Category Archives: Personal

Best day of the year

Today was a fantastic day for me.

First, I passed the motorcycle driving exam, which means I now have a license for driving the biggest and heaviest bikes. I was nervous but managed to keep quite calm even though my heart was beating at 180 all the time. The examinator simply said something like “well, that was full points on everything”, and it took a second or two for me to understand that I actually passed.

When I got home I called on an ad for the previously mentioned bike, Suzuki VL 800 Volusia from 2001 (or Suzuki Intruder Volusia as it was called that particular year even though it has very little do do with the rest of the Intruder family). Two hours later my friend Alex came and picked me up on his new Harley Davidson Night Train, and we went to see the bike in the ad.

Since I had only been riding sport/sport-touring bikes before, it was quite a big change to be seated as low as on the Volusia, and the wide handlebar took some getting used to as well. But I loved it. And the sound! After a 10 minute test run I came back with a grin on my face. “I’ll take it. Definitely.”

Papers were signed, money were exchanged and I was on my way home with my brand new bike.

The seller was kind enough to follow me home in a car so that I could get the original exhaust pipes with me, and after a short stop at home to drop them off, we went out riding again. We met up with Lasse and his girlfriend, and we took a long nice trip to Ekerö. After an extremely nice swim we went back, I think we were gone for about 3 hours total.

Couldn’t be happier with the license, the bike and everything. Awesome day.

Front to back: Suzuki Volusia, HD Night Train, Yamaha Warrior
My Suzuki Volusia (closest). The two smaller bikes in the background are a Harley Davidson Night Train (middle) and a Yamaha Warrior (back).

Second try

Tomorrow it is time again for the motorcycle exam. I think I’m even more nervous this time, partly because my vacation starts next week and it is almost entirely planned based on bike driving. So if I fail again I really don’t know what to do this summer. Exam times are still hard to come buy, so I might not get another try until mid August or September.

I’m way to wound up to sleep now, but I’ve got to try. Big day tomorrow.

Marauder out, Volusia in

I’ve been pretty much settled for buying a Suzuki Marauder 800 when I get my motorcycle driver’s license (final exam – again – in 11 days).

However, after reading a bunch of reviews, particularly one at Motorcycle Cruiser, I’ve decided to  change my goals to a Suzuki Volusia 800 instead, with the Honda A.C.E Shadow 750 as a secondary choice.

The Volusia does not only have a much better comfort, both for driver and passenger, it also handles better, is stronger and has less vibrations. The fact that it has a shaft drive instead of a chain also means that I’ll save about 1500SEK a year in maintenance cost. It is however more expensive to buy, but in the long run you will gain on it.

I am now up to about twice the price of a bike since what I planned this spring, and I’m not sure if I can afford a Volusia at the moment. A third option is to buy a smaller Kawasaki EN 500 for about 20’000 SEK less this season, and aim for a Volusia or similar next year instead. That would also give me time to get more comfortable with the Stockholm traffic, and damaging the bike wouldn’t cost as much.

Anyway, first I have to pass the exam. :p

Suzuki Volusia 800


Tomorrow I have the final exam for my motorcycle driver’s license. Would gladly have done it much earlier, but the schedule both for my driving school and the transport agency has been full, so few slots for both practice and examination.

I think (and hope) that I’ll pass, I’m fairly confident in handling the bike, but I’m really afraid I will miss something simple and fail due to that. Like missing a speed limit sign or forgetting to check the blind spot when changing lanes.

Today I went shopping for almost 9k SEK – Motorcycle gear is expensive!

At first I was going to get Condura/Gore Tex or some other water resistant fabric, but none of the clothes fit well due to my build. Or actually, one jacket fit really well, but it wasn’t water resistant and I couldn’t find any matching pants. So I decided to step up in price a bit and go for leather. Even though it’s not very water resistant and can be really warm in the summer, it’s both safe and very good looking. Plus, it matches the kind of bike I’m going to ride much better!

When I got home I called on the bike I’ve been setting my mind on, a Suzuki VZ800 Marauder from 1998. It was still available, and if I pass the license exam I will go and hopefully pick it up tomorrow.

