Magic staircase

I was eating my lunch a few days ago when this staircase and wall caught my attention. I've seen this wall and staircase almost every day for the past eight years but they've never caught my attention this way before. This time I was sitting down directly in front of them looking straight at them.

It wasn't the artistic shapes on the wall that caught my eye - it was the curvature of the staircase. The panels on the wall do enhance the attractiveness of the scene - they seem to serve as a counter balance to the curving staircase. The panels are actually acoustic panels used to reduce the noise in the room and absorb echos. The room was insufferably noisy before they hung acoustic panels on the ceiling and walls.

I used my little pocket camera. This isn't the best picture in the world but I like it. A sophisticated camera with adjustments on the lens and film (image) plane would be able to eliminate the key-stoning at the top the panels.

Moonrise over Denver

Moonrise over Denver
December 10, 2008 4:18 P.M. MST
Casio EX-277
f5.4, 1/160sec, Fl 16.5mm
facing east (away from the mountains)

A very Baptist affair

My mothers funeral was last Tuesday. It was held at the First Baptist Church in my home town. Both of my parents were very active in that church until they moved away many years ago. She was interred, after cremation, next to my father. A lot more people attended than I expected; not all of her peers had died, moved away, or were infirmed. I was really surprised when several people, I assumed had died, showed up alive and well!

It was a simple Baptist service. After an opening prayer and some singing the preacher read her obituary, then asked my brothers and sisters and I to come forward and recall a fond memory of our mother. One spoke about our parents involvement in building the new church, one spoke about her prom dress, another spoke about singing the special music in a church service. I spoke about a memory of mother playing the piano one afternoon, while my father and I napped, when she stopped playing (after an hour) we both got up to find out why she had stopped. After a long incoherent sermon the service concluded with the old Baptist standard hymn: "In The Garden".

We had a police escort to the cemetery. One good thing about my home town, they take really good care of the cemetery. At the grave site there was a prayer then we placed roses next to mom's Urn. The ladies of the church provided lunch after the service.

My mother died Thursday October 2, 2008 (updated)

My mother, Frances, died very early Thursday morning October 2, 2008. My sister and brother were both present when she died. Below is a draft (slightly edited) of the obituary my sister wrote (I am the only non-theist in the family; the rest of the family identifies as Christian.)

Frances R. H. peacefully returned to the loving arms of the Lord on Thursday October 2, 2008 where she joined her beloved husband, Doctor Joe.

Frances Ross HShe came into this World in on March 18, 1920, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the eldest daughter of Clyde and Alice R. She grew up in Cheyenne surrounded by music. Her parents were both professional musicians and music remained an important part of her life. She enjoyed playing in string quartets, and played First Violin with the Casper Symphony for many years. Occasionally she played with the Billings Symphony and later played several seasons with the St. George, Utah Symphony. She gave piano and violin lessons, and was organist and choir director at First Baptist Church for many years. She attended Park College in Parkville, Missouri from 1938 to 1941 and graduated from the University of Wyoming 1943 with a degree in Music

While attending Park College in 1938 she met the true love of her life. The first time she saw Joe H. she was attracted to the tall handsome curly haired gentleman. He was a Senior and she was a Freshman. When they discovered they were both from Wyoming, a romance which lasted a lifetime followed. They were married in Cheyenne, Wyoming August 30,1943. After Joe’s residency in St. Louis, and his stint with the military following World War II they made their home in Wyoming. Five children were born of this marriage.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Joe H., her parents, Clyde and Alice R., her only sister, Mae Fern Jay, and her infant daughter Alice.

She is survived by her sons, Frank, (wife Elizabeth) of Wisconsin, David (wife Kit) of Wyoming, and Clyde of Colorado; her daughter, Jeannette of Montana; four grandchildren, Marci, Jessica, Patrick, Robert (wife Pam) and one great grandson, Teague.

Cremation has taken place, burial will be at Mt. Pisgah in Wyoming.

A funeral service will be held at the First Baptist Church (Wyo) at 2:00 PM Tuesday October 7, 2008; the service is open to the public.

Mom has entered her "final days"

My sister telephoned; Mom has entered her "final days". Over the weekend Mom went into a deep sleep and could not be roused. The nursing staff predicts that she will pass within a week.

Mom has been on a long slow decline for ten years. She hasn't known my name for the last four years and she hasn't even recognized me the last two years.

I've already said my goodbyes and let go of her. That flesh is not my mother. I will feel relieved when it is all over.

