Living in an Information Rich World

The other day I had a senior high school student who has been conditioned to be helpless say, “How am I supposed to know what aperture is?  You’re supposed to teach us!”  Aside from the fact that this student has evidently won photo competitions and got an 81% in grade 11 photography, I suggested that we have this thing now called the internet that has all sorts of information on it.  I was genuinely frustrated at her unwillingness to resolve her own ignorance.

I may have been a bit curt, but this is an essential truth of our age: information is at hand.  If you think education is about imparting information you’re about to become quite redundant.  Education isn’t redundant, it’s more important than ever to prepare students for information that is no longer vetted by the forth estate for them.  Unfortunately this isn’t a focus in education where bells still signal the start of shifts, um, classes, and teachers can still be found talking the whole period long.

Digital access to information greatly emphasizes how out of touch the sage on the stage is nowadays.  The teacher who talks for an hour straight giving their students facts has failed to realize that we no longer live in an information poor world.  Instead of letting students access information pouring out of the technology that surrounds them, the sage teacher puts themselves in the middle of the class and drips information on them slowly, like water torture.

Assuming we have connectivity, something school boards aren’t very good at because they were never meant to be internet service providers (yet have taken on this task poorly), and assuming the people in the room have developed some degree of digital mastery, then information will fall to hand.  Waiting for it to drip, drip, drip out of a teacher’s mouth or out of a static, out of date textbook shows a startling lack of awareness in how the world works nowadays.

The opportunity to collaborate and support each other is continuously available and learning reverts to the self-directed and driven activity it was before we institutionalized it.  Questions of engagement quickly become irrelevant in a world where teachers aren’t vital because of facts they know.  Those sages are going to have to find other ways to pamper their egos.  If they aren’t expert learners themselves they will quickly find that they have no skill to share with students, and if you have no skills to teach you don’t serve much purpose in a world where any fact is a few keystrokes away.

There was a time when you needed a teacher to show you the way into hard to find information.  Nowadays a good high speed internet connection has that information at your fingertips, assuming you know how to use it.  Many teachers are still trying to be a font of information, even as the information revolution passes them by.  The real losers in this aren’t the teachers struggling to keep things the way they were, but the students we’re graduating who have no idea how different the world on the other side of school actually is.

Ancaster And Back Again

Elora to Ancaster and back again… about 160kms

Another weekend another good ride, this time to Ancaster and back for an edcamp.  One again the Concours impressed with its ability to cover miles with ease.

It was about 6°C when I left at 7:30 in the morning, and up in the high teens when I came back mid-afternoon.  Both ways was comfortable though behind the fairings, and the new jacket is light-years beyond the old one in terms of both warming and cooling.

I had a moment riding when I was flying through the air on the back of the bike realizing that there is nothing about doing this that I don’t enjoy.  It was a windy day, the roads post Canadian winter look like a war zone and it was cold, but even with all that I was still stringing perfect moments together as I flew down the road.  I had a moment before the big trip last week when I was wondering if I’m not taking too many risks riding with my son.  What finally put me right was realizing that driving a car can end you as well, but we do that much more often and usually while paying less attention.  I looked back one time as we were winding our way through Beaver Valley and saw Max with his arms out and eyes closed flying through the air behind me.  I would have hated myself if I’d have never given him that experience.  Riding might be dangerous, but competence and attention can go a long way in mitigating those risks, and the rewards are impossible to find in any other mode of transport.

The more I ride the Concours the better the engine seems to get. On the way home I stuck the phone behind the windshield and got the video below where you can hear the Concour’s happy noise.  

Sulphur Springs Road – a better way in is on Mineral Springs Road, the top of Sulphur Springs is rough!
Mineral Springs Road on the way back, it’s still Ontario bumpy, but it ain’t dirt and it is twisty!
Back up in Centre Wellington, the Concours takes a break where I took the first road pic of my former bike

I always thought that the Ninja was a delight to rev, but the throaty howl of the Concours in full song is hard not to fall in love with:

Flight of the Concours

… with musical accompaniment by Takeshi Terauchi & The Bunnies!

