Monday, April 30, 2007

Making progress...

Sorry for being so quiet lately. I've been preparing for JMA's upcoming Ride to Remember!

I finally got the trailer thing just about figured out. Here's a picture of the bike up and ready to be tied down. (I had practiced the tying down before)

Now I just have to get that footpeg replaced! The bolts are stubborn and do NOT want to come off!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Response from HODS

In a recent posting, I mentioned a comment about motorcyclists and organ donating. I sent the following e-mail to the contact person at HODS.

Cool, love to meet you, love to have you ride your motorcycle with us (with a helmet) it would be kind of funny cuz motorcycle guys without helmets are donors
I know you meant the above comment as a joke, but I just wanted to let you know of something, in case you are contacted by any other motorcyclists.

In the past few years there have been at least two states that had bills proposed that were basically to the effect of, if a rider without a helmet was killed in a motorcycle crash, he/she would be an organ donor regardless of whether or not he/she chose to be. In essence, it meant that riding without a helmet was automatic consent for donating organs. (New Mexico:

A lot of people in the motorcycle community were obviously outraged at this. In my mind, this is similar to requiring anyone driving without a seatbelt, riding horseback without a helmet, riding a bicycle without a helmet, smoking, or engaged in any type of activity that has some element of danger to become mandatory donors. Fortunately the two bills above were killed.

So as I said, I know you were joking with your comment, but given the past history associated with it, you might not want to make a similar comment to other riders. It's still a bit of a touchy issue in the community.

Thanks, and hope to see you in the parade!
I got a response almost immediately:

I had no idea.
I think the hardest part about sending this type of a message is to do it carefully so it doesn't sound like you are madly raging against the system, but at the same time, making sure to get the point across. It looks like this was successful. At least he is now aware of the issue and probably won't make a similar comment to other motorcyclists.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Over she goes!

The first big motorcycle ride of the year, and what do I do? Drop the motorcycle. First off, there were no injuries (well, not to a physical person, the bike did have some damage).

I was riding on Snickersville Turnpike, which is a nice country road in the rural western part of Northern Viriginia. The only part of the road that is tricky is an uphill, 180 degree hairpin turn (also known as a switchback) at one end. If you plan out your line, and keep the bike moving, it's possible to do. But I never enjoy doing it.

This time, I was behind another motorcycle. Just before we started up an incline, a pickup truck pulled out in front of us and took the lead. As we approached the hairpin turn, the truck slowed, then stopped, even though there was no one coming in the opposite direction. This completely threw off my line, and in trying to readjust my path, I wound up going too slow, and the bike didn't have enough momentum to continue. She started going over.

I ride a Kawasaki Concours. (affectionately called a Connie by its owners) It's a great bike. One reason why a lot of riders like it is because it has a 7.5 gallon fuel tank, which is pretty large for a stock tank. However, unlike some bikes like the Honday Goldwing, or ST1300, the tank is right up there, between my knees, and that means the full weight of the gas (which I had topped off that morning) was leaning over to the right. That's over 40 pounds. Most Connie owners know that if the bike starts going over, it's very very hard to keep it up. And down she went.

Another thing that many Concours owners know is that if the bike goes over, you might as well expect that the footpeg bracket will be broken, even before you take a look underneath. The other rider was off the road in the gravel, but was able to get his bike back on the road, then came over to help me right the bike. Yep, there's the footpeg laying down there on the asphalt. Groan

The other rider helped me to clean up some of the other stuff that was on the road (pieces of the bracket, and some screws that popped off an air deflector I had on the bike). After it was cleaned up, I mounted up and rode the bike straight home. No sense taking a risk by riding more without a footpeg to secure my foot. Most of the way I kept my foot on the passenger peg, until my leg started cramping up. I'm just glad it was the right side footpeg that broke (if either of them were to break). The brakes are on the right side of the bike. If the left side peg had broken, it would be really tricky to shift the bike on the ride back.

Anyway, a new bracket has already been ordered, as well as a replacement deflector. The bike should be fine for the Ride to Remember coming up soon. Once the adrenaline wore off, my arms and leg were sore from when I tried (unsucessfully) to hold the bike up, but that'll go away.

