Monday, May 29, 2006

The V-Strom Sees Some Sun

I rode my new Suzuki V-Strom 650 again today. This was the first day I have ridden it that wasn't a ride in the rain. We had a nice warm, partly cloudy afternoon, so I took the motorcycle out to get more used to it and practice some maneuvers in dry conditions. I worked on low speed (walking pace) balance, U-turns, and cornering. Then I went into a large gravel and dirt parking lot to practice riding off the pavement. Even though I have prior dirt bike experience, I expected that riding the V-Strom off road for the first time would be difficult and maybe even a bit scary, because it is much heavier than the nimble dirt bikes I am used to.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the V-Strom handled the dirt and gravel with no problems at all. It felt like a very large dirt bike. (Mud might be a different story, since the stock tires do not look at all suited for it.) It seems like a very versatile motorcycle that can handle a lot of different riding situations. Of course, I never intend to do any "hardcore" off-road with it like riding on single-track trails, mud, deep sand, etc.

The engine has a very subdued burbling sound at low RPMs and sensible city riding speeds. I like to imagine that the engine is snoring, and saying "OK, I'm going to take a nap, wake me up when you want to go 100 miles per hour."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Suzuki V-Strom 650

Yesterday I traded in my 2002 Suzuki SV650S for a new 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Though I loved the SV650S, the riding position was not comfortable enough for long rides. After an hour or two, my knees, wrists, and back would start to get sore. The V-Strom is much more comfortable. The stock windscreen was absolutely horrible though, it directed all the air right at my face and created an incredibly loud turbulent sound even with a full face helmet and earplugs. I immediately replaced it with an optional wider, taller windscreen (shown here), and that completely fixed the problem. The fuel injection makes it easier to start, and the power delivery seems much smoother. Honestly, I still think the SV605S looked better, but the V-Strom is much more practical.

My first ride on the V-Strom was a 35-mile slog home from the dealer in pouring rain, which was more fun than it sounds. I went for another ride this morning, also in the rain. It works great in the rain but I'm looking forward to better weather.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

So You Think You Can Face-Plant

One of the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance? tonight had a close encounter with the floor. He said his teeth hurt after this move.

I also liked the other guy who said, "I exuberate fantasticisms!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How Digital Music Has Changed My Listening Habits

I almost never listen to the radio, but I do listen to podcasts of some shows that are also on the radio. I almost never listen to a CD all the way through from start to finish, instead I listen to my own playlists or "shuffle" or music podcasts.

Because of randomized playlists and "neighbor radio" on, it doesn't seem all that weird to listen to one country song followed by one rock song, one rap song, one jazz song, and then a string quartet. I'm also less likely to be in the mood to hear a particular song or album, and more likely to just want to hear something interesting.

I get a lot of my new music from eMusic, iTunes, or legal free downloads. Buying a CD seems like a waste since I'm just going to rip it and listen to it on my iPod, and it will take up physical space on my shelf.

I find out about new music from podcasts, browsing eMusic, or What's weird about this is that I find relatively little new music by hearing about it from people I actually see face to face in the real world. Music rarely has the social meaning for me that it once did, except for rare occasions like burning a custom CD to play at a party.

Most of my listening is on headphones or in the car. I rarely listen to music on my home stereo -- partly because my girlfriend and I usually don't agree on what to listen to (or at what volume).

When I look at my iTunes library, I see a lot of artists where I only have 1 or 2 songs by that artist. This is a big change from when I was younger and wanted to collect a lot of material from a few favorite bands.

There are some songs in my iTunes library with a play count of 0. For some of them it isn't literally true that I've never heard the song, I probably played from on the CD at some point before I ripped it, but it means I haven't heard it in years. But there are also some I've really never played. That seems strange.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Your Tips Help Pay For Jedi Training

I saw this sign on the tip jar at the coffee stand at Multnomah Falls. It says, "Your Tips Help Pay For: Kathy - Rent/College; Dan - Jeep parts; Jared - Finding a Girlfriend; Laura - Private Jet; Hunter - Jedi training; Carolyn - New Car; Spencer - The ladies!; Anselmo - Kollege; Jon - New Puppy; Thanks a latte! Bri - first car so my parents don't have to drive me to work!"

It was warm in the Columbia Gorge yesterday, and it was even 72 degrees at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood! Stranger still, the thermometer on my well-shaded front porch registered 93.6 degrees earlier today. That is quite a heat wave for May in Portland, not that I'm complaining.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fringed Tulip

I wondered how to make this picture work, and I eventually decided on black and white for a Mapplethorpe-ish effect. Color did not work because the real colors are too odd. My digital camera does not like to deal with magenta on a bright green background.

Wisteria at Erath Winery

We have some friends visiting from Chicago, so today we took them out to some of the Willamette Valley wineries. We went to Domaine Serene, Domaine Drouhin, Maresh Red Barn, and ended the day at Erath, where we saw this large, fragrant wisteria. We had lunch at a table beneath the trellis.

My girlfriend tried to open a thick plastic container with a plastic knife. I reached into my pocket to get out a real knife, but amazingly she managed to cut through the plastic with the plastic knife. We were all impressed, and decided that her special title for this trip would be Plastic Knife Ninja.

Though swarming crowds will overrun the wine country later during Memorial Day weekend, today was fairly calm, with light traffic. It was a great sunny Oregon day.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The 100,000th Hit-iversary

My hit counter just ticked past 100,000 today. I never thought my blog would get this many hits. Don't worry, I haven't gotten full of myself. I realize that probably 90,000 of those hits are from people Google-searching on crazy nonsense like "how to have sex with monkey." But still, it is a fun number. Even 10,000 sounds like a lot. When I was a teenager, if I wrote a newsletter and 20 people read it I thought that was pretty cool. So even 1,000 feels like a lot. Really, if just one person reads it and enjoys it that is enough for me.