Riding the Roman Empire

Across the top of the Mediterranean over two weeks.

This time of year always feels like about as far from a ride as I’ll get.  It’s in the minus twenties outside and it’s been snowing for days straight.  Time for some cost-no-object daydreaming…

If I jumped on a plane late in the evening on Friday, December 22nd at the beginning of our holiday break, it’s a long slog because there is no direct flight to Athens, but I would eventually get there on Saturday afternoon. A night in Athens and then I could begin a long ride in a warm climate across the north coast of the Mediterranean on Christmas Eve, passing through the heart of the Roman Empire on my way west to Lisbon for a flight in time to go back to work.


I have to be back at it on Monday, January 8th. There is a direct flight from Lisbon, Portugal back to Toronto on the Saturday before.  Could I get from Athens to Lisbon in thirteen days? 

It’s about four thousand kilometers through Greece, Italy, France and Spain to Portugal.  That works out to an average of just over three hundred kilometres per day which means plenty of time to stop and see things or a big day of riding followed by a day off.  Because it’s Europe there are always autostradas to make up time if needed.  It appears Athens to Lisbon is a very doable two week ride.  

Here’s a possible day by day breakdown with a couple of days off.  All the maps are highway averse, looking for local roads and the time it takes to ride them.  Should things get backed up, big highway miles could happen to make up lost time:


Here’s a link to the spreadsheet with working links to maps.

There are a couple of longer days in there, but there are also two days off completely and some short, half days of riding.  There is plenty of time to stop and soak things in en-route to our western return point.

My weapon of choice for this trip would be the new Triumph Tiger Explorer I’m crushing on, in matt cobalt blue.  Tall Tigers fit me well and this one is perhaps the best one ever made.  As a cross countries mover there is little that can beat it, and that new blue is a lovely thing.  I think I’d do a burnt orange on the engine guards and pannier logos.  I’d also redo the badges in matching orange.


The new Tiger Explorer is 24 pounds lighter than the old one, gets better mileage and has a host of advanced features that make an already good long distance bike better.  The big three that powers it would comfortably carry a passenger if I could convince anyone to do this with me.  If we’re touring two up I’d luggage it up and make sure we could carry everything with us, but if I was solo I think I could just get by with the panniers and leave the back end looking less luggage-y.

Outfitting it with luggage and a few odds and ends from the extensive options catalogue is always fun.  I only got myself into four thousand dollars of trouble there:


The solo, lighter Tiger looks a treat.
  • Expedition Aluminium Panniers – Waterproof Inner Bags Pair $160.00
  • Engine Bars – Black $364.99
  • High Rider Comfort Seat $340.00
  • Heated Passenger Seat $535.02
  • Quick Release Tank bag $131.57
  • LED Fog Lights $555.00
  • Adventure Tail Bag $295.00
  • Aluminium Radiator Guard $84.99
  • Expedition Pannier Mounting Kit $450.00
  • Expedition Panniers – Black $1,265.00

In a perfect world I’d get my Tiger shipped from my garage in my England house to the Triumph Dealer in Athens where I’d pick it up on December 23rd.  I’d drop it off at the Triumph dealer in Lisbon on January 6th and either convince my cousin to ride it back to the UK or get it shipped back.

I’ve got the kit needed to do this now, but having a look at the latest European gear, I think I’d spring for a new helmet to do this ride with.  The Roof Carbon is a piece of industrial art that gives me the benefits of a closed face when I need it and an open face when I’m in need of some wind.  The iridium face shield would make this thing look like something out of battle of the planets.


Since it’s a daydream, it ain’t cheap.  I’d fly business there and back, so flights are north of seven grand.  Getting the bike delivered wouldn’t be cheap, assuming it was waiting for me in Europe to begin with.  But hey, if you can’t daydream big, why daydream at all?