Does humidity affect judgment?

I just turned another year dumber and I'm becoming concerned about my ability to make good decisions. I thought judgment improved with age but apparently that isn't always the case. I've demonstrated some poor judgment recently.

The most recent example of poor judgment occurred on Friday. There was a 50% chance of rain on Thursday with a 70% change of rain Thursday night. The rain was expected to last through noon Friday. It started raining shortly after I got home Thursday night and it rained all night. When I got ready for work Friday morning, I looked outside and observed that it was very cloudy and cool, the street was all wet, water was standing in the gutters, and there was a very light drizzle falling. My thinking went like this:
  • It rained all night.
  • It's raining now.
  • I probably should take the car today.
  • I want to ride the motorcycle as much as possible.
  • I'll get wet walking out to the car.
  • I might loose my parking space.
  • It doesn't look like it's raining very hard.
  • I shouldn't be afraid of a little rain.
  • I'll ride the motorcycle.
My thinking did NOT include the following:
  • The forecast calls for rain through noon today.
  • This is just a lull in the storm.
  • There will be standing water in the streets.
  • I'll get splashed by cars.
  • Everyones visibility will be reduced.
  • It will be slick in places.
  • There will be debris and gravel in the street.
  • I don't have rain gear.
  • I'll get wet and cold.
  • I'll need a change of closes (including shoes.)
  • I will take the car.
Good judgment is the ability to fairly assess the available information, understand the potential consequences, being able to predict the possible outcomes, and reach a sensible decision.

As a result of my failure to fairly and accurately assess the situation I made a poor decision and incurred the consequences, such as they were, of my poor judgment. Everything was fine for the first couple of blocks but then the rain picked up again. I even thought about turning back but decided to press on. I was getting rained on and splashed on and was dodging puddles. I had to open my visor just to see! By the time I got to work my shoes, socks and pants were soaked all the way through - and I didn't have anything to change into.

I was fortunate that was the extent of the consequences of my actions. It could have been worse. With poor visibility and wet streets I could have hit someone or been hit by them. I could have stopped on a slick spot and fallen over, or I could have hit a pothole hidden under a puddle and been thrown off. I was lucky all that happened was that I got soaking wet and cold. I also got some mild chastising from some people at work.

If I'm having difficulty making sound decisions then something must be clouding my judgment. What could it be? I know that physical health, drugs and alcohol, mental health, and fatigue can all affect judgment. I'm in reasonably good health, I don't do drugs and I only have one beer every 3 months, I'm not talking to any six foot tall invisible white rabbits, and I'm sleeping alright. Maybe something else is affecting my judgment.

Impatience and over confidence also affect judgment. Impatience can short-circuit the whole decision making process by ignoring important facts and potential consequences. Over confidence leads to over estimating skills and abilities, and under estimating risks.

I think I found the problem. I was impatient. I was annoyed by the rain. I wanted to ride my motorcycle and I was confident in my abilities. I ignored many of the facts and underestimated many of the risks.

I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I make as many good decisions as I do poor ones. I suspect that is true for most people. If you're not making mistakes its only because you aren't doing anything (or you're dead.)

I need to be more cognizant of the fact that my skills and reflexes aren't what they use to be, and my physical stamina is waning. If I slow down and be more deliberative when making decisions, and pay more attention to things that may skew my thinking (impatience, over confidence, etc.), I can make more good decisions than poor ones.

I should make an appointment with the Doctor for a Physical exam too.

See also:
I am so embarrassed
My First Ride
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Motorcycle gear shift sequence
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