The one "silver cloud" here? When I described what happened to my wife, she asked about how the experience would be different if I were on a Goldwing (the bike I'm looking into getting someday). I told her that the fuel was stored down low (beneath the seat actually), so there was a lower center of gravity. Also the seat height was lower, so my feet would be more firmly planted on the asphalt. Also, there are bars on the bike that help prevent pieces from breaking off in the event that the bike goes down. After reviewing this, she said maybe I should look into getting a Wing now, rather than waiting a few years as we originally thought.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Looking forward to BBQ

Back in my non-kosher days, one thing I really enjoyed was BBQ food. Mostly wet, but sometimes dry as well. I attended several motorcycle rallies that were practically build around BBQs. (We'd go out and ride while the meat was cooking.) There are a few kosher BBQ restaurants, but they are mostly around the NYC area.

That's why I was glad to see there is a new BBQ Kosher restaurant, Smokey Joe's BBQ, opening up in Teaneck, NJ. While it's still not local to me, it's at least near the hotel we will be staying at during the upcoming Ride to Remember, the gathering of the various clubs in the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance.

My mouth is already watering...

Friday, April 20, 2007

So how do I interprete this comment... Organ donating and Motorcycling

This May, various groups in the Jewish Motorcyclist Alliance (JMA) will be riding together in NYC's Israeli Day Parade. I'm excited to be participating, along with my wife. Then a few days ago, I got an e-mail from the Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS). After reading about HODS in a Treppenwitz posting, I applied for a donor card (I still haven't received it, it takes a while), so they have my e-mail address. They e-mailed to inform people that the organization would be walking in the parade, trying to promote awareness, and were inviting us to join them. I thought this was great, and I responded to the point of contact (POC) that while I wouldn't be marching with them, I would see if I could stop by before the parade to schmooze a little. I also said I'd be riding my motorcycle with the rest of the JMA. In the reply back, the POC said:

Cool, love to meet you, love to have you ride your motorcycle with us (with a helmet) it would be kind of funny cuz motorcycle guys without helmets are donors

Ouch, I'm sure he meant it in jest, but this is a very sore topic for motorcyclists. I firmly believe in wearing helmets, and I also believe in donating organs (within Halachic parameters) to save another life. However, there have been serveral laws proposed in various states in the U.S. that basically say if you ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, and you are fatally injured in a crash, then local hospitals do not need to check if you are a registered organ donor, nor do they need permission from your family, you AUTOMATICALLY become an organ donor. I.e. Not wearing a helmet is in itself consent for organ donation.

Needless to say, this has created a huge outcry in the motorcycle community. This would be akin to saying anyone who drives without a seatbelt on becomes an automatic donor, or anyone who smokes becomes an automatic donor (although I'm not sure how good their organs would be).

So while I know the comment wasn't meant with malice, it still rubs me the wrong way. What I'm trying to figure out is whether or not I should let the POC know about these issues in case he is contacted in the future by other motorcyclists, or just let it roll off, figuring it was just an innocent remark, and he didn't know the deeper issues.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I still fully support HODS and their mission!!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Wave: For Motorcyclists, and Jews too

When motorcycles pass by each other, many times you'll notice that the riders wave to one another. No, we don't know each and every person out there on a bike, but it's part of the comradery we share.

Yesterday I had a wave of a different type. As I recently wrote about on BeyondBT (I'll post the story here soon as well), I've now been wearing my kippah round the clock for just about 4 months. Yesterday I met with several other deaf people who work at the same company I do, but at a location a few blocks away. We met at a local coffee place to discuss some problems we have recently been having with interpreters. In the coffee place, I just got a bottle of apple juice. But I noticed that at one of the tables sat a man wearing a kippah. This was my first out of shul meeting of anyone wearing one since I began. (this is not an area that has a large Jewish population) So in keeping with my motorcycle habit, I gave a small wave, and he smiled and waved back. After that I was occupied with the discussion on hand. I saw him again as we (all the deaf folks) were leaving, and again, we gave each other a wave.

