Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

Working through some personal thoughts on something that has been kicking around in the back of my mind for several days. Trying to come up with a clarified thought on the big picture on that one. Other thoughts seem to be tumbling in my head about what it is that I do, where I fit into this world and whether or not I am living up to my own expectations. For me, this is a near-constant life evaluation. Big stuff cooking in the ol-noodle, certainly plenty to keep me occupied while I ride.

I am tiring of hearing the seemingly constant negative news about our economy. I am no economist, but I could simplify things to the degree that I understand them. Much of our "prosperity" is/was based on inexpensive energy. So many consumer-spending decisions have been made based on cheap energy. It has not paid (in large dividends) to conserve for any other reason other than moral or personal belief. I would argue that proof is in the choices the general population has made in what they drive and where they have elected to live and work.

I think a lot of people have gotten by living a marginally stable existence… until one day when the cost of energy went up, way up. Everything costs more. Suddenly, large houses miles from where you work does not seem so attractive while driving your automobile that gets poor mileage.

I don’t entirely fall into this image. I do wish that over the course of the last several years I’d concentrated less on the accumulation of goods. Though, arguably I am not sure what I would really want to give up. There is a big separation between need and want.

In order to get by, one must make adjustments in the way we live. The winners will be the ones who can make lifestyle changes. I like to think that I am ahead of the curve by riding my bike as much as I do. Though I am thoroughly entertained most days by doing so, I also do it because it saves a lot of money. Some would argue that cars are a depreciating asset. Maybe so in financial terms if you ask an accountant, but to our own household it’s been nothing but a constant expense. Getting rid of one car and riding a bike has saved a lot of money. I’m looking toward the future and don’t see an end in site. I don’t see how we can make ends meet at our house unless I do so.

The good news is that I feel like I am part of the solution, not contributing to the problem. It feels like the part that I had feared the most (riding through the winter) will hopefully soon be over. While there are many opportunities for crappy weather on the horizon, I am okay with that now. Bring it on.

One thing that has been instrumental (and the most challenging) is determining what to wear. Though it feels like every day is an experiment, I’ve taken careful notes on what I wear, what the temperature has been, and recorded my comfort level. The results of my ongoing experiment are now published.

Google Spreadsheet Linky

There are two sheets to the document; the second page I have used as a print-out to do my record keeping. I thought I would share. We are all different in what we own for clothing and temperature tolerance, but maybe it will help you. For me, I can look at the document and know what I will feel comfortable wearing based on previous experience. Your results may be different :)

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