Ma Blog‎ > ‎2005‎ > ‎


Dec 31st As usual, I started the day working on Mandy's blog then went to the SPCA. I'm so predictable. When I got home, Mandy had sent some more pictures, so I got those integrated, too. As Chloe was starting to stress about the occasional firecrackers and suchlike she was hearing outside, we had an early night.

Dec 30th It's been raining a lot recently. So much that Fox News (their motto seems to be "If you're not scared, you're not listening") breathlessly told us that if it rains another 12", Sacramento could flood like New Orleans. I don't want to be funny or anything, but according to the weather station, it's only rained about 9" since July...

Dec 29th Satan farts in my face again. It stopped raining long enough to be foggy at lunchtime, brightened up in the afternoon when I had to work rather than fly, then started again when I wanted to go in the hot tub.

Dec 28th It's raining again, but it stopped long enough for Chloe to go for a walk. Woo woo. I did make a start on some of the stuff for the train set though.

Dec 27th It's raining. The main thing we hates is rain. Rain and cold.
The two main things we hates is rain and cold. And fog.

I'll come in again.

Dec 26th Debbie and Otis, Chloe and I headed to Yuba Gap to play in the snow. We got there after driving through a lot of rain, just for Otis to have a seizure shortly after we headed out in the snow. We took some pictures of the dogs in the snow, and headed home.

Dec 25th I started Xmas day at the SPCA walking dogs, then joined Debbie and the stunt runt for dinner and watching The Fantastic Four on DVD.

Dec 24th I started the day spending a few hours working on Mandy's blog then went to the SPCA. As it's Xmas eve, the SPCA closed at 2pm. I went home and charged the radio battery before going to the airfield and doing a few circuits in the plane. Only one dumbass, and he took off on 33 when we were using 15, and turned right, when we were doing the usual left hand circuit. It was interesting to hear him and the Cherokee on downwind negotiating about who was going where, but no harm done.

Dec 23rd This was a holiday on the West coast, so I got to catch up on a little work, a little TiVo and a little tree trimming.

In the evening, I went over to Scott's for pizza and to drop off the rifle that Mark had given me for Jason that turned out to be for Scott :o)

Dec 22nd Finally, I got to go home. In the rain. Along with everybody else. I left San Jose at about 13:30, and got home at about 17:30, and it's usually a 2 hour drive.

Everybody had to slow down and gawp at every police car, broken down vehicle, maintenance truck and candy wrapper they saw, so it was constantly 70mph, 0mph, 70mph, 0mph. I was almost starting to wish I'd taken the KLX, (the Hawk is still waiting for me to put the mirrors, turn signals etc back on), despite the rain. Yeah, Merry Christmas to you too...

Dec 21st Still in San Jose, I had dinner with Kneel, who I worked with at HP.

Dec 20th I went to San Jose for work, but in the evening managed to see Mark, who I used to race with.

Dec 18th The weather continued to suck (1.8" of rain, according to the weather station), so I went to the SPCA, knowing they were going to be busy.

After I got home, Jason called to say that he was on his way over to pick up the R1 and trailer. We rolled the Hawk off the trailer, and took the R1 back to his place and unloaded that. Luckily, we met Rich and family for dinner, so we gave them their trailer back - jeez, it almost looked like we'd planned it :o)

Dec 17th As the weather was sucking, I spent a few hours updating Mandy's blog before heading out to the SPCA for an absolutely crazy day. One of the desk employees quit during the week, so we were a little short handed, and 20 adoptions meant we were very busy.

Dec 16th I've spent a lot of time updating the company web page this week, and it finally looks almost ready to be switched on. If the web site is blue, it's new :o)

I'd decided to take Chloe to PetsMart for a grooming. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but a shampoo, conditioning, tooth brush and nail clip took 3 hours. And, because they seemed a bit harried, she didn't get her nails painted or her "seasonal" bow.
The whole thing seemed to traumatise her a little, so I don't think I'll do that to her again. On the plus side, her hair's a lot silkier, and she smells of cookies :o)

Dec 14th I got up at a frankly offensive time in the morning and got ready for Jason's arrival. He picked me up, and we headed out, with the bikes on the trailer, to Infineon Raceway, better known as Sears Point. On the way, my bike managed to unclip itself, and fell onto Jason's bike, breaking part of the fairing, and (we discovered later), cracking the brake lever. Other than that, the drive was uneventful. We unpacked, passed tech (even with his broken brake lever), and sat through the "how to ride in our trackday" talk.

