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 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:
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:
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:
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. 😉
I have now finally signed up for motorcycle driving lessons at Slussens Trafikskola, and paid for 10x80min lessons in advance. I get money back for unused lessons, but a better price if I pay bulk. First driving lesson is in 4 weeks, and it might be earlier if the weather allows it. In three weeks I will also attend a 3½ hour safety lesson that is mandatory for the license.
I’m also considering buying som gear from C.A.F.D Motorcycle Armor, who has very good prices for clothes that apparently is made in the same factory and by the same people as Arlen Ness, just without the brand. I am however a bit skeptic to buying gear for several thousand without testing them first. But when on a tight budget (I still need a bike!), there is only so much you can afford. If anyone have any other suggestions for cheap but good motorcycle gear (preferably in the Stockholm region), please leave a comment.
Regarding bikes, I have decided to wait with buying one until after getting my license. I have nobody to really practice driving with nearby, and it would mostly stand outside waiting for me without being used. Plus I can’t really afford one now unless I get one really cheap.
Anyway, I have narrowed down my list of potential bikes to the following (in order of probability due to availability and price):
Kawasaki EN 500/750 Vulcan
Suzuki LS 650 Savage
Honda Shadow 600
Yamaha XVS Dragstar 650
Honda Black Widow 750
I have three requirements: It shouldn’t be to old (aiming for 1998-2001), it shouldn’t be to pricey (30’000 SEK is MAX what I will be able to afford, if even that), and it should have or be able to have a sissy bar since I will take M on vacations with it. Also, the lower the better as I’m not too tall.
I haven’t been writing here much lately, so I thought it was time for some catching up.
Let’s have a look at the last posts, shall we?
My sliced fingeris slowly getting better. I am still numb in about a third of the finger, and I still can’t bend it all the way. But on both counts it is better that two months ago, when the cast was removed. What has happened is that the scar tissue has grown attached to the tendon, so it physically can’t move to make the finger bend all the way. Stretching can help, and I’m still doing my finger training every third hour or so – but to be honest I haven’t been keeping it up as much as I should.
Regarding Laundry. I’m still very happy with the washing machine, and I still feel it was worth the cost. In fact, my brother told me the other day that he just bought one just like it – and he seems to be happy with it as well. Hoover HNT 6614, folks.
Analog week went fine. I finished reading two books and started a third. Come to think of it, I haven’t picked up the third book since. Maybe I should do this every month? Should you?
I’ve been working a lot lately. There was a lot to prepare for the Mobile World Congress, where the company I work for participated. I wasn’t going myself, but I prepared material for the exhibition. I have applied for a week’s vacation in two weeks (starting the week when I have my birthday), but haven’t gotten any reply from my boss yet. And now he is on vacation himself. I was planning on either going on a short last-minute trip or just stay at home and do absolutely nothing.
I’ve also fallen for one of the latest games from Bioware; Dragon Age – Origins. Highly recommended if you like Fantasy RPGs. I’m playing it through now for the second time, this time with some addons, and it still is a pretty darned sweet game!
Bioware has a history of awesome games, and have previously made some of my favorite games:
Baldur’s Gate II
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Speaking of games, I’m also looking forward to DeathSpank, from Ron Gilbert (the brain behind the Monkey Island games). Check out the videos!
In 10 days, I’ll be going on a 23 hour cruise to the Åbo, Finland, with Silja Galaxy together with Marianne, Sanna, Daniel, Adam, Linnéa and perhaps two more friends. Marianne mentioned it was the Swedish equivalent to Las Vegas, and I’m not finding it hard to agree. People come there to enjoy themselves for a weekend, spending money in an environment that is made for this. And what happens at the Finland Ferry, stays at the Finland Ferry. 😉
Outside right now it is deep winter. In some places in Sweden, it is the coldest winter for 50 years. The local traffic is so bad that most of the subway grid is shut down, and people are recommended to stay at home if possible. So I have been working from home the last few days, also taking care of M, who is ill at the moment.
I do wish the snow and cold would go away soon, so I can start practice driving motorcycle. I’m planning to take my driver’s license this spring, either in Stockholm or down around Ulricehamn/Borås, where my parents live. If possible, I will take a few week’s vacation and do an intensive course. Does anybody know of any good schools for this?
