I served on a jury last week. My name had come up before, but the trial was cancelled, so this was my first time seeing the judicial system in action. I started out somewhat excited, but discovered that it was more stressful than I had anticipated. I don’t often hold someone else’s fate in my hand, particularly outside of my immediate family.
I feel moderately successful at this point. I feel like I will have a house paid for before I retire, and have a reasonable career path. However, I owe very little of my success to my own hard work. Yes, I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours programming, and yes, I did enough work during school to earn a degree, but much more of my lifestyle I owe to those who came before:
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My spouse casually mentioned the inventors of the invisible bike helmet, thinking that since this was something right up my alley, of course I was the one who originally pointed it out. Had I done so, there’s no way I would have forgotten it so thoroughly. An idea so elegant, but so hard to execute properly, that of course my brain would crunch through the implications.
So yes, they’re now available for purchase, from one of the more beautiful websites I’ve seen. Sadly, the site is broken, in the sense that navigating in any but the most canonical way will generate error messages, but it truly is beautiful.
Today’s elections were purely local. Mayor, council members, and two taxation propositions. Naturally, each of the candidates had an opinion on each of the taxes, even though neither was particularly oppressive.
I’m in the market for a new bike. My whole life, I’ve been using mostly mountain or racing bikes, because those are the styles that have been popular and therefore available. However, my back and neck are starting to complain about them. Where cycling is a more popular mode of transportation, it appears that utility bikes are more common, with an upright posture, long mud guards, and some storage space. They look a little silly to modern eyes, but that’s because we’re being stupid as a culture.
On the other hand, I might go for some sort of tricycle, with the advantages of extra comfort and stability, with the latter being particularly important on wet or icy roads. Then again, parking might be a concern, particularly while shopping or at work. If I really splurge, I could go for a velomobile, with better aerodynamics, some environmental protection, and perhaps increased safety, but at a significant higher price. How would I lock it up, anyway?
Meanwhile, there seems to be a significant market for second-hand bicycles. I hadn’t really considered it before coming across plans for an easily repairable shift lever; now that one of mine no longer ratchets when the temperature gets down around freezing, I completely understand the motivation. Transportation is essential to many jobs, and a good, cheap, easily repairable bicycle makes a world of difference to a significant portion of the population.
So will I donate my current bike? Maybe. On the other hand, it might stick around for my children to use when they outgrow their little 16-inch two-wheelers. As active as they are, they’ll need their own transportation to all sorts of odd stuff as they grow.
I’ve been noticing some parallels between a few movements that I support. Each is a small change with some significant ramifications, creating significant benefit to the vast majority of people. However, those ramifications are not obvious, the benefits fly in the face of tradition, and the costs are borne primarily by those with the greatest power to enact the change.
I once lived in a state where individual citizens, with enough support, could propose legislative ballots for the statewide elections. For the federal government, the closest we come is the ability for a super-majority of states to support a constitutional amendment.
Then again, these are exactly the kinds of movements that can be proven at the local level, growing bigger with each generation. If I ever, through some miracle, become rich and/or outgoing enough to gain the ear of my local officials, will I still be focused on these same issues?
I read something recently framing Romeo and Juliet not as a romance, but as a story of teenage impulsiveness. The intuitive portion of my mind combined that with musings about a relationship on trust, a song given to me years ago about love being for melting defences, and something else I once read about romance suppressing activity in certain parts of the brain.