NOTES:


Sat Dec 23 to Sat Jan 6

13 full days + 1/2 a day on each end


~4000kms – 307kms / day

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360 Winter Photos from the Saddle

These are some video screen grabs from the long way home commute from work last week.  Windy and cool, but still up near ten degrees Celsius with bright, winter sunshine.  The roads were relatively sand and salt free thanks to days of rain and floods.


The Ricoh Theta 360 camera is wrapped around the mirror with a Gorilla Pod.  A 360 video clip starts it off followed by some Adobe Lightroom heavily tweaked screen grabs aimed at creating a more abstract feel.



 




All the screen grabs with various modifications can be found in this album.



If you’re looking for a motorcycle friendly camera, the Theta 360 has push button controls that are easy to use (most others have finicky wireless connections through a smartphone).  You don’t have to aim it or focus it, it just grabs everything in an instant.  The screen grabs on here are from the 1080 video the Theta made while attached to the rear view mirror.


My last ride was November 28th.  I used the same 360 camera then, but didn’t have the Gorilla Pod at that point so those ones are all hand held.











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The One That Got Away

I got into elearning early on, before there were Learning Management Systems or plug and play anything.  My first elearning class required that I code HTML in order for students to see the material.  I’d just come out of over a decade working in IT so I was one of the few people in the system who could engage with elearning early on.  I was deeply involved in virtual learning until I attempted to apply for an elearning management position.  After not getting it I was also suddenly also not an elearning teacher any more.  I moved in other directions and have developed a successful and competitive computer engineering program instead.  In the process I’ve won a couple of awards for integrating technology into teaching and my students have won all sorts of things, so I’m happy with where I’m at.

 
These days everyone is an elearning teacher.  Thanks to a virus dictating pedagogy we’re leveraging digital communications in education like never before.  This unique situation  has even led to strange advancements like Stephen Lecce actually improving Ontario education by demanding the use of video conferencing when all the other partners had done everything in their power to make it a career ender.  That it took a government intent on dismantling public education to move the powers that be in education forward says all sorts of things about how the system works.
 
I enjoy teaching and I’m proud of what my students and I have achieved in the past seven years.  That much of it has been despite the system rather than because of it makes what I do more difficult than it needs to be, but then something came up last week that messed with my pride and I couldn’t not do it.
 
I didn’t volunteer for remote teaching even though there is huge demand because I didn’t have a medical reason not to and I greatly value the hands-on learning we do in my computer technology classroom.  Until we were handed incorrectly fitting PPE and given a dual cohort schedule with twice the preparation, no time to do it and then simultaneous remote and face to face teaching all day every day I was looking forward to coming back to school.  Like many I’ve been crushed by this absurd schedule.  On top of that my classroom has a long history of HVAC issues and we were running into the thirties Celsius on the warmer days in early September.  To say I’m struggling with this quadmester with its absurd lesson preparation expectations, demands of being available simultaneously virtually and face to face all day every day, lack of online and in-school support for students with special needs and ill fitting PPE is an understatement.

 

As if on cue a job came up for an Information Technology Support Teacher for online learning.  I do this job now in our school (and beyond) voluntarily because I can’t sit by and watch my colleagues struggle with technology that I know my students and I can sort out for them.  The idea that I could be given the time and space to do technology support at 100% and on a board wide scale rather than in addition to this absurd quadmestered, cohorted teaching load was appealing.  I fired my resume and a cover letter at it that contained references from presidents and educational technology icons from across the province and got an interview.  This caused me great anxiety.  I’ve built a successful program out of a crack in the sidewalk and walking away from it would doom it (our school has just cancelled face to face computer science classes so viable 21st Century pathways aren’t high on the to-do list).  On top of that I wasn’t sure how I’d get along on the other side of the curtain in a board office job.

 

 

I didn’t get the job.  Based on an interview with no technical questions they went with someone else whose answers they liked more.  To be honest I think I dodged a bullet there.  The moment you step out of the classroom you aren’t working for students any more, you’re working for the system, and the system and I have never gotten along particularly well.  As their IT support teacher I would have improved access to tools in a platform agnostic way.  I would have found ways to make things work and improve our bandwidth with students instead of telling people to do less with the limited resources they’re handed.