This morning I went to a hospital in Nacka to have surgery on my sliced finger. I only had to wait for about 10 minutes before I was called in to the dressing room to change to hospital clothes. Then waiting on a bed for about 1.5 hours before going into the actual operating room. I brought my mp3/media player so that I could watch an episode of Burn Notice while waiting, which was a good thing. After 30 minutes they gave me a couple of pills (2 Alvedon and 1 Voltaren) to ease any coming pain.
Once in the operating room they shot a strong sedative in my arm and I started to get a little groggy. They then took a bigger shot filled with some white goo and injected it a little at a time. I remember lying there for about 20 minutes, not really that drowsy, but then I woke up so apparently I crashed as scheduled.
I remember glimpes; They were to move me from the operating table back to my bed, and I asked if I should stand up (they said “No, no, no, we’ll take care of this”). I apparently asked the doctor or nurse the same question three times in a row, each time forgetting the answer (Now I don’t remember the question). I was then in the wake up room.
If you are ever in a wake up room and want to “sober up” quickly, play some Converge in your favorite headphones. That’ll work. After one song I decided to let it take it’s time and switched to Kings of Convenience instead.
The doctor came and talked to me after I was a little less groggy and told me that it was actually a bit worse than they thought. Aside from the severed nerve bundle, one of the tendons was cut halfway through. It is therefore important that i do not lift anything heavy or overextend the finger for a few months.
After another hour or so they needed the bed so I had to get up, and shortly thereafter my brother came and picked me up (thanks again).
The middle and ring finger are still all numb from the anesthesia, and it feels like they are sleeping, that almost burning sensation. I also have a cast covering all but my thumb and index finger, almost all the way to the elbow. Since the cast extends further than the fingers, it makes it extremely hard to type using my right hand, and all text in this post is written by my left hand only (so far taking 50 minutes).
To give you an example, I will now type “hello, my name is frank johansson”, using the index finger on my right hand only in a normal angle and position:
I will have the cast for about two weeks, and will then get a removable brace as the stitches are removed.
Most of the missing tactility will hopefully be restored within a year but it will never go back fully to what it was, according to the doctor. As long as it is good enough to type on a keyboard, play the piano or the guitar and actually feel that I am pressing a key or plucking a string, I will be satisfied.
As suspected, my finger needs surgery. Tomorrow morning I will go to a hospital in Nacka where they will open up the finger again and try to stitch together the severed nerve bundles. The doctor I talked to yesterday thought that I would have to have a plaster with braces for about three weeks, which would suck. But I’ll know more about that after the surgery tomorrow.
On another note, the tetanus shot has made my left arm and shoulder all sore, even now four days later. Is that normal?
Yesterday my brother and his fiancee were over at our place for dinner with wine. Afterwards we were going out and thought that we should take the empty bottles with us since we were passing the recycling cabin anyway. While there my brother threw a bottle hard into the glass bin to make it crash. Unfortunately, part of the bottle ricocheted back up and came straight for me. Instinctive I put up my hand to protect my body from the whirring glass, and it hit my right ring finger.
And there were blood – lots of it. In fact, I even had an arch of blood across my face, going all the way into my right ear. The floor in the recycling cabin had blood splattered on an area about two meters wide.
We rushed back into the apartment, pressing the finger together, putting three compresses and a makeshift tourniquet made of tape while M called for a taxi.
After arriving at the emergency room at the hospital, I only had to wait for about 5 minutes before getting my hand looked at. After removing the bloody compresses and cleaning the wound with salt water they cut off the blood flow with a rubber tube and a peang. Prodding the finger with what looked like toothpicks, the conclusion was that I had lost feeling in about half my finger. After two anesthesia shots in the finger (that really hurt), I soon didn’t feel anything at all.
Despite the nerve damage they had to close the finger to stop the bleeding, so they started to sew. It was a really odd sensation to see them doing it and not feel any pain. After 10 stitches they released the peang to let the blood through the finger, but immediately had to put another two stitches due to leakage.
The people who closed up my finger were really nice, and we even had a few laughs together.