I guess there is comradery in wearing a kippah too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Viginia Tech Shootings

My thoughts go out to all those affected directly or indirectly by the shootings at Virginia Tech Monday morning. (one co-worker in particular has a relative at the college that she was still trying to locate when I left the office) While I never was at the college, I passed by it riding on my way home from last year's Ride to Remember in Tennessee. I remember it specifically because it had been raining heavily most of the way from Chattanooga, but just before I passed Blacksburg, the clouds finally broke up and I started getting some sunshine. I remember looking down from the highway and seeing the sleepy little college town. I wonder if they'll ever get that innocence back.

UPDATE: 4/17/07:
My co-worker (and I forgot to mention, also a friend from my college days) reports that her relative is safe. However, I have since learned of Prof Liviu Librescu's death. A Holocaust survivor, he blocked the door, holding back the shooter while his students were able to escape out the window. May his memory and heroic acts inspire us all.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Recent articles on Jewish Motorcycle groups

Here are two recent articles on Jewish motorcycle groups that were published.

The Washington Jewish Week writes about The Tribe MC (Washington DC metro area). Article here.

The Jewish Ledger writes about the Chai Riders MC (NY/NJ/CT). Article here.

I've noticed that a lot of times when I meet Jewish riders, they never knew that there were Jewish Motorcycle clubs (there are currently19 that I know of, in the US, Canada, Israel, and Australia. Some new ones are expected in Europe in the next few months!) Maybe instead of focusing on trying to get write ups in the Jewish media, clubs should start focusing on trying to get write ups in mainstream motorcycle media. As much as I hate to say it, they'll probably find more Jewish motorcyclists that way.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So why is it?

Why is it that during Shabbat and Yom Tovs, when I can't write anything down, that I get a bunch of great ideas for things to blog about? Seriously, I remember that during the Seder, I thought of something I wanted to write about. What it was is now a total blank. Same thing happened during the Shabbat Chol Hamoed. As my wife well knows, if I'm in the middle of saying something, or even thinking something, and I'm interrupted, the train of thought goes way out, and sometimes can never be found again. In fact, in American Sign Language, there is a great sign expression for this type of thing, called "Train-Gone-Sorry." Usually it is signed if you come in the middle or end of a conversation, and people aren't going to repeat the whole thing for you. But in my case it means the thought has left the station, no calling it back now.

It's so bad that if I'm in bed, or out somewhere, and think of something that I want to save, I usually pull out my trusty Treo 600 and shoot myself an e-mail. It reminds me of how one of my school teachers said that Socrates (I think??) thought that writing should be abolished, because it weakened people's memories.

Anyway, I hope I'll be able to remember the things I wanted to write about. If not, I'm sure some new inspirations will come.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

From the mouth of Babes... (plus a successful April Fool's Joke)

I played an April Fools Joke on my brother-in-law today. I sent him the following e-mail. (My brother-in-law is supposed to drive down from Brooklyn with my parents-in-law tomorrow for Passover)

Bro, we just got back from shopping. The van broke down, we had to take a cab back, I took the car to get back to the van to get the food, but by the time I found the van (was towed to a garage, of course closed on Sunday), everything spoiled. I went back to the store to try to get more food, but everything left is being held for people who already made orders. So we don't have a lot of food here. I'm making reservations at Chabad for the seder there, it's the only thing left at this time. Should I make reservations for you and your parents as well? Since we screwed up by waiting until the last minute, I'll pay for the meals and all. Hopefully we'll have enough for lunches during the Yom Tov, then right afterwards, will go back to the supermarket and kosher shops to see what I can get for the rest of Chol Hamoed, and the Yom Tov afterwards.

I'm tearing out what's left of my hair... what a mess!!!!!!

Sorry about all this.


P.S. Happy April 1st... ;-)

The problem is, the P.S. was apparently on the next screen on his e-mail display, he never saw it. About an hour after I sent the message, I received a call from B-i-L. He had called some of the stores that were local to him to see who still had food left, and who would be open late enough so he could get them after he got off work. When I realized he didn't know it was a joke, I felt so bad, and so good at the same time! *evil grin*

After I finished explaining that it was a joke, and hearing his threats of strangling me when he gets down tomorrow, he asked if there was anything he could bring down since there was still a lot available in Brooklyn. I told him there wasn't anything I needed. Laya said the same thing. Tikvah was nearby and heard the whole conversation. She interrupted the conversation with a loud "You can bring down candy!!"