 
My vision of elearning has little to do with what we can and can’t use today.  If Minister Lecce has taught me anything it’s that the powers that be in education are more interested in maintaining the status quo and seeing how little they can do with digital technology than they are in exploring the possibilities to be found in virtual learning.  A job holding that status quo has little interest for me and I argued with myself all weekend about what I’d do if I got it.  The only part that bothered me when I asked for some clarity on why this other candidate was chosen was the sweeping statement, “all the candidates had excellent technical credentials.”
 
I’d be happy to go toe to toe with anyone in our school board, our IT professionals included, on technical qualifications.  I’ve been an industry certified IT technician and network administrator since the early naughties and had worked in various IT roles for thirteen years before I became a teacher.  Since becoming a teacher I’ve picked up two computer technology AQs and multiple Cisco networking qualifications including becoming the first high school instructor (and still maybe the only one) who is qualified to teacher Cybersecurity Operations.  My qualifications also express themselves through my students’ success; we’re Skills Ontario medalists for the past four years in IT & Networking Administration and provincial champions twice, we’re also three time national finalists in CyberTitan.  I’m not sure what made the other candidates ‘excellent’ in terms of their technical qualifications, but I’d love to see our qualifications and experience in IT all lined up side by side.  There are a number of reasons why another choice might be better than me, but falsely levelling technical expertise and experience isn’t one of them.
 

 

I’m a keen amateur mechanic.  I’ve taken motorcycles out of fields and restored them to operation multiple times.  I’ve rebuilt cars and pulled engines.  I’m capable enough that I trust my mechanical skills with my life (I do my own brakes and other maintenance on machines with very thin margins for error).  I have built up a working garage space, have the right tools and know how to use them, but I’d never tell a qualified mechanic that I’m their equal.  The difference between a professional and an amateur should be fairly obvious, yet Ontario education clings to the idea that a university degree trumps any kind of skilled trade… like information technologist.  If they want to go with a status quo middle-manager who is aiming for administration then that’s their choice, but belittling my expertise in the process was annoying, though it highlighted an ongoing prejudice in the system.  Ask tech teachers why they make less on average than everyone else in the building and you’ll see that academic privilege and skilled trades devaluation is a systemic prejudice.

 
A few years ago a colleague who is handy with computers (as everyone should be, they aren’t that complicated) casually mentioned that he should go and get his qualifications as a computer technology teacher.  He has a university degree so he’s used to doing whatever he likes in the education system; it’s made by and for people like him.  I told him that he might find it difficult to generate five years of industry experience on top of professional accreditation in order to qualify for the AQ.  Just because you’re a keen amateur doesn’t mean you have the professional expertise to teach the subject, though we’re especially bad at recognizing technical skills in computing in both staff and students in education.  It’s the main reason digital skills are a bit of a disaster in Ontario education.
 
Having highlighted that academic prejudice, Ontario’s absurd additional qualifications rules also railroad professional expertise from the skilled trades side of things as well.  I had to almost produce a blood sacrifice to OISE to be accepted into the computer technology AQ because they wouldn’t accept my industry certifications and experience without putting me through a grinder.  When I got to my AQ class most of the other people in the program had no background in computers at all.  They were teachers from other technology disciplines ranging from cooking to media arts and hair dressing who were allowed to take another technology qualification because they already had one.  OISE made it sound like I was going to be dropped into a program full of Grace Hoppers and Bill Gateses, instead I found I was one of the most technically proficient people in the room.
 
These stupid little short cuts in teacher training belittle the work people put into their professions and undermine expertise in the system, but as long as they are self serving and cheapen the costs I doubt we’ll see anything change.  It’s hard to find fault with administrators belittling the hundreds of hours of training, industry qualifications and thousands of hours of work experience I’ve achieved when the system gleefully does it automatically.
 
