Skateboarding

Yesterday Megan and I went out to the mall to just get out of the house and walk around. It was a really nice night outside (finally summer) and we just wanted to be out and about. While at the mall we decided to pop out heads into the Vans store. I'm not sure if the Vans store is new at the mall or if I just had not been into it, but we probably spent a good 15 minutes walking around, touching all of the shoes. 

Up through high schoolI used to wear Vans all the time. To be honest I am not quite sure why I stopped wearing them. I have wide feet and it has always been difficult for me to find a good pair of shoes and Vans always had sizes for me. 

Anyways, I think the nostalgia train immediately kicked in. I'm surprised I didn't go and buy a pair of vans right there, but the conversation immediately went to skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of those sports I have always wanted to get into, but I never did. I am not quite sure if it is because I was so invested in other sports growing up, but my mind immediately went to "why don't I learn how to skateboard?"

Ok, let's back up a little bit here. Why am I even thinking about skateboarding at all? Well, as I noted above I think I have a bit of a nostalgia trying going, even though I have never been a skater. It's summer, skateboarding is very much a summer sport and I have been listening to some mall punk almost non-stop as of late. Sum 41 has a new album coming out and Blink 182 put their new album out a couple of years ago. It's like the 90's pop punk thing is back. I just need to wait for ska it make is resurgence. 

I have also been thinking a lot about LA for some reason. A co-worker of mine went to LA last summer and it always has seemed like a cool city to me. It also has a reputation for skateboarding. 

So, here I am now, thinking about "why shouldn't I try skateboarding?" It isn't that expensive, $100 or so for a board and another $40 for a helmet maybe. There are skate parks at almost all of the park districts around me, and hell, it is summer. I really want to learn something new. 

So, I think in the next couple of weeks here I am going to try and hit up a local skate shop and talk to them to try and get into skateboarding. Goal is to be able to successfully do an ollie by the end of the summer. 


Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant


The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

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Ridelog: Demoing the BMW K1600B, the "Bagger"

My local dealership was doing a special demo ride event for the new BMW K1600B. This is BMW's new touring bike, built upon their K series engine. They have had the K1600GT and GTL in their lineup for years and those bikes have been known to be some of the best touring bikes out there, right up there with the Honda Goldwing. Last year BMW introduced the B or bagger series. As far as I can tell, the major difference with the B versus the GT series is the lower seat height and overall profile. It has a more "American" style cruiser seating profile. 

I was a bit surprised when I got to the dealership. This wasn't an organized test ride with a group leader and 12 bikes following. They had four bikes sitting outside. You walked up, said you wanted to ride, they got you on and then said "see you later". I was able to ride wherever I wanted and they didn't give me any stipulations. It worked out great since I was able to ride the bike how I wanted to. 

You can see my thoughts on the bike in the video below. In short, it is a very nice bike, but it clocks in at around $24,000 I think. It is super smooth, but also boring to ride. I don't feel any character to the bike at all. The engine, when I can hear it, feels like I am riding a semi-truck. You can pile the miles onto this bike though. It is super comfortable with a very easy riding position. 

The bike is unbelievably heavy, but at the same time surprisingly nimble while on the road. The seating and leg position is still upright enough that I think could really lean into turns if I was given the opportunity. I wasn't sitting so far leaned back and legs forward that my riding technique was compromised.  

I think ultimately the next bike for me would be an R1200RS or RT. Both still have that boxer engine that I really enjoy and they could give me more of that touring feel if I was really looking for it. For now though, I am going to stick with my 1200R.