So two outcomes are possible:

1. I fail the exam and have to wait another month or so for a new try.

2. I come home in the afternoon, riding my new bike in my brand new clothes.

I’ll let you know.

Good day, Bad morning

Yesterday I had a very good day, for a number of reasons:

  • A big project I’ve been working on for the last month or so took a huge step forward, and this will mean a lot for the company if everything goes according to plan.
  • We had a very nice (free) lunch with wine on the company, plus a cake for dessert.
  • My vacation application for this summer was finally approved, this will be my longest vacation ever. And hopefully I will have taken the MC driver’s license and bought a bike by then.
  • After several years of hinting, asking and convincing I finally got to  order the latest version of the Adobe Web Suite (CS5), to replace the ancient Photoshop v5.5 (from 1999) that I’ve been using up until now at work. I’ve been using Photoshop CS4 at home, and am constantly reminded of a lot of missing features when I use v5.5 at work.
  • I managed to write a nice little script that automates a common procedure at work. It only saves a few minutes, but it will give a consistent result and after a year or so those minutes will have added up to much more than just a few minutes. Those are my favorite scripts.
  • I went out with some friends after work and had an excellent dinner, good drinks and a very nice time, followed by a cab ride home.

Today, not so good.

I woke up with an intense cramp in my right calf, and it felt like the muscles/tendons would snap. At first I could hardly breathe, and then I started hyperventilating instead – which also made me nauseous. After two minutes or so the cramp started to go away, but as soon as I touched the leg it came back. It’s been about three hours now, and I still cannot support myself on the leg without getting the cramps back. The calf feels tense all the time, and massaging the leg doesn’t help.

It’s a pretty bad experience waking up almost screaming of pain, and at the same time desperately needing to go to the bathroom. :p

Update: It’s now been 16 hours, and I can still not walk without limping, and get that tense pre-cramp feeling as soon as I put some weight on the leg or stretch it out to much. 🙁

One step closer

Today I took the practical safety education course, which is since this year a mandatory step before you can take the written or practical exam for the motorcycle driving license. This was held at Gillingebanan.

We started with some introduction in a classroom, talking about our previous experiences and what we hoped to learn today. Shortly thereafter, we changed into driving clothes provided by them. Since this is a new education, everything was brand spanking new, from clothes to the bikes. A nice change from the clothes at Slussens trafikskola, where most of the gear have seen better day (and it’s not uncommon that when you take on the jacket it is still moist and sweaty from the previous driver – even if you have the first pass of the day.

The bikes we drove were Honda CB600FA Hornet, a 600cc bike with over 100 horsepower, about 10 hp more than the Suzuki GSX 750 that I’m used to from driving school – but with less weight. Fun bike! It also has ABS brakes which was a new experience for me. Just a few days ago I locked the front wheel brake when going in 70 km/h (about 45mph). This was at the end of the brake path, but it was still quite scary to feel it slide without being able to fully control it. Today I hit the brakes hard when going in 110 km/h (70mph), and with full control. ABS can add a bit to the length of the brake path, but it is so much nicer to use, not having to worry about locking the brakes!

We also learned about different turning techniques, most of which I knew from before. But it was surprising how much you could turn just by pressing your feet down on the foot pegs while letting go of the handlebar completely with your hands. My favorite is however still using counter-steering; pushing the handlebar forward on the right side if you want to turn to the right and vice versa. It’s also most effective if you want to turn quickly to avoid an obstacle.

Reaction time, line of sight and other things were also demonstrated and discussed, and the general feeling was very good. The teachers were very happy and enthusiastic, which is also contagious in a good way.
It was however very warm, and a lot of discussions were between driving sessions where we just turned off the bikes and opened the helmets (flip-up type). So in the heat from the sun in black, warm clothes you got soaking wet.