I got into class the next day still of two minds about not getting that job until I started teaching again and remembered that what I’m doing here is the single most important thing I could be doing.  My students love what we do, I enable them to do things they didn’t think they were capable of and I end each day feeling like I’ve done something genuinely useful and fecund.  I think I only considered leaving the classroom because I’m in such physical distress from poor PPE and this absurdly scheduled school year that I grasped at it.  Any other year I’d have let it pass by so a future administrator could pad their resume.  I am still frustrated at not being able to explore future technology assisted pedagogy on a wider level, but that’s why I blog… that’ll be the next post because even though I’m overwhelmed in the classroom, I can’t let it keep operating at this poor status quo, especially when there is all this fantastic technology around to help us circumnavigate this lousy pandemic.

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IIHTM (If I Had The Money): September in Spain & Then The Long Way Home

This is why it’s good to be friends with Austin Vince on Facebook, it makes you daydream.

What would I do if I were free of money and the time constraints it demands?  I’d be planning a month in Spain next year!

The week of the 19th to the 23rd (Monday to Friday) would be doing the Pyrenees with Austin and crew on my Triumph Tiger Explorer.

The Aragón round of MotoGP happens on the next weekend!

I’d aim to get in country with my bike in the first week of September and then have the  a couple of weeks toodling about before a week in the Pyranees with Austin Vince!  After the Austin week I’d be straight over to Aragon for the MotoGP weekend.  After a couple of days of getting organized, the long trek home would begin… the long way round!

A week riding the Pyranees with Austin Vince, and then a weekend at MotoGP Aragon!

Spain to Tokyo via Southern Europe, India, South East Asia and China, would be one hell of a ride.  A flight to L.A. would have me riding through the southern States before heading north and home in the spring.

Bike shipping to Europe?  about ~ $1000
canadamotoguide.com/2015/03/03/air-canadas-new-motorcycle-cargo-options/

www.thethinkbox.ca/2012/11/18/how-to-fly-and-store-your-motorcycle-overseas-for-touring-without-using-a-shipping-company-cheaply/

www.ridedot.com/faq/  

www.horizonsunlimited.com/get-ready/shipping-the-bike

I couldn’t find anything off-hand, but I’d guess about $2000 to fly the bike back into North America.  I could always ask Austin how he did it.


Timing of a fall Spain to Japan trip?

Southern Europe: September/October
India/South East Asia: November/December
China/Japan: January/February
Southern US:  March/April



This route is about 29,000kms with 3 air cargo bits and one hell of a ferry ride:
Toronto to Madrid
Turkey to India
Shanghai to Osaka Ferry www.shanghai-ferry.co.jp/english/unkou.htm
Tokyo to Los Angeles

2015 North American International Motorcycle Show

This was my son and I’s second go around at the big, messy NAIMS.  It feels more like a jumble sale than a bike show, but we have a good time storming around the International Centre in Mississauga.

This show’s best attribute is its timing.  Just as everyone is getting snowed in and a bit stir crazy along comes this ludicrously large motorbike extravaganza to satisfy all appetites.

We did it backwards this year, wandering around the clubs and smaller vendor hall before pushing through the big halls and finally getting to see the custom bikes (we missed Hall 5 last year).

It was nice to talk face to face with a fellow CoGer (they had a stand).  It makes me want to get out to one of their local meetings.  That they don’t dress like pirates (which seems to be a thing with many of the other clubs) ingratiates them to me even more.

Ironically, both times we’ve purchased things at this show we’ve done it from Two Wheel Motorsports, our local dealer.  One of the instructors from my motorcycle licensing course works there and he always remembers me, which is some good customer service.  This time around I stumbled upon an armoured jacket that happened to have my initials on it.  $100 for a $270 retail jacket?  Nice.  My son also got some iron man coloured leather gloves ($50 retail, twenty bucks at the show) that he was very happy with.

