coke or Diet Coke? I prefer to find a good used one, and I'll be looking around in two weeks.