At the end of the day there were some more discussions in the classroom, and a few of us also got to drive a virtual motorcycle. It was a mock-up bike with a seat, a fully equipped handlebar and foot pegs with brake and gear pedals. This was in turn hooked up to a computer connected to a projector and speakers, and you got to drive around in a 3D environment with a lot of common dangers. I almost hit a door that was flung open right in front of me, but managed to brake in time. One of the other students crashed several times, and it was a good lessons of common hidden dangers.

All in all, it was a very good experience. I learned some new stuff, and I had fun.

Tomorrow I’m taking the written exam, and after that I have only the practical exam left.

Can’t hardly wait.

Driving license update

I have now been driving for a couple of weeks and am really making progress.

I have my written exam in about two weeks and I’m pretty confident that I will do well there. 65 questions in 50 minutes, where you have to have at least 52 correct answers.

The practical exam, which you can’t schedule until you have passed the written exam, has five parts.

It starts with a security check for the bike where you have to know how to check the all vital parts of the electrical system, breaks, wheels & tires, bearings and a bunch of other stuff.

After that is a low speed driving test, which looks something like this:

Swedish low speed test for motorcycle
Swedish low speed test for motorcycle - Full stop at each double cone.

The above should be done as slow as possible, no faster than you normally walk. I’ve got most of it under control, but needs some more polishing before final tests. For some reason I keep forgetting to keep my eyes up in the distance, which you need to do for proper balance (like a line dancer). I also need to remember to squeeze my thighs to the gas tank, to keep the body and bike balance together.

The high speed part looks like this:

Swedish high speed test for motorcycle
Swedish high speed test for motorcycle

Last time I tried this I instinctively used the front brake when turning around the last cone, and since the bike was leaning so much to be able to turn in that narrow space, I of course crashed. The knee pad took the blunt of the force, and I tore the fabric of the pants tore open (belonged to the traffic school). However, I strained my arm either when falling or when lifting the bike up (dry weight is 220kg/485lbs). That was about a week ago, and it still hurts a bit when lifting stuff. Anyway, need some more practice for this part.

After this comes the brake test, where you have to demonstrate hard, controlled brakes from 70km/h (45mph) and 90km/h (55mph), using both front and back brakes. I haven’t actually tried at those speeds yet, but I often lock the back brake (ABS not allowed) and forget to look up, same as in the low speed test, when braking from 50km/h (30mph). So some more practice needed here as well.

Last out is the traffic test, where you drive both inside and outside of a city towards a given target or directions given by radio through a variety of roads and streets with different traffic intensity. You will be judged by your driving position, selection of gear, attention, Eco driving and how you technically handle the bike. This part takes about 25 minutes.

But before I can even take the written exam, I have to take (and pass) a practical safety education, where you for 5 hours will be tested and teached about hard accelerations, braking from high speeds and driving independently. The idea is to learn not to overestimate your ability and the dangers of different road types. Gravel is a bitch in curves! This is scheduled one day before the written exam, so if I don’t pass I have to redo it. And pay another 1925 SEK for this, and another couple of hundred SEK for the written exam, which I will have to reschedule. Taking a driver’s license in Sweden is expensive, and most people spend at least 15000-20000 SEK altogether. Which is too bad, since then you don’t have any money left to buy a bike. 😉

Speaking of bikes, I have refined my wishlist a bit, and the following bikes are now the most interesting:

Suzuki VZ 800 Marauder
Suzuki VZ 800 Marauder

Kawasaki VN 800 Vulcan Classic
Kawasaki VN 800 Vulcan Classic

Kawasaki EN 500 Vulcan
Kawasaki EN 500 Vulcan

Yamaha 650 XVS Dragstar Classic
Yamaha 650 XVS Dragstar Classic

All bike pictures above are taken from Blocket.

These bikes all have the look I’m after, and even the smallest of them have well enough performance for a first bike. And even if many cc’s and a fat sound from the pipes are fun, they are not that important to me. More important for my first bike is maneuverability, reliability, comfort and price. I mean, after a year or two I can always trade up to 1600 cc if I feel I suddenly need to compensate for something. 😉

Unexpected consequences

Have you ever thought about how the meeting of two people affects the world around them?

