Thursday, March 22, 2007

Suddenly $100 for Studded Tires Looks Cheap

So, the ride in to work today was pleasant and dry for the most part. Coming through Theo Wirth park between Highway 55 and Glenwood, the bikeway must be more shaded. The snow from the hill must continue to melt and the wetness seeps across the bike trail making it wet and muddy.

The thought had just gone through my head: "these are the type of conditions that make a person go down."

I could hear that there was a bit of a difference to the sound of some of the water indicating that it was freezing or that there was a bit of icy water mix. It looked wet in the dark and I was clipping along pretty quick. Round the bend and BOOOM. Out goes the bike, down in a flash. Evidently, it was ice.

It wasn't an ugly crash... it happens. Gracefully slide for a few feet, pop back up, look around to see if anyone saw me look like a total ass. Wet, muddy, and cold from sliding on the icy muddy wetness. Dark so I couldn't really take an inventory of anything bent or broken. Picked up my coffee cup and straightened my handlebars and off I go.

The good thing is that not 10 minutes earlier I was noticing that my handlebars were in just a tiny bit crooked and I was planning on trying to straighten them when I got to work. Well, unusual way to get there; problem solved.

The rest of the ride to work was a bit chilly. My hands, right arm, and right leg got wet in the water. I should have changed gloves because by the time that I did get to the office, my fingers were almost numb. I kept thinking that they would warm back up. (Yes, I question my judgment sometimes too.)

So, now that I am here at the office, I was able to do a little inventory check:
  1. Torn Brooks Leather tape $60
  2. Torn tights: $45
  3. Scraped up vintage Mavic brake-levers: $45 (conservative)
  4. Torn up shoe covers: $40

Granted, everything damaged is not damaged beyond use. Believe me, I'm not in the position to replace this stuff. But, to put the things back to the way that they were 2 hours ago would be an expensive proposition. Now, the bike either has what Grant calls Beausage, or I look like a rookie.

I kick myself sometimes. I stood there at Hiawatha Cyclery this past fall thinking almost in premonition mode. Looking at a set of studded tires for the Quickbeam thinking how nice it would be to have that little extra assurance of some studs around the sides. There's no guarantee that having a studded tire would have prevented this morning's crash. I could equally argue if I hadn't crashed that I rode around with $100 worth of extra heavy, noisy tires... for what?

I suppose that I could have avoided this morning's little crash had I just slowed down and been more careful. Given the other thoughts in my head at the same time, it's ironic that I think of studded tires as the solution.

Not 5 minutes earlier I was thinking in general about a variety of different concepts about human nature and how we do things. There are a lot of different ideas, probably enough to complete a whole host of separate posts to keep things organized by category. I know the more that I ride, the more time that I can spend thinking things through and sorting them all out.

The whole bicycle thing: will it catch on. Maybe, but we did invent the car after the bike. How many times do we as a society go back to what we had before we create something new better? Despite some believing that the vinyl album produces a warmer sound, do I anticipate the demise of the CD? How about the electric typewriter replacing the PC, or the manual typewriter replacing the electric... Nope. Despite my passion for bicycles, I don't see them as appealing to the masses.

Lazy: People are generally lazy (not always a bad thing.) This thought stemmed from the thought on the appeal of the bicycle. Nope, people were too lazy so they invented something where they didn't have to pedal. Even in the world of bicycles, people buy new equipment to go faster, farther with the same amount of energy expended. People compensate for skill and ability with technology. Inventions maternal unit is not necessity, more likely what we would politically correctly label: motivationally challenged.

Technology: The thought about people compensating with technology made me think about work (since I am coming here anyway.) I was thinking about our "premier" product Vantage. One of the chief complaints is response time. As I understand it, it takes a long time to do things. Not very efficient database, maybe not very efficient code. I see it all the time with code that I do look through. Sometimes I see things that are intelligent and copy them, but more often I maybe spend too much time trying to be efficient. Other people I think, just say screw it... get a faster server, faster machine, more memory.

I think; "what if it took 5 minutes to do a query for Google?" Where would we be? Nope, some smart cookie somewhere said: "nope, we have to come up with an efficient design that works quickly." Yup, so we get almost instantaneous response from a query of the whole effin internet.

Not here though boy. Here at work, trying to find a bit of information in our own software, software developed here by people that call themselves engineers can take seconds, sometimes even minutes. WTF??! (Obviously, by the time that I was considering this thought, my mind was shifting from the pre-crash bliss of riding to having to sit down in my cube.)

Unfortunately, our society sometimes doesn't really emphasize efficiency and quality of design. There's more of an emphasis in general on getting to the destination. On producing something for the sake of production and having a finished product. Not necessarily on how good the product is when it's done, but more the fact that there is a product.... Let the marketers deal with how to sell it. Well, take a look around. I'm proud to be an American and all, but take a look at foreign products and the emphasis on design. It's no wonder (to me anyhow) why we're getting our asses spanked in the auto industry, consumer electronics, etc... We're lazy.

You might be right... I'll have to give this whole line of thought more thought as I ride... Yes, ride... lower blood pressure would be good.

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