NAIMS is definitely good for shopping, though many of the larger retailers there didn’t seem to be offering prices much different than on their webpages.  It’s also pretty much the same gear over and over again.  If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path (like ROOF helmets?) then you’re outa luck.


The custom show in Hall 5 out back was full on bizarre.  Some beautiful paint on some plain ridiculous bikes, Hall 5 is where the pirates with disposable income go!

We enjoyed the show, but once again, grumpy old men selling Victory Motorcycles growled at my son when he tried to sit on one… it’s always a good idea to bring a bike to a show and not expect anyone to sit on it.  Once again, Kawasaki and Harley were the only two manufactures that showed up and provided bikes you’re expected to sit on.

The Toronto Motorcycle Show comes along in February down at the CNE.  That’s the one you want to aim at if you want to actually sit on bikes.  We’ll be there ready to sit on everything!

Exercising the OnePlus5 Smartphone camera

Following that adage I looked for a phone with a good camera this time around.  The OnePlus5 has an excellent camera as far as hardware goes, but the software still has some catching up to do.  Fortunately OnePlus seem committed to regular updates.


Walking home on Dec 23rd, one of the darkest days of the year, I took a post-sunset shot of the Grand River thinking it wouldn’t come out at all.  Not too bad for a very low light shot.  Similarly the multi-shot night time hockey gif taken on winter solstice in full darkness.


The photo of my lovely wife and her colleagues singing was also taken in a dark room.  It was post processed in Paper Artist, my favourite on-phone photo editing app.





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The Learning Expert & The Skilled Master

The other day a tech-handy colleague said over coffee, “I should get my tech qualifications in computers, what did you have to do to take the course?”  I replied that I had to provide five or more years of industry experience and recognized qualifications in order to qualify for the training; he seemed put off.

I understand his response, I battled the same one when I was applying to get qualified.  It was a kind of knee jerk reaction, a ‘how dare you ask for specific qualifications!  I’m an expert learner with years of educational experience!’  I dug up my references and certifications and went through the process after putting away that ego.

This has me thinking about the duality of my educational background.  From high school dropout I attended a year of college before dropping out.  I then apprenticed as a millwright and returned to high school to graduate.  This eventually led me to university.  After university I was once again working in the trades as a automotive technician before eventually finding my way into information technology and finally teaching.  In the trades I worked in mastery focused experiential learning situations that were intense and demanding.  Academics were also demanding, but in a different way which usually had more to do with figuring out how to feed myself.  I got paid to apprentice in a trade, you are a customer when you are working through post secondary academics.  I saw a number of people being passed through that process simply because they wouldn’t quit.  You saw less of that in the trades because if you couldn’t do it, you often got injured and/or fired.

I took English and history as my teachables because it was easier to simply toss my degree into the ring than it was to cobble together all those technology requirements.  Most teachers in a high school are academically produced, the minority get into teaching through experiential/trades learning.  Those academically produced teachers are expert students themselves, they had to be or they wouldn’t have survived the educational process.  An expert student is as much a politician as they are a learner, they’ve figured out how to survive in what is really an arbitrary social construct.

Having worked on the experiential and the academic sides of learning, I’m now trying to define the differences in the two types of learning:

Experiential versus discovery learning.  When you’re learning a stochastic (experiential, non-linear) skill, you
need an expert in that experience to guide your progress.  When you’re learning academics you need an
expert learner to show you how to self direct your learning and survive the system.

I’ll talk about fundamental learning skills in another post, but in this case I’m focusing on the secondary learner who has already developed fundamental learning skills.  That student is capable of self-directing their learning, and in an information rich world like the one appearing around us this is a vital portion of their engagement in the learning process.  Where once we expected students to sit in rows and be portioned out information, nowadays teachers should be facilitating self-directed learning.  A 21st Century teacher’s greatest ability is their own expertise in information fluency, which they provide in order to produce similarly self-directed learners.

That’s academic‘ has long meant a course of action that has no practical purpose, but academics do generally produce self-directed learners who have had to survive the vicissitudes of many education systems over the years and have become self-taught in spite of the best efforts of many of their educators.

