Review: Aerostich Courier Bag

For about a month now I have been using an Aerostich Courier bag when commuting to work on my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750. As you can imagine, the body position is rather different between these two bikes. The V-Strom has an upright, neutral position and the Gixxer has me leaning forward with my elbows practically touching my knees.

I use the Courier bag to carry my lunch, an iPad, an external hard drive, and a few other miscellaneous items. The total weight is around six pounds.

The bag itself is one large compartment. I purchased the additional pocket organizer that attaches to the inside panel (that presses against my back) with hook-and-loop fasteners. In this I store pens, business cards, a small notebook, and a few other small miscellaneous items.

I switched from using a Targus backpack with traditional shoulder straps and several external pockets, and so far I think I like the one big compartment of the Courier bag much better. It’s faster to get stuff in and out of the courier bag, and of course it’s easier to see in a single glance what is inside.

My biggest concern was switching from shoulder straps (plural) to a singular over-the-shoulder strap. Once the bag is slung over my head to the opposite shoulder, it presses against the flat of my back and I don’t notice it anymore after I get on the bike. Even when leaning forward on my Gixxer, the courier bag is comfortable and stable.

The hook-and-loop panel holding the main flap down is very wide and opening it can be rather loud.

I commuted to work through some serious rain the other day on my V-Strom while wearing my Aerostich Courier bag slung over my Roadcrafter one-piece suit. The bag remained stable and the contents were kept completely dry despite the heavy precipitation. I’m sold on the quality of this bag and wish I had purchased it long ago.

The craftsmanship of this bag is outstanding, just like that of my Darien jacket and Roadcrafter one-piece suit. The materials are solid and I can tell this bag is going to last me a very long time. Considering the very low price, I think it is an outstanding value.

When writers cheat

Writers cheat. I’m not talking about blatant or even subtle plagiarism. I’m referring to taking short cuts when it comes to plot devices. How often have you read, “It is written…” or “It has been prophesied that…”? I see this technique as a way to explain away why something happens without really explaining why it happens.

There’s nothing less exciting for the reader than inevitability.

As I begin writing the sequel to my first novel, Ohlen’s Arrow, I have imposed upon myself the requirement that I answer “Why?” for every character motive in my story. My process involves making a plot event list, which is nothing more than a sequential list of events that occur in the story. Each event is a single sentence that translates into a scene in the book. I then organize those scenes into chapters.

When I state, “The monsters attack the castle”, for example, I must answer the question, “Why did the monsters attack the castle?” What is their motivation? Simply declaring, “They’re monsters, that’s what they do!” is nowhere near good enough, and would easily come across to most readers as transparent and cheap. If a character gets promoted to a position of power, how unoriginal would it be if I declare that it was prophesied by the mystic elders of the First Millennium? This makes it sound inevitable, and there’s nothing less exciting for the reader than inevitability.

Answering “Why?” requires that I do some backstory research, which can be described as Iceberg Tips. Even though a great deal of the backstory behind my character’s motives won’t actually appear in my book, there will be hints of it and the discerning reader will glean why Argo the Orc hated Prince Ruprect with every fiber of his ugly hide. Without the iceberg, there can be no tip.

Say goodbye to Detroit

It’s autumn and that means winter is right around the corner. That also means that my riding options become limited. Highway 224 from Estacada to Ripplebrook remains open all year, but from NF46 from Ripplebrook to Detroit is not maintained for winter travel. Once we get our first snowfall down to 3,000 feet elevation, that’s all she wrote until mid May at the soonest (two years ago the road wasn’t snow-free until the third weekend of June!)

I’ve ridden to Detroit several times in recent weeks, specifically to get as much road time on that route as possible before it closes for the winter. Why do I like that route so much? It’s 80 miles of curves and scenery without a single stop sign or town. Although it doesn’t have a lot of especially tight twisties, it does have a broad variety of curve types and conditions. This is a great way to improve skills.

When I rode to Detroit late last week, the fall colors were resplendent and bold. It was a blast.

Reviews of Ohlen’s Arrow from Amazon.com

I would like to quote the following reviews of Ohlen’s Arrow, posted to Amazon.com:

“I enjoyed taking this journey with Ohlen and his friends. The balance between action and character development was perfect and the story was easy to follow. That can’t always be said of a book in this genre and as a reader, I appreciate it. I’m happy to hear the author has begun the sequel, and I’m anxious to find out what’s next for our hero.”

“I was waffling on how many stars to rate this work. Since this was Mr. Williamson’s first publication I decided to round it up to a 5 because I think his book is a great read and rounding down meant taking away a well deserved extra 1/2 a star which seemed wrong. His characters felt true to themselves and their environment. Their interactions were complex but fresh and not contrived. Mechanically it is a good story but it was the character development that made this first book such a great read. Most writers do not have Mr. Williamson’s dexterity at crafting such realistic characters. I do not think this is the end for Ohlen and his friends. I look forward to seeing where Mr. Williamson takes this group next – especially my favorite character the one we last checked in on before the story closed – talk about a delightfully complex character construct.”

Excerpt from Chapter 10, “The Dead Man Speaks”

As Merrick Stonehorn stood in the back of the crowd gathered in the courtyard, he watched Hadrick Burgoyne emerge onto the wooden dais erected before the Keep’s main entrance. An entourage of sycophantic advisers and attendants surrounded the fat, grey-haired man whose clothes were needlessly regal beyond the occasion. Despite Burgoyne’s physical size, Merrick considered him to be the smallest man he’d ever met.

The ruler began speaking to the assembled crowd – it was a monthly ritual. His speeches were flowery and puffed up civic decrees that had little substance but were intended to remind the citizenry that he was still in charge.

Merrick sensed someone was watching him. A short, wiry man with brown, expressionless eyes emerged from behind a food vendor’s cart, stood next to the giant innkeeper, and said, “His speech is especially interesting today, don’t you think?”

Both men kept their eyes toward the fat man on the dais as they conversed. The big man shrugged his shoulders and said, “‘Interesting’ isn’t the word I would choose.”

Rinn discretely glanced around to make sure no one was within earshot. “I’d say he’s doing a good job for a dead man.”

 

“I don’t like the guy, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him dead.”

“Too late.”

Merrick gazed nonchalantly toward the shorter man standing next to him. He caught a glimpse of a rare smile from the rogue.

“We need to talk. You know where,” Rinn muttered before fading back and disappearing amongst the vendor carts.