I am so embarrassed


I am so embarrassed! Well, actually I'm mad at myself. I managed to drop my motorcycle this evening coming into the underground parking garage at the apartment. SOON OFF AH BEACH! It was totally avoidable - completely the result of a really stupid mistake on my part. I've never liked the entrance to the garage. You have to go up/down a steep ramp going in/out, make a 90 degree turn inside the garage, vehicles going in/out use the same door and ramp, a vehicle at the top of the ramp coming in can't see a vehicle inside the garage coming out, and the top of the ramp is at a blind intersection on a 1-way street. This evening I stopped at the top of the ramp and opened the garage door and started down the ramp. I was going real slow down the ramp. I started to turn just as the front wheel was inside the door. That's when I dropped the bike. I tried to wrestle with it for a few seconds before realizing I had lost the fight. I said something about the sun and the beach, very loudly, more than once, then came to my senses and hit the kill switch. By that time the bike was down and gas was leaking out of the tank. It was laying on its right side. I was afraid the garage door was going to come down but it must have a sensor that detected something was under the door. I positioned myself on the right side of the bike with my back to the bike, squat down, grabbed hold of the right grip with my left hand, grabbed hold of the frame under the back wheel with my right hand, and pushed up with my legs. It wasn't that hard. It would have been harder if I wasn't on solid ground. Fortunately this happened at a dead slow, almost stopped speed, but I did a quick check for damage. The handle bar was still straight, the break lever wasn't bent or broken, the gas had stopped leaking, no damage to the radiator and nothing dangling down, so I got back on, started it back up and drove it to my parking space. My big mistake was to pull the clutch in half way down the ramp and coast the rest of the way. I was still coasting, dead slow, when I started the turn just inside the door. I think I hit the front break too. No power to the rear wheel and breaking while the bike was leaned over was enough to cause me to drop it. How embarrassing (maddening!) At least it happened at home instead of a more public place, at a dead slow speed, and there wasn't any damage. And, now I know that I can pick it up. Lessons learned: Always keep power to the rear wheel during a turn; never clutch or coast through a turn. Never use the break while the bike is leaned over; straighten the bike up before breaking. Don't look at the front tire; look at where you want the bike to go. See also: Does humidity affect judgment? My First Ride I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated) Motorcycle gear shift sequence Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

Round and round we go

I got the registration and license plate for my motorcycle today. I encountered a few problems and had to go to the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) three separate times before I got the job done. The bike and I got a good work-out in city traffic today. I started out at 9AM in the morning and finished at 3:30PM in the afternoon (with time out for lunch.)

The first misstep was when I went to the same DMV office where I got my drivers license. They said they only do drivers licenses at that office and that I needed to go to a different office, way south, to get my registration and license plate.

I drove down to the Bear Valley office in south west Denver. The line wasn't very long so I didn't have to wait very long, but when it came time to pay the fees, I discovered that I left my checkbook at home and they didn't take credit cards. I went home and got my checkbook - that was round-trip one.

I returned to the DMV, waited in line again (not too long,) paid the fees, got my registration and license plate, and went back home. Round-trip two. When I put the license plate on the motorcycle I discovered that they had given me the Year validation sticker to put onto the lower right corner of the plate, but I was missing the Month validation sticker that you put onto the lower left corner of the license plate. You can get pulled over and ticketed for not having current validation stickers on your license plate! I called the DMV and asked them what I should do. They told me to come back to the office and they would give me the missing sticker.

After lunch I made round-trip number three. The line at the DMV was a lot longer this time. The traffic had picked up and the schools had let out by then too. On the way back I managed to get behind two public transit buses and a school bus so it was stop and go for quit a ways.

The job is finally done and I'm all registered, licensed and paid in full.

The apartment manager fixed my sliding door today. It has been sliding metal-on-metal for a long time. It works great now!

I'm watching the 1959 hit movie "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon on TV right now.

Motorcycle gear shift sequence

I've had some inquiries about the the gear (or shift) sequence on the Suzuki Boulevard. The Boulevard has the standard 1 down 4 up shift sequence (5 gears.) Neutral is a half click between 1st and 2nd. This is a very common shift sequence on motorcycles; some motorcycles may have fewer gears (1 down 3 up etc.) and some may also have a low range/high range lever. I'm sure there are some motorcycles that use a different shift sequence but those are exceptions to the common 1 down/x up sequence.

Shifting gears smoothly and easily is a learning process that takes practice. It requires timing, coordination and technique.

With the bike in neutral and the throttle closed, pull the clutch fully in, then give the gear shifter a firm press with the front of your left foot. You should hear a "click". The green light on the instrument panel should go out, and if you very gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone, you should feel the bike begin to pull a little - you're in 1st gear.

To shift back into neutral, with the bike fully stopped, the throttle closed and the clutch pulled in, put the tip of your boot under the gear shift and "gently" lift up part way until you hear a "tic". The green indicator light on the instrument panel "should" come back on, and nothing should happen when you gently and slowly slip the clutch into the friction zone - you're back in neutral.