After getting my stitches it was time to x-ray the finger to look for skeletal damage (since the cut was so deep). For some reason this was considered a really high prio case, I got to go before people who had been waiting for several hours. Anyway, the x-ray turned out fine and the glass hadn’t damaged the bone.
A quick bandage and a tetanus shot later and I was on my way home again. Total time in the hospital was just above three hours, which was probably a new record for me.
Today the finger hurts quite a bit, and I will soon go the pharmacy to get the pain killers and antibiotics that I got prescriptions for.
Tomorrow I will have to go to another hospital, where a specialist in hand surgery will assess the damage and possibly open the finger up again to try to repair the damaged nerve(s).
Tomorrow I will possibly have the worst trip of my life so far. Or the most boring, back-aching, cold and lonely. Or the best.
Anyway, I will attempt to drive my Gilera Runner (50cc) från Stockholm to Ulricehamn, a trip that totals about 440 kilometers. I will make a stop (and possibly spend the night) in Tibro, but have otherwise no plans besides hourly stops to stretch, eat, and so on.
Why? The practical reason is that I’m going to store the moped at my parents place during the winter, but the other reason is probably just for the heck of it. “Because it’s there”, as a mountain climber would say. When I was 15 I wanted to go on a moped vacation with my friends, but that never happened so perhaps I’m subconsciously compensating for it now. 😉
To quote the great Waylon Jennings: I’ve always been crazy but it’s kept me from going insane.
I have always been fascinated by mechanics, robotics and mechatronics, and for the last few years I have been thinking about how to incorporate that into a tattoo. Early sketches covered basically the whole back, incorporating the biohazard sign I already have on my back into the design. Though I like biomechanical tattoos to a certain degree I now think an entire backpiece would be too much for this type of design (ask me again in five years though). The particular idea with a cogwheel using a heart as the hub first crossed my mind about a year ago, and shortly after I did the first design.
I have doodled on this design and changed quite a bit during the last year. The main problem lately has been that I have done too much details and thin lines. Since human skin is a living material it is extremely hard to make small details by pushing down ink between the skin layers (which is basically what you do). Even if you do, chances are that the details will be lost. Ink is a liquid, and liquids float and spreads out, making everything a bit fuzzy at close range. This is considerably more noticable on older tattoos, where it can be hard (or even impossible) to make out text that was clearly readable when the tattoo was first made. I have still kept a certain degree of details, mostly for thin light lines and shadows. We’ll see how they look like a few weeks from now. Also, it is quite a bit darker now (especially the lines) than it will be when healed.
I put in some symbolism in it as well, but will not go into details (let’s just say I’ve been hurt enough times). Also, can you find the Douglas Adams reference? 🙂
Tattooing your chest is a strange thing. It really hurts, but you don’t always feel the pain where you should. When Nille first started on the top right side, I felt it in the shoulder. Moving down, all of the sudden it felt like someone put a soldering iron to my nipple. This was not quite as bad as doing the elbow, but not far from it. Good thing I had my phone with me; Playing Solitaire and FreeCell partly took my mind from the pain – It helps to concentrate on something else.
Two times in two days I’ve seen people I don’t know crying in public.
Yesterday on the subway station on my way to work, a woman in her forties were crying. I wanted to do something, say something comforting but I didn’t know what. I didn’t know if she would have wanted me to.
Just now on the commuter train, on the way back home from a party, a younger woman around 20-25 were sitting on the row across me. Suddenly she got an SMS, and she started crying uncontrollably. As the tears started to flow, she turned away to hide her face, sobbing loudly. Again, I wanted to do something but didn’t know what. As this was the last train for the night and the train was almost at my station, I felt I didn’t have time to talk to her. As I passed her on the way to the door, I gently stroked her back in a comforting gesture. I don’t know if it had any meaning for her, but I simply couldn’t just pass her without doing something – especially since she and I were practically alone in the train compartment. Perhaps I should have stayed on the train, trying to talk to her and then grab a cab to get home – to have someone to talk to could be worth so much more than the money I would have spent. Perhaps she just wanted to be alone, whatever message her phone brought her needed solitude to digest.
What should you do in a situation like that? When you have no idea why the person in question is crying and don’t know if they want to talk to a complete stranger in a situation like that. It could be that a friendly hand means the world to them, but it might as well make things worse, putting them in an even more uneasy situation.