Consider a man and a woman in their thirties who know nothing about each other, walking in opposite directions towards one another in the middle of the city. Let’s call them Derek and Susan. Suddenly Derek trips on a crack in the pavement, and falls over just in front of Susan. She stops to help him up, they smile, and after an awkward moment of silence she asks him out for a cup of coffee. Ten minutes later they sit in a café, she’s having a latte and he’s having espresso. When they leave, Derek asks for her phone number. She jots it down on a note, and gives him a peck on the cheek. He says he will call her, but he never does.

So how has this short meeting affected the surroundings?

First off, the stumbling in the street:
Unaware to Susan, Jake, a pickpocket were just about to snatch her wallet from her unintentionally open purse when she suddenly stops to help Derek up. When bending down, Susan’s purse slides down her shoulder and out of reach for Jake, who has to leave empty-handed. A blessing in disguise for the tired pickpocket, who otherwise would get caught using Susan’s credit card, starting a downward spiral that would ultimately lead to his demise.

Second, on the way to the café:
Short on cash, Susan stops by a cash dispenser. Derek offers to pay for her coffee, but she declines with a wry smile. Jonathan, a young film student next in line gets inspired by this scene, writes a blockbuster and dies four years later from an overdose of heroin, blinded by his own success.

Third, at the café door:
At the door they bump in to Betty, an old classmate of Susan. Betty is in a hurry, but since they haven’t seen each other in fifteen years, they chat for about two minutes before she rushes off. That is enough for her to miss her bus, having to wait for another 20 minutes. At the bus stop she meets Kevin, another classmate from the same class as Betty. They sit next to each other on the bus, laughing and remembering the old times. At his stop he asks her to come by his place. Having forgotten why she was in a hurry in the first place, she blushingly says that she’d like that. A year later, they have a baby girl named Fiona.

Fourth, at the café:
Jenny, an exchange student from who works part-time at the café, takes their order. When preparing Derek’s espresso, she accidentally puts her hand on a hot part of the espresso maker, scalding two of her fingers. Studying music and playing the violin, she won’t be able to perform on the next school concert. If she would have played at the concert, a talent scout would have discovered her, and she would release two mediocre albums in her music career. Instead, she works full-time at the café after graduating.

Fifth, when leaving the café:
Outside the café sits Elton, a homeless man. He asks the couple for change. Thinking he will only use it for drugs or booze, both Derek and Susan ignore him. Elton freezes to death the very same night, not being able to afford shelter.

Sixth, when Derek gets home:
When Derek gets home, his wife Kate is already there. She usually gets home about two hours later than Derek, and is used to having Derek meet her at the doorstep every day. She is just about to ask him where he has been when she sees the slight lipstick mark on his cheek. Instead of asking him about it, she doesn’t say a word the rest of the evening. Later that night when Derek has fallen asleep, she cuts off his penis with a kitchen knife, Lorena Bobbitt-style. In the aftermath, she doesn’t believe Derek when saying him and Susan only had a coffee, so she tells him she wants a divorce, moves to another town and lives a miserable life. The doctor’s not being able to re-attach his penis, so does Derek.

Seventh, at Susan’s place:
A week after they’ve met, Derek still hasn’t called Susan. This is of course because Derek is in the hospital with a chopped off penis. But Susan doesn’t know that, and simply thinks that he has ditched her. This frustrates her, and she unconsciously takes it out on her work as a business negotiator for a software company. This proves however to be a successful method, and she takes the company to new heights using her anger at men in general as a mental negotiation method. She writes a book about it, gets rich from it, and lives out the rest of her days with a mute Japanese named Takeshi. “If they can’t speak, they can’t lie”, she humorously says to her friends.

So what can we learn from this short story about two people having coffee together? That everything we do affect other people. It sets in effect events too small for us to notice, but events start other events which in the end might change the world as we see it.

That’s something to think about the next time you have a cup of coffee with someone.


The above was written as part of a school project I did some years ago.  Discussing chaos theory with M yesterday, I came to think of it and thought I should post it.