Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day in San Jose

Since I am on the quarter system my school goes a little longer then for all the people that are on the semester system. This meant they wanted to start the summer internship while I still had a few weeks left. This meant that I had to fly down to San Jose for one day of filling out paperwork. Since I only had the one day there before flying home for 2 weeks I wanted nothing more then to get some details (since everything was confidential work all I had figured out was what I had looked up from the job description on my own.) Instead we filled out all the normal job paperwork, another 10 forms on confidential paperwork and patent filings, and then started the team building. We built towers out of paper, and heard about their work culture. Imagine 8 hours of that. Then we headed to dinner and I got to meet the mentors for our project. So the only info I got to go on for the next two weeks is what I could grill the mentors on over dinner.
The one good thing about being forced to fly down for one day is that I could pre-deliver all my luggage so that I would not have to carry it on my motorcycle. This saved me since there is no way I would be able to take everything that I needed for the whole summer strapped to the motorcycle.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Learning to drive a motorcycle

So before driving down to San Jose I came up with a list of things that I wanted to be able to do before heading out. I had the same feeling I did when I was 16 of being a beginning driver again just trying to learn all the rules. After the motorcycle got a clean bill of health from the mechanic I rode it down to the DMV to practice on a Saturday. Other things on my list were freeway driving, night driving, mountain roads, and traffic.
The funny thing about learning to ride is that everyone seems to like my motorcycle. I get thumbs up from pedestrians a lot; an old lady said she liked the blue color as I was walking into a store, and when I went through a drive-through there were four people at the window. I guess either I look really goofy wearing all that yellow or my motorcycle does not look threatening like a chopper or full racing bike could. I am just not used to people asking what kind of motorcycle it is when I walk into a business.
The down side of learning to ride a motorcycle in Oregon is that I had to learn to ride in the rain real fast. It is not as bad as I thought it would be and as long as I take it a little slower I feel just as safe as normal.

My first MRI

It’s funny, at my old job my boss had to get a MRI for her back. She complained how she became claustrophobic and being forced to stay still for so long. So being part of the psychology group means helping out with the experiments. I volunteered to get my brain scanned while trying to use a tool (one of those gripper hands that extends your reach.) to see how my brain reacted to tool use. All I could think of was, I am totally healthy and here I am getting into this contraption.
Well I didn’t feel at all claustrophobic, and in all reality just the forced immobility was very relaxing, like meditating. I guess I always thought being left handed but logical thinking that my brain would not map out anything like they were expecting. They had a few problems lining up my brain patterns to the way most people use their brains but for the most part it looks like my brain is pretty normal. (but my skull has a large lump on the back that looks pretty funny in the pictures.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Saving grace of rain

I don't know if it is the humidity or if I have really just acclimated to the weather but 90 degrees here feels hot. Also with all the sun comes growth, lots of it. L. and I have been hit hard by the allergies of all the plants in their supper growth cycle right now. I have heard a few people say that the indians called this area, a valley of sickness and didn't want to live here. I don't know about that, but I do know that it is the "grass seed capital of the world". So in addition to all the normal allergies there is an unnatural amount of grass pollen in the air.
After a couple of weeks of sun though we are currently having a week of rain. I have to say that it is nice to be able walk around without bloodshot eyes, and to be able to breathe though my nose. Its a lot easier to pay attention in class with the distinct lower amount of sneezing from everyone. Now here is the scary part. This small reprieve can not last forever. Soon, the sun will come out again and all the recent rain will just further explosive growth. The people that I have talked to that have lived here for a while say that everyone's allergies go away around July when things dry out enough. I guess I am lucky since I will be leaving for San Jose in a few weeks but I feel sorry for L. since she will be stuck in summer school here.

How to convice your wife you need a motorcycle

I was going to title this post how to brainwash someone, but I wouldn't say that I went that far...
Stage one: make the person feel indebted.
It all started with L. needing to get re-certified for CPR. She has to do it every year for her job. It's boring after the first time, so she wanted me to come along. Just joking around, as I sometimes do, I simply said you owe me. I didn't have anything planned but then when we broke for lunch for the CPR class we went across the street to Pasadena city college and they were having a motorcycle training class and the idea hit me, and I mean hey, its a SAFETY class. Who could argue with that.

Stage two: make the improbable seem sensible.
With the idea of us going to Europe and spending a lot of time in England and Ireland the idea of striving on the left side of the road seemed like a hard thing to do because of the position of the car. Enter the idea of riding scooters or motorcycles through those parts. It was enough to get L. and I signed up for the motorcycle safety course. We ended up renting and driving a car through those countries since it was actually more expensive to rent even one motorcycle because of the theft rates.

Stage three: exclusivity as part of a group.
When driving the 100 miles home we passed about 20 motorcycles, I'd say 3 didn't wave.

Step four: Isolate the person from any contradictory ideas.
Its funny, my friend (her cousin) rides a motorcycle daily and is now calling just to see how I'm having fun or what upgrades I have made. He conveys these ideas to anyone, including L. L.'s mom also used to ride a motorcycle but had to sell it so now she has been calling trying to relive some of her past.

There was the added bonus of involving shopping.
My wife likes shopping for clothes. Buying a motorcycle involves shopping for clothes, helmet, jacket, gloves. The excitement will rub off.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

New Motorcycle

Its all kind of funny how things work. When we moved up here I sold my car since we thought we would only need one car. Now with me going down to San Jose for the summer I would go crazy if I did not have some way to explore the area. I felt that I missed a chance to own a motorcycle while living in California because of my desire to not drive in the rain.
It's funny, one of the other reasons that I originally wanted a motorcycle was to save money. The first motorcycle that I looked at ended up having bent forks (The first time I had a vehicle checked out by a mechanic since I know nothing about what to look for in a motorcycle.) All the other motorcycles in the same price range had me spooked in the same way. We decided to use the tax refund and ended up (after "accessories"-helmet,jacket,saddlebags) spending about the same that we got for selling my car.
Its funny, I was brought up with KNOWING anyone that got onto a motorcycle would end up dying on one. The idea has since translated into the more rational idea of being as safe as possible.
I bought a yellow jacket and helmet to for the highest visibility. I added the turn signals, license plate light, and reflectors back on the bike (why anyone would choose looks over safety is beyond me).
Now before I get all preachy I also have to admit to my own stupidity. So Eugene is not that big of a town, I did all the research on what would be the best (easy to learn) first motorcycle to own. The closest one was in Woodburn. I drove up and bought the motorcycle on Wednesday then brought L. back on Friday with me. Now even though I had my motorcycle license, took the motorcycle training class,and planned the trip to avoid all freeways, this was the first time I was riding a motorcycle on the road and it was for 101 miles home. The first turn I made I underestimated the extra weight of a 650cc engine as opposed to the 250cc motors I learned on. I came close enough to the opposite corner to put my foot down on the curb. It got me pretty spooked so I spent the next half hour practicing turns in a parking lot. There were some wrong turns, but nothing else scary for the rest of the trip (L. was bored out of her mind following behind me.)