When the bike is in 1st gear and moving forward, shift from 1st gear into 2nd gear by simultaneously closing the throttle and pulling in the clutch lever, then give the gear shifter a firm lift up with the tip of your left boot. You should hear a "click". When you hear the click, simultaneously roll the throttle back on and ease out the clutch lever. If you do it right you go from 1st gear into 2nd gear passing through neutral. It's the same process to shift from 2nd into 3rd and 4th into 5th but there isn't a neutral to pass through.

It's the same technique to downshift from a higher gear into a lower gear except you press down firmly on the shift lever instead of lifting up. Be careful not to let the clutch lever out too soon or too quickly; give the engine revs time to match the speed of the bike.

A word of caution regarding the green neutral indicator light - don't trust it! You might have gotten the shift lever moved just enough to activate the light but the bike could still be in gear. The light is just an indication that the engine is in neutral but it should be viewed with some skepticism.

Shifting should become a coordinated, smooth, fluid movement that takes practice to develop. I am still learning to develop a smooth fluid technique on my new bike.

This video preview of "Learn To Ride The Easy Way" from Ride Like A Pro shows how to operate the gear shifter.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on motorcycles, engines, automobiles, gears or shifting.

See also:
Does humidity affect judgment?
I am so embarrassed
My First Ride
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

Mounted my Saddlebags

My Saddlebags arrived this week and I got them mounted today. I got the classic Fatboy Saddlebags and mounted them using Easy Brackets.

The papers for the bike arrived Friday too. Now I can get it registered and get license plates on it.

Sunday should be a nice for a ride.

It finally stopped raining

The forecast called for more rain today but it didn't materialize. I put on my helmetcam and took the motorcycle out and road around the neighborhood awhile, took some pictures of myself on the bike, and gassed up. It's getting about 45.5 MPG.


Rain. Rain. Go away. Come again some other day.

I didn't leave the apartment Sunday but I road the motorcycle to and from work Monday through Thursday; I drove the car to work on Friday. It started raining Thursday night and hasn't stopped. The forcast calls for rain through Sunday, so no riding this weekend. It's like spring time in August.

A friend of mine sent me an article from the New York Times that talks about an increase in the number of fatalities from motorcycle accidents. The article attributes the increase to 3 factors: an increase in the number of riders, fewer States requiring helmets,
And, safety officials say, many of the riders are middle-age or older men who rode when they were young, gave it up as they raised children and have recently gone back to the bike. “They think they still have the same reflexes,” said James Port, the safety agency’s deputy administrator. (New York Times, Aug. 14, 2008)
Hum, that describes me exactly - except for the children and the reflexes parts. I know my reflexes aren't what they use to be and I always wear a helmet.

I ordered saddle bags for the bike but they will take 2 weeks to arrive. I am going to get a security lock for the front wheel, in addition to the standard fork lock, for when the bike is parked. I am thinking about getting Lojack too but I'm not sure Lojack is worth it (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)

My First Ride (updated)

I Re-edited the original video and cut the time down to just under 5 minutes; I also added narration.

I left work a little early Friday afternoon. I went and bought a camera that sticks onto the side of my helmet. It didn't come with any memory and it needed to be charged up. I was waiting for rush hour traffic to clear out to go buy some memory for it. While I was waiting, it clouded up and lightning started flashing then it really pored on the rain. We got 1.7 inches of rain in just under an hour! I don't think I've ever seen rain come down that hard before.

Saturday I took my first real ride on the new motorcycle. I road west on 6th Avenue to Golden then took Colorado Highway 46 (Golden Gate Canyon Road) into the mountains to Colorado Highway 119. I turned north on C119 and turned east onto C72 and followed it down to C93. Colorado Highway 93 took me back south to US Highway 6 (6th Avenue). This loop circles Colorado Golden Gate State Park but I did not go into the park.

The entire circuit is a little challenging for the inexperienced. The road is narrow, there are fallen rocks, lots of tight curves and blind curves, bicyclists, and on-coming traffic. This route was almost at my maximum skill level - there was no room for error. I even scraped my pegs on the pavement going around a couple of the turns. Experienced riders can tell from the video that I am not looking far enough ahead and I am not planning or entering the turns well.

I made some other mistakes too. After I mounted the camera on my helmet, the camera was aimed too low so I had to adjust where the camera was aimed; I had to take my helmet off to do that. When I put my helmet back on I forgot to fasten the chin strap. I didn't realize my strap wasn't fastened until I was roaring down US6 at 70MPH! I also discovered that the fanny pack I was using to hold all my essential paraphernalia (wallet, cell phone, keys, garage door opener, etc.) was constricting my movements. I pulled over to the side of the road when I turned onto Golden Gate Canyon Road and stowed my fanny pack in my back pack, where I had stowed a rain coat and a couple of bottles of water, and fastened my chin strap.