In management and education the goals are
abstract, fabricated and ultimately political

In comparison to my academic background my experiential learning has been uncertain and demanding with no guarantee of success.  The tension between success in a fabricated situation and success in a genuine situation that allows for failure became more apparent to me as I proceeded through university.  Matt Crawford brings this up in Shop Class As Soulcraft when he refers to the magical thinking conjured up by management to justify their decisions.  Education, like business management, is a social construct and produces what Crawford describes as ‘psychedelic’ justification for its own existence.  As his quote here suggests, when you’re learning experientially in a realistic environment you don’t get to say, ‘hey! great job!’ if you’re looking at your dismembered finger laying on the floor; reality doesn’t put up with that crap.

As someone who has bounced back and forth between both sides of the education spectrum I can see the value and challenges in both.  What surprises me is how unwilling academic educators are to appreciate the advantages found in the hard-knocks school of experiential learning compared to the complex political dance of the academic classroom.

I know a lot of teachers who get angry with Shaw’s pithy little quote about a character who is upset with his writing teacher, but I know a lot of teachers who teach writing who don’t do it themselves.  I know a lot of teachers in a number of subjects that don’t practice what they teach; it’s hard not to see some truth in that statement.

Watching some teachers struggle with the surging availability of information makes me wonder what they’ll do when an algorithm is created that does everything they do (I give it ten years).  There will come a time when our learning management systems become sufficiently intuitive and make the learning expert teacher redundant (while simultaneously personalizing education in a dramatic way).

It’s a tough thing to be made irrelevant, ask many factory workers.  The teachers who will avoid being replaced by software in this inevitable future are the experiential masters who are guiding learning through doing, yet another reason why I reopened my experiential past and got tech-qualified.  It’s too bad that not everyone practices what they teach.


Sonny Barger’s Let’s Ride

I just started Sonny Barger’s Let’s Ride.  I have to admit, I’d never heard of him prior to picking up the book.  He’s evidently quite famous for uncovering the Hell’s Angels in the 1970s in the U.S..

I’m only a couple of chapters in, but he is a straight talker who doesn’t come off as weirdly particular about his motorbiking.  He’s as hard on Harleys as he is on European or Japanese bikes.  If you’re looking for an honest, knowledgeable review of motorcycling over the last half century in North America, this will do it for you.

I just got through his description of the British and North American failure to respond to the Japanese motorcycle invasion of the early 1970s.  He pulls no punches and his insight describes the sense of superiority and apathy that was rampant in non-Japanese motorcycle companies at the time.

Barger is an American patriot at heart, even if it means he had to spend three miserable decades riding under-engineered Harley Davidsons.  I sympathize with his loyalties, but don’t share them.  I appreciate how he keeps saying that my own priorities in riding may be different from his.  He offers advice without limiting your ability to express your own interests in riding.  Sonny is a big ‘merican bike fan, but he understands that people come to biking from a variety of angles.

One of my earliest motorbike memories was sitting out on this corner when I was six or seven watching a parade of old Triumphs, Royal Enfields and Vincents power through town.

Myself, I’m a complicated guy.  I’m a Brit who emigrated to Canada when he was eight years old and then paid off all his student loans by working in Japan.  I’ve been living outside of my native culture for so long I’m not even sure what it is any more.  My earliest memories are of watching old British bikes thumping down the road outside my grandparent’s house in Sheringham.  

As a teen in Canada I was a giant anime nerd and loved Japanese motorcycle culture.  My dream bike was a Honda Interceptor because it reminded me of Robotech mecha.

So how do I take Sonny’s advice?  With the realization that I’m getting into motorcycling from a very different direction than he did, and he seems OK with that.  I’m still finding his experience and explanations of biking to be very informative.

I’m enjoying the book so far, Sonny has a great writer’s voice (especially when he goes off the deep end and gets really opinionated).  If you want a book that offers you an inside look at motorcycling, Let’s Ride is an enjoyable, informative read.