Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: October 2009


Zhu Zhu Pets? Will this save the hamsters?

During my Friday shift at Meijer (for all of you West Coast folks, think a Super Target), I was asked by a customer if we had Zhu Zhu Pets in stock. I consulted my co-worker to see if those toys were in stock and she told me, with a sigh of relief, that Meijer was out of stock and not planning to carry anymore until the holidays. Me, being the mid-20s young adult out of sync with the newest toy trends, decided to find out what the heck these were, as my co-worker described them as "robotic hamsters."

Sure enough, I logged onto the Zhu Zhu Pets website and saw these fuzzy pill things that supposedly resembled hamsters. These pills on wheels were battery operated, noisy robotic rodents that had their own tracks, running balls, cars and hiding holes. The hamsters could even be tucked in for the evening to go to sleep. Really?

I mean, I can see why parents would want to buy one of these toys for their kids for [insert over-secularized holiday and/or birthday here]. Batteries are a much cleaner substitute than poo, pee, and eventually, burials and/or dispatch of remains by porcelain commode. These things don't bite, but it seems like they don't do much else, either. When the kids will eventually put them aside for the next big thing, you won't have to continue supporting the fuzzies' lives until they eventually venture to the giant rodent wheel in the sky. These Zhu Zhu Pets will go to the storage bin until the next yard sale (or if you're my parents, next to the 70s clothes, bootleg copies of Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies," and my dog's ashes where they will never be heard from again - they don't believe in throwing anything away).

But, there's something missing...oh yes, spontaneity! Fuzzy, my hairless rat, doesn't fail to surprise me with a new trick or a place to hide. Sure I have to deal with animal waste and eventually, having to say goodbye, but I do value the fact that he makes me smile when I'm grumpy.

I totally wouldn't spend $55 on a pair of motorized hamsters (accessories not included). The organic ones are far more pleased with sunflower seeds, natural plant fiber fluff, a strawberry every now and then, and a toilet paper tube to rip apart. Hell, if I had my way, forget the hamsters and go for the rats; they're so much smarter and sweeter anyway.

I have unofficially declared these toys the "Tickle-Me-Elmo" of 2009. If I am scheduled to work on Black Friday this year, I will definitely see how insane parents will be to get these for their spawn. Pet stores, you have been spared for now; cuteness is now a fur pill of electricity and its name isn't Pikachu.

I think I'll pull my Power Rangers and Gargoyles action figures out of storage and play with those for a few minutes to relive the good old days.


When all you want is an L&L plate lunch.

I found myself dreaming of chicken katsu and BBQ chicken a few days ago with a side of rice and mac salad. That was only a dream though, because the closest L&L's Hawaiian BBQ to Columbus is in New York City. Sounds like a motorcycle ride to me. And if I wanted a wing fix from Wing Stop, I would have to travel two hours north to Mentor On Lake, OH to go to the only franchised store in the state. Oh, and let's go for some Daphne's Greek Cafe...after a three day ride to Denver, CO?! Please don't get me started on In-n-Out because it'll be a while until I can make it back to Utah.

Come on, Ohio! We have to make a fair trade here. To my knowledge, there are a few Ohio-based food establishments that did make it to CA, those being Wendy's, Strickland's Frozen Custard, and Charley's Grilled Subs. Those are great and all, but I really can only put up with grilled cheesesteak sandwiches, "those kind" of hamburgers, and every variation of it for so long! What I need is a plate lunch or Greek food, Daphne's style. Sure, they're "just food chains," but they're flavors I remember from living on the West coast a quarter century. On a bright note, there is a BJ's Restaurant just down the street...just in case Matt and I may want to relive our first date and share a pizookie.

The passion for certain foods goes both ways; the Strickland's that just happened to land on UC Irvine's campus was as a result of Ohio transplants who loved the frozen custard so much that they wanted to bring it to CA. The ice cream is so exact in spec, thanks to a single Strickland's ice cream machine that was painstakingly dismantled, replicated from the screws on up, and reassembled over a year and a half. So yes, a cone of vanilla at their original store in Akron, OH is identical to a cone in Irvine, CA. The only difference is about an extra $2 for the cone in Irvine.

The original store in Akron isn't very posh, but it's still the same ice cream. On a good day, the line would go out to the parking lot.