Another mistake was to pull onto C119 with my face shield up and a wasp flew into my helmet and stung my nose! Stupid mistakes like these add up and can lead to an accident or at least an unpleasant ride.

I turned on my helmet camera when I started up Golden Gate Canyon Road (C46) and turned it off when I reached C119. It recorded 32 minutes of video. I edited the video down to about 8 minutes. For some reason, it's going to take over 4 hours to render 8 minutes of video! Somethings not right. The camera also records audio but once the bike is moving all you can hear is wind noise (that's all I could hear too,) but the video looks pretty good (if it ever finishes rendering.)

I left the apartment at 12:20PM and got back to the apartment at 3:10PM. I stopped and drank a bottle of water at the junction of C46 and C119. I also stopped at a 7-Eleven in Golden for a bottle of pop on the way back. Round trip was 88 miles. I enjoyed my first day trip and I think I learned from it. I may have even grown my skill level a little. Lessons learned: be ready to ride, have the right gear, ride within your limits, fasten your chin strap, and close your face shield. Also see: Does humidity affect judgment? I am so embarrassed My First Ride I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated) Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining!

I use to ride motorcycles in the 70's but haven't ridden since 1980. Two weeks ago I completed a basic rider skills class and now have a motorcycle endorsement on my drivers license.

I took time off from work this morning to buy a Suzuki Boulevard C50 Cruiser. After I got the bike, and insurance, I went back to work; I probably road it 30 Minutes.

Then it started raining! It's still raining! I can't remember the last time it rained. This has been the driest year on record since the dust bowl era of the 1930's. I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining!

I stayed late at work and kept an eye on the local radar. When I saw a clear spot on the radar between Two of the red blobs, I road home - in the rain - without rain gear. I got soaked. At least I had my helmet on so my hair didn't get wet.

I was going to take pictures this evening, maybe even shoot some video, but that will have to wait. Hopefully tomorrow night.

I look forward to taking a ride up in the mountains on a warm lazy fall afternoon

Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

I successfully completed a 2 day Basic Motorcycle Rider Course over the weekend. The course was conducted by ABATE of Colorado Motorcycle Rider Education. Successfully completing the course makes me eligible for a motorcycle endorsement on my drivers license.

There were 12 students in the class; some had prior motorcycle experience but some did not. We spent most of the time on the motorcycles on a riding course set up in a parking lot. It was very hot both days. It reached 95F/35C degrees Saturday. Sunday hit 100F/37.8C degrees. I was too busy to take any pictures but did manage to squeeze off one snapshot.

The course assumed the students had never ridden a motorcycle before (but could ride a bicycle) so they went over all of the controls and how to shift gears. I use to ride motorcycles during the 70's but had forgotten which lever was the clutch and how the gear sequence worked. The field work was followed by a couple of hours of classroom time.

Saturday we learned to power walk the bike, how to start off and stop, how to shift gears, basic turns, and stop-and-go (commonly called a "California stop" in the USA.) Sunday we learned to fast-stop, take curves, swerve, and make U-turns.

The course concluded with us being scored on 4 riding exercises then a 50 question multiple choice test. All 12 of us passed the course. I scored a 100% on the written test but was marked off a few points on 2 of the riding exercises. In the fast-stop I should have stopped in 14' but took 15' to stop. In the taking curves exercise I rolled off power and was too slow going through the curve. But, I did well enough to pass.

While I was miserably hot and totally exhausted I still had a lot of fun and got a lot out of the course. I would recommend this course to anyone thinking of taking up motorcycle riding, or just for fun. There is a similar 1 day course designed for experienced riders.

See also:
Does humidity affect judgment?
I am so embarrassed
My First Ride
I buy a motorcycle and it starts raining! (updated)
Basic Motorcycle Rider Course

A blast from the past

My 1973 bowling team (standing.)
Standing left to right: Ted, Jerry, Mike, Lance, Clyde.
Kneeling, singles and doubles events, left to right: Mark, Steve, Ken, George.

Unfortunately, I lost contact with all of these people not long after this picture was taken. I do know that Mike (standing center) and George (kneeling far right) are both dead now. I also know that Ted (standing far left) was alive and well 8 years ago, but I do not know the whereabouts or welfare of the others.