I know that a Wednesday in December seems like an odd time to do a track day, but we'd originally booked the day on a Sunday in May - due to Sears' poor drainage, the day was called off because of standing water. But not until we'd driven there and waited for 4 hours in the rain... this was apparently the best they could do for a make-up date. Anyways...

I got kitted up for the first slow "follow the instructor" ride, while Jason headed out on a mission to get a new brake lever. He got back, with an FZ-1 lever which he filed down to fit his R-1. This was shortly after the second session out on the track, so he didn't miss much actual fun.

I'd decided to do the "riding school" thing, not least because then my insurance would cover the bike if I wadded it.
The first time out, we were supposed to learn the lines around the track by following the instructor, and rotating every lap so we all got to be right behind the instructor. Shame that session was only long enough for 3 laps, so I never got to be behind the instructor, but I got a fair idea where the track goes. Funny, it looks a lot shorter on TV...
The second time out, we were left to our own devices, but the instructor suggested that we only use 1 gear. I elected to use 4th, so I lugged out of some of the slower corners, and topped out on anything like a straight, but it was the best compromise. Turn 4 was my worst bit, coming as it did at the end of a blind hill crest at 3a, then a downhill braking area. I also started having problems in turn 7, but that was usually because I was getting pretty good drive out of turn 6, and having to brake so hard on the entry. Most people seemed to overbrake, and then accelerate around the whole turn, but that never worked for me as well. 9a sucks, but that's just because the exit of the sharp left has a concrete wall covered with old car tyres opposite it. I'm scairt, Pa.
We were told that we could only overtake on the straights, and around corners 1, 5 and 10, but I was overtaken a lot closer than the recommended 8 feet, and on corner entries, exits, and mid corner. This bothered me a little, but when a guy on a green ZX-6R wadded his bike infront of me after just cutting in front of me, I felt better.
The third time out, we were told how to use the brakes, gears and clutch. I ignored this talk, as I figure I do what works best for me already - it's taken me years to suck this well, and a 15 minute talk isn't going to change the way I ride significantly.
After that session, it was lunchtime, and the track closes for an hour. As the Advanced riders went out again, the school discussed body positioning on the bike. We were sitting on a CBR on a paddock stand so the instructor could show us what to do - he left me to do what I wanted :o). In this session out, Jason followed me for a few laps, then took off like he was on fire. Oh well, so much for progress...
From this point, we were left to our own devices on the track, so I spent the next 2 sessions just chasing people who I could see... I passed a few (including our instructor running in his Ducati 888), and many passed me.

I learnt a few things:

  • I don't like blind corners - if I can't see around them, I don't like going in too fast.
    I'm not bothered about this, as it seems like common sense.
  • I don't like braking hard on a cold track while going downhill.
    It seems like a lot of people have this problem, so I'll try and get over it with practise.
  • I'm lazy... once I've crested a hill before a corner, I'm happy to just coast up to the corner, rather than accelerate and brake.
    I guess I need to work on being more aggressive :o)
  • The Hawk, despite being the slowest bike in the Novice group (the next slowest was an SV650 - almost half as powerful again, and with better brakes), was actually pretty solid on the track. I had no "moments", and it handles really well with all the modifications I've done.

Over the day, including pootling around the grid and suchlike, I did 77.71 miles, at an average of 43.51mph. That's not bad, considering after the first session my average speed was in the low 30s. My highest speed was 87.5mph, after being 86mph most of the day.

GotBlueMilk have photos of the event here, and I'm the the "H's" - here. I think this is probably my best picture, so now you can see me getting in the way in the other pictures.

Jason's in the "Y's", and this is probably the best picture of him.

This is Jules before he wadded his 916.

Dec 13th Jason came over and we loaded the bikes onto Rich's trailer, and got everything else prepared for Wednesday :o)

Dec 12th I started race prepping the Hawk by removing the mirrors, turn signals and headlight and rear light bulbs. I also taped up the headlight and stoplight with masking tape, so it should come off easily. I also dropped the tyre pressures to 31 in the front, and 30 in the rear, to try and get some heat into them.

Dec 11th I went with Jason to Rich's mother-in-law's property in Placerville, where they're building a motocross course out of dirt. There were a bunch of guys there, on everything from Josh's lowered DRZ110 to Rich's race KTM450, all just jumping tabletops and landing with varying degrees of success. In between the riding, Rich and Carl used a big tractor to build jumps, and Tim used a Bobcat to build berms. Towards the end of the day, Jason and I were building up the lip on one of the jumps to see how high we could get Kirk and Martin jumping, but it eventually started to get dark, so we gave up and went for pizza.

Dec 10th I made up a new stand for the Leonardo DaVinci flying machine, so it's easier to see, and finished up the laptop picture frame.

In the evening, I went to Scott's for the annual White Elephant party. Basically, everybody brings a wrapped gift, then you take turns either opening a gift or stealing somebody else's. After a gift has been stolen 3 times, it's out of the game. I took a big box of dog biscuits and a toy, thinking that some of the people there had dogs, and some didn't. This means that my gift was stolen 3 times :o) I ended up with a picture frame and album set, which I'll probably give Scott as an Xmas gift :o) At least I didn't get the elongated toilet seat cover or the pink nylon tights.

Dec 9th After having her burrow under the covers because she was cold, I took Chloe to Petco to try and find a little coat for her. Turns out she's the wrong shape (too long for a "large", but too thin for an "extra large"), so if I really want her to stay warm outside, I'll need to make something for her. Oh joy...

I also had a long chat with Russ on the phone, during which he told me how proud he was of his rowing team. So, if you're into rowing (and who isn't), check out the Atlantic rowing race, they're sponsoring the "All Relative" team.

Dec 8th I know everybody'll be relieved to hear that after another couple of false starts, I managed to order the camera from Dell, they had a 20% off sale today, and with the $45 off $400 coupon I managed to "win" in their end regifting game, the camera actually came in a few bucks less than the scam artists. Now they're saying they'll ship it on Monday, so I should have it by the end of next week.

Dec 7th The secret of good comedy? Timing. That also seems to be the deal with buying stuff. As I'd decided to buy a camera that takes SD memory, and I don't have any of that, I figured I should get a card. ZipZoomFly had a deal on fast 2Gb Adata cards, but the $20 mail-in rebate expires today. Let's hope that the promised 3 day shipping holds true, and I'll get that cheque in the mail :o)

I put a little work into the laptop picture frame, until it was obvious that I was going to need to get some non-conductive screws to hold the motherboard down. Luckily, Lowes sells nylon nuts and bolts. No, I have no idea why.

I also managed to sell the pocket bike, so that's something I don't have to trip over in the garage.

Dec 6th I hate scam artists. I really do.

I've been trying to get a new digital camera, and the first place, Royal Camera called me straight after the order to say that their price was without the battery or charger. Now, I know that Canon don't sell them like that, so they're opening up the boxes and taking them out. It's also suspicious that they can sell you the battery and charger for $40, way less than they'd actually cost anywhere else. I cancelled that order.

The second place, WAWA Digital called to tell me what a great camera it was (well duh, I've just bought one). He then proceeded to try and sell me extra batteries and memory, and when I declined those, told me that the camera is now on back order, and wouldn't ship for 6-8 weeks. I cancelled that order, too.

At this rate, I'll end up getting one at Best Buy just so I don't have to deal with this bullshit.

Dec 5th In the evening, after walking Chloe, I went over to Scott's to meet their new Mastiff puppy, Daisy. She's huge, and is going to get bigger. And bigger. And bigger :o)

Dec 4th I got a bunch of tree thinning done, and moved the rain gauge on the weather station on to the top of the patio cover, on a board. Hopefully it'll read better there. I then went to the SPCA where they were having pet pictures with Santa - I helped arrange dogs, rats, a hamster and even a goat.

Debbie brought Chloe and Otis down, and Chloe was the worst dog of the whole weekend - she really wasn't interested in having her photo taken. Otis, on the other hand, was fine as long as he could see his ball.

Dec 3rd So, after spending the morning clearing gutters and clearing leaves, I went to the SPCA as usual.

Dec 1st Well, I'm still recovering from the flu, and the muscles I've sprained, but it's not like I'd be able to do much with it raining and blowing a gale anyway. And oh, great, the gutter in the front of the house seems to be blocked with leaves. Joy.