I hope that someone will think the same way about a chain like L&L's and have the capital to open a franchise in Central OH someday. The Filipino population is growing here. Heck, they're close...NYC is only a 8 hour ride. I wouldn't put down all the food out here; I've had very good impressions with Quaker Steak & Lube (although I still think Wing Stop is better) and the made-to-order burgers of Steak 'n Shake (nothing will ever beat In-n-Out to me). However, I will say that LA can learn a thing or two about sushi from a little restaurant in North Columbus by the name of Edamame Sushi and Grill. That place has definitely raised the bar for sushi quality and flavor. If you're ever in town, I'll take you there.

Yeah, that's me making a case for L&L's in Ohio. See? I'm not the only one!


Ice scraper, anyone?

Until a few days ago, I didn't realize the value of having easy access to an ice scraper. For the last two days at least, the routine for starting the car would involve allowing it to idle for several minutes while I took the scraper to the front windshield, side windows, and the mirrors. I'd shave off enough ice from the glass to make a kid-sized snowcone and then leave it on the windshield to blow off while I drove to hockey practice or work. It's quite a scene to see this from your car while the DJ on the radio declares that it'll "be nice all week with temps in the 70s."

Welcome to the unpredictability of Ohio weather. Whereas in California it's still in the 80s and 90s (and probably still on fire) I'm seeing frost in the backyard at 8AM and there's probably a 50% chance of rain tomorrow. It is an adjustment to say the least. I am grateful for all those years in the hockey rink because I don't seem to be physically fazed by it at all.

On a bright note, it'll be interesting to see actual seasons. It took 25 years of my life, but I'll actually see snow fall for the first time this winter. The leaves actually change colors here; it's a concept that I was taught in first grade but never understood. In pockets, the weather will be pleasant enough to take out the bikes every few days or so to ride through country roads and enjoy one of the most beautiful times of the year. The air is always clean and it's a nice sight to see a blue sky without a halo of brown stuff over it.

Clean air, a lower cost of living, and a slower change of pace. I'm getting used to it. For the first time in a long time I actually have time to plan activities, play more hockey, and socialize with other people. I get the extra hour and a half of time back that I would've used trying to get back home from work to relax. People are a lot more pleasant out here and actually greet you. Makes me wonder why I didn't leave CA earlier...I guess I just needed a reason and a little persuasion.


Wedding planning for the seriously non-traditional wedding - first thoughts.

As a wedding videographer, one would expect me to have a plethora of wedding ideas to choose from after all the ceremonies and receptions I've taped. From my point of view, the way that the events drag on and on during the eight or so hours I'm chronicling this important moment in two people's lives, the less I envision myself in the same situation a year or so from now. I guess our version of celebrating our union is quite different from everyone else's. The idea of a poofy dress, a church, figuring out how to feed 50+ people, and dancing just don't turn me or Matt on. Our visions of a wedding ceremony involve a long motorcycle journey with a scenic view, no church, and a very small group of people, if there is even a group at all. A gown and a tuxedo would be replaced with a pair of custom Aerostitch jackets and somewhere in between we'd travel on some of the most beautiful roads in the northeastern United States, places that we've never ventured and sights we've always wanted to see together.

The challenge in finding any help in this department is that most people would think that we're crazy for not even considering a dress or a church. I can't find a single published book or website that caters to the person who says "no" to the wedding dress, the reception, a wedding party, and all the foo-foo traditions that are only done because every typical wedding expects it to happen. Why does the only unique part of "destination wedding" end at flying somewhere else to perform the same traditions with an exotic flare? As humorous as it may sound, I really don't want a bunch of people seeing Matt's head up my dress. As for the idea of a reception or wedding party would be nice, face it, we've moved too far away from the people that we know. We're already up a creek budget wise even thinking of pulling the ceremony itself off. I still wonder how the weddings I've taped are even pulled off. I bet they have the support of family members; mine has pretty much disowned me for reasons that could take up another blog post.

Now being in Columbus, our plans have changed to focus on our new locale and what may lie ahead in the next year or so. Maybe someday we'll find a way to return to CA to celebrate some part of our wedding, but honestly I'd just go for an afternoon of Daphne's Greek Cafe with friends who'd be willing to eat Greek food.


Why it's important to wear ALL your gear.

Crashing sucks. Crashing sucks when you're on your way to your first day of training at your new job and it's raining outside. But that was me this morning. What seemed to be a routine ride to work turned into me getting thrown off of my iron horse.

I left the house about 10:30AM in the midst of a light rain that had started within the last hour. As I was completing a right turn onto the main road, my bike felt like it caught something on the road and went into an uncontrollable fishtail. I held on until it finally went down, sliding toward the middle of the road and sending me the other way toward the shoulder. From what it felt like, I fell onto my right elbow first and rolled several times, hitting the left side of my forehead in the process, until coming to a stop face-down on the pavement. The wind was knocked out of me and I lay there for about a minute or two. Fortunately there were a few guys and some firefighters at the gas station in front of the whole scene.

After regaining my breath and feeling for all my appendages, I got up unassisted. After taking off my helmet, I realized that my face shield had ripped completely off. My jacket was perfectly intact and my pants had not one rip on it. After it was deemed that I didn't need any medical attention, police from both Franklin County and the Ohio State Patrol came by to assess the situation. It turned out that I went down at the border of two counties, Franklin and Delaware, but since the incident occurred on a U.S. Highway, it was handed over to the OSP's jurisdiction. As I found out as a resident of Ohio, I was cited for "failure to control vehicle" and I now have to pay a $130 fine for the whole incident.

It was either my face shield or my face. My skin and glasses were completely intact after the spill.

The good news? I'm alright. No road rash whatsoever. The area above my right elbow where the initial impact occurred is bruised and the muscles on my right hip are a little sore. I feel better after a 2-hour nap. I got a little headache from the hit to the head and I'm watching that to make sure that it doesn't worsen (it feels like it's improving). My helmet has now been retired and is now a new hangout spot for Fuzzy (he also got a bath today). The bike did get quite a bit of rash on the right side case and front fairing but nothing that can be fixed or found on eBay.

As for the cause of the fishtail, I can only speculate that I hit either an extremely wet spot or an area that had pooled up in oil and other slippery chemicals. In addition, I was attempting to accelerate up a small hill while turning which didn't help the balance factor at all. Nevertheless, I was fully dressed for the occasion and covered head to toe in protective gear. I still believe all that gear kept me out of the ambulance today.

I'll be making up my job training at Meijer on Saturday and business goes on as usual. Matt was able to ride my bike home and I am glad I have him to take care of me. It looks like the car is getting a bit more exercise, and if I'm still on the up and up tomorrow, I've got a hockey game.


Motorcycle vs. Rain...continued

After solving the cold, wet hands with a pair of Gerbing heated gloves I turn my attention to the other problem area that often soaks up faster than any part of my body: my crotch.

Getting water in the crotch is no fun. As soon as that water penetrates through all the layers of motorcycle gear, it starts to feel like someone is methodically pouring a bottle of soda on your lap and laughing. In my previous trips across the country, I was able to find quasi-waterproof inner linings to make the experience a little more tolerable and the addition of a lambskin seat cover also assisted greatly in preventing my custom Corbin seat from becoming Lake Erie Jr. However, the water will inevitably pool up there and the slushy feeling continues. Add a nice cross wind and I feel like I'm sitting on a Slurpee.

I took a trip to Iron Pony and picked up a pair of Frogg Toggs pants. After hearing Matt rave about the jacket portion and seeing the results (his Dainese touring jacket was bone dry after riding ten miles in a downpour) I decided to make a relatively small investment ($25 to be exact) on a pair of the bottom counterparts. Just for a visual example, he has this orange jacket and I have the black pants. To make sure the pants fit over my Aerostitch Darien pants and any additional layers I were to add in colder weather, I picked up a 3XL. The cool part is that the zippers go nearly halfway up the pant leg so it was pretty effortless to put the pants on with my boots on.

Hopefully, this should solve the problem of the wet crotch. I'll have to wait for another rainstorm to try the pants out.


Heated gloves!

It turns out that my solution to the waterproof motorcycle glove situation is a pair of Gerbing's heated gloves. It wasn't until the slight cold snap last Tuesday (it decided to stay below 50 degrees the entire day) that these are going to be necessary if I am to extend my riding season into the winter months. Being a Californian for my entire life and about to spend my first winter in the East Coast, the upgrade is probably going to be a necessity very soon. I have been fortunate to have spent most of my long distance riding in the summer months so the "wet" factor has always been there, especially in the very humid and sticky Southeast. The cold, on the other hand, only came in small pockets and usually not enough to have to justify a pair of electrically heated hand coverings.

So I went for a pair of these and Matt helped me hook them up to the bike battery. After switching them on I immediately felt the difference. It's a much cheaper solution to changing over to heated grips; there's a part of me that says this might be more effective than the former as well. Maybe I'll connect an electric liner underneath if it really starts to get bad. Gotta keep riding...I still have an